Fortean Times

Hawks and jellyfish


Checking my FT back issues, I was surprised to see our Harris hawks had reached the UK from the USA, and was afraid they were one of our unwanted gifts to you, like our grey squirrels – but Wikipedia says they are “escapees from falconry”. Do they hunt in packs now, as they do here in the States? I saw that in my own backyard here in Tucson, Arizona.

Four beautiful hawks were on my roof. Their eyes were on my chihuahua, who was sniffing under bushes and didn’t notice them. Three peeled off and settled in a tree close to the dog, while the fourth burrowed into the bushes as far as it could, and shrieked into the dog’s ear, trying to flush her out so that the other three could get her. And that’s exactly what would have happened if I hadn’t been home to yell at them. People with small pets have to be careful here!

• Every time the huge jellyfish Cyanea capillata (The Lion’s Mane) shows up in FT, I half expect you to mention the time Sherlock Holmes tangled with one. He had retired to the seashore. Two of his friends encountere­d the creature in a tide pool; one died from the stings and the other was just barely saved. The jellyfish then hid, and even Holmes was at a loss to explain the strange ‘whip marks’ on the men’s skin. Finally he remembers a book he had read, Out of Doors by the naturalist JG Wood (a real book, published in 1874.) Wood himself nearly died from his encounter with the jellyfish. Holmes and a policeman manage to squish the monster under a rock.You can find the story in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, in the chapter ‘The Lion’s Mane’.

Leslie Vinson

Tucson, Arizona

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