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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Dangerous tree in Warwickshire

A fruitarian bird-watcher,
Named Mr Schpoch,
Was setting out his picnic
On the grassy river bank
At Stratford-upon-Avon,

In a nearby tree,
A large bird of prey
About seventy centimetres long
With talons,
Black and brown wings,
White plumage
On the head, neck and tail,
And an aquiline,
Kleptoparasitic eye,

Mr Schpoch
Placed a large peach
On the grass.

The bird of prey swooped,
Picked up the peach
In its talons
And flew back to the tree.

It was a willow tree,
But it could easily
Have been mistaken
For a walnut tree,
If one was
A Japanese tourist
With no knowledge
Of English tree species.

Mr Schpoch picked up
His binoculars
And studied the bird of prey
As it consumed his peach
In the walnut tree.

He checked
The salient details
Of the bird
In an ornithological
Reference book
Which he carried
In his cool box.

The bird was
An African Fish Eagle,
Haliaeetus vocifer,
Not common on river banks
In England,
And mainly piscivorous
In habit
When scientifically observed.

Mr Schpoch
Was troubled
By the eccentricity
Of this avian phenomenon:
Such a bird
Should not be in Warwickshire
And it should not take peaches.

Very carefully
Mr Schpoch
Took out a second peach,
Attached it by a silver chain
To his falconry finger,
Placed the peach
In a prominent position
On the grass,
And waited.

What happened next,
According to the local coroner
At Stratford-upon-Avon,

Was the stuff of nightmares.

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