We crane our necks and marvel and feel blessed. But the show hasn't even begun.
The peregrine launches out over the gorge and suddenly rolls over in flight and falls like a stone or a spear. Somehow I manage to follow it in my binoculars, though it's likely doing better than 120 mph in that stoop, and I see it hit a barn swallow which explodes in a puff of feathers, falls limp and disappears into the river.
The peregrine circles a couple of times, looking for the swallow, but it can't see it. Too bad, waste of a good bird, but that's hunting for you.
The peregrine is a gift, snatched away when we couldn't stop spraying DDT everywhere, and now returning. In my lifetime, it's back. When I was 14, I never thought I'd see a peregrine, ever. And now I'm reaching out and catching this one and keeping him to look at forever. And he's nesting somewhere on these ledges, or under the bridge, making more peregrines. My friend Tiny worked several summers hacking baby peregrines out in the Gorge, and now it's all paying off. They're here. They're HERE. Killing barn swallows, somehow making it past the great horned owls who like to eat its chicks, and thrilling us all.