Birds are keeping me sane in lockdown. When this is over, we must do more to protect them | Suzy Freeman-Greene

Seeing a wild, swooping kestrel hunt its prey near my Melbourne home was exhilarating. I could taste its freedom

The nankeen kestrel hovered over a patch of saltmarsh, eyes down, wings slowly flapping. After a minute or so, it flew off, displaying gorgeous black and brown plumage, before returning to hover and watch. It dropped suddenly, like a stone flung by a god, then took its prize – a cricket or grasshopper – to a fence post to be eaten in seconds.

The sight of this bird of prey, late in my second week of Melbourne’s hard lockdown, opened something inside me. Like millions of others, I was stuck in the city under curfew, unable to venture more than five kilometres from my home. I yearned for the bush, to be in a place free of cars or houses, where I didn’t have to hear other people’s conversations as we marched up and down the same few paths on our measly hour of daily allotted exercise. That wild, swooping kestrel was exhilarating. I could taste its freedom.

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