Originally, this didn’t have anything to do with birds. I was just trying to find the right vantage point to shoot time-lapse video of the demolition of a building at Union Station in Springfield, part of a major project to bring the site back online as a regional transportation hub.
There’s a particularly tall building on the site that figured to be the most interesting visually in terms of demolition. One of our staff photographers headed out on Wednesday to shoot video.
Not much happened.It turns out building demolition isn’t always quite like that David Copperfield TV special where he escapes from the building implosion. In the case of this particular section of Union Station, it’s slow, meticulous work.
So, yesterday our effort to document the work continued.
I went up on the roof. There’s a ladder involved in this — which, since I hate heights, isn’t ideal. The first time I stared back down through the hatch, I was pretty sure the fire department would have to come pluck me from the roof.
Over the course of several hours, and several trips up and down the ladder, I watched the building shrink ever so slightly. I got used to the climb up and the climb down, even though that first step through the hatch on the way down still gives me pause.
At the end of the day, the tower still stood.
This morning the work continued. I climbed up, shot a few time-lapse sequences, climbed back down when the workers took a break. Did some work back at my desk, then took a break of my own to get a coffee. By that time, the heavy equipment was moving again.
Back on the roof, I shot two more fifteen-minute sequences and the massive long-armed excavators that looked like toy trucks from my vantage point stopped moving again.
When I turned around, there was a bird on one of the rooftop antennas.
“Pigeon,” I thought at first, quick glance — but as I’ve learned, any bird in a city deserves a second look.
Sure enough, it wasn’t a pigeon. For a second, in the odd, half-overcast and half-sun light, I thought I was looking at a female American Kestrel.
I crept around a roof-top vent for a closer look, though, and realized it was a Merlin.
The bird stayed on its perch for a few moments, and then launched to dive-bomb a flock of pigeons on a neighboring building.
That means that, in the past week, the bird count on the premises of The Republican includes: a Snowy Owl (discovered one night by one of our staff photographers); a Cooper’s Hawk; a Red-tailed Hawk; and, a Merlin.
And, of course, who knows how many other species, hiding in plain sight.