An unexpected encounter

Many, many years ago, probably in the late nineties, we were doing some work in the zoo here in Basel. Opposite the catering and restaurant area there is a very striking group of large Pinus nigra. The spec here was to remove dead wood and the crows’ nests. The trees consisted of very long, straight trunks without any limbs and a narrow canopy, so getting ourselves up there was a bit of a fiddle, especially due to the fact that this was in the days before we were using throw-lines.

Still, I got myself to the top of the tree, poked my head through the canopy to a rather fine view, wind-swept view over town. There was also quite a lot of guano in evidence, lots of bird action going on up there. While I was looking around, something caught my eye on one of the limbs sticking out of the canopy… upon closer inspection it turned out to be a rather nice golden watch, strapped to the limb – 25 meters up, in a black Pine.

I have heard of magpies being attracted to shiny things, but this really took the biscuit, especially as the clasp was done up and all. Warily I looked around at the birds in the vicinity, making sure none of them was giving me the eye! Talk about a Hitchcock moment!

I decided to leave the watch where I found it up there, just seemed to weird to tamper with it. Just as well, it turned out, as it turned out that it had belonged to one of the gardeners in the zoo who had received it as a present from his fiancée – and when that went sour, he nipped up the tree to leave it up there. Umm, yes, that’ll teach her!

You could not make this stuff up.