I thought I heard a small buzzing noise darting around the grass on both sides of the sidewalk. Was it the aural version of seeing stars? I looked up and saw what I took to be a hawk circling above me, and then landing on a branch. It seemed to look down on me.
The next day I mentioned the smack to fellow reporter Beccy Tanner, and she immediately exclaimed the answer: a Mississippi kite! In reading a story written by Beccy a few years ago I learned that these small birds of prey have increasingly moved from the country into mature urban canopies, where they are very protective during nesting season.
Since then I’ve been wearing a hat on my walks, tempted to make it a bicycle helmet. And to put up a sign for my fellow park-goers and anyone else walking near big old trees: Beware. Attack birds above. I never saw it coming, even if I did see it go.