When I was young, the first bird of prey that I was able to easily identify was the kestrel. I suspect the same is true of many other people. The kestrel’s silhouette, suspended in the sky as if by wire over some heathland or motorway, became instantly recognisable to me, for no other British bird of prey can hover in place with such utmost precision.
My favourite animal changes all the time. When I was younger, I cycled through various large, majestic cats such as tigers, jaguars and snow leopards. At one point, I considered the polar bear among my favourites; another time, the hippo. But now I much prefer stranger, more obscure, more underappreciated animals. And a weird, elusive, nocturnal creature that looks almost like a walking pinecone fits that bill perfectly – the pangolin.