1 EAGLETON NOTES: A Sparrowhawk Visits

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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

A Sparrowhawk Visits

I woke up a few days ago and opened the curtain to see whether Pauline's good weather luck was holding. The sky was overcast. It was just after 5am so the light was poor. Then just outside my bedroom window I saw a bird: a female sparrow hawk waiting for her breakfast. Ironically I had put my cameras in the car ready for the off in the morning so had to go and retrieve one.

At 5am waiting for breakfast to emerge
This was the first time I'd seen a sparrow hawk so close and not actually in flight although one did attempt unsuccessfully to take a sparrow from the bird table some years ago and crashed into the flowers just outside the kitchen window. This evening I looked up as I was finishing dinner and there she was again sitting on the fencepost at the corner of the garden. This time the light was better but I had to take the photo through a rain-covered kitchen window. 

Here's looking at you
After a while I decided to be brave and open the back door and try again. She looked directly at me and decided that I was no immediate threat so I managed a shot or two before she flew off to seek supper over in the trees where the starlings were roosting for the night. They were less sanguine about her presence and immediately took to the sky. I had no idea there were so many starlings roosting so close to me.


After a short while she returned. 

Sitting patiently
When I went into the garden today I saw that there were lots of pigeon's feather scattered around so I assume that she has taken a pigeon whilst I've been away and is now after a second one. She certainly looks well fed even though she is a rather tatty specimen. I wonder if it was this pigeon that is no more:


Or this one?


Surely not this one?


34 comments:

  1. Mr. Edwards!!! What beautiful pictures! In my own imagination, I imagine that she was watching out for her fledgelings as they attempted their first flights. But, I suppose not this late in the year, eh?

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    1. That's a lovely thought Mrs Thyme but I imagine that her chicks are fledged by now. She is certainly making her presence known in the area though. I can tell when she is somewhere around because all the birds suddenly disappear.

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  2. Wow! Great photos, GB! We have a big Cooper's Hawk (what they're called here) that knows all about my bird feeders. One morning I had taken Reggie into the backyard and he flew up onto our fence, wagging his tail back and forth, and chirping at me. No fear, of me or Reggie, and seemed to be either thanking me for his many meals or trying to scare me off.

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    1. Lisa the Coopers Hawk and Sparrowhawk have similar hunting techniques. If it was this sparrow hawk that took the pigeon then I think it was quite a feat because the pigeon must be a lot heavier than the hawk.

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  3. Oh, she's a beauty! So glad she's returned to your side of the valley.

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    1. Yes Pauline she seems to be patrolling the valley now that she's obviously had some success here.

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  4. Beautiful photos GB. I've never got that close to a bird of prey in the wild. Wonderful.

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    1. Helen I was almost that close to a pair of Goshawks in the Clocaenog Forest many years ago when there were apparently no Goshawks there. In fact it was the second recorded sighting and they are now common of course. This is the first time I've been so close to a stationary one though. She's now been back several times and seems relatively unfazed by my presence. She probably knows that she's faster than I am!

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  5. What a traitor she is! She spent so long sitting in the tree in my garden and posing for photographs that I thought she had taken up residence here. Apparently not!! You obviously have better food for lunch than I do for which my little birds are very grateful. Good pictures though.

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    1. Spesh I suspect that she's dividing her time between the various good bird feeders in the valley.

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  6. Fantastic photos of the sparrow hawk, especially the 2nd one with her looking straight into the camera. I like the pigeon portrait too - it looks worried, perhaps with good reason!

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    1. That you Monica. If I were a pigeon I'd certainly be a little wary. The strange thing is that when one of their number is taken they carry on as if nothing had happened.

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    2. Do other birds act differently? (I'm not at all up-to-date with mourning rituals - or lack thereof - in the animal world, I have to confess...)

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    3. I've been thinking about that question Monica and I just do not know the answer either.

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  7. They'e a tough bird to photograph but you got some good shots. I like watching them hunt as they will go under the flock of starlings and push them up. All of a sudden a weak starling falls and the merlin is on it in an instant.

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    1. Yes Red they are very effective hunters.

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  8. You should christen the sparrowhawk Pauline. She is looking at you with hungry eyes.

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    1. Pauline's eyes looked pretty well fed to me YP.

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  9. The second and third pictures are my favourites of this set. Wonderful! If it had been me, I bet the sparrowhawk would have been long gone by the time I got the camera. Heck, I had trouble getting a decent picture of a cockerel that was placidly walking about on a field near Ripley Castle, let alone of a bird in flight!

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    1. Meike the first picture was taken at 5am on a drizzly morning so the light was far from ideal. For some reason this sparrow hawk seems unfazed by my presence which is very unusual for a bird of prey.

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  10. Can you send a few of those Sparrowhawks over to take care of my bombastic pigeon population...just wondering what the shipping charges would be.

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    1. Virginia do you not have hawks on the Island? Perhaps a big model on your roof would help.

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  11. Magnificent photos, Graham. We had a sparrow hawk once in our courtyard. It just zoomed through, scattering the resident birds in its wake. It was a matter of seconds, but unforgettable.

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    1. Until now Frances my nearest encounter with a sparrowhawk was similar to yours when one crash-landed after failing to take a sparrow from the bird table.

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  12. I've never seen any hawks up close like your marvelous shots, only up high circling.

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    1. Yes Norma most of ours hunt from on high but the sparrowhawk approaches low and fast.

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  13. Oh, I hope it's not the third one! It looks pleasant and sociable to me! I remain in awe of your ability to photograph birds, something I can never imagine myself being able to do.

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    1. Jenny as pigeons go the third one was rather appealing I have to admit.

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    2. And thank you for the compliment however I would say that photographing birds is largely a matter of luck and some technical ability whereas your ability to see scenes and people and produce some astonishing compositions and images is quite beyond me. You can learn my skill. Unfortunately I can't learn your talent.

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  14. Wow, Graham! What fabulous images of the Sparrowhawk!

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  15. Great photos! I know how difficult it can be to photograph birds. Thanks for sharing. You must have thrilled to have the sparrowhawk look directly at you!

    Is Pauline still with you there? Say hello for me and to Pat also! :-)

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    1. No Kay Pauline left a week ago . I'll say hello to Pat of course. And, yes, it was good to be so close to such an bird.

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  16. So nice to stop in and catch up. :^) I've spent my lunch break at work browsing through your recent posts, viewing your photographs on a large screen. It's been a wonderful mini-escape.
    Hugs -- C

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