Thursday, 10 March 2011

Sparrowhawk with House Sparrow prey

Sparrowhawk feeding on a freshly killed female House Sparrow, using an old football as a plucking post. Its unusual to see a female Sparrowhawk bird take a such a small passerine, as there are much larger Collared Doves and Wood Pigeons around the garden in abundance.

A rarer site, a male Sparrowhawk on the roof ridge surveying the garden for a dropped and lost meal.

The great escape, moments after this picture was taken the Pied Wagtail was ambushed by the male Sparrowhawk. Both birds 'bounced' into our patio window, enabling the wagtail to escape.

Sparrowhawks are ever-present around the garden at the moment with local breeding hawks and also wintering birds whose temporary territories criss-cross the village. And no wonder, as we have in the garden plenty of prey species feeding on seed daily. There are up to 20 Yellowhammers, and similar numbers of Chaffinch and House sparrow with added variety from a Brambling, 2-3 Greenfinch and 6 Siskins. The Sparrowhawks have opportunistically taken Wood pigeon, Collared Dove, Chaffinch, House Sparrow from the garden. The good news is that an attack on a Pied Wagtail in front of our feet on the garden deck was unsuccessful! And strangely, the Yellowhammers, who always seem to be the last to react never seem to be caught.

I don't think there is cause for concern about the Sparrows being overly -predated by Sparrowhawk, as Shadoxhurst has a large House Sparrow population. House Sparrow numbers fluctuate between 20 -40 in number feeding just in our own garden.

House sparrows in the garden are for good reason very flighty in character, and are particularly nervous just by the presence of lense reflections from my own binoculars (from 50 feet!). At dusk, it could be that there are 100 -200 roosting in the garden hedge. Roosting birds fly there from all directions and are quickly hidden deep in the foliage of Ivy and Dog Rose, away from the long-legged reach of Sparrowhawks.

Other recent records include, a Little Egret still present in the village. It can often be watched from the patio window collecting insects from horse dung in the pasture behind the garden.The same pastures have hundreds of Redwing and occasional Fieldfare feeding -up in preparation for their homeward spring journeys.

We are seeing Buzzard and Kestrel frequently, and Merlin has been seen twice. Little Owls too, are never far away, one bird calling at mid-day yesterday. Great spotted and Green Wooodpecker are ever present, but sadly its been 18 months since we've seen a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Magpies are nest building high in the canopy of a Spruce and we first saw Song Thrushes nest building in late February. Moorhens, Jays, Red legged Partridge, Pheasant and Jackdaw are also attracted to the bird seed in the garden. There is a evening flock of 60 Pied wagtails the largest I've seen in the village, present in the field behind the garden before moving on to roost.

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