31 July 2011

Encounters with a Sparrowhawk

I've always had a particular love of sparrowhawks - and to this day a sighting of this raptor fills me with excitement. It was whilst waiting by a pond for water voles to appear that I had an amazing and quite unusual encounter with this sparrowhawk. At first it was a typical glimpse - the bird shooting low over the reeds and quickly changing direction. To my surprise though, this bird banked back round towards me and landed in a tall tree - just fifty yards or so away. I expected it to stop briefly and then move on - but it actually stayed a while. I was even able to change lenses and take my time to get a shot.

After 5 minutes or so it took flight, passing ridiculously close, before disappearing somewhere in the trees. My attention was drawn elsewhere and after a few more minutes I walked closer to the pond, only for the same sparrowhawk to suddenly shoot up from deep in the reeds and land in another tree at the edge of the water. Although the plumage was more like a male, the size suggested that it was a female - and clearly it was hunting something specific. No doubt it was one of the many coot or moorhen chicks in the reeds, and it seemed that this bird wasn't going to leave until it had got its kill.

I have heard stories of sparrowhawks finding a nesting site and returning repeatedly to raid the site, picking off one young bird at a time. This might seem evil, but quite simply it's smart. With its own chicks to feed a sparrowhawk must take every opportunity and easy pickings should be exploited. For me I was just lucky enough to watch an often secretive predator at incredibly close quarters.

1 comment:

  1. Hi all,

    The Sparrowhawk is a small bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. It eats mostly small birds which live in woodland. It can be seen in any habitat and often hunts birds in town and city gardens. Sparrowhawks build a nest in woodland. Thanks for sharing it.....