Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Blood on the Wall! 14-March-17

After dragging myself out of bed at 7:15 this morning, I freshened myself up in preparation for another long day at school. 
With my eyes drooping, I drew my curtains and a large bird flew down from the wall about 20m from the window onto a water tray at the back of the garden.
Not yet awake I thought,  "That's a big pigeon." 
I turned back immediately and watched as this huge bird flew back up onto the wall.
It stood and peered over the wall towards the road.
It was a female juvenile Sparrowhawk, a bird absent to my garden tick list.
Scrambling for the camera, which I realised was downstairs, I watched the bird before it swooped down suddenly on the other side of the wall and then landed on my dad's new car. Then gone.
After a minute, as I hurriedly retrieved the camera, hoping it's batteries were charged, my sister woke up, the Sparrowhawk returned to the garden clutching a pigeon.
I had, obliviously, seen it catch a pigeon. The pigeon was still alive, but after a few seconds it definitely wasn't. The Sparrowhawk disassembled the pigeon, leaving feathers everywhere. 
Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk
For a good 10 minutes, it sat on the pigeon (which it was probably the same size as) at the back of the garden. Once I had hurriedly got changed, I crept downstairs and through the garden door. Knowing very well not much would disturb it from its meal, I approached cautiously from around 12m away and got some decent shots. 
      The bird itself appears to be a juvenile female, with a brownish back and visible, chevron-like chest markings. It looks like a 1st/2nd year, but not great at identifying age. I would be grateful for any ideas on its exact age.
      Eventually, after gathering enough satisfying shots at least, the remaining parts of the pigeon were gathered and she flew over the wall and out of sight in the neighbouring gardens. The smaller birds returned, and I thought she was gone. But when I got back at about 16.30, all the Starlings suddenly alarmed and she flew into an evergreen out of sight. 
      Although not a mightily rare bird, it was quite incredible watching it hunt in our relatively small garden! Who knows what might happen tomorrow morning...

Sparrowhawk
Sparrowhawk

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