Friday, 14 March 2008


Had a visit from the neighbourhood Sparrowhawk earlier this week. As I had the choice to break away from what I was doing I sat for an hour in anticipation of the hunt, only to be frustrated when the bird lunged after a sparrow down the other side on next door's roof.
But what am I saying frustrated? It's thrilling enough to see the bird at all!

Over the years I have watched some memorable hunts outside my kitchen window, most remarkably when a mouse chose really the worst moment possible to ascend the bird table - as a Sparrowhawk was already sat on the fence about six feet away, hardly believing its luck I'm sure. I was impressed the mouse clambered around the overhang onto the platform, much more amazed when the hawk swept in, and somersaulted in one swift movement to snatch the startled rodent as it leapt a good 10 inches in the air at the last instant in vain hopes of avoiding its terminal fate. Incredible reflexes from both creatures.

This is the first time I've noticed the Sparrowhawk perched around the garden since last summer. Fingers crossed it'll be claiming a territory here.

When I'm ABBing visitors do share their experiences of backyard Sparrowhawks, most people chuffed to have them. To the less assured I try to explain it in terms of having a 'David Attenborough film in your garden'. There are Lions in the Serengeti, Tigers in the Sundarbans, and your garden, it has Sparrowhawks! All apex predators, full of (deadly) charisma, just enjoy the action!

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