March 17th   Leave a comment

My daughter stuck her head round the door this morning and let me know that there was a bird in the greenhouse. I asked her what sort and she replied in true teenage fashion that she didn’t do birds and had no idea and why was I asking so many questions. I duly went down the garden to the greenhouse expecting the usual sparrow or a false alarm: house sparrows often go in to eat the aphids and then happily find their way out of the open door. But when I got there, not a sparrow but a sparrowhawk. A first year male that was trying to get out through the glass rather than looking behind it and seeing the open door. Sparrowhawks are great at what they do – stealth, surprise hunting and ruthless determination – but they are not the brightest bird on the block. I caught the bird easily as it continued to try to get through the glass. I’ve handled a lot of sparrowhawks and still have a licence to catch and put radio tags on them (a fairly arcane qualification, but handy today). But sparrowhawks are actually not much trouble in the hand. Even if they get their sharp claws into your hand their grip is not very strong, and their bill the same. I imagine it’s a different story if you are a blue tit. I took the sparrowhawk out of the greenhouse and showed it to my daughter who, at last, was moderately impressed. Sparrowhawks have such an indomitable stare, as if they are sizing everything up for a fight – even something many times its size. Perhaps something a teenager can relate to. I let it go and it shot away over my house, blue tit alarm calls and grumpy gulls following it away.

That teenager death stare – the young male sparrowhawk. If you look closely you can see it has a tick just behind its eye.

Posted March 17, 2021 by wildcrail in Sightings

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