Sunday, 29 November 2015

November - The month of the Sparrowhawk.

This month has been a good month for raptor spotting. As the weather has turned more wintery garden bird life can take a shift, blackbirds arrive from the continent and and squabble between themselves and the natives for seed and berries. Sadly one of these failed to survive when one flew into our bay window. It hit with an almighty thump and although I was out quickly I was only in time to comfort it as it died. It was bitterly cold and I tried to keep it warm by cupping it in my hands. Shock is a big killer in birds and its body temperature can plummet fast. I think its neck was broken or at least fractured and it lasted barely seconds.

Sparrowhawks have become a much more common site at our house. They regular hunt along the stretch of gardens in our street and in the summer spent sometime perching in the lilac by the bird bath. Today a juvenile female Hawk appeared in the same location.

You can tell it is a female because of its brown back and wings.

Note the bright super-cilium (stripe above the eye) this is only present in females

Note the rufous v-shaped barring on the chest. In an adult female this barring will become more linear with horizontal bars. The beak is also more grey at the base, in adults it becomes yellower.

The legs show the bright yellow typical of Sparrowhawks as a species. They are often described as 'knitting needle' thin. You can see how well they are adapted to catching small birds and holding them tight.

I managed to get these shots through the conservatory window and I m quite pleased with the outcome although it did take some work to crop and remove the window glare.

A sparrowhawk was recorded in the garden on the 10th November as well. This one was a male. As you can see from the picture below, they are more grey/blue, and have an orangey hue to their cheeks which extends down their barred fronts.

On this occasion he sat on the top of the cameras and was at a greater distance, this made it harder to screen out the effects of the window make the image look more washed out; but its enough for a comparison, note the lack of white supercillium.