Caught in the act

Today I wanted to take some photographs of birds on the bird table to show you. I was ready with my camera looking out of the window. There are usually blue tits, sparrows and blackbirds in abundance. Occasionally there are two shy collared doves under the bird table gently feeding on scraps. But wouldn’t you know it? Today there is nothing. No birds at all feeding on the treats I have put out for them.

I waited quiet a while, but no birds came. I was surprised, I took a walk around the garden and into the woodland. I heard a rustle in the yew tree, then I heard flapping. I thought it could be the dainty collared doves looking for a nesting site.

I stood stock still and saw a bird about the size of a dove. I stared for some time and realised that this bird had a barred tail. Then as I watched I saw a yellow beady eye looking straight at me. I stared and it stared back.  It was a sparrow hawk.

it had been hiding in my yew tree waiting for a chance to capture a little bird from the bird table as a tasty treat. Instead, I had caught it in the act. But why didn’t it fly away?

I looked carefully and saw that it was flapping against the wire netting, the rabbit proof fence of our vegetable patch.

The sparrow hawk kept trying to push through the wire. It must have thought it was trapped but in fact it wasn’t – if only it flew upwards it could be free.
It could also fly sideways, to the right where the fence ended, and free itself. But it stayed there looking at me and trying the wire fence again and again, of course the fence did not yield.

At last, I made a move to the left and, of course, the sparrow hawk instinctively moved to the right. After a few moments it realised that it could escape now it was away from the fence. It flew like a bullet over the woodland hedge and away over Oak Meadow.

Watch out for it hiding near your bird table today.

(Adapted from my column in The Oswestry Advertizer)


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