A fast and nimble visitor to gardens.
I’ve seen them in my garden – and they’re quite probably visiting yours. A sparrowhawk is a quite amazing hunter, but it is easy to not see them.
The photo, below, is one I took in my own garden in Caversham last year. (It was hurried and through glass, so not great quality.) I just happened to look out of my window to see a sparrowhawk finishing off its meal. I didn’t see what it was eating and by the time it had finished its meal and flown off, there was nothing much left to use as to work out what it was. A few downy feathers.
This year, with a friend in his garden, we were privileged to have a female sparrowhawk fly within no more than two foot of us as it tried to negotiate the bamboo canes and what-have-you that are near his bird feeders. And this wasn’t merely a close fly-by. The bird had to negotiate a whole series of incredibly tight turns to avoid the canes, the feeders and us two. It did it all with genuinely amazing speed, and the only noise it made was that caused by its wings – only audible to us because we were so close. It was the kind of experience that had us looking at each other, barely believing what we’d experienced.
As it’s quite a small bird, and because they are so fast, it’s easy to not notice them. But they are out there, in Caversham and Emmer Green, and they are one to keep an eye out for. I think I’d describe them as poetry in very fast motion.
The RSPB site offers more details:
There’s an entry about another encounter with a sparrowhawk here: