Due to ongoing garden projects we again spent this past weekend at home, and once more were simply amazed by just how much bird life we saw either in the garden itself or flying overhead. The regular feeder visitors have now become so used to our presence that on Saturday I would regularly turn around to find either a House Sparrow, Blue Tit or Great Tit literally at my shoulder. Even the Jackdaws were happy to feed a mere couple of foot away as were singles of Robin and Dunnock. The Chiffchaffs remained in fine voice and sang pretty much from dawn till dusk, but it was the yaffling of Green Woodpeckers that really made my day. I have mentioned previously on this blog that our local birds seemed to leave the area after being almost ubiquitous a couple of years ago, so to have them back once again is great news. They are still remaining visually elusive but it can only be a matter of time before one pops into view.

25823 - Garden Sparrowhawk

One bird that was certainly being remarkably showy was the Sparrowhawk above which appeared on our roof. I happened to glance up as I stretched my legs and there it was looking straight back at us. I fully expected it to take flight but instead it turned away and started eyeing up the small birds passing by the front of the house. In fact it was so settled that I had time to walk down to the house, unlock it, fetch my camera, return back up the garden and take some photos and still it showed no signs of leaving. It did eventually move off but what an amazing encounter. We’ve suspected that there has been one in the garden on a couple of previous occasions but this is the first time that we have had such brilliant views.

On Sunday things got off to a great start with a single Red Kite and three Buzzards soaring overhead. A pair of Ravens were also doing the rounds but they were usually being mobbed by at least one Crow. Seeing a pair together and being so vocal makes me wonder if they might be preparing to nest somewhere nearby, if indeed they are not already. Their calls were nothing though compared to the noise emanating from the flock of seven Lesser Black Backed Gulls who descended upon us mid afternoon. Two of the flock landed on the house giving us a new garden tick whilst the rest flew in circles above. They were clearly looking down at us but for what reason I can only guess. Maybe it was just out of sheer curiosity as they moved on after about five minutes but stayed around the local area for the rest of the day. With the presence of a single Herring Gull amongst them it lent the garden a distinctly coastal feel.

On the breeding front I didn’t see the Blue Tits using our nest boxes all day but the Jackdaws are once again constructing at least one nest in the neighbours chimney pots. We also have a definite pair of Great Tits, one of which is quite acrobatic whenever it comes in to land. Seeing it hanging upside down from a branch is not unusual!

With the day drawing to a close there were two further new garden ticks to come. The first was an overflying Meadow Pipit whilst the second was a stunning Hobby. The Hobby was a real surprise as we are right at the start of their usual arrival dates and its not a species I get to see all that often. It gave stunning views as it darted around the sky calling loudly all the time before finally heading off north. What a way to round out the weekend.


FAB · April 3, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Now that sounds like a perfect weekend …. a bit of gardening and birding at the same time.

Lovely shot of the Sparrowhawk. I clearly recall watching a male immediately outside the window which stared at me for over 5 minutes before turning around to check out the resident Sparrows.

Gillian Olson · April 4, 2012 at 12:12 am

What a shot, a very cooperative bird too.

Anonymous · April 4, 2012 at 9:36 am

What an impressive weekend you had. Sometimes and financially wise it can be a good thing to stay closer to home. It can be so easy to overlook what is on our very doorsteps. If you wish to investigate Sparrowhawks further, then you should try an internet search on Professor Ian Newton's studies on them. He undertook a research project, which studied them over a 25-year period and has produced a book on the species.

Kind Regards

Tony Powell

theconstantwalker · April 4, 2012 at 7:39 pm

A wonderful bird to see Adam… but it's still a shock to see one taking a bird from my garden…
I have witnessed it a few time in the last 12 months.

Do you recall Chris Packham on Springwatch visiting a guy who built tunnel hides in his garden and set up cameras to capture his breeding garden sparrowhawks.

They shared some of his fantastic footage. He called it Sparrowhawk Island and it's less than a mile from my house.

Dave · April 6, 2012 at 10:46 pm

nice of it to be so cooperative Adam. Hobby too you jammy so and so


Adam Tilt · April 11, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Frank – it was as good as it sounds.

Gillian – thanks. Never expected the Sparrowhawk to stay for so long.

Tony – thanks for the information. I shall look him up as it sounds very interesting.

Andrew – I think I must have missed that episode but it sounds like a genius idea.

Dave – I enjoy being jammy 🙂

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