Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Home Patch: Enter a Sparrowhawk!

I looked out at the snow yesterday morning ... and there before my eyes was this male Sparrowhawk.

The bird sensed it was being watched, and began to turn its head ...

... in my direction.

It was my best Sparrowhawk sighting to date ...

... despite the fact that I was looking (and taking photos) through double-glazing.

I have seen a Sparrowhawk in this garden before, but only on a couple of occasions.

We have had hungry Robins, Blue tits, Great tits and Goldfinches in the garden recently ...

... and with such a large predator about, I feared for their safety.

Here is one of the tiny Blue tits ...

... keeping a wary eye out for trouble.

Then today, David took this photo of a Long-tailed tit feeding from our coconut fatball.

The Blackbird was hopping about in the snow, and so far the small birds seem to be surviving.

I wonder whether you feel protective towards your small birds? I love the concept of 'wild', but find I have to brace myself when it comes to Tennyson's phrase, 'Nature red in tooth and claw'.

I looked up Tennyson's poem, In Memoriam A. H. H., 1850 (Canto 56) ... and only then remembered with a shudder that 'Nature' in this particular poem is not the personification of a wild creature in our landscape such as the Sparrowhawk: no, it actually refers to us as a race of human beings. 

So what set me thinking? Well, two things, triggered by the arrival of the Sparrowhawk in my home patch. The first was a post on fellow poet, Juliet Wilson's Crafty Green Poet blog, about her sighting of a fox and a drove of rabbits in the snow (I was willing the fox to feed, but not on the rabbits!). The second was a memory of my time in Philadelphia a year ago last January, when I discovered that there was a version of The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks (1780 - 1849) in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Hicks, apparently, painted 61 versions of the scene, so don't be surprised if this is not the version you know! 

  • On the subject of foxes, you might be interested in this

8 comments:

ShySongbird said...

Hello Caroline, You have a very nice blog here. The Sparrowhawk is a very impressive bird but not one I like to see too often in my garden. Coincidentally, I used 'red in tooth and claw' for the title of a post I did about a Sparrowhawk last year :-)

I enjoyed looking at some of your previous posts. How nice that you have found a Violet already. I do love discovering the first wildflowers of the year :-)

L. D. said...

Hopefully the sparrow hawk doesn't take up residence. It is quite a predator of small birds. They are pretty and their sound is a definitely distinguished from other birds. .

Countryside Tales said...

Hi Caroline, beautiful pictures, what a handsome bird. My bird photos are largely taken through a window too and I also feel hugely protective of the small things in our garden. You get to know them individually if you watch long enough and can't help but feel an interest in their welfare, especially at this time of year!

eileeninmd said...

Caroline, great sighting of the Sparrowhawk. Any kind of raptor is cool to see. Love all your cute feeder birds too. Wonderful photos. Hope you are having a great week!

Em Parkinson said...

He's absolutely gorgeous. We used to have one at our old house who would come and pick off a small bird in our hedge on a daily basis. I was very torn about it. He needed to eat but we got to know the little birds so well and hated seeing them go. Haven't seen one up here for a year or so.

Crafty Green Poet said...

That's a great sighting of a sparrowhawk! I hope your small birds were safe! I love seeing birds of prey, but i do feel protective of the smaller birds.

Thanks for the link to my blog post and the link about the Falklands fox is very interesting

Mary said...

Love the sparrowhawk shots! I've never seen one...very nice. I'm glad you saw it and got photos.

Wendy said...

Hello, I've just come across your lovely photographs. The photographs of the sparrowhawk are terrific; I only ever see them dash through (and I fear for my songbirds, too. I don't like to see them taken).