Sparrowhawk In The Garden

I’m sure like many of you, I get a lot of Blackbirds in the garden. In late summer I can have 10 or more, mostly brown-coloured juveniles, all in the garden at the same time. They enjoy scratching around in the debris of the flowerbeds and feeding on the fruit fallen from the apple tree.

However, it is not all paradise.

One evening I had just gone through to the kitchen to make dinner when I noticed something at the top of the garden. I picked up the camera (always keep it handy!) and on peering through the lens I saw it was a Sparrowhawk that had caught a male Blackbird. At this point the Blackbird was obviously still alive since I could see its head move and its beak open as it gasped or squawked.

I managed to take a few photos through the double-glazing. Then suddenly the Blackbird started to struggle violently and the Sparrowhawk flew away over the hedge taking the Blackbird with it. So I never learned the fate of the Blackbird but it’s probable that it was the Sparrowhawk’s dinner that evening.

In a separate incident a couple of weeks later I saw a Sparrowhawk scare the living daylights out of a Grey Squirrel. The squirrels come in the garden and run up and down the apple trees. This particular one was ambling back towards the hedge when suddenly a Sparrowhawk appeared from near the house and shot straight up the garden about a foot above the ground and went right over the squirrel’s head.

It all happened so quickly that I couldn’t tell if the Sparrowhawk actually touched the squirrel or not, but it didn’t half jump! If it had been in the Squirrel Olympics it would have won the gold medal for the high jump. I don’t think that a Sparrowhawk would kill and eat a Grey Squirrel so this bird may just have been having a bit of fun or may have been a juvenile practicing its hunting skills. Anyway, very amusing to watch.

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