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Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Scourge of The Sprawk - November, 2016

Earlier this year we were getting frequent visits to our garden by Sparrowhawks. Fortunately these fizzled out, and we then went for a few months without seeing one. This month (November) those visits have started again, and become much more frequent. 

The visits have been, primarily, by a male bird - in fact, I suspect by two male birds. Earlier in the month, the visiting bird was very timid, and flew off as soon as it detected movement behind the window. More recently the bird looks different (it has some white patches on its head and on the top of its wings) and is extremely bold. It ignores me when I wave my arms around, bang on the window, and when I open and slam the window closed noisily! One day this bird visited at least six times. Fortunately the success rate has been low, and I'm only aware of three successful strikes - two Goldfinch and one Greenfinch.

One factor is constant, however, and that is that the bird only seems to come at times of very dull, and often wet, weather. This does not make for good photography. Here are some of my efforts - all taken through the glass of (mainly) my study window, or the windows of our conservatory.

1st November

This is the timid bird - taken from my study, of the bird at the end of my garden. This was with the old D300s whilst the D7200 was away for repair.

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) (male) - our garden
9th November

I was still working with the D300s this day. The first image is of the bird on the feeder pole, just outside my study window and probably only six metres away.


The next image was when the bird was near the top of my garden, just over three hours later..


It then flew towards me and landed only about 8 metres away. The light was absolutely dire here, and I was lucky to get these images.




22nd September

This was the day that the bird visited at least six times. I took some photos from three of those visits. I'd got the D7200 back by now.

These are from a visit when the bird landed on the same perch as depicted above, about 8 metres from me. After I'd taken my photos, I opened the window and slammed it shut again to frighten it off - and it barely batted an eyelid!




These were from the same visit, but from a slightly different angle. I've had to tightly left and right crop the last sequence and this next sequence because of intervening 'rubbish'.




Fifty two minutes after its departure, it was back again on the same perch, but in a slightly different position.




The last visit of the day that I photographed was when it stayed at the top of the garden for a while. Not the best of images, but at least I didn't have to give it a tight crop!

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) (male) - our garden
The result of all these visits is that many of the smaller birds have now deserted our garden, and so the Sparrowhawk has too!

Thank you for dropping by. I think that I might be offering some owls for my next post - it's not been a bad month.

30 comments:

  1. What a stunning piece of photography Richard,but without the Star all would be lost,I like the Sparrowhawk,it has it's needs,which at times we all dislike,but that's nature.
    So,I see two Stars,your good self,and the Sparrowhawk.
    John.

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    1. Thank you, John, for your very kind words. I was luckiy in having this bird come so close! I always get excited when one arrives and, if it wasn't for Mrs P, I'd let it stay undisturbed!

      Best wishes to you both - - Richard

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  2. It's a marvelously handsome bird, Richard. I guess that once we take the decision to feed songbirds we have to accept the fact that accipiters will take advantage of the smorgasbord we have laid out for them. We get the odd Cooper's Hawk or Sharp-shinned Hawk in our backyard, but with nothing like the regularity you have been experiencing. Just returned from Cuba - arrived at our house around 03:00h this morning so I am still a little tired. Had a great trip with many wonderful birds and other memorable experiences.

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    1. As mentioned to Jophn, above, I'm quite happy to have this bird visiting us, but Lindsay insists that we try to send it on its way!

      I hadn't realised that you were off to Cuba again. Delighted to hear it was a good trip, and look forward to your report.

      Love to you both - - Richard

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  3. Brilliant images Richard:-) It's a shame, they have to eat and unfortunately it's your little birds. One year I had the same problem, a male Sparrowhawk and he was catching the Blue Tits:-( My problem I am having at the moment is rats, two young rats and an adult. The adult is able to get onto my bird table, so I am having to find ways of detering the rat. The younger ones have not managed to find away to get onto the table.

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    1. Thank you, Lin.

      I'm usually quite pleased to see the Sparrowhawks but, occasionally, it gets too much.

      We had a problem with rats a couple of years ago. I bought a rat trap, but never caught one. They did disappear however, and I suspect that a neighbour put an end to them! Since then, thankfully, we've only had two isolated sightings.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  4. Hello Richard. Absolutely incredible images. Hawk has found an easy meal place. Annoyance! on behalf of the little birds would hope that the hawk should be the place. Greetings

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    1. Hi Anne. I like to see the Sparrowhawk. Raptors are magnificent creatures. I just wish that they didn't do ALL their hunting in my garden!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  5. Fantastic set mate, great detail too especially when the low light conditions are taken into consideration.

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    1. Thank you, Paul. The results were helped significantly by the improved high-ISO performance of a modern camera, and a bird that came close- and stayed there!

      Best wishes - - Richard

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  6. What a stunning bird and images Richard. I often speculate that sprawks are seen more often on grey dull days as the weather lends the male an extra bit of camouflage but I often talk....

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    1. Thanks, Doug. You could be right. However, I also suspect that both prey and predator are more desperate to eat in periods of bad weather, with the prey birds being less alert.

      I hope you haven't totally given up on your own blog?

      Best wishes - - Richard

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  7. Hi Richard, wonderful images of the Sprawk, such a shame to get them you have problems in the garden with your resident birds. Hopefully you will get some time without it bothering you. All the best, John

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    1. In reality, John, I'm more than happy for this bird to visit - as long as it doesn't do it too often!

      See you on Friday, if not before.

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  8. Wow Richard I think these shots are fabulous. I have only managed to get one shot of one here, though they do visit from time to time especially in winter when there are more birds around at the feeder. I would like them to find food elsewhere, but I have a very soft spot for birds of prey so I do not chase them away, but generally they are just a bit far for my lens. Have a great weekend Diane

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    1. Thank you, Diane, I've had a good weekend. If my wife wasn't so determined that they should be unwelcome, these birds would give me far more photographic opportunities!

      Have a wonderful week - - - Richard

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  9. Good light or not that are profi receptions, great positions from the bird
    Every animal photographer is envious
    Greetings Frank

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    1. Thank you for your very kind words, Frank.

      My best wishes - - - Richard

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  10. Brilliant images Richard, beautiful.

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  11. Gorgeous portraits! What a treat for you and now us!

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    1. Thank you, Tammie, for your kind words.

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  12. Wonderful portraits of a bird I love especially!
    It is a very mature male indeed, the older ones can even have red eyes.
    No doubt he has experience... to stand his grounds despite your efforts to chase him away! LOL!
    He is magnificent and despite Lindsay's feelings, I am sure you enjoy seeing him and having these wonderful picture opportunities!
    Congratulations Richard, keep well and warm!

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    1. Thank you for your very kind words of encouragement, Noushka. I did enjoy seeing that bird, but we've not seen him for about a week now, so perhaps he's moved on?

      My very best wishes to you - - - Richard

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  13. Wow !!!! What say this incredibly beautiful !!!
    Beautiful pictures of the Sparrowhawk and so beautiful up close!
    Cherp beautiful, beautiful oil colors and brightness and many beautiful details.
    The whole series is great but I mention just two pictures and that pictures are 4 and 7. These are really fantastic!
    My compliments.

    Best regards, Helma

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    1. Thank you, Helma, for your very kind words. I was very lucky in having such a magnificent subject pose for my camera!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  14. Excellent photos Richard. I love the light in them.

    I guess this is one problem with feeding birds, our feeders make the small birds vulnerable to large birds, cats and more. I have not put my feeders out, not sure if the bears are hibernating yet. I don't like to encourage bears to my yard.

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    1. Thank you, Tammie. You had me confused for a while there, with this comment from another of your incarnations!

      I'm glad that I don't have to worry about attracting bears to the garden with the bird food. Fox is the biggest creature we get, and we haven't seen one of those for a few weeks now - so it's just the squirrels and hedgehogs (soon to be hibernating) that we're getting - and, of course, the odd domestic cat.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  15. Hello Richard, these are some awesome captures! What a stunning bird. Those eyes are so amazing. Love it.
    Regards,
    Roos

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    1. Thank you, Roos. I was lucky to have this bird as a regular visitor - even if he was a bit too 'regular'! He's since gone, but I did have a female Sparrowhawk visit briefly yesterday. Sadly I didn't get any photos, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she'll return.

      My very best wishes - - - Richard

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