It has been snowing hard all day but yesterday I had lunch with my friends. All three who live here, in the country (rather than the town) agreed that they were starting to have qualms about their bird feeders. Seems we have all created sparrowhawk feeders.
These small, fast predators whizz around the side of the house and bowl over their victims in a whirl of what seem pointed wings — an arial dogfight. The unfortunate tit will be consumed on the grass or caried off. If lucky, or quick, it may drop into the dense foliage of a protective shrub like our box bush. The little birds — the tits, sparrows, robins, siskins and finches — will cower there until one sounds the all-clear.
Every day we see buzzards and red kites, silhouetted against the sky as they soar above us.
Occasionally we see a kestrel.
The peregrine falcons, thicker set, which are common place in Kettering are conspicuous by their absence in Mid-Wales although we saw this one on the flood plain of the Dyfi estuary and have seen one in the Elan valley.
Photos are a boon to bird identification — do you remember this one — I published it years ago. So blinded by rage was I that I failed to notice the most sought-after bird of prey in this area — the majestic goshawk — eating my last bantam cock under the bedroom window! Goshawks live in the woods and whistle in and out, weaving between the trees, gone before you know it! Much bigger than a sparrowhawk and much less commonly spotted — at least this year.
This year is the year of the sparrowhawk.
Prospering from the largess of the kind pensioners who fill up their small bird feeders — Nature red in tooth and claw!