Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Sparrowhawk saga

March 4th

Another day of clear skies and calm winds saw temperatures rising into double figures, and a south-westerly wind certainly provoked the feeling of spring. A census of the east side revealed that over 200 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 600 Herring Gulls were present on the slopes, whilst two Peregrines and four Ravens were seen overhead. The largest count of Meadow Pipits so far this year saw 64 scattered around.

Fulmars have been prospecting for their season's nest sites on the cliffs
Shags are also beginning to pair up on the rocky slopes of the east side

March 5th 

Another sunny day saw the continuation of the light southerly winds, which will hopefully begin producing some migrants in coming days! A Red-throated Diver and a Gannet were seen off the west side in the morning, whilst two Ringed Plovers and 21 Curlews were present on The Narrows. The Hooded Crow continued to associate with some 21 Carrion Crows, and a passage of Ravens included 12 birds over the mountain.

In other news, the female Sparrowhawk managed to catch an unfortunate Magpie off-guard, and in an epic 40-minute struggle, gradually devoured the bird. It was an amazing spectacle to watch, especially considering that Magpies are usually the ones chasing and harrying the Sparrowhawks! Even when the Magpie was still alive, the Sparrowhawk set about ripping chunks of flesh from the bird's underside. This sequence of images is just part of the battle that went on, but I believe they convey something of the predator-prey interaction!

Towards the end of the struggle
A rather satisfied Sparrowhawk!

March 6th

The first Jack Snipe for over a month was flushed from the Ty-Pellaf wetlands in the morning, and a Redwing was also a new arrival onto the island. Elsewhere, four Shelducks had arrived to join the usual pair on The Narrows.


  1. Those images are stunning and dramatic Ben, nature at it's rawest.

  2. HI Wonderful series of shots of the Sparrowhawk and Magpie, also I love the photos of the Fulmar.

  3. A fabulous set of photos of the sparrowhawk.
    Where were you during all of this? How far away etc.?

  4. Thanks Doug, it was an incredible experience!! Thanks Margaret.

  5. Thanks for the comments everyone. I was hiding behind a large water tank throughout this episode, although the Sparrowhawk could clearly see me at intervals. She seemed more interested in securing her self a meal, rather than flying off like they usually do at that range.