On Monday I spent about 40 minutes watching a Sparrowhawk in a tree. It didn’t do much other than sitting in the tree and calling incessantly while looking west.
Yesterday, from a different vantage point, I watched what I assumed to be the same bird doing much the same thing. Occasionally I could see another Sparrowhawk moving around the area. From this bird’s behaviour, and reasonably shabby plumage, I have assumed that it is a juvenile. This is good. It makes me think that the Sparrowhawks that I have seen over the year in one particular area have bred again (again assuming that the juvenile that was seen last autumn was a local bird).
But this is an assumption. One reasonably distant and shabby bird acting up isn’t much proof of breeding. Ideally, I need at least a second bird.
This morning I was at my place of employ quite early. I considered getting stuck in for the good of the cause and all that, but as I will be leaving soon I felt more inclined to go and look for Sparrowhawks. So I did. Again I found a second bird, but this time it was sitting with the original bird and doing much the same thing as the first – calling a lot and facing west – and it looked pretty much identical. Like this.
Hmmm. That makes me think that there are two juveniles (which is very good) but they are still distant and shabby. Not quite the proof I was after. So now I need a third bird. Not quite a three bird theory, but certainly a three bird proposition. I thought that I might have found it at one point this morning. While the two probable juveniles were sitting on the tree they attracted the attention of some Magpies and after a short while there was at least half a dozen Magpies mobbing the hawks, who were giving plenty back. There ensued about half an hour of flying around at each other with some lovely views of the two hawks. Sometimes visible, sometimes not, but always audible. During the aerial skirmish I was certain that I saw a slaty-backed bird pop out of the foliage which may have been bigger than the other two. The third bird. I’m now reasonably confident that Sparrowhawks have been breeding on my patch in 2010. I do intend to chase the third bird for a while though. For the sake of proof.
The Heron ignored everything.