This healthy, (ringed) female Sparrowhawk, flying in yesterday, at first scared all the other birds away. After a couple of minutes, a Magpie landed in the same tree and started to approach. They eyeballed each other but it wasn’t until a second Magpie arrived that the first dared to get really close and scare the Sparrowhawk off. Meanwhile, the little birds quickly pick up, from body language, whether the Hawk is in hunting mode– after 3 or 4 minutes, six Blue Tits had reappeared in the tree and happily fed a few feet from her. Conditions: Cold and bright. Temperature: Max 5- Min 3C.
Female (note the ring) Sparrowhawk
Magpie scares off Sparrowhawk
Magpies and Jays, like most of their cousins in the Crow (Corvid) family, will take the eggs and young of small birds. Both have been around the garden while the 5 fledglings in the Great Tit nest box have been reduced to 3. The Magpie was trying to get it’s beak into the nest hole so I suspected it in the first disappearance, and protected the entrance hole but the second died in the box, of no visible cause. The RSPB commissioned a study which shows that the huge decline in small song birds is the same in areas with few Magpies as in areas where they have increased. Food and nest site loss is much more likely to be the cause of the worrying decline. Conditions: Dry and still, with some sun. Temperature:Max 18- Min 10c.
Magpie on roof of bird box
Reflections: At Old Moor RSPB reserve near Barnsley there weren’t many birds which led me to concentrate on the patterns they make in the water– Wigeon have such beautiful feather patterns anyway, and this pair drifted close to the Family Hide. They weren’t put off by the flock of garrulous men in the hide like I was! Even the Black Headed Gull, with it’s winter plumage of one dark cheek-spot rather than a fully dark head, looked beautiful. Conditions: Mild, wet morning predicted to brighten later. Temperature: Max 10- Min 4c.
Black Headed Gull in winter plumage
A pair of Wigeon at Old Moor