Sunday, 20 February 2011

I managed to get round for a full patch walk today, only the third this month, and once again it was a grey, dull and damp, with a light mist, making viewing conditions very poor.

I set off across Migrant Alley towards the College first thing, as i haven't been here for a few days now. A flock of 6 YELLOWHAMMERS came up from the new paddock, and flyovers by both CANADA and GREYLAG GOOSE were seen, a pair of MALLARDS came up from the flooded ditch at the extreme NW of my patch, but the hoped for Snipe didn't show. LESSER BLACK BACKED, HERRING and BLACK HEADED GULLS all flew over heading South.

The College Grounds produced some of the woodland species I normally associate with the lakeside scrub area, such as BULLFINCH, SISKIN, LONG TAILED TIT, and two singing TREECREEPERS, as well as the regular Tits and finch's, plus SONGTHRUSH, MISLE THRUSH and JAY. Two MOORHEN seen on the small ponds in the gardens, meant I had now already seen everything that would of been seen over on the lakes!

I returned back through the Pub Field, where a KESTREL was sitting in a Sycamore tree, along with 157 FIELDFARE, I made out just a single REDWING with them, but there were probably more, it was hard to tell in the gloom!

I didn't have a halftime break today, I went straight over to the lake area, the expected pairs of Canada Geese were on each of the lakes, and only 1 pair of Mallard - very disappointing again :-( The scrubby wood was searched through, and the MARSH TIT was found, along with NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST, and another Treecreeper, plus both GREEN and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER.

The final leg of my walk through the Wet Woods and Small Holding, didn't throw up any surprises, but more Long Tailed Tits were seen with another 2 Goldcrest.

I got home at 10:00, having recorded 40 species, not a very satisfactory result, I had rushed a bit because of the poor conditions, so i had breakfast, and went off out again. I scanned the Tree Nursery and came up with a PHEASANT for the day, then went for a watch over at Migrant Alley, where two things cheered me no end, the first was a singing SKYLARK, the first one to sing this year, and the second was a fantastic sighting of 27 GOLDEN PLOVER (58) going over NW, the months list gets a little nudge nearer to the 60 species mark :-). I added PIED WAGTAIL and STOCK DOVE to the day list whilst there, making a more realistic total of 46 - much better :-)

Now the following photo's ( taken in my garden this afternoon) might not be every bodies cup of tea. However it has to be remembered that nature goes on all around us, day in, day out, as if we didn't exist, so our getting all upset about things being predated is, although understandable, quite irrelevant to the workings of the natural world.

The Female SPARROWHAWK that has been prowling my garden, finally took one of the Great spotted Woodpeckers this afternoon. As I said, a very sad moment, but it happens.

A fight ensued for some minutes, in which time all the local birds came in to mob the Hawk, including two MAGPIES, they are not exactly immune to a bit of predation themselves! Irritatingly, a troop of Long Tailed Tits also came in, understandably they left immediately, but they were the first I've had in the garden since last March!

After dragging the still screeching Woodpecker over to the edge of next doors garden, the final struggle began, but it was a battle that could only end one way now.
The woody had put up a fight for ten minutes, but eventually succumbed to the Hawks power
A sad end I know, I had been taking photo's of this woodpecker over the last few years, but thats probably why it got caught, it was getting a bit old, and so was just not quick enough :-(


Pete Woodruff said...

A sad illustrated account of the Sparrowhawk taking the GSW Warren.

As you say, it happens and birds aren't selective when it comes to a meal.

Phil said...

You're absolutely right Warren, nature is red in tooth and claw as they say. Always has been, and long may it be allowed to continue.
You did a good job with the pics, however gory some may find them.

Warren Baker said...

Thanks for your comments on this subject Pete, Phil. there are some out there who would have all predators culled :-(

Mike said...

Sad to see a Woodpecker taken but to the Sparrowhawk its just dinner, glad you posted this though because this is nature and it happens.

Warren Baker said...

Thanks Mike,
you are right of course

Marc Heath said...

As you said a sad end but a good series of shots showing this. If only the Woodie had pecked it in the face!!

Warren Baker said...

Ive helped in ringing GS Woodpeckers, and they put up a hell of a fight, drawing blood easily with their bills, but they seem to not use this as a weapon against Sprawks.

Derek Faulkner said...

What a load of rubbish you guys speak, I dare say if you had acted quickly you could of saved that Pecker but no, sensational photos come first.
What's next, pictures of crows pecking lambs eyes out in the name of nature.

ShySongbird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ShySongbird said...

Oh dear! It's very sad to see but of course the Sparrowhawk has to eat too and it is perfectly natural.

Mike H said...

Warren you are right to show this side of nature. Its the third site today that I have looked at that show this.

The other two lucky sprawks had starling for breakfast not GSW.!!!

Jason K said...

Thats really interesting that you had Golden Plover over today Warren. I had 9 flyover my patch today

Anthony Miners said...

You captured the drama in the garden very well of course that is nature at its most raw. Must say that if I was faced with the same dilemma im not sure what I would do.Whilst I would want nature to take its course if faced with that I may be tempted to intervene especially as I have got used to the GS paying my garden a daily visit. Good work with the camera.

Paul said...

Hi Warren, nature is just that, nature, and as such, I think we all know what birds of prey/raptors do to survive, they are pretty much at the top of the food chain. I have both GS Woodpeckers and a female Sparrowhawk visit my garden, and Ive seen the Sparrowhawk fly through with a Dove. Im sure I wouldnt be too pleased if say, the Blackcap or GS Woodpecker was predated. But as an observer of birds/nature, its beyond my control what happens between ALL the creatures in my garden(or for that matter, out in the field).
Thanks for sharing those interesting pics with us mate.

Stewart said...

Mr Faulkner isn't best pleased there Warren. Maybe he would like to see the back of those pesky sparrowhawks...At the end of the day, raptors are raptors.

A great set of photo's too by the way, even if it is a bit grim.