A hunter in the trees
by Simon Knight
My walk in the park was short and definitely sweet last Sunday morning. My first sighting was of a sparrow hawk.
It had just taken off from the ground only 30ft away from me and I had clearly spooked it, but I had no idea that it was there until it was too late. But shortly after it took off I heard it call, so was able to locate it in the trees. I was able to get one picture before it took off again. I’m not happy at all with the picture, but it’s good enough for a record of the encounter and more importantly, it shows that the park serves as a hunting ground for this raptor. I did try to track it down again and was getting close until the hawk was flushed out by somebody who didn’t realise it was close. I had a chat with this person, and it was great to hear that she had recently seen her first great spotted woodpecker in the park, which she was over the moon about.
It’s fantastic that the park can give people these wildlife sightings and introduce them to species that they have never seen before. This also shows the importance of the park as a habitat and the interactions that we have with it. I think that if people can make a real connection with wildlife by seeing it in person, then maybe our natural habitats and wildlife will have a better future.
My next welcome sighting, and it was my first of the year, was a chiffchaff. Its song alerted me to its presence, and I was soon able to locate the bird as it moved from twig to twig. Sadly, I wasn’t quick enough to get a picture of it.
The sun stayed out long enough for me to get only my second shot of a squirrel – they’re not high up on my list of species to photograph. I know they are generally regarded as pests, but they’re still pretty cute and can be quite entertaining as they chase each other through the trees. I couldn’t resist this one as it ate its breakfast with the sun backlighting its tail. It was a nice end to my short visit to the park that day.