The Cycle of Life Continues!
by Simon Knight
After my amazing weasel encounter, which showed the daily fight for survival that happens within the park, and to which many people are oblivious; I was fortunate to witness the opposite of the weasel encounter – this time life being created.
I was walking back through the park on a massive high from photographing the weasel when I heard a sparrowhawk calling, and it was close. I looked in the direction the call had come from and there she was, a female sparrowhawk perched high up looking down at me. Within a few seconds the male flew in and perched next to her. I was amazed at how lucky I was to see them both together. And then they mated!
I have had numerous sightings of them in the park, both perched in trees and flying around the fields. This is really good news because it is clearly their territory and hopefully it means that they will nest here. It is still a bit early yet to know if they will nest in the park because sparrowhawks time their chicks hatching with when there are plenty of fledgling small birds around.
So if you live on the edge of the park and your garden is regularly visited by small birds, don’t be surprised if you are paid a visit by a sparrowhawk. It will normally be the male that hunts whilst the female is incubating the eggs and later brooding the chicks. Eggs are laid during May and incubation lasts 32 – 35 days. And if Paul in Southwick is reading this, keep checking your garden as there is a good chance that you could get visited again! Note from the picture that the male is smaller than the female with orangey-brown bars on the chest and the same orangey-brown colour under the eyes and beak.
I live on the edge of the park & regularly see a sparrowhawk in the garden. We have a colony of sparrows that nest in our roof so it’s not surprising, plus all the other little birds around. Couple of years ago I found a dead sparrowhawk in the garden, I think it was chasing a sparrow, misjudged the distance & flew into our wall. Probably a young bird, it was very sad but amazing to see it close up.
They are a tribute to our nature reserve; a top predator like a sparrowhawk needs a lot of prey species to rear chicks. Here’s hoping this pair have picked out their nest site already.
Great shots I hope they start nesting there
Wonderful photographs – great that you have the male and female side by side – recognising the differences and remembering for hopeful future sightings. Thanks