Monday, 20 February 2017

Panic and terror in the kitchen garden

At this time of year the tribes of long-tailed tits break up into pairs as the birds choose their nest sites and set up home. As usual, this year there is a pair in the garden and they spend a lot of time around the feeders.  I was going to post a couple of pictures of them to show you.  When I got home I checked the sparrowhawk window and could see he wasn't on the perch.  However, I could hear alarm calls from the other side of the window and could see a very agitated blue tit jumping around in the gooseberry bush just below.

Looking farther down I saw the sparrowhawk on a kill right below me.  The angle was very tight with reflections in the window so these were the best pictures I could get.

When he had finished plucking and eating his prey the sparrowhawk just sat under the gooseberry bush, occasionally looking up at the agitated blue tit which was too frightened to risk flying away.

Then the blue tit was joined by a long-tailed tit and the pair of them were jumping about and calling alarms in the gooseberry bush.

I began to worry that the sparrowhawk had been eating the other long-tailed tit but just then the second one appeared in the bush (looking at the feathers afterwards I think it was a great tit that was caught).

The sparrowhawk didn't seem interested in chasing them but also didn't move so they could escape.  At times he was falling asleep.

I watched for a while but eventually went to make a cup of tea (one of the advantages of this sort of hide) and when I came back the long-tailed tits had escaped and the hawk was back on the perch. 

He sat for a while but again he was falling asleep.  His head kept drooping and he would wake with a start (it's called a hypnagogic jerk).

Then he glided across the kitchen garden and landed under the beehives in the opposite corner, out of view.  I watched for 10 minutes or so but he didn't reappear so I think he must have gone there for a snooze where he wouldn't be disturbed by alarm calls.  He seems now to be a fixture in the garden (and is in danger of taking over this blog).  I don't mind him taking blue tits and great tits, as there are plenty of those, but I hope he leaves the two long-tailed tits alone.


  1. Would make a good Hitchcockian film Chris.

    1. Its pretty scary if you are a blue tit David.

  2. You may need to rate (R, G, etc) the blog soon, I was frightened it was the second LTT!!