Tag Archives: House Sparrow

Waiting and Watching

Okay we are waiting for the Sparrowhawk.

On Saturday morning I saw a Sparrowhawk make a kill in the back garden, I am pretty sure that it was a successful kill. I have seen this hawk here twice before and so far he has visited the garden got his dinner and then disappeared for a couple of months, he has not been a problem or made any impact on the bird population. I have come to look forward to his visits.

This is the bird on an earlier visit (previously unpublished photographs)

The pictures may seem cruel but predators exist in the world as part of the balance of nature and they have to eat. Predators kill and eat other animals. Starvation is the main cause of death for these birds.

A lot of people don’t have much sympathy for the Sparrowhawk because it is cruel. A small bird like this will die quickly as the hawk’s talons pierce it’s body but the hawk will eat larger prey alive. So do a lot of our birds, Blackbirds don’t strangle worms before they eat them but it is a lot easier to feel sorry for a bird than it is a worm. The hawk isn’t being cruel, this is just how it is.


SparrowhawkThis is a juvenile bird and I believe that it is most probably a male. The bird that  I saw on Saturday was a male in it’s adult plumage, possibly the same bird. An adult male is a beautiful and striking bird, It’s back and wings are steel blue and it has orange cheeks, that orange colour sometimes extends down it’s breast. I really wanted to photograph it.

The other thing is…

My bird feeders have remained almost untouched now for five days and I want to know if the hawk that I saw on Saturday has anything to do with that.

Seed Feeder

Peanut FeederAt this time of year it is normal for bird feeders to be quiet in the UK, there is an abundance of natural food about but the last time I filled these feeders they were emptied in three days and the change has been sudden.

I decided to watch for the hawk’s return. He can come and go in the space of a minute so to know if he is staying here I have to watch constantly, if I take a half hour break I will learn nothing.

He ate on Saturday morning and so I decided to watch from Saturday afternoon until the same time on Sunday. Twenty four hours in a hawks life.

It was a no show. when he didn’t show up again on Saturday I felt certain that he would be hungry in the morning but… no Sparrowhawk, so we don’t have a problem. That’s a pity…or is it.

Instead of a post about a beautiful bird here is a post about me getting annoyed and getting a bad back.

Play with me.

FizzI can’t. I’m busy.

You don’t look very busy.

This is the garden layout. Take note of the Honeysuckle bush beside the feeder, that is a problem.

Back GardenI think that the open aspect of the garden has saved us from having any real problems with Sparrowhawks. They are a woodland bird and they like tight spaces where the prey bird will find it’s exit blocked. They also like small town gardens with high fences and lots  of shrubbery for the same reason. They are also an ambush predator.

Whine, whine whine.

The first time that I saw the hawk it hid in the bush beside the feeder and it sat there for about twenty minutes before giving up. Every bird in the garden saw it go in and knew it was there. It didn’t get a kill on that visit but next time it changed it’s tactics.

Excuse me there is something outside of my back door.


FizzI don’t know what that is and I am not opening the door to find out.

The next time that the hawk visited it flew openly into the garden, all of the little birds dashed into the honeysuckle bush and the bird perched on top of the feeder.

SparrowhawkThe honeysuckle isn’t offering the birds any protection at all.

SparrowsIf an old fellow with misty bifocals can see them from his kitchen then the hawk can see them from half a mile away. It plucked a Sparrow from the bush as easily as you or I would take an apple from a tree (a small tree that we could reach).

The second kill that I saw followed exactly the same pattern. It is so easy for this Hawk that I do not really understand why it has not taken up residence here but it hasn’t.

Don’t scratch my door! Excuse me, I have got to deal with this.


FizzCan I come in?


FizzSometimes when I am sitting motionless and staring out of a window I am actually being very busy.

Can’t you do nothing and throw a ball at the same time, or is that what men call multitasking?

Luckily for her I have a soft spot for little animals. 🙂

FizzThis is gonna be so good.




FizzSo that is that. No photographs of a beautiful bird of prey, just happy Sparrows…

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

House Sparrowand a stupidly happy dog.





What a waste of a Sunday…… or was it?

Summer Birds

We are having a storm here but it is quite a nice storm with strong warm winds. Warm makes all the difference.  It has been blowing all night and so I found myself sitting outside at four o’clock this morning enjoying the wind buffeting the trees.

I am kicking off with birds today and perhaps the weather will brighten up in a bit. I have seen some beautiful birds this year.

RobinUnlike the butterflies I don’t have to say goodbye to the birds. A couple of lightweights have gone south, fair enough but winter is a wonderful time for watching birds.

Here are a few birds that have featured here this summer.

The Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Sizewise it is about as “great” as a starling. Quite a small bird but it has wonderful presence. The female turned up about a month before the male and made herself at home.

Great Spotted WoodpeckerShe was on the feeder every time that I looked out of the window.

Great Spotted WoodpeckerEventually the male started visiting us too.

Great Spotted WoodpeckerGreat Spotted Woodpeckers don’t really eat peanuts. As a species they are totally dependant on dead wood habitat and the insects that live therein.

The juveniles visited us for a few weeks but their arrival signalled the end of the visits. They have been missing from the garden for the last couple of months.

Great Spotted WoodpeckerMeanwhile… out on the waters edge…

Mandarin Duck

Mandarin DuckMandarin ducks nest high in trees often in old woodpecker holes. Once hatched the chicks have to leap out of the nest and plummet thirty or forty feet to the ground because they are ducks not woodpeckers. They are very light and survive the fall. It is a spectacle that I would really like to video.

Mandarin DuckMeanwhile out on the farm….

Red Legged PartridgeThis is a Red Legged Partridge, an introduced species. Introduced for the shooting they are quite common here. My bedroom overlooks fields and I can actually lie in bed and watch these birds through my window but I still have to get out of bed to get decent pictures. No situation is perfect 🙂

Red Legged Partridge

Red Legged PartridgeGoldfinches played a major role in our summer. My new landlord’s favourite bird, he had never had them in the garden. They love sunflower hearts and I filled the garden with them.



GoldfinchThis is a juvenile Goldfinch.

GoldfinchGoldfinches were not the only birds breeding here. The one that got the most blog space was the Barn Swallow. There are lots of swallow nestling videos on this blog but for me the best bit was when they first arrived.

They are supposed to mate for life. Some of the birds are just finding their mate. Some of them are  reuniting. They fuss over each other so much. It is lovely to watch.

Barn SwallowIt would do no good telling me that birds are not capable of emotions. They greet each other with all the excitement of a puppy meeting it’s owner. I have also seen them mourn when they have lost a brood. These are very emotional birds.

Barn Swallow

Barn SwallowThroughout the summer we had all manner of new arrivals, too many to show them all here.

BlackbirdBlackbirds raised a brood in a tractor.

BlackbirdDespite a very wet start to the year the Blue Tits were also very successful.

Blue TitBlue Tits have a large brood and all of that feeding can leave mum feeling a little bit frazzled.

Blue Tit(This bird is actually just moulting, perfectly healthy and happy, or it might be a Zombie Blue Tit, they do happen, I think 🙂 )

The bird that had the greatest success was the House Sparrow. They can have several broods in a year and our birds had a constant supply of food this summer, they made the most of it.

House Sparrow

Blue TitThere are dozens of them and they have been moving around the farm in small flocks. So much so that I was beginning to worry that I was upsetting the balance of nature… Until today that is…

Blue TitI filled the feeders up three days ago and they haven’t been touched, something is wrong.

SparrowhawkThis Sparrowhawk has visited the garden a couple of times this year. He hasn’t stayed very long and hasn’t caused any big problems. It is nice to see him.

I saw him or another just like him this morning. Now he is in his full adult plumage and looks quite beautiful. (no photos yet)

SparrowhawkTo have had any impact on my Sparrow hordes he must have taken up residence or more likely his presence is just keeping the birds away from the feeders. Today I am on Sparrowhawk watch.

Sparrowhawkand looking forward to a great winter of wonderful birds.

Fit birds in the shower

Sorry about that, this is a nature blog. I was just trying to boost my stats. I won’t do it again 🙂 🙂 🙂

We have had a thunderstorm rumbling on since half past four this morning, it’s about one o’clock now. What can you do?

I have just had a Robin in  going through my cupboards and telling me that I forgot to put any worms out this morning.

I did put worms out, I don’t know where they have gone.

Raising Sparrows

It has not all been “Doom and Gloom” today. There has been a lot of this sort of thing going on……

We haven’t actually had juvenile House Sparrows yet have we?

Juvenile House Sparrow Juvenile House Sparrow Juvenile House Sparrow Juvenile House Sparrow Juvenile House Sparrow Juvenile House Sparrow Juvenile House Sparrow Juvenile House SparrowSongbirds face a lot of perils in their lives but they just get on with it and they continue to thrive.


I was up early this morning just to watch the back garden. Yesterday I had seen a rabbit in the garden and they are pretty sedentary so I figured they must be regular visitors that I had just missed.

I didn’t see any Rabbits but I did see a Fox. Too quick for me to photograph but just before I took this picture he crossed this orchard.

05.14That was taken at 05:14 and the light was still very poor for taking pictures. What was cool was the way that the sheep didn’t pay any attention to the Fox, if it had been a Dog they would have been very nervous so they obviously know the difference.

As the morning progresses I keep taking pictures, just to see what sort of quality I am getting and whether there is enough light yet.

05:19 and it looks like it is not just the Blue Tits who are having a spring moult.

05.1905:23 Two days ago I was convinced that I had seen a Bullfinch in the garden. I only caught a fleeting glimpse of it and knew what it was straight away, I reached for my camera and as I turned back it had gone. I watched the garden for three hours then but nothing. I had to accept that it was almost certainly a Chaffinch that I had seen they can look very similar when you see them head on.

Pity, I can’t remember the last time that I saw a Bullfinch.

05.2305:25 and I am just checking. No light yet but it is good to watch the birds getting their breakfast.

05.25At 05:42 sunshine is creeping toward the orchard. We have a clear blue sky and it looks like it is going to be a lovely day.

05.4206:32 No sunshine in the garden yet but the light is getting better just when I might need it.

06.3206:33 It had been a fruitless morning, there was nothing that I couldn’t have photographed better in the daylight and I was just wondering if it was too late to crawl back into bed for an hour and then…..

Oh good, good, good. This bird wouldn’t play ball with me and pose for a picture but what I did get was good enough to leave me in no doubt to species. This is not a Chaffinch.

06.33.15 06.33.16 06.33.17 06.33.24 06.33.28 06.33.34 06.33.36 06.33.37

That is a male Bullfinch breakfasting on Common Groundsel and he has been here for at least two days, I am sure now. There is almost certainly a less obvious female close by. I do hope they are nesters.

Any pictures that I didn’t get today I will get tomorrow. What a beautiful bird.


Feeding the birds provides me with a lot of entertainment and interest and I think that it is very good value for what it costs.

I won’t be long.

Hungry BirdsIt seems like a funny time of year to be moulting.

Moulting Blue TitMy coconut went down well and now I am improvising another one.

Coconut CoconutOkay. Dinners ready!

Great TitGreat Spotted WoodpeckerRobinHouse SparrowPied WagtailRobinChaffinchGoldfinchGreat TitBlackbirdBlue TitCollared DoveGreat Spotted Woodpecker

House Sparrows, (Weathering the storm)

Just a short post. I have been watching the House Sparrows today. The bad weather doesn’t seem to bother them. They have (what would seem to be) several distinct advantages over the Blue Tits when it comes to survival.

House SparrowThe Blue Tit just has one brood a year, very rarely two and they have it now. The House Sparrow has a much smaller brood (Between two and five) so less mouths to feed and the House Sparrow will have two or three broods a year, sometimes even four. So they are not at the mercy of May.

Now that seems a much more sensible way to go about raising a family and it makes me wonder if Blue Tits are the origin of that phrase, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

House SparrowThe House Sparrow has another big advantage over the Blue Tit, they are supposed to feed their young on insects but they can feed them seed if the weather is bad.

I don’t think the chicks here are getting any option, it is porridge, porridge and more porridge.

I filled this seed feeder up just before seven this morning and by mid day it was empty.

House SparrowThen they ate the sunflower hearts and then they started on the peanuts.

House Sparrow numbers were in serious decline up until a couple of years ago and I hear that they have vanished from some cities but they are recovering now.

I predict a lot of fat little sparrows for this summer.

4Luckily for them I am in charge of the feeders and I don’t have to pay for the food. Well not the nuts and seed, I pay for the worms and sunflowers.

This is a farm, we have a farm shop and it sells bird food. There are bins of nuts and seed and the farmer told me to help myself. You don’t have to tell me things like that twice. They are his feeders that I am filling up and he likes having the birds around.

House Sparrow

House SparrowNone of this makes life any easier for my little Blue Tits but it is nice to know that at least one bird is doing okay.

House SparrowSo the Tits are all in trouble. I am not sure about the Goldfinches. There is an abundance of Dandelion in the fields just now and that is a natural food for them and they can feed their chicks regurgitated seed. The Robin is just a pest, they come knocking on my door if I don’t put out food quick enough and I had one in my kitchen last week wanting to know where I kept the meal worms. The Swallows and Martins must be having it hard. They are constantly on the wing and seem to have bags of energy but there can’t be many insects flying in the rain.

I just hope that May starts being May soon.