Category Archives: Bird of Prey

Sparrowhawk

I’m falling well behind with blogging. I’m due a fox update and also got a really nice set of horse-racing pictures that I should post (including some nice shots of this year’s champion jockey). But those are being put to one side (yet again) as when I got home late this afternoon a sparrowhawk was on the grass outside our back window devouring some prey (probably a pigeon).

I do occasionally see sparrowhawks come very close to the garden and in 17 years have seen one land on a fence or tree here twice, so being down, in the garden, and with prey was something very unexpected. The shots were taken through the (dirty) double-glazed back door so lack some clarity, but they certainly give an idea of what we spent a good 10 minutes watching. Assuming the prey is a pigeon this is most likely a female.

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk devouring prey in garden

Sparrowhawk with what appears to be a pigeon’s feather

Sparrowhawk with feathers strewn around

We didn’t get to see it finish its feast as it was disturbed by noise from one of the neighbours. But a special few minutes, for certain.

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens.

Also posted in Birds, Wildlife Tagged |

Castle Hill Kestrel and a fox update

We are fortunate to be on the doorstep of the Castle Hill Nature Reserve, which sits on the edge of the South Downs. It’s mainly grass chalkland and in the summer is ablaze with butterflies. It is also home to a number of rare orchids.

Castle Hill view

View across Castle Hill

I visited on Saturday, and had barely gone a few paces before I spotted a kestrel out hunting. That was good enough for me. It was tracking back and forth, hovering and swooping, and occasionally picking up a morsel to eat. I stayed and watched.

kestrel

Kestrel at Castle Hill

kestrel

Kestrel at Castle Hill

Typically kestrels will predate small rodents, but if they are not available they have a particular fancy for crickets. You can see one grasped in her talons in this shot taken as she flew away.

kestrel with cricket

Kestrel with cricket

As for the foxes, we are now approaching the time of year where they sort out their winter territory. Mid-September and everything changes. The younger foxes are ‘encouraged’ away from their home patch and forced to become fully independent. There will also be changes in the adult population as they seek out the best territory for breeding. As we move into winter they will also be seeking mates. The first obvious sings are that they change their habits. We are seeing less of the young foxes in the evening, but Pretty (a fully mature adult vixen) has been slightly more evident in the past couple of weeks. Their nightly arrival times are now later, and interestingly they are also becoming more cautious. Apart form a brief glimpse of Long Nose and Pretty in the early hours of Saturday morning, the only other visit this weekend was by Scamp, on Sunday afternoon.

two foxes

Long Nose (foreground) and Pretty Vixen visit in the early hours of Saturday morning

fox in long grass

Scamp relaxing in the garden on Sunday afternoon

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, apart from the shot of Long Nose and Pretty taken with the EF 70-200mm f/4.0L IS II USM lens.

Also posted in Birds, Foxes, Kestrel, Wildlife Tagged , |

Fledglings

I spent the afternoon today at Woods Mill. The young kestrels are nearly ready to fledge and can now be seen at the front of the nest box. The adults are still very busy feeding them and guarding them from other species.

Kestrel chicks

You can just see four of the six chicks in this photo

kestrel chicks

Kestrel chicks at Woods Mill

crow attacking kestrel nest box

Corvid attempting to raid a kestrel nest box

Those were all taken from some ridiculous distance away, but I was able to get a little closer to a young robin. It was sunning itself and kept hopping right up to the camera.

robin fledgling

Robin fledgling ‘sunbathing’

robin fledgling

Robin fledgling at Woods Mill

robin fledgling

Robin fledgling at Woods Mill

Plus a quick fox photo from last night. Pretty has taken a shine to rooftops!

fox on roof

Fox on a roof

Camera note: First photo taken with the EF 500mm f/4 IS II USM lens + 2x extender and the third with the 500mm lens (no extender). All other bird photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens. The fox photo was taken with the EF 100mm f/2.8L macro IS USM lens.

Also posted in Birds, Kestrel Tagged , , |