Friday, February 15, 2008


I'm very under the weather at present. My circadian rhythms have been well and truely knocked out of kilter by those recent night shifts, so I'm at home, doing a few jobs and mainly resting.

I was gazing out of the window a minute ago, when I noticed a bird of prey spiral relatively low over the rec behind our house. It was behaving like a Sparrowhawk, but it was only when the 3 dozen or so pigeons all leaped into the air a few seconds later, I realised what it was.
Its very impresive that the pigeons can tell the difference between a real threat (what THIS was) and something that isn't (a Sparrowhawk).

One of our Peregrines. Drifting lazily towards one of its hunting reservoirs, a few miles west of us.
By the look of it, this one was big enough to be a Falcon (female) and in good nick (nice and plump) by the look of it...

Managed one shot, and one shot only.
Click to enlarge.


Jane said...

Sorry to hear you're "under the weather". Night shifts are a bugger to your system! I used to do shift work and it nearly killed me... Great that you saw this peregrine though. You say that sparrowhawks aren't a threat, I wondered why? In our neck of the woods (Dorset) the sparrowhawks take pigeons as well as small birds. Our pigeons are VERY jumpy! Jane

The Black Rabbit said...

Thanks Jane.

I didn't word my post very well, did I?

The Woodpigeons are pretty canny I think.
We get Kites, Sparrowhawks, Kestrels and Peregrines over the rec, in that order of decreasing frequency.
If the pigeons spot a Kite, they may get a bit twitchy, but not overly so, as the Kites eat mainly carrion.
If they spot a Kestrel, they hardly alter their behaviour at all.
A Sparrowhawk spotted though, means its not hunting - if its spiralling overhead - its not hunting and represents no threat.
A Sparrowhawk hunting certainly IS a threat, but as they hunt primarily by ambush, the Wodpigeons will only all jump into the air if and when it is on top of them, and very late, sometimes too late.
Most of the time it fails, and sits in a nearby tree for a few seconds, nursing a broken ego so to speak, and moves on.

A Peregrine spiralling or drifting over the rec is a MASSIVE threat though - Peregrines as you know, will hunt like that very often. No ambush required!

Thats what I meant I suppose!


Jane said...

We don't get so many peregrines where I live, as it is quite wooded. Not many kites either! Would love to see both of them. Sparrowhawks... now they are a different matter. They are everywhere, along with large numbers of buzzards. Love watching both of these, although I haven't filmed them alot.. hope to do so this year.

Thanks for the clarification. I thought you must have a different type of sparrowhawk up your way! The "northern (northern to us!) non-pigeon eating reading sparrowhawk". Jane

The Black Rabbit said...

I'm sure we'd both (Anna and I) prefer to live in Darzett Jane!
We're just making the best of what we have in Reading, and trying to squeeze the surrounding areas dry!