Interludes: Bold and Beautiful

While many of us have been indulging in a self-imposed “Shadow Lockdown”, mother Collared Sparrowhawk has been busy increasing the Sparrowhawk population.

A few weeks back when we were at the height of working with Cassia, of Cinnamon’s three young Brown Falcons, we regularly  caught sight of a Sparrowhawk running food deliveries to its young.   Now about four weeks later, three young Sparrowhawks are out and about.

Mr An Onymous had given me a heads-up that they were out, as he visited the area a few days back.   We had other plans for the day, but it was such perfect beach weather that we abandoned them and headed out to see what we could find.  We left early morning to arrive in the cool of the day, and also figured that would be the most obvious feeding time.

The young were very much mobile and quite vocal.  So they are not yet much of a threat to the local birds. Although we did see them catching dragonflies from time to time.

Long term blog followers will know that I’ve been guilty of taking— as someone said, “great liberties with raptors”. (In my defence it is always when I’m invited by the bird), however to set the record straight,  Sparrowhawks and Goshawks are a different matter.  They are the birds that I am most wary of.  Several reasons.  1. They are quite bad-tempered.  2. They have quite short tolerance times. 3. They hunt by stealth and are silent in their approach. 4. They are stealth hunters and slip between trees and branches with an ease that can be a bit disconcerting to watch. 5.  They have long thin dangly bits hanging off the bottom which can be used with surgical precision to snatch at prey and anything they have taken a dislike to.

I’ve been harassed by a number of raptors over the years, mostly my fault, but these dudes turn it into a sustained attack.  Now mostly that has been because foolishly I’ve stumbled close into a nesting area, and so I don’t blame them, but I can take the warning, should it ever be given.  It’s not!

These young birds are different.  They are out for fun and games.  Serious no doubt, but they seem to enjoy it none-the-less.  They spent the morning chasing Wattlebirds, pigeons and Magpies, had altercations with Black-shouldered Kites and with no respect for elders even bailed up Cassia.

We also saw an adult come into feed.  Regrettably I followed the wrong bird in the viewfinder and missed the pass, but ever-reliable EE nailed it.  So we’ve included a shot from her friendsoftheair account.    When you have a choice of 4 birds all filling the sky, which one would you follow?? Oh well!

Enjoy

One leg lifted and feathers flared out has always been a warning sign for me.

Why are Sparrowhawks marked that way? So they can hide in plain sight in the trees. 🙂
Sliding past the “Southern Cross” windmill direction vane.
No respect. They bailed up poor Cassia, of Cinnamon as she went about her field work
Thanks to friendsintheair for supplying this shot of the adult dropping the prey for the young to snatch away. Too easy.

12 thoughts on “Interludes: Bold and Beautiful

  1. Yes, the silent assassins of the sky, the way they move so silently is uncanny, eerie even. And definitely best to keep a good distance! A stunning series of images! Well done EE too! Wonderful to see the young in training!

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  2. Love these images and the rendering and colors are wonderful. I love raptors and always take caution not to disturb, especially if they’re no mood for a photo session. I’ve only one occasion when I got a “fly by” attention getter. Like you, I inadvertently got too close to a nest. Yikes!

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  3. Stunning shots David, and well done also to EE, this is one bird I always have trouble discerning ‘glare’ or ‘stare’, as I never get to see the central toe. How wonderful you had such great flight shots, and even that they would allow you to watch. We have only seen this bird close up in central Australia while hundreds of Zebra Finch calling attracted us to it as it sat quietly in a nearby tree. Great aerial captures, so perfect against a blue sky.

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    1. Hello Ashley, yes, I am no good at the glare or stare, and I’m not much help on the longest toe stuff either.
      I do have the advantage with this group as I’ve seen them fly and they are ‘square-tip-tailed’ so over the years I’m confident with the id on birds we’re working with. Passing through birds? Well I just guess.
      In spite of what I read, and I’m told, I expect that in our area the majority of ‘hawks’ are in fact Collared.
      We have followed several nesting pair over the years, almost always from a distance. I am a tad more than cautious with them.

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  4. What a feast for the eyes, David! You and EE have definitely had a great morning. Yes, two pairs of eyes and two cameras make a big difference. The written report is also very entertaining and thanks for some advice on the meaningful body language of these gorgeous birds.

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  5. First amazing shots, all of them. I don’t know a lot about hawks yet. This is actually one bird I have not taken a photo of yet. I see them when we are out driving on the sides of the roads, usually on wires. But I never have my camera handy during the rides. This ones beak is so small but I am sure deadly. 🙂

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    1. Hello Sandra,
      These Sparrowhawks and Goshawks are not birds of the open plains, they are very much forest birds and capture prey by stealth hunting.

      The ones you see on fence posts by the road way will probably be Brown Falcons, Black-shouldered Kites or Nankeen Kestrels. The latter two are also seen hovering over the paddocks.

      They are fascinating creatures, each has its own life-style and hunting techniques.

      Good luck with the study

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