After what was a terrible month, both from the point of view of the weather and because I managed to injure myself so I didn't get any surveying done in TR34, today was a new beginning.
I must admit that there didn't seem a huge number of birds about but there were a few surprises. This Sparrowhawk wasn't one of them, but it was an interesting few minutes. First I saw it flying towards the hedge in front of me. I was on the last footpath, beyond Nelson's Park, walking towards Station Road. It sat there for a while and I tried to melt into the hedge so I didn't disturb it.
It was obviously interested in something in the hedge and suddenly dived in with just bits of the tail feathers and wings sticking out. I took the opportunity of advance towards the bird while it was buried in the bush.
I stopped as soon as it appeared, it was still looking into the thick hedge, and still without it's breakfast.
When it completely surfaced it stood there for a while, peering downwards, looking somewhat confused. I have to say I didn't see anything making a run for it. I always get the impression that Sparrowhawks rely on their prey panicking and breaking cover. They do however have very long legs to reach into the thickest bush, so it takes a strong nerve for a bird not to take a chance and flee.There are few more stunning sights in the British birding world than a male Sparrowhawk sitting about eight yards in front of you, seemingly unaware of your presence.
It did seem aware of the noise of the camera shutter and looked up, as if checking out what the noise was.
Then it was off.it's little barrel chested silhouette dashing across the field. I'm sure that hte current generation of young birders must find it strange that us older chaps get so excited at seeing Sparrowhawks so frequently. It is easily forgotten that during the worst effects of the organo-phosphorus pesticide poisoning epidemic it was easy to go a year in Kent with out seeing a single Sparrowhawk.
It was a small male, and as it disappeared across the field I remembered how many descriptions of "Merlins" I'd look at when I was on the London rarities committee, mostly in the most unlikely sites. Male Sparrowhawks can look compact, and very falcon like.
I was surprised to see this rainbow as I looked towads Deal from Pond Lane. There were a few bonuses on the walk. A small flock of Golden Plovers on one field, near Westcliffe, and another of 19, flushed by a Peregrine going towards Beer Farm, was pleasing. I also had a couple of interesting fly-over calls, a single Redpoll went over calling loudly, but more exciting and frustrating was the loud "teu" repeated several times and then followed by a rattle. I didn't see the bird, but it sounds to me as if there's a Lapland Bunting to find out there.