Monday, 14 March 2011


This Sparrowhawk made a meal of a Woodpigeon in my garden, leaving its tell-tale scattering of the plucked breast feathers close by. I noticed the carcase when I went out to top up the bird feeders and, while I was seated on a bench watching robins, tits and finches taking peanuts and seeds, the Sparrowhawk returned for seconds. As I slowly raised the camera, it predictably took to the wing. But the bird had returned at least once, so I thought it might be willing to do so again. I picked up the carcase and – because Sparrowhawks are generally reluctant to eat in the open – I placed it toward the edge of the garden, close to thick hedgerows and, a little further on, a large wood. This, I hoped, would allow the raptor to wait on a branch on high and come in again when it felt the coast was clear and, if it felt more comfortable, drag its meal into the undergrowth. Unfortunately the plan worked rather too well; the Sparrowhawk did indeed return, but before I was hidden and settled. As I attempted to get close enough for a decent shot, it flew off once more, but not before I had managed to fire off just a few frames. Now, the pigeon carcase is back in position. Let battle commence…

Canon 1Ds MkII, 1/80 sec, f/8, 400mm at ISO 200

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