Sunday, 7 June 2020

Past Times.

There's a stranglehold on my birding caused by these Covid days, so I made another delve into the archives and found the second of my notes, this one published in the January 2005 issue of British Birds. By coincidence, on the same page in the same issue of the British Birds magazine, there was an article published by the then recorder for Lancashire and North Merseyside until 2000.

The Hunting Strategy Of Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus

The note on persistent searching for prey by Eurasian Sparrowhawk in British Birds 96: 653-654, prompts me to recall an individual of this species which I observed at Leighton Moss in Lancashire, on 3 September 2003. The bird came into view in flight over one of the pools and perched out in the open on a dead branch. During the next 15 minutes, I watched this bird fly across the water to the reed edge, at distance of at least 150m in the direction from which it had first come, and without landing, turn and fly back to the same perch. It then repeated the same manoeuvre three more times, always taking the same flight path to the same area of the reed edge, and always turning without landing, to return to its original perch. On each occasion, flight was fast and direct, but noticeably not as rapid as it would have been when chasing prey. On its fifth flight, the hawk disappeared into the reeds at the precise point at which it had turned on the preceding four sorties, and emerged with a small unidentified prey item before flying off.

As far as I could see, this Sparrowhawk appeared to know that prey was hidden in the reeds, and if this was a planned method of hunting, it is one that I have never witnessed before and, on this occasion at least, was a successful one.

Pete Woodruff.

White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucopterus. 

A White-winged Black Tern was present on the Lune Estuary, Lancashire, during during 14-24 August 2003. During the birds stay, it regularly fed on butterflies, especially Small Tortoiseshell, which in turn were feeding on Sea Aster on the saltmarsh. Considerable numbers of butterflies were present in the warm sunny weather, and the tern took full advantage of this, I estimated that it caught a butterfly every three minutes.

There is no mention of butterflies in the diet of this species in BWP, and I wondered if the long stay of this White-winged Black Tern was related to this readily available food source.

Maurice Jones.

View Over Lake Windermere From Gummers How

F-15C 'Grim Reapers'.

I remember one day a few years ago, climbing to the top of Gummers How in the Lakes, and walking straight into these guys on a training exercise in their flying machines. All round excitement is a bit of an understatement in this video. Watch the man in the first few seconds of the film with No 8 on his shirt getting excited to have achieved the shot of freezing one of 'em....Pump up the volume. 

1 comment:

Richard Pegler said...

Very interesting notes on birds' feeding habits there, Pete. I was surprised by both, although I have previously concluded that Sparrowhawk is an intelligent species. I once witnessed a pair go for the Sparrows in our Rhododendron with a lightning-quick coordinated pincer-movement, simultaneously diving into the bush from either side.

Be patient, Pete - if the idiots ignoring the social distancing rules don't mess it up it might not be too long before things start getting better. Stay safe - - - Richard