You looking at me punk

"You looking at me punk"

One of our commonest species of birds of prey to be seen in the United Kingdom is the Sparrowhawk ( Accipter Nisus). Accipter is latin for Hawk but Nisus I am not too sure of. It can be roughly translated as "effort" but when I did some research Nisus appears to be derived from Greek Mythology and Nisus was a King of ancient Megara and he was turned into a Sparrowhawk/Osprey/Sea Eagle after his daughter betrayed him to his enemy King Minos. Whether there is any truth in this who knows. If it had been down to me to name the species I would have chosen something like the "You looking at me punk" in Latin as the bird truly has one of the most fierce eyes out there!

On the odd rare occasion over last winter I had a juvenile Sparrowhawk visiting my garden. I named it Shadow as it was rarely seen and always appeared from nowhere out of the shadows. It had a habit of putting in an appearance when it was cloudy and wet. This meant I had to deal with poor light and had to take photographs through my double glazing - not ideal conditions at all.

Since lockdown this year I have not had one single sighting of my garden Sparrowhawk and it appears to have found a different summer territory.

My friend Ian Howells has been running his own Woodland Hide for approximately three years or more in Cwmbran. He started with just a field, a couple of trail cams, and a small feeding station hoping to attract some Tawny Owls. Eventually, he attracted a pair of Tawny Owls and since then he has gone from strength to strength - at one point he had a whole family of Tawny's turning up and he has produced incredible pictures.

Tawny Owl from 2019 at Ians Hide.

Buzzard 2018 at Ians Hide

He has put a huge amount of effort and dedication into it. I don't think he has missed a day putting food out.

The Woodland hide has diversified and now attracts a range of woodland birds such as Goldfinches, Tits, Greenfinches, Greater Spotted Woodpeckers and Jays. He has even had a Nightjar! I guess all these birds and some bait has resulted in attracting a number of predator species. Buzzards were one of his big attractions and then he started to get Sparrowhawks. Incredibly last week he had a Goshawk which one lucky photographer who was in one of the hides managed to get some pictures of. It's not just birds, he also has Badgers!



Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Over the years I have been fortunate to visit Ian's hide on quite a few occasions. I've never left their disappointed and its a place I will always remember for memorable pics of Tawny Owls, Buzzard, and Greenfinches and now Sparrowhawks.

On Friday night Ian gave me a call and asked if I would like to visit the hide on Saturday morning to try for a Sparrowhawk. It's not something really that you need to think about saying yes to  - well, as long as Mrs Jones says it's ok :) 

So on Saturday morning I met up with Ian and joined him in the Woodland hide hoping the bird with the killer stare was going to make an appearance.

I must admit the weather was not the best. It was cloudy and on occasion was raining quite heavily.

As soon as the light got better there were birds everywhere. Two Buzzards were threatening to land in the field. They caused a lot of noise calling each other but never landed. The feeders were busy with Jays, Greenfinch, Sparrows, Tits, and a Greater Spotted Woodpecker but not a Sparrowhawk insight. Ian assured me that it would turn up at some stage.

A couple of hours later we were joined by another photographer ( Nigel)  who must have brought a huge dose of luck with him as shortly after his arrival a juvenile Sparrowhawk appeared from out of nowhere on the feeding station.

Juvenile Sparrowhawk

It was simply wonderful to watch meters away from us. If there is one feature that Sparrowhawks have that really stands out is their fierce bright yellow eyes. They really are predatory and anything getting caught in their gaze knows that they one hundred percent mean business if you are on the menu list.
The bird stayed for approximately forty-five minutes, enjoyed a few free meals and then flew off.

Lovely markings

For once I had the opportunity to take photographs of this secretive and shy bird of prey without having to shoot through double glazing and when the sun came out in good light.

Another unforgettable experience that I will treasure forever.

Thanks, Ian for giving me the opportunity to visit the hide again and the great company.

More about Ians Woodland Hide can be found on his Ian Howells Photography.


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