On Sunday evening just before dusk a female Sparrowhawk dropped in with a Starling in her talons. We haven't seen Starlings in the garden for a month, so she must have captured the bird elsewhere & then brought it to the garden to pluck it in peace. I say peace, but while she did so the Magpies kept up a loud chattering accompaniment. The kitchen window was slightly open, but the window frames kept getting in shot, so when she bent down to pluck the bird I had to carefully inch the window open until I could insert my telephoto lens through the gap. She stayed at least 5 minutes before finally carrying the half-plucked Starling off with her. I've waited for a chance of photographing a Sparrowhawk in the garden for some time, but hope that on the next visit it will be the more colourful male! You can see from the white dots on the Starling's feathers that the bird had moulted into its non-breeding plumage.
In other news the Swallows are back. Regular readers may remember that in early June Magpies came and took the whole brood of 4 chicks, and the parents abandoned the nest site. It now seems as though the Swallows bred elsewhere, but yesterday they brought their new recently-fledged chicks took us. Their noisy chirruping filled the air yesterday until the heavy rain curtailed their activities. presumably the food source wasn't as reliable near their new nest site & the parents sensing that bad weather was coming brought their offspring back to where they had originally intended to breed to feed them up. Hopefully, the weather will be better today, and the Swallows can put on much needed weight before they attempt their long migration.
Female Sparrowhawk & Starling