The Magic of Sparrows.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Photo credit: NotMicroButSoft (Winter Survival – Keran Top Exped)


Got up this morning to see scattered wood pigeon feathers beneath the mountain ash (rowan) tree in our back garden. It is not clear what visited death upon the pigeon but I suspect a sparrow hawk. We have had one settled in the trees in our neighbourhood gardens – and one was actually feeding on a pigeon at the end of her garden last year. Possibly a fox or even a cat (Heaven knows we have enough of those in the area –and I am allergic to everyone!). But I imagine the hawk, doing the high-speed dive and kill, then retreating in to the rowan to pluck the carcasse.

Now, on the allotment I am a serious enemy of wood pigeons – hey, come on they eat hell out of our cabbages and turnip greens. In the garden they balance uneasily on the bird feeders, cunningly arranged, I like to think that does not allow them to actually take the food. But, of course, there is always something sad about death and the machinations of the Circle of Life: nature red in tooth and claw. Chris Packham has gone on record in defence of sparrow hawks with a very logical reasoning; saying something like …

“British tourists will pay good money (I did!) to see lions hunting, or on a kill in Africa … and they have the chance to see a top predator in their own back gardens but hesitate when they see a sparrow hawk …”

So I started on a routine blog, about raking and planting three kinds of potatoes now that the weather seems …


… then, came the hoards of noisy house sparrows (and a robin to be fair). These are regular visitors tour bird feeders, agile and gambolling in mid-air, in snow banks or in dust bowl baths. They surprised me – being able to hang at all angles and feed from suspended half coconuts like Victorian midshipmen in the tea clipper rigging. I cannot help but be cheered by their antics. Investigating the edge of the lawn scene, hopping around like slightly demented puppets. I ceased tapping half-heartedly (if earnestly) at the keys. The sparrows held some kind of parliamentary tea party before grabbing beakfuls of the smaller feathers and cartwheeling into the warm air and crossing the lawn like darts with this cargo.

Lining of course for their work-in-progress nests: perfect in every way.


3 responses to this post.

  1. I adore how you put words together. Always surprising and yet comforting at the same time. I hope you are okay.


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