Tuesday, 5 April 2011

One less Collard Dove

The weather has been atrocious the past few days with strong winds mixed with intermittent rain showers, so I haven't been able to get out as much as I would have liked. Instead I have been concentrating more on the garden birding and today provided a few unexpected highlights. A small flock of 10+ Greenfinches were flying around the fields throughout the afternoon which is keeping in line with a marked increase of this species I have been seeing in my local area recently. A single Swallow that flew north was the first migrant from my house this year and the second soon followed in the form of a Chiffchaff skulking through the hawthorn bushes along the train track; this is amazingly only the second record from my house however I suspect that I may have overlooked them as like the one today they generally have a very secretive nature and don't sit still for very long to be positively ID'd. A now daily pair of Goldfinches visited my garden on a number of occasions again today, allowing great views as they generally sit in the trees right next to my window. However the best moment of the day, depending on your perspective, was when I noticed the local female Sparrowhawk circling quite high up above my house. I didn't think much of it as this is their classic behavior, but as a pair of Collard Doves flew into one of the bushes a blur of brown appeared out of nowhere and shot into the branches after them. It took me a few seconds to realise what was going on and by this time one of the doves had flown and landed on my lawn, clearly shaken and apparently injured or at the very least stunned. Getting my scope onto the area of the bush the hawk had gone in to I picked out the blazing yellow eye of the bird sitting on the ground holding a still struggling dove in its talons. It quickly dispatched the bird before setting about the task of plucking it, throwing pale feathers in all directions whilst the local Magpies watched on ominously. After 20 minutes of doing this the magpies got too close for the hawks comfort and it took off with its prize still clutched in its feet, flying over the bushes and away into the field. Unfortunately for the whole time it was under the brambles meaning I couldnt get a clear shot, so here instead is a bird from a couple of years ago that was drying out after a rain shower, showing off her stunning plumage.

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