Last week I took a group of folk on one of our luxury badger watches. It was a stiflingly hot evening and was still well over twenty degrees when we sat down to watch the badgers. We’ve had great success watching badgers at our new sett this year, on one evening I saw twelve badgers including three badger cubs. However on this particular evening we weren’t as lucky with badger sightings. We did manage to see two; one of which sat and vigorously groomed themselves for a good few minutes on a sunny patch of grass.
What made the evening memorable for me was the sparrowhawk that silently flew in through the trees and landed on a branch in front of us, not 20m away. It sat there quietly for a few minutes before continuing on its journey. What made it so special was that it had no idea we were there; it was completely oblivious to our presence. I didn’t dare move but I really wanted to see it through my binoculars. Alas I just had to sit back and use my ‘ordinary’ eyes.
As I watched him I was surprised at just how small he was with his stick thin legs, greyish back and orange/brown bars on his chest. As with most birds of prey, the male is smaller than the female and generally with all birds the male is more colourful. It is customary for all other birds to go silent when a sparrowhawk is on the hunt; they don’t want to draw attention to themselves (sparrowhawks, like peregrines, eat other birds). I can’t remember if this was the case when I saw him. I personally think it was far too hot to even think about doing anything as strenuous as catching dinner!
Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger