Sunday, 27 October 2013

Sprawk Alert

As you may of guessed Saturday was another ringing trip with Peter, Pete, Dad and Dan. Getting up isn't as early now, but I was still a bit tired when me and my dad left the house. I was up in South Lancashire this session and we noticed from various sections of the site that there had been some reasonable bird movements. Although finch numbers are building up their has been fewer numbers of Goldcrests.

In the last 3-4 weeks we have been catching quite a good number of Redwing and Fieldfare at this site and we had a feeling we might catch even more. A new net ride we had been trying has been catching really well and probably has caught the main Redwing and Fieldfare numbers. Once all the nets were up we went down a track to where Peters van was parked and collected our ringing equipment.

On the first net round we all check them together and if we bring back a large volume of birds me and Pete will start processing them straight away and ring them. When my dad and Peter came back after one net round he had loads of birds he also said that a male Sparrowhawk was around the area. This particular site doesnt seem to have many sparrow hawks about so it was noticable.

But when they both came back from another net round; I saw them bringing a large bag with a biggish shape in it; as the bag came closer towards me I saw these four big talons piercing through the bag material, me and Dan then knew it was the Sparrowhawk.

 However, this Sparrowhawk wasn't the male that had been seen earlier it was a female. The female is much larger and takes and E ring. The male takes a D ring. Dan ringed this bird and we both were amazed by its beauty and it was fantastic to gain this experience.

 At the end of the day the total of ringed birds equaled 130;  the most amount of birds caught in a session with me training yet. Other birds ringed were:

2 Fieldfare
13 Redwing
4 Song Thrush
27 Greenfinch
2 Bullfinch
13 Chaffinch
37 Goldfinch
1 Yellowhammer
8 Blue Tit
1 Coal Tit
2 Great Tit
9 Long Tailed Tit
3 Wren
4 Goldcrest
1 Meadow Pipit
1 Blackcap
1 Robin

Here's me looking rather cautious holding this stunning bird, it possibly will become my new profile picture. I had a lot of respect for this powerful predator.

A big thank you to Dave Culley on Twitter who gave me this information on using the eye colour to age a Sparrowhawk. 

"Eyes first born,black brown/then grey green/then lemon/then yellow/then orange/blood red in older birds. That would put his bird at about 5 months old."

Dave made a film all about a family of Sparrowhawks living near Northwich and Chris Packham narrated it.


  1. HI Finlay How wonderful for you to have seen 130 birds ringed and at close quarters. Yes that is a lovely photograph of you with the Sparrowhawk. great photos of a wonderful bird.

  2. 130 burds in one session - wow! Good job the session wasn't going to be tomorrow morning...



  3. Brilliant Finlay, fancy catching 130 birds and were ringed. Great photos of the Sparrowhawk.

  4. Wow Findlay, that is really something. To be able to have one of the top bird predators in your hands like that, amazing. I bet there isn't many people that can say that.

  5. What a wonderful experience with the Sprawk, Findlay. I also extremely impressed by the number of birds ringed - are you trying for the Guinness Book of Records!!!

  6. A wonderful count Findlay...
    I had a Sparrowhawk in my garden this week... it grabbed a sparrow from one of my feeders.
    I even managed to grab the camera and catch a record shot of it and prey sat on my fence.

  7. Hi Findlay... What great experiences you are having the chance to have!!
    What a privilege to be able to hold that amazing bird, and that in a very impressive count of ringing for the day!!


  8. Stunning looking female sparrowhawk, what a privelege to be that close, watch your fingers :o)

  9. hello Findlay. With the female sparrowhawk you must keep your hands on the birds legs. When you held the bird was it light?

  10. Sounds like you had another great day Findlay, with a good number and selection of birds? The Sparrowhawk must have been the 'icing on the cake' and I bet you were chuffed that you got the chance to handle it and to see it up close? ...[;o)

  11. Well done Findlay,lucky you.
    Fantastic experiance.

  12. Amazing, you said about the follow button I can't seem to find it?

  13. I have found it now could you follow me please

  14. that was a very successful ringing day I'd say Findlay and a special pickup to have the Sparrow Hawk in your hands. Made for a great photo! Well done you and your Dad, early risers - all worth it for the memories (and photos), and your lovely blog post too. Cheers from East coast/Australia

  15. She's gorgeous! What a wonderful experience for you.

  16. Findlay, you get to experience so many wonderful things with these birds and I would imagine that being able to help and even hold this beauty, has to be at the top of your list to date...what a thrill. I have held a few Raptors and there is something so special looking into those amazing eyes. Glad you had this opportunity~

  17. To hold a Sparrowhawk.... you lucky lad

  18. I love that photo of you and the hawk!

  19. Looks like you had a terrific day all way 'round! Great number of birds ringed and a chance to hold a Sparrowhawk! We are all quite jealous!