There was neither sight nor sound of the cuckoo chick this morning, but plenty of action from the sparrowhawks in the trees downstream of Snipe meadow. During some sort of standoff with magpies one broke cover to chase them off. I’d have thought magpies would be no threat to an adult sparrowhawk – maybe the chicks are still small? Or maybe the magpies are the ones guarding chicks?
I’m a little confused as to whether the two sparrowhawks I’m seeing are adults or well-developed chicks. It may have been adult calls I was hearing all along, similar to a red kite’s mew but higher and thinner. I got another picture of the female – she has a light marking over her eyes. Unlike most species she is twice the size of the male. I spent a lot of time trying to get a good sighting of the birds. They call quite a lot but seem to perch well within the cover of the trees.
I went back later on the Snipe Meadow side and went under the trees to see if I could find any prey remains. It was exciting going into the jungle there as the Himalayan balsam must be nearly 8 feet tall in places! I couldn’t find anything but it was curiously calming leaning against a tree trunk looking upwards. There was only a brief glimpse now and then of a bird flitting through the foliage. Afterwards I went into the field near the water works. Part way up the slope there is an overall view of the trees which gave a better idea of the sparrow hawks’ behaviour. They seemed to separate occasionally and perch 100 yards apart then come back close together.