Saturday, 12 September 2009

Birds in the garden


I'm writing this on a Saturday morning while looking out into my garden. My garden is in a suburb of York, England. I'm watching a bird feeding station I recently set up for the education and pleasure of my children. I am amazed at the variety of species that feed here. So far I have seen the following birds:
Robin, blackbird, thrush, starling, blue tit, coal tit, great tit, house sparrow, hedge sparrow, lesser-spotted woodpecker, magpie, collared dove, wood pigeon, wren, greenfinch, wheatear.
17 species, not a bad result for a garden. However the eighteenth and latest species witnessed this morning at about 6.55 a.m. simply took my breath away. A sparrowhawk! She, for it was a female, struck silently and efficiently in the garden, over in seconds, but we now have one less house sparrow to visit us.
I've seen golden eagles close up in Scotland. I was walking up a Munro in Glen Lyon just approaching the ridge while a Golden Eagle was using the updraught on the opposite side of the mountain to ascend, we met, eye-to-eye at the sharp edge of the ridge with perfect timing. I don't know which creature was most surprised, the eagle dropped some superfluous weight, as indeed I nearly did, and looped back into the wind and away.
This morning's episode was even more shocking however, in part due to the brutality of the kill; a set of talons through the throat. The speed of the whole affair was, and I shall use a word which is beggining to lose its power but is the only word I can use for the scenario - awesome. Nature at its most brutal, life goes on and all that, but this kill left a deep impression on me. Efficient, mercifully quick, but so damn fast!
Isn't nature wonderful? - scary but wonderful.

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