Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hunter in the Heart of the City

Yesterday lunchtime, when we were walking through Newcastle beside the Ouseburn, there was a sudden commotion in the trees and a crow hurtled into view, chased by this ferocious sparrowhawk. The chase lasted for about twenty seconds and at one point the pursuer managed to stretch out a talon and almost grip the crow, but it escaped and the sparrowhawk landed in the tree nearby. It's hard to see what prompted this display of aggression because there was plenty of easier prey around - there's no shortage of urban pigeons to keep this raptor well fed. 


The lower stretches of the Ouseburn, once notorious for industrial pollution and dereliction, are rapidly being cleaned up and turned into a fashionable location in the city. The old derelict Maynard's toffee works has now become a desirable suite of hi-tech offices (check out this series of pictures that shows the remarkable transformation), there's a smart riverside footpath, good pubs, live music, an urban farm, artist's studios - and constantly evolving urban wildlife habitat. In the leafier parts of the lower valley, this sparrowhawk is currently the top predator and the terror of the neigourhood.

11 comments:

  1. Beautiful aren't they? When I was in France, some time ago, a Sparrowhawk with a Blackbird in its talons, flew in front of our car, heading in the same direction at the same speed, quite some memory.

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    1. They do have a facility for appearing suddenly, out of the blue, don't they? Once, one swooped over a hedge just in front of me and we stared at each other for a few seconds before it swooped back to the other side ...... instances like that are burned into the memory, aren't they...?

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  2. A great shot....It's usually the other way round...the corvus trying to keep raptors away.

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    1. I know what you mean - a week ago when I was gardening I watched a whole flock of crows mobbing a sparrowhawk that breat a swift retreat..

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  3. Maybe he was fed up with always being chased. Time for revenge.
    Great shot Phil.

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    1. I guess you can only push a sparrowhawk so far Keith ...

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  4. If pigeons were there for the taking then maybe the hawk had more than food on its mind - this time it was personal.

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    1. You're probably right Rob, and the crow forgot that it didn't have a gang of mates to back it up ...

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  5. A truly unsettling bird with its piercing eyes and penetrating stare. We've had a few visits to our garden birdtable recently; one was not the 'boom and zoom' attack I'd expect from a Sparrowhawk - instead it hung around waiting for the little guys to emerge from the hawthorn.A fascinating killing machine.

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    1. That's a brilliant sequence on your blog Dougie - Midmarsh John posted a fine sparrowhawk photo recently at http://midmarsh.blogspot.com/2012/02/snow-for-sunday.html ...... totally agree about the eyes, absolutely mesmerising

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