One minute I was counting the Woodpigeons as it was Sunday and the start of a new week of BTO garden species counts, I turned my back on the kitchen window for a few seconds, turned back to the window and the Woodies and all other species had gone!!! Well it soon became apparent for their sudden disappearance, a female Sparrowhawk had caught a Feral Pigeon!!! I noticed a few feathers drifting to the ground and then spied her at the bottom of the garden. The Pigeon was on it's back motionless with the Sparrowhawk standing on it and beginning to pluck the Pigeon. I wonder what killed the pigeon, shock or stunned unconsciousness as the Sparrowhawk swept in to take her prey and land swiftly to pin the pigeon to the ground. She fed for about an hour then grasped the pigeon with her talons and moved the pigeon closer to the fence, I guessed that she was hiding her prey to return to later, I was correct. She returned approximately three hours later and started to pluck the feathers from the chest of the pigeon, she had not touched this part of the pigeon earlier, I know this because I went to have a peek after she left earlier!! She again fed for about an hour and again moved the pigeon further along the fence. She flew to an apple tree, feathers dropping from her claws as she flew, she then proceeded to clean her beak on the branches of the tree. After a few minutes she was off again. I do not know whether she returned for a feed in the afternoon as I went out looking for a Tawny Owl that I knew was in a local(ish ) area, I may just as well have stayed at home as I had no luck with the Owl, I enjoyed a good walk though so all was not lost. The pigeon had disappeared on our return at teatime, I reckon the local Tom had half inched it as there were a few feathers either side of a gap in the fence!!!! I hope it's owners were pleased with their 'gift'!
Watching the Sparrowhawk for such lengths of time made me think of how hard this long cold winter has been for the wildlife. This powerful bird needed sustenance just as the smaller birds do. She was an amazing bird to watch, gruesome at times to see her pull the flesh off the pigeon but she needed the food, just as we all need it to stay alive!
To lighten the mood I have added a photo of the area walked around looking for the elusive tree that the Tawny Owl perches on! I will find it soon.....well I hope so before the Owl deserts the tree as Jackdaws use it to nest in!