During the Sparrowhawk breeding season (and after) I have been keeping a diary of the activities of the Sparrowhawks in the garden which you can read below:
Sparrowhawk (Accipter nisus) Report
Initial report: ONE breeding pair of Sparrowhawks has been observed in the Oak Lawn at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Following heavy rain in the last week the pair still are on the nest which it is assumed has some eggs. It is not certain whether eggs have hatched as yet. Male was observed flying onto nest presumably to provide food for female who is incubating eggs.
Note: LU20 action point of current Edinburgh LBAP covers Sparrowhawk biodiversity.
Saw female standing up on nest, presumably to turn eggs. No sighting of male.
Spoke to Will Hinchliffe today who had been up to nest this morning and he reported there were 6 eggs.
Saw tail of sparrowhawk sticking out over edge of nest today so seems to still be incubating eggs.
Have been observing the nest for the last couple of days and it was hard to tell but I think the female was still on the nest. Today however when I was watching around the nest I didn’t see anything on the nest but I saw a sparrowhawk active around the nest site. It was quite small so I think it was the male, very white breast feathers.
I just looked on the RSPB website and the female seems to have whiter feathers on chest so could have been female actually. It was probably about pigeon sized so this would be right. This could indicated chicks have hatched.
Saw some chicks in the nest today. Quite big so they were visible from the ground level. Perhaps 2?
I spoke to Hugh today who mentioned that the Sparrowhawks had 5 chicks (one of which got eaten) so there were 4 chicks and they should have fledged. He also mentioned about possibly getting my help with Sparrowhawk recording next year.
I saw a sparrowhawk sitting on a tree with a broken top in the Chinese Border this morning when going to do the north side opening. I watched for a while as it was preening and then I moved quite a bit closer, right up to the base of the tree. I think it was one of the fledglings as it still appeared to have some whitish feathers on its head and wings and it was quite curious about me and not really at all scared. I got up close enough to see the yellow of its eyes pretty clearly while it was checking me out. It didn’t fly off at all and I left to continue the north side checks.
Heard a lot of commotion around the Sparrowhawk nest about midday and went to have a look. The fledglings were calling loudly and flying from one tree to the other in the vicinity of the nest. There seemed to be a number of birds and I couldn’t count them but I think they were the four fledglings and not the adults. It seemed as if they were hungry and calling to the adults for food and there was a pigeon carcass at the base of the nesting tree. I thought at first that a predator might have been attacking but there didn’t seem to be any sign of one on closer inspection. It could be likely that the fledglings will soon have to leave the nest to hunt for their own food if the parents are unable to supply enough for themselves and 4 chicks.
Spoke to Hugh today who said that the Sparrowhawk fledglings were now starting to chase the adult birds when they dropped food off at the nest. They are definitely getting quite feisty and the male is at risk because he is small and Hugh said he is a sub-adult (i.e. 1 year old). There is also 1 male in the brood he is pretty sure.
This email received today, sent Thurs 31st 2014:
The Sparrowhawk was away this morning when I checked, which is great news! The bird and the food I left for it was gone and there was no sign of struggle in the surrounding area.
Thanks for everyone who helped.
From: Tamar Duncan
Sent: 30 July 2014 15:37
To: Visitor Welcome Staff
Cc: Martyn Dickson
Subject: Injured Sparrowhawk
Just to inform you that a Sparrowhawk was found by one of Inverleith House invigilators. We think it flew into the window and stunned itself, but we are unsure of the extend of its injuries.
Matty explained that it is one of the Gardens female fledging’s. We informed the SSPCA who are on their way to the JHG. The Sparrowhawk is now in a box which has been placed on the desk behind the JHG reception.
Please be careful with the box.
Hopefully the SSPCA will arrive soon. If they don’t arrive before 3:45, Matty will call them back to give them the number for the JHG.
If they don’t arrive before 6:15 I can ring them back to inform them and get advice as to what to do next.
Thanks very much again Matty for your help on this and to the VWT.
Tamar Duncan, Visitor Welcome Team, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 0131 248 2909
Think before you print.
Also saw a sparrowhawk today that was in a tree near the nest. I was attracted by it calling. It looked quite small and different to the one I saw before on the broken off tree by the nest and I think it may have been the male fledgling. There was no sign of the other fledglings or parent birds.
Saw a sparrowhawk on the way to the East Gate from Gateway on the west side of the pond.
While I was walking along the centre path towards the East Gate I saw a Sparrowhawk and a crow having an aerial dogfight above the Caley Hall. They went off in the direction of the John Muir Grove so I followed them up through there and managed to keep an I on them as they flew around towards the Birch Lawn and then doubled back over to the bottom of the woodland garden and then over the Chinese Hillside. I went through the Chinese hillside up to Inverleith House lawn but by that point I had lost them. However this whole journey they had been diving on each other and attacking each other.
Today I again saw an aerial dogfight between a crow and a sparrowhawk above the demonstration garden. They flew off in a northerly direction for quite a distance as the battle raged but eventually I think the sparrowhawk managed to put some distance between it and the crow.
Saw a sparrowhawk today which I think was a young male perched on top of a tree near the Caledonian Hall. Shortly after it had landed a magpie started harassing it and then started to chase it over towards the Chinese hillside.
If you would like to read some further (and shorter) reports of some of the activities of wildlife in the garden I have put them in my folder on the general drive.