It’s been very exciting the last couple of weeks with the long awaited Titan Arum flowering in the Glasshouses. However for myself it has also been an exciting wait to see what would emerge from under the ever vigilant female sparrowhawks patiently sitting on their nests.
Well, the wait is over and I’m pleased to announce (belatedly, as the picture above by Will Hinchliffe has already been tweeted) that there are new arrivals in the RBGE. Both nesting pairs have had success and a total of 10 new chicks have been counted! The ringing of the chicks at one of the nests, where Will took the above photo, was done last week. Three males and three females were ringed at one nest and two males and two females at the other, although at the latter the chicks were significantly smaller and therefore the rings may not stay on as securely.
At one of the nests I was privileged to see a sparrowhawk taking food to its chicks. It had perched above the nest and then suddenly launched an attack which sent birds scattering in all directions. It must have been successful though as after a short while I heard the call of the sparrowhawk, a shrill whistle-like note, as one flew back to a nearby tree and began plucking its prey. The food package was duly delivered to the nest where I caught my first glimpse of chicks over the rim as they flapped their immature wings while attempting to feed.
Thanks to Martyn Dickson, Laura and Hugh Coventry for the updates and to Will for capturing the image of chicks on the nest. Please note however that this was taken during a licensed ringing of the birds and photographs of birds of prey on their nests are normally prohibited by law.
Now that the chick feeding time has commenced, next time you are visiting the garden watch out for sparrowhawks on the wing in the wooded areas.