Nature Notes – August 2023

by Andy Johnston

Sparrow HawkWe have at least one pair of sparrow hawks which operate in the village. Those of you with bird feeders will be aware of the sudden attacks on garden birds, or more usually the tell-tale sign of a patch of feathers on the lawn. Now young sparrowhawks are near fledging, which coincides with the abundance of new garden birds, consequently the adults are continually hunting.

I have feeders above a shrubbery and recently the male sparrowhawk has altered its killing strategy. Initially it will attack the feeding station and if it fails to kill, will sit above in the cherry tree and wait for its prey to seek shelter in the shrubs. Then it dives into the shrubs and chases them, running from bush to bush until it has success or gives up.

Red KiteTony and Judy Phillips recently saw a red kite attack a group of young rabbits playing on their lawn. They were amazed at the manoeuvrability of such a large bird and its colourful plumage. At dusk, Mary and Rory Clarke have seen a barn owl quartering the grass field in front of the pub. It usually exits the field over Fleetham Lane into the Parklands.

Finally, if you are walking, especially with dogs, be aware that ticks are plentiful this year, especially in woodland and moorland with bracken. This is a high risk area and Lyme disease, although still uncommon, can be very nasty.