Well worth posting this picture of a sparrowhawk which thumped its head on the kitchen window this afternoon in close pursuit of a great tit. For the first few moments after the resounding collision, it lay on its back in what seemed to be a state of deep and irretrievable decline. It twitched horribly and seemed to be on the verge of death, but soon stood up and peered groggily round at us.
It is very rare to get a close look at these gorgeous hunters. Despite being very common, they operate with such lightning enthusiasm that they could be described as the bird world’s answer to a spark. Every detail of plumage and anatomy was on show for a few minutes while the hawk gathered its marbles, pulling some terrible facial expressions reminiscent of the worst and most unforgiving hangover.
More than anything, I was delighted with the needle-sharp talons and the yellow legs which were as slender as pins. I take it that this is a juvenile, although shaky knowledge on the hawk front exposes me to correction. The theory of sexing sparrowhawks should be a perfectly straightforward business – the cocks are small and blue and the hens are larger and brown, but I seem to always find curve-balls which muddle the diagnosis.