Monday, 25 April 2011

Hunting the Sprawk

A male Eurasian Sparrowhawk makes a low pass over West High Down in search of prey ...
I seem to have spent quite a few hours watching raptors this spring, with Eurasian Sparrowhawk perhaps the most frequently observed species after Common Buzzard. I've photographed quite a few 'Sprawks' in the process, but none as closely as this male on the Isle of Wight last week. It came past me in a flash as it tried to flush up pipits and other passerines from the short turf of West High Down. Amazingly, it then landed close by and allowed a close approach until it launched off again in pursuit of its target - a presumably terrified Common Chiffchaff.

... before staking out a migrant Common Chiffchaff in a cliff-top bush.
It watched the bush in which the warbler took refuge, eventually taking off in pursuit of its intended victim - only to be out-manoeuvred in a dramatic near-vertical ascent by the 'Phyllosc'. So nothing doing this time, but an impressive interaction to observe nonetheless.

The hawk launches in pursuit of the warbler, which spectacularly evades death at the last minute.

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