Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Talon spotting

Forget X Factor and the mind-numbing tedium of TV talent spotting shows.
The real talent is in the garden.
The real talons are in the garden.
Look who was spotted just before 12th Night. Our very own Lord of Misrule.

Male sparrowhak

A male sparrowhawk. How delightful!

Male sparrowhawk

What a stunner.

Male sparrowhawk

Just when you think nothing will cheer you in the dreary cold wet greyness, suddenly this colourful beauty appears. 
Look at that stare. 

Male sparrowhawk

Those piercing amber eyes, slaty uppers & barred cinnamon chest. Yellow legs and oh so sharp talons.

Male sparrowhawk

A regal bird so we've named him Hengist, after the Anglo-Saxon warrior from whom all the kings of Kent claimed descent. 

I don't like the idea of any bird being tethered and constrained, but falconers call a male sparrowhawk a musket (from the Latin for 'a fly'). Males are considered one of the hardest raptors to train and rather singleminded when chasing prey, so only owned by lowly clerks. 
An Eagle for an Emperor
A Gyrfalcon for a King 
A Peregrine for a Prince 
A Saker for a Knight 
A Merlin for a Lady 
A Goshawk for a Yeoman
A Sparrowhawk for a Priest, 
A Musket for a Holy Water Clerk
A Kestrel for a Knave.

The Boke of St Albans (1486) 

Male sparrowhawk

Mr Gloriously Handsome Hengist spent some 45 minutes on our fence, shed, garage - in rotation. He made 8 'drops' into the garden that I saw, but failed to catch anything. I hope he found a meal to get him through the awful wet weather when, it must be nigh on impossible to hunt.

Male sparrowhawk

No sparrows under there lad.

But what about those white patches on his nape? I've not noticed that before on male sparrowhawks, but then again, most views I get are a slatey blur streaking past.

Male sparrowhawk

Makes it easier to identify him on his next visit. 

Male sparrowhawk

Looks like he has eyes in the back of his head. Watch out sparrows.

Male sparrowhawk

I admit I am smitten.

Male sparrowhawk

Having such a magnificent bird in our tiny back garden is a thrill. 
These birds matter. Wildlife matters. This Government think that wildlife does not matter and they are so wrong. 

Male sparrowhawk