On returning from a meeting today, I drove up the lane and was just about to pull into my drive, when I noticed something on the ground, in the middle of the entrance to my drive. As I drove closer, I realised that it was a female sparrowhawk on the ground, with a newly caught magpie, still struggling in her talons! I stopped the car a matter of metres from her and she froze, her wings mantling her prey. I just sat there for a moment, desperately thinking how I could get in and grab my camera! The lane is really narrow, so I could not stop there and she was sitting in the middle of my drive entrance! As I tried to decide what to do, she suddenly took off and flew a couple of metres down the lane, into the bank, still clutching the magpie.
I whizzed up onto the drive, raced inside, grabbed the camera and ran down the lane. She was sitting on the bank, but my heart was racing and my hand shaking, so the shot is not incredibly sharp, plus the lane is quite gloomy due to all the tree cover.
I managed a couple of shots before she flew off down the lane. I would imagine the adult magpie she was carrying was of a similar weight to herself!
I followed her and she swerved into a passageway by my neighbour’s bins. I crept closer, trying to see where she had gone, when suddenly she flew out virtually beneath my feet, leaving her prey, dead, on the floor. I retreated and sat on the opposite side of the lane for a while, hoping she would return for her prey….. and feeling rather bad that I had disturbed her enough for her to abandon her lunch. I hope that she did return later to retrieve the magpie…. quite a kill and a wonderful sight to see!
The poor magpie fared less well. I wouldn’t imagine a sparrowhawk often catches such large prey.