Monday, 24 February 2014


For at least the last fortnight (a friend staying for the week-end first noticed it) a kestrel has visited our bird table every day looking for a tasty snack.

Sparrow hawks sweep through almost daily - they appear out of nowhere, sweep low and sometimes snatch a small bird off the feeders.  Then they disappear over the hedge and are gone.

Occasionally we find a heap of feathers beneath the table - usually those of a pigeon or a collared dove - and we presume this is the sparrow hawk too.

But the arrival of the kestrel is a fairly new occurrence.   He makes no attempt to hide, usually sitting on the grass and just watching.   I have never seen him catch anything - but then if I can see him then I am sure the numerous small visiting birds can too.  When he is there, there is not a bird to be seen.

I took a photograph of him this morning through the kitchen window.   He is on the grass beside the clothes post.   It is a rotten picture but I dare not go any nearer.  When I did he immediately flew off.

I suppose it is inevitable that when we attract so many birds into such a small area, the birds of prey will home in on it as an easy source of food.   However, these small birds seem to live life on the edge and do seem to watch out for one another, so as far as I know only now and again does one fall victim.

The farmer is going to the funeral of a respected Dales farmer today.   The gathering is at 1pm and there will be food afterwards, where all the farmers get together and chat - and also show a united front of support for the family.   I had never encountered this kind of funeral until I came to live up here - but now it has become common place.   It is certainly true that when you are young you search the Marriages column in the local paper,  then after a few years it becomes the Births column and finally, in old age, you really only need to look at the Deaths.

If you are one of these people who looks at the column and wonders whether it will be your turn next then you need to take my father's advice.   He always used to say that there is no point in anticipating death because however you imagined it would happen, it would almost certainly be a completely different way.  His method of dealing with these feelings was to get out in the garden and do a bit of weeding.   Luckily I am not to the imagining stage yet - because my weeding days are long over.   If I bent down to weed then I would probably end up face down in the flower bed.

New hens tomorrow!!


Heather said...

I suppose smaller birds get used to the dangers they face on a daily basis. I remember when a hawk swooped down and grabbed a young bird from my neighbour's lawn while we were chatting over the fence!
I am sure the family of the deceased farmer will take comfort from all those who attend his funeral.
Looking forward to seeing pics of the new hens.

Cro Magnon said...

We have lots of Buzzards here, and I'm always fascinated by their hunting activities. Sadly, so are the Rooks, who give them a really hard time.

Gwil W said...

A weed is only a flower in the wrong place.

Mary said...

Seeing a kestrel is interesting - he sounds to be a patient bird. The largest feathered friends here are the red-tailed hawks. Last year one stayed around two days in one of our oaks - he'd caught a grey squirrel - carried it up to a branch and made it '3 meals a day' for those two days! Glad you feed your garden birds as do we - they bring such joy with songs, and watching the hierarchy at the feeding stations is very interesting.

My hubby always reads obits, both local and ones from places we've lived previously. I think it's rather gruesome and get really mad when he starts reading some out to me - people we have no clue about but he thinks their lives were interesting. Meanwhile, I'm just grateful to get out of bed and be breathing each day!!!!

New hens - sounds exciting, looking forward to seeing them.

Hugs - Mary

angryparsnip said...

So excited to see the new hens !

cheers, parsnip

Hildred said...

We have a pair of sharp shinned hawks that visit occasionally here in town. They were constant visitors 'up on the hill'. Luckily there is a dense cedar and tall pines close by for small birds to find refuge when the hawks appear.

I went to a funeral on Saturday, much as you describe Pat. They are the norm here, too, and more a celebration of life than a time of gloom.

Tom Stephenson said...

Keep up the good work. Feeding the birds is feeding the other birds too. All in favour of that.

Dartford Warbler said...

Sometimes a sparrow hawk will dive bomb the garden here and take a smaller bird. The buzzards are happier in the fields, helping to keep the rabbit population down.

Looking forward to seeing photos of your new hens!

Robin Mac said...

The kestrels we have here in Oz absolutely divebomb their prey and I have never seen them on the ground.
We have large wakes after the funerals here as well - I remember my mother saying just before she died (aged 94) she would be sorry to miss the reunion after her funeral! We had a very good one too. Cheers

thelma said...

The best thing we saw after the funeral we attended last week, was a tiny baby in the hands of his very large policeman father. The ending of life and the bringing forth of new life was brought together to make you smile at a sad occasion.

The Weaver of Grass said...

We have a buzzard or two here - they do seem more interested in the rabbits I must say - and there are hundreds of those in our fields. They may well pester the rooks Cro as there is a large rookery not too far away.
Thanks for these nice interesting comments.

Em Parkinson said...

I love your image of you falling over weeding - it made me chuckle. Probably not a chuckling thing for you though. I do find myself groaning at every effort these days which is a bit of a cliche.

Lots of buzzards and Harriers here with only the occasional Sparrowhawk or kestrel. I swear I saw a Red Kite a few weeks ago....