Can you believe our extraordinary wildlife encounter today?
A glorious sunny spring day, and as I walked from the garden into the courtyard I saw a bird swoop purposefully into the kitchen. Our black lab Izzy was instantly on the alert, but since enthusiastic barking was unlikely to soothe our visitor, I locked the dog in the garden, asked the kids to stay back, and stepped inside.
First thing I saw was a blackbird tucked into the farthest corner… by the dresser, quivering with fear. I’m not that comfortable with birds indoors so that seemed problem enough …. but as I stood there debating how to get a terrified blackbird up and out of the door, I had a sudden spine-tingling feeling that something was watching me.
A cautious turn had me confronted by an intrigued bird of prey sitting on the kitchen counter. I exited smartly.
Outside I considered my plan. Number one was surely photographic evidence. I whipped back in and took a few basic shots with my iPhone. Definitely a bird of prey. Kestrel or Sparrow hawk? I needed John but he was off on a DIY mission.
A few wing flaps took the bird to the cooker hood – ambitious choice since it’s polished steel and conical, so not the easiest perch, but it managed, briefly, before hopping onto the marble worktop. The blackbird was now perfectly still. Had it died of shock? Or earlier attack injuries?
Time to call John: “Come quickly, there’s a bird of prey in the kitchen!” A wildlife enthusiast of John’s calibre couldn’t resist. He was back within minutes and strolling into the kitchen with a touch of incredulity.
Seconds later he re-emerged with a huge smile. “It is a kestrel or a sparrow hawk!” Yep. He dived into the store room and came out with leather gardening gauntlets and a safety visor. What? “They can go for your eyes, best to be safe!”
Then he’s in there, with camera, recording it for posterity. The children go round to look through the window from the other end of the kitchen, and when John opens up the velux windows, suddenly the blackbird comes back to life and scoots up to liberty, flying straight out and into the cover of the fig tree. Seconds later the bird of prey shoots out and soars sunwards.
It takes a while to identify our visitor precisely when John loads the photos, but we are pretty sure this is a young female sparrowhawk. What do you think?