Tuesday, September 28, 2010


8th September 7 Sparrowhawks arrive on Fair Isle which is a new day record count! So naturally staying at a bird observatory we set out to try to catch some to ring them. Sparrowhawks on Fair Isle apparently always roost in tree cover, and seen as there is very little of it on the island and the two main groups both and heligoland traps at the end of them these would prove ideal to try to trap some of the sprawks in. On the 7th me and Jack had been on census all afternoon and we had asked to have our evening meal later so that we could fit in more birding, this meant we were heading back to the obs 2 hours later and by this time it was starting to get a lot darker and this also therefore meant that the Sprawks would be starting to roost. So we decided to push the plantation to see what was in there, creeping up along the side so that the birds don't see us till the last second and hopefully fly into the heligoland, then we jump up but all the birds fly vertically! 4 Sparrowhawks in all! Jack says that they will be back and sure enough after hiding around a dry stone wall for 10mins 3 birds had returned. We tried again but they did the same, flying vertically! This time we tried a different tactic, we both hid in the plantation! This way the birds would fly in and hopefully not see us then we'd jump out and we'd catch them. So after 5mins of waiting a juv male comes in! Lands literally 3ft away from me and Jack completely unknowing that we are there! We give it a bit for him to settle then jump up to try to push him into the heligoland but he just flys over the top again! 

By this time the light is getting too dark to be trapping the birds so we returned empty handed. But we were going to try the following night.

This time we arrive at the plantation when it is getting dark and 3 Sprawks flush out, 2 Females and a Male. We open the mist net in the plantation and Jack hides behind the dry stone wall and I hide in the Vaadal. Watching from here I see a female drop into the plantation but bounce from the net and fly away, then another female comes in and bounces again! Then the male lands 10ft away from me, eyeing up a couple of the fir trees behind me before turning and flying towards the mist net, success! Jack extracts him and we head back to the obs with one 1st winter male Sparrowhawk. A brilliant experience and I doubt that I will get any closer to a Sparrowhawk in the field again! Cheers Jack!

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