Monday, 22 April 2013

Expect the unexpected ...

Birds in the garden are expected and encouraged. We put out a variety of food throughout the year to encourage different varieties - Niger seed for Goldfinches, fatballs for Blue Tits and so on ...

Here are some birds we were very surprised to see, as they were most unexpected !

Last summer I found this Sparrowhawk in our conservatory, nursing an injured wing and, I think, mild concussion ! Our garden forms part of its hunting territory and, sadly, it considers my fantail doves to be a great delicacy. I think it dived down on a dove and somehow flew through the open doors and collided with a window. When I found it, it was very stunned and holding its wing at such an odd angle I feared it may be broken. I was so keen to help to back to freedom that I threw a tea towel over its head so that I could approach it, then lifted it up and perched it on my fist. It was only when I uncovered its head and looked into those piercing golden eyes that I realised I may have taken a bit of a risk ! A look at the talons gripping onto my hand didn't make me feel any better ! However, I took it to the open door and it took a deep breath, and then took off without a backward glance, full strength recovered. It was fantastic to get so close to it and I was relieved all fingers were intact after the encounter !

You can see the odd angle of the Sparrowhawk's wing here, it was lucky to escape a more permanent injury.

Our other unusual visitors also appeared last summer ...

If you look closely you can see six little chicks which had just hatched. They are extremely well camouflaged ! I found the nest and the egg shells amongst the geraniums, so they must have been there for quite a while without me noticing. I was looking forward to watching the chicks grow, but when I checked it out online, I found out that as soon as they are hatched the mother leads them away from the nest and they never return. I watched them walk down the garden, all in a long line behind their mum, until they disappeared into the orchard next door.

We now have up to half a dozen pheasants roosting most nights under the Box, and I don't know if they are the grown up babies or not, but I like to think they are.

Finally, here is a baby that only its mother could love ! 

My Fantail doves regularly lay eggs and sometimes I substitute plastic eggs for the real thing, to keep numbers down, and sometimes I leave the eggs to hatch. This little one was a total surprise as the parents had built a so-called nest (a few sticks !) low down in the wood pile, and the first I knew about it was when I heard this one begging its parents for food. I have to admit it is low on  cuteness, particularly compared to the fluffy Pheasant chicks. However, in about two weeks those feathers had grown and he was beautiful !


  1. You really were lucky with the hawk. I can imagine their talons are quite sharp, and could have caused you great harm, if he had panicked! The pheasants are adorable. It must have been so sweet watching them follow their mother.

    1. I think the hawk was too confused to do much at all, which was good for me - I have seen the thick leather gauntlets worn by hawk handlers so they must be capable of inflicting some pain ! Pheasants were adorable and I think I forgive them for trampling down my geraniums !


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