The Magpie family in the garden have been giving us trouble lately - two parents, two young. They have had the absolute run of the place this last two weeks Always on the birdtable and even on the nut and fat hangers… super acrobats, these, but getting too big for their boots, by far.
Magpies making free with the birdtable.
The two young Magpies scavenging under the peanut hanger.
Anyway, just before lunch, Judith said, “Those blooming magpies, again!” I comfortingly replied, “I reckon they are going to make Sparrowhawk bait shortly” – bit of a throwaway comment this, as I settled down to my soup and bread roll.
Watching magpies disporting themselves on the lawn – blow me, what the…? The Sparrowhawk came diving down, past the picture window, with young magpie in close pursuit – real Biggin Hill stuff this. “This should be good!” I remarked to Judith. At which moment Sparrowhawk did a nifty turn – they have good engines these Sparrowhawks, far outclass the ‘Merlin’ for strength and reliability – pity Rolls Royce didn’t make this model!
Young Magpie was about to receive it’s first lesson in RESPECT. Sensibly it turned tail immediately and headed back to the main defensive group: 3 Magpies and 2 garden Crows with nicknames like ‘Biggles’, ‘Bader’ and ‘Richtofen’- very experienced battle-hardened group this. I yelled to our ‘Pathe News’ photographer,”Get the camera rolling” – and then it started. Big aerial dogfight right over the garden: screaming turns; banking rolls; power dives; engines at full revs. What a spectacle!
One would have thought this defense would have driven off the most hardy of combat veterans…but the garden is Sparrowhawks dining table and this was an important fight. So, the wheeling and diving continued, with Sparrowhawk, pressing home it’s attack again and again; joined now by a hail of small garden birds; having their say too; not to mention the hirundine. They joined in, just for fun – secure in their superior turn of speed.
We watched open-mouthed at this display. Hard stuff to shoot, but our intrepid ‘Pathe News’ photographer got it all in the can.
Rapid response by Magpies to Sparrowhawk's overflight.
Sparrowhawk returns to attack.
Magpies' full threat display.
Sparrowhawk teaches Magpies 'respect'
Little birds join in general skirmish.
Sparrowhawk's last triumphal fly-past..."I'll be back!"
As a finale to all this, Kestrel slopes along the front of the marsh, hoping for a part of the action but it got no takers. It was only ‘small potatoes’ really – no Messerschmitt this one; and had to be content with it’s usual tasty vole from the marsh driftline…sensible bird, this!
Kestrel arrives on the scene.
Kestrel him 'small potatoes' - but vole hunter extraordinaire.
Peace once more reigns in the garden – honour having been satisfied all round; that is, until the next time…
Magpie takes over the birdtable once more.
Tree Sparrow family resume their normal feeding activity.
Goldfinch are back on the niger seed feeder.
Great Spotted Woodpecker returns to nut hanger.