Spring bird activity—sparrowhawk, nuthatches and tree creepers

Yesterday while on what I would call the middle ride (map: E6 (NGR: SP306593)) a sparrowhawk flew overhead going south, just above the tree canopy.

I’ve rarely seen sparrowhawks although they clearly inhabit the wood. I saw one on an occasion last year, when I suddenly became aware of a commotion in a nearby tree. A sparrowhawk had caught what was, if I remember correctly, a mistle thrush. The thrush clearly put up quite a fight, because it got free and flew off at high speed with the hawk in close pursuit. After another brief tussle at a distance where I couldn’t see exactly what was going on, the sparrowhawk gave up and flew off.

The thrush lived to see another day. I think it was lucky. I’ve watched our local female sparrowhawk down a collared dove in our garden, and then proceed to suffocate it, pluck and eat it (well, some of it) in the following 45 minutes. I’m sure they are as fierce as they look…

In a previous year, there were sparrowhawks nesting in a tall conifer in the southern part of the wood. The young are pretty noisy, and don’t keep their presence hidden. I’ve not heard them again in the past 3-4 years.

Yesterday and today I also saw plenty of nuthatches, and a pair of tree creepers combing a tree trunk together. Today I snapped this nuthatch checking out a nesting site.

The ride widening in the wood seems to have finished. The “collateral damage” unfortunately is huge. Because the operations this year were to the paths (that are now “rides”), the problem of brash and ruts (the latter cause mostly by the extraction vehicle rather that the harvester itself) is much more apparent, and makes walking on the paths very difficult in places. Hopefully something will be done to improve this.

This post originally appeared on Chris Wood’s Oakley Wood blog.

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