Saturday, 7 March 2009

7 March 2009

I had forgotten that there were boat races today on the river, plus the tide had already fairly risen when I got to Hammersmith Bridge, so there were few birds there. In particular, probably my lowest duck count ever with 4 mallards, and even they were right at the Bridge so very close to be outside my patch. There were a few black headed gulls, a good half of them now with black heads, I counted 58 by the bridge and 62 on the pontoon, with a few in between. Gull-wise I also spotted 2 adult lesser black backed on the roof of the Riverside Studio and 3 common gulls on the pontoon. A few cormorants were flying over, probably trying to find quieter waters to fish and one was trying to have a nap near the pontoon until a few black-headed gulls decided that its spot was highly desirable and nagged it until it left. Surprisingly there were 3 coots again, one of them going full speed against the tide, as well as the 2 moorhens, and a great crested grebe which was starting to fish as I left.

On the way there, as I was getting near Frank Banfield Park when I noticed a wren singing on a chimney, quickly being chased away by a pair of blue tits, quickly chased themselves by a starling... A pair of sparrows were exploring a possible new nest at the beginning of the street, a starling also being interested in it. Near the usual nests, a female sparrow was interested in a piece of insulation caught in a tree, and a male was in the wood chip picking up twigs, so nest building was very much under way. I was observing this when suddenly a flock of 12 goldfinches and a few starlings flew off from behind the fence of Hammersmith Embankment building site, but I could not find what had spooked them. A little later, on the other side of the Park, I was trying to see the sparrows I could hear in a hedge, when a great tit above me started alarm calling, It was most insistent, I initially thought there was a cat about but could not see one, and finally I spotted this sparrowhawk on a roof on the other side of the street:. Probably what had spooked the birds earlier.

After a minute or so, it spotted something over the building site and went after it. Yet again, goldfinch and starlings flew off, but I don't think it caught any.

Once the commotion was over and I resumed my walk, I heard a chiffchaff on the building site and saw it briefly as it went on a tree for a few seconds. I wonder if it's the one I'd heard and not managed to see on the other side of the street a few weeks ago.
And to get back to sparrowhawk, I was at home a while later when I saw (another) one circling above Margravine Cemetery.


  1. That Sparrowhawk looks quite fearsome sat there. We had one visit the garden regularly late last Summer and although it's part of nature I found it very sad to see piles of little feathers left behind after it's meal. I am glad not to have seen it lately!

  2. It did indeed! Well done that tit to raise the alarm...
    After observing 1 then 2 peregrines (one of my favourite birds) almost daily for over a year, can't say that I am too squeamish about piles of feathers anymore. I would still probably feel very sad if it was of a bird I 'knew' though.