Tuesday June 23
Ah these dramas. They get me ever time. Any little bird worth its salt will take on a bird of prey. It looks like a suicide mission: it’s actually a diamond-hard survival technique. I was doing some outside chore when I hear the two-note call of swallow. In easy times this is a cheery honey-I’m-home greeting as the bird enters the stable and makes a steep upward curve to its nest among the roof-ties. Not this time: the same notes, but the tone was urgent, and much repeated. This wasn’t a greeting; it was a call to arms.
I looked up at once, for the call is also a summons to human birdwatchers, and there was a hefty female sparrowhawk; females in most birds of prey are about a third bigger than males. And it was being harassed by the swallows from my stable-block: zooming in at the bird like jet-fighters attacking a bomber.
This was doubly irritating for the sparrowhawk. It meant that a hunt had been interrupted, and that it was impossible to resume. There was no chance of taking anything by surprise with all that racket going on. Every small bird knows what these alarm and mobbing calls mean. I’ve got your number! On yer bike, hawk! And don’t come back!
And so the four of them made repeated attacks on the lethal giant that was flying over, trusting in their speed and maneuverability to keep out of trouble. The sparrowhawk made half-hearted efforts to turn in and down towards the swallows’ building, but the swallows had all the commitment. So she’s gone. For now.