Breakfast Visitor

Somebody stopped by for breakfast two days ago, and we had one less Wood Pigeon in our garden. Wood Pigeons never appear ‘on guard’. Jackdaws, Crows, Blackbirds all take flight for the flimsiest of reasons. But Wood Pigeons waddle along, head to the ground, in blissful ignorance of any impending danger. And sadly, and this is not the only Pigeon in recent months, they pay the ultimate price.

_DS82504I arrived downstairs, looked down the garden, saw the widely scattered feathers, and also the killer (probably a female Sparrowhawk), who was still enjoying a leisurely breakfast and continued to do so for the next half an hour. Despite the intermittent appearance of a noisy Magpie that walked round the raptor repeatedly demanding that he had a piece of the action – all to no avail.

There was time for me to have my own breakfast and then go upstairs, get out the 500mm Mirror Lens and shoot (photographically) our visitor from the Bathroom window. A full 45 yds distant (I paced it out), on a DX body mounted on a tripod (very unusual for me) the lens becomes 750mm, and what you see here is less than half the original image. click on either image to see a higher quality enlargement

_DS82488Not every one knows what a Mirror Lens is; if you are one of those people then a much earlier post on this blog will help you learn more about this rather unusual long lens. Click here to read the post explaining all about them.


About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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19 Responses to Breakfast Visitor

  1. Adrian Lewis says:

    Hi Andy – as promised, having a look at your mystery bird! Sparrowhawks are frequent here, but I’ve very little experience of Goshawks. My best (and non-expert!) guess would be a large female Sparrowhawk, based on size relative to the pigeon’s feathers and the fallen leaves and, I imagine, the unlikelihood of seeing a Goshawk on the lawn! BUT, as I say, I know little of Goshawks, and I’ve been right out of touch with UK birding for 11 years. In favour of Goshawk, the lower shot does look rather heavily and deeply chested, and the upper shot does seem to have prominent white under tail coverts.

    However, what you should do is to email your photos to the Bird Recorder and/or birdwatching society in your area – they’ll have more expert knowledge and, if it is a Goshawk, they’ll want to add it to their records. Adrian

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Adrian for the comment and the advice. I will follow up your suggestion. This bird certainly does appear to have strong shoulders in the second shot – more than I would have expected for a Sparrowhawk. This is quite a rural area, and our garden is right on the edge of open country. Red Kites now circle overhead too – this is the first year I’ve seen them up here – they are a common sight in the Thames Valley, along the line of the M40.

  2. Chillbrook says:

    I can’t help you with identifying the culprit but the suspect pictured is going to have a hard time claiming they didn’t do it. How wonderful to have a bird like this visit Andy. I managed to photograph a kestrel in my garden once but that was a while ago. I see the buzzards in the field next door but haven’t managed to photograph those with much success.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Adrian. This was an impressive, albeit sad, sight. It certainly cleared the garden of other birds for the entire day. They are back today and a pair of Wood Pigeons are once again waddling their way around – sometimes we can get up to ten of those at one time in the garden. But unless they acquire better alertness, the numbers will decrease.

  3. oneowner says:

    Once again, the 500mm mirror to the rescue. This is a fantastic lens if you can mount it on a tripod or can handhold it well. You can’t get very close to a bird like this so the 500 (or 750) is perfect.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Ken. This lens comes into play occasionally with its long reach, and this was an ideal opportunity. I find the lens lacks contrast – a common trait with mirrors, but that of course can be overcome. I took about twenty shots and these were the best – still not entirely sharp – manual focussing has to be very precise, just a foot out and you lose definition.

  4. Len says:

    Always nice when you have visitors for breakfast Andy. We are getting all kinds of similar visitors this year. i wonder if that is a portent of a very bad winter here.

  5. athyfoto says:

    Hello Andy. According to the RSPB the Goshawk is , , ,

    “A large hawk, almost reaching buzzard size. When seen close to it has a fierce expression with bright red eyes and a distinctive white eyebrow. Its broad wings enable it to hunt at high speed, weaving in and out of trees, and its long legs and talons can catch its prey in flight. The female is substantially larger than the male. In late winter and spring it has a ‘sky-dance’ display. Goshawks are still persecuted and their nests are frequently robbed.”

    While they describe the Sparrowhawk as . . .

    Sparrowhawks are small birds of prey. They’re adapted for hunting birds in confined spaces like dense woodland, so gardens are ideal hunting grounds for them. Adult male sparrowhawks have bluish-grey back and wings and orangey-brown bars on their chest and belly. Females and young birds have brown back and wings, and brown bars underneath. Sparrowhawks have bright yellow or orangey eyes, long, yellow legs and long talons. Females are larger than males, as with most birds of prey.”

  6. The hawk did indeed make quite a mess. But I am sure you are willing to live with that (if not its prey) to capture such a bird in your garden. Great images.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thank you Otto. We have quite a few visitors to our garden – Pheasants, Woodpeckers, Jays but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Bird of Prey, although sadly I’ve seen piles of feathers on several occasions.

  7. shoreacres says:

    It’s the way of the world, isn’t it? “Food chain” is such a nice, abstract concept, until you see it in action. Still, everyone needs breakfast, and the truth is that nature has a way of balancing things out. It bothers me every spring when the mallard ducklings begin to disappear one by one, but if they didn’t serve as food for gar and seagull, we’d be up to our hips in ducks!

    The hawk is a handsome one. If you have a shortage of pigeons, I’d be happy to send some of my rock pigeons over. I’ve had to stop feeding for the time being, as the word is out, and they’re so greedy they can go through a bag of feed before any other birds show up.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Linda. I’m sure that if meat-eaters (and I am one) had to spend a few days in a slaughterhouse we might well become vegetarian. We do forget we are at the top of the food chain. Pigeons, I always think, are a sandwich short of a picnic. Too unaware, and they never seem to learn.

  8. poppytump says:

    Oh pigeons are so daft … you made me laugh there Andy ‘ one sandwich short of a picnic ‘ … this time this one WAS the picnic 🙂

  9. poppytump says:

    oops … Amazing capture BTW 😉

  10. Jim Nix says:

    that’s so awesome! I love birds of prey but rarely see them in Austin – however this time of year we have a little screech owl who lives in the backyard…I mostly just wave at him and talk to him from a distance but maybe I should get out the camera…nice work here mate

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Jim. The problem is getting a view without scaring them off. Somehow birds tolerate a carefully opened window, but the moment I step outside the back door, they are usually take flight. But this bird might have been more interested in breakfast than taking off – I just didn’t want to miss the chance of an image – so shooting from a window seemed the wisest policy.

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