Two martins a swallow do not make or summat.

john young

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Last year I was absolutely staggered to see a group of twenty or so Swallows give chase to a Sparrowhawk to fend it away from their nest site. If someone told me that had happened I wouldn't have believed them either! But I saw it. I'd have thought a hawk would pick out a Swallow much easier than a falcon but p'raps it ain't always necessarily so - probably a juvenile Sparrowhawk in this instance, or a male, it wasn't a big 'un. I had to rack my brains to remember exactly where it was and remembered seeing a female Gos' on the drive in. I doubt the Swallows would have taken her on but that would have truly been something extraordinary to see!

There was a quote from an old Ray Mears film on some obscure telly channel the other night that stuck in my mind, 'the more time you give to Nature, the more She will reveal to you'. I'm paraphrasing but never a truer word was spoken. Very often thats the place where fishing takes us to, if we're not too preoccupied with the game in hand ;)
I have seen all sorts of birds 'mob' hawks and falcons.

I read in the 'expert' books and publications that the hawks and falcons, with the exception of the kestrel, don't take the slightest notice of this 'mobbing'.

But I'm not sufficiently expert or a dedicated enough observer to know if this is true or not.

At our model plane flying field (a large and now disused WW2 airfield surrounded by fairly 'open' forest and near-treeless patches of heathland and close to the coast and Southampton water) peregrines are common. I've noticed that they often 'play chase' peewits with no intention of catching them. Sometimes it goes on for ten minutes or so. Other hawks and falcons do it too but none are common around that field.
 
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somerset salmon

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Last year I was absolutely staggered to see a group of twenty or so Swallows give chase to a Sparrowhawk to fend it away from their nest site. If someone told me that had happened I wouldn't have believed them either! But I saw it. I'd have thought a hawk would pick out a Swallow much easier than a falcon but p'raps it ain't always necessarily so -


I can't recall ever seeing a mass mobbing of a sparrowhawk but single or pairs of small birds giving them hell fairly often. As John said sparrowhawks rely mainly on surprise to catch their prey, once out in the open they are much less able than falcons to finish the job.
 
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guest54

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Have you ever actually seen this? I find it surprising as every time I've watched them hunting small birds such as meadow pipits they have really struggled to make the kill out in the open sky. Obviously they get a percentage but I've seen pipits evade merlin attack in sustained pursuit over a period of minutes and covering hundreds of yards over open moorland with no real ground cover. A swallow let alone a swift must be a real challenge for a merlin.

I've watched it, from a deck chair in my back garden, through binoculars, seen all kinds of raptors from that vantage point (lazy birdwatcher).
Hobby took a House Martin in mid air after a high speed stoop, faster, it seemed, than the Peregrine that hit a pigeon in a cloud of feathers.
Buzzards, Kites, Kestrels, Hobby, Merlin, Sparrow Hawk, Tawny Owls, seen them all as they pass through on their way north or south. Saw some Bee Eaters many years ago, fantastic.
 

john young

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I've watched it, from a deck chair in my back garden, through binoculars, seen all kinds of raptors from that vantage point (lazy birdwatcher).
Hobby took a House Martin in mid air after a high speed stoop, faster, it seemed, than the Peregrine that hit a pigeon in a cloud of feathers.
Buzzards, Kites, Kestrels, Hobby, Merlin, Sparrow Hawk, Tawny Owls, seen them all as they pass through on their way north or south. Saw some Bee Eaters many years ago, fantastic.
I hear sparrowhawks from my garden but see them less often. Last year a pair nested nearby though I don't live in the proper 'country'. One year a sparrowhawk took and ate a blackbird on my lawn. And I often see the characteristic 'ring of plucked feathers' on the lawn.

Peregrines are fairly common.

Hobbies regularly nest at the river where I mostly fish and I have frequently seen them catching dragonflies with their feet (as always with a falcon or hawk) and eating them while on the wing.

Goshawks, of which I have seen a few, mostly because I look for them, have come back from UK extinction in the 1960s, (mostly due to persistent pesticides no longer used now) to about 450 nesting pairs. They are almost all the offspring from falconers birds who in the 1970s were in the habit of legally obtaining two adult birds from northern Europe (a very expensive process) and releasing one of them. Now they are fully 'established'.
 
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sewinbasher

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Have you ever actually seen this? I find it surprising as every time I've watched them hunting small birds such as meadow pipits they have really struggled to make the kill out in the open sky. Obviously they get a percentage but I've seen pipits evade merlin attack in sustained pursuit over a period of minutes and covering hundreds of yards over open moorland with no real ground cover. A swallow let alone a swift must be a real challenge for a merlin.
The best hunter of martins is probably the hobby. I saw my first about 30 years ago when I walked down to a pool on the Wye at Monmouth. As I reached the bank the dozens of martins, swifts and swallows that were working the pool suddenly flared up in a panic and the source of their concern was a hobby. It was hot on the tail of a sand martin but failed on this occasion and pitched up into a nearby tree giving me a good look at what was quite a rarity in Wales at that time.
 

somerset salmon

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The best hunter of martins is probably the hobby. I saw my first about 30 years ago when I walked down to a pool on the Wye at Monmouth. As I reached the bank the dozens of martins, swifts and swallows that were working the pool suddenly flared up in a panic and the source of their concern was a hobby. It was hot on the tail of a sand martin but failed on this occasion and pitched up into a nearby tree giving me a good look at what was quite a rarity in Wales at that time.


Hobbys yes but I still think it must be very rare that merlin take swallows or martins let alone swifts.
 

lee71

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I've seen owls mobbed by blue/great and long tailed t1ts plenty of times, I think they may do it to try and confuse the owl and keep it's eye off any single one of them, think I once saw it years ago with a kestrel which was perched up having a rest.:thumbs:
 

tobesfish

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It's often thought that you have to be in the countryside to see amazing things but in 2015 I was working in the Cheesegrater in the City (Leadenhall Building) on the 26th floor and throughout the summer I would watch as Peregrines would take off from a perch just above my window, or across the way from the Walkie-Talkie, climb high and then swoop down on pigeons, occasionally it looked like they'd been hit with a 12-bore and this could be as close as 10 foot outside my window at eye level.

The most amazing bit of "nature" that I've ever witnessed!

Thankfully I'm out of London now but that was an amazing sight!
 

sewinbasher

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I saw a peregrine hit a pigeon right over my house in Monmouth. I walked into the garden and immediately became aware on a whistling noise overhead, looking up I could see a peregrine in full stoop and just as managed to get my father-in-law looking in the right direction, it hit a pigeon in a cloud of feathers, spectacular!!
 

john young

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It's often thought that you have to be in the countryside to see amazing things but in 2015 I was working in the Cheesegrater in the City (Leadenhall Building) on the 26th floor and throughout the summer I would watch as Peregrines would take off from a perch just above my window, or across the way from the Walkie-Talkie, climb high and then swoop down on pigeons, occasionally it looked like they'd been hit with a 12-bore and this could be as close as 10 foot outside my window at eye level.

The most amazing bit of "nature" that I've ever witnessed!

Thankfully I'm out of London now but that was an amazing sight!
Yeah.
Peregrines nesting near the top of Salisbury cathedral and in the towers of Fawley oil refinery, which is both near the
'sea' end of Southampton Water with open land on the other three sides being mostly heathland, which they like.
And often seen on the electricity pylons overlooking the mouth of the river Test, which is a huge area of 'protected' reedbeds.

Goshawks in the more wooded areas of the New Forest, descendants of the falconers 1970s UK wide reintroductions.

At least 50 pairs of Sparrowhawks recorded nesting in the Forest too, from the eight or so recorded in about 1970.

Hobbies not uncommon.

We can't go ten minutes in the late evening without hearing tawny owls where I live. In 'Merlin Way' of all places :rolleyes:
Sparrowhawks often heard (but rarely seen) during the day in the same area.

The occasional merlin seen in the quieter but still central parts of Winchester.

I read recently that the present UK population of hawks and falcons is probably as great now as it was in the Middle Ages.

It's a combination of less prey on farmland due to monoculture and the digging of hedgerows driving them to the towns where the small birds are not only not persecuted, but often encouraged.
Plus, and even more important, the banning of persistent pesticides.
 
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