Sunday, 13 February 2011

Amwell: Redhead SMEW attacked by Eurasian Sparrowhawk

I made a visit mid-morning and whilst I recorded nothing out of the ordinary species-wise, I did note something unexpected.

I approached the Bittern Pool and noted 8 Tufted Duck and 2 redhead SMEWS. Suddenly a female Sparrowhawk came in low from my right, the Tufteds raised their necks in the usual 'alarmed' pose but remained still. The two Smew however panicked and both immediately pattered across the surface and into the air. The righthand bird made it away over the reeds, but the lefthand bird was in serious trouble. The hawk was on it in a second and as impact seemed inevitable, the Smew folded its wings and plunged straight into the reeds and out of sight. The Sparrowhawk then banked and made two passes over where the Smew had disappeared, but did not drop in.

I found this odd for two reasons, the first that a diving duck is almost completely safe from airborne killers whilst on the water (so why not remain there, as the Tufted's) and secondly the mode of escape. One must wonder if it will ever manage to extricate itself from the reeds it plunged into? (Mike Harris)

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