I'd first seen him the previous day. As I sat in a chair at my parents I was aware of a darkening on the window to my left, looked up and met his eye. A dainty little male sparrowhawk sat atop the neighbour's hedge. A day later I looked up and in he came, subtle as a brick. I can't help but feel this is an optimistic spot from which to try and catch small birds feeding on our birdfeeders.
I know other people have seen Accipter hawks astride feeders, everyone's favourite sciencechimp Julie Zickefoose for example. Nonetheless the brazenness of it astonished me. He hopped down to the bird bath.
We have a protective film on our windows designed to obscure them and minimise bird strikes. Nonetheless I'm guessing he could see enough to know someone was watching. I'm assuming the white splodges on his back indicate that he's a juvenile. Don't quote me on that. I do however know he's a he - the reddish barring is indicative of that and ye olde englishe name for a male sprawk is a musket which wikipedia tells me is not a firearms reference but a derivative of latin and ye olde frenche words for "a fly". I like such intricacies of language. It gives me pleasure to know that once upon a time people cared enough about male sparrowhawks to come up with a specific name for them other than "male sparrowhawk".
Don't dunk that tail! He had a spin around and a good old look at the whole garden as though trying to get a handle on the shape of things (this part of the garden is full of (now not-so) dwarf conifers creating a Sprawk slalom course. It reminded me of those shots you see of a sportsman walking around an empty stadium taking everything in. Unsurprisingly no-one came to the feeders during this period. My dad's comment at this point was one of surprise at how small he was close-up. What we believe to be his mother also lurks these parts leaving lumps of woodpigeon, collared dove and on one particularly awesome occasion one of the moorhens that frequent our pond (taken in front of me) scattered across the grass.
A wonderful 10 minutes we shared; me, my father and the musket. I'm sure he'll reappear soon enough.