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Sparrowhawks in coastal habitats (1 Viewer)

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
I was walking along the south pier near the mouth of the Coquet Estuary in Amble, Northumberland yesterday evening, when my partner spotted a raptor perched near the end of the north pier. I was surprised to see it was a juvenile (or possibly female) sparrow hawk, which proceeded to fly south across the mouth of the river and go after a couple of turnstones. We watched it continue south down the coast, at least 100m offshore, when its pursuit was interrupted by a herring gull which started mobbing it.
I've seen sparrow hawks in open coastal habitats before (chasing migrating meadow pipits over sand dunes / almost taking the pectoral sandpiper I was watching once at Saltholme (!)), but never actually hunting over the sea before.
In the past I'd always thought of sparrowhawks as primarily associated with woodland and hedgerows, but I guess as populations have rebounded from the lows of the 1960s and 70s they're starting to exploit a broader range of habitats and potential food sources, and wondered if such observations were more frequent - although I can't see them competing with peregrines and merlins which are surely more efficient predators in an environment where speed beats agility, and there are limited opportunities for ambush strategies.
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I was walking along the south pier near the mouth of the Coquet Estuary in Amble, Northumberland yesterday evening, when my partner spotted a raptor perched near the end of the north pier. I was surprised to see it was a juvenile (or possibly female) sparrow hawk, which proceeded to fly south across the mouth of the river and go after a couple of turnstones. We watched it continue south down the coast, at least 100m offshore, when its pursuit was interrupted by a herring gull which started mobbing it.
I've seen sparrow hawks in open coastal habitats before (chasing migrating meadow pipits over sand dunes / almost taking the pectoral sandpiper I was watching once at Saltholme (!)), but never actually hunting over the sea before.
In the past I'd always thought of sparrowhawks as primarily associated with woodland and hedgerows, but I guess as populations have rebounded from the lows of the 1960s and 70s they're starting to exploit a broader range of habitats and potential food sources, and wondered if such observations were more frequent - although I can't see them competing with peregrines and merlins which are surely more efficient predators in an environment where speed beats agility, and there are limited opportunities for ambush strategies.

'Doesn't answer the question, kb57, but like you I see quite a few sparrowhawks not far off the sea (maybe 15 metres) but then there are a lot of dense trees around there. Around here, buzzards are starting to circle the outskirts of the village which I've never seen before as they were always confined to farther back and the fields. Growing numbers, more competition, a need to look a bit farther afield for food? Possibly.
 
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