It is hard to completely categorise any bird as those that hunt have been known to feed on carrion and those that scavenge occasionally kill, but I will show some examples and attempt to describe their typical behaviour.
All these birds have hard lives, populations rise and fall in line with the numbers of their prey, most suffer losses in the first winter of their lives due to a lack of skills in finding or killing suitable prey.
I'll start with a conroversial one, the sparrowhawk...many complain of their attacks around garden feeders, but by having feeders you are providing a concentrated hunting ground for these birds and they only kill what they need to provide food for themselves and their own family.
I was lucky to see a tussle between a large female sparrowhawk, a magpie and a crow near a local wood. The battle was probably territorial but certainly spectacular!
Another often seen raptor is the buzzard, the true master of all manner of feeding. Often feeding on food as small as worms given the opportunity they will take rabbits, small mammals, rodents and reptiles and nestling birds. They also appreciate the opportunity to feed on any carcass they find, true opportunists!
One of the birds with little bad press is the iconic barn owl, probably the owl species that suffers most from the recent wet weather. They rely a lot on their silent flight, the slightly serrated edge to the wing feathers allows the wind to pass through, diffusing any sound. When these become wet they cling together and create a solid, noise creating barrier which lessens the hunting ability.
One positive note, strictly selfish from a photographic point of view! recent wet weather during nights and mornings has seen the emergence of the local barn owls at times of the day they would not normally be seen and I was lucky, or persistent enough to witness that one day. Barn owls main prey are voles, rats and mice but they will take small birds.
Some close shots from a few days ago...
A very good site locally usually yields some good shots, buzzards as well.
Female marsh harrier....
That will teach me!
Some flight shots of the short eared owls...
And a complete and very pleasant surprise, when checking my photographs the other day one of the owls looked different. After some advice from some very expert friends and confirmation from the British Trust for Ornithology I was delighted to know I had some photographs of the normally nocturnal long eared owl, much lighter plumage than normal so maybe a visitor from the continent. Feeding habits much as the short eared owl.
Hope you have enjoyed a look through the wildlife world I love, soon the peregrines will be paring up so much more for me to enjoy. A tough life for all these special birds and some are hard to find but the love of them will continue to draw me out.
Many thanks to all who read the blog, please do not forget that if you do comment they come to me first for moderation.