We have been living here for over fifteen years and have always encouraged birds into our garden, making sure the feeders are filled whenever possible, water is always available and nest boxes are cleaned every year, ready for the spring. This year for the first time the great spotted woodpeckers have started visiting.
This evening our woodpecker population decreased by one. at about 6pmWe heard the most awful screeching outside and rushing to the window we saw a sparrowhawk trying to kill a woodpecker in our back yard. They were on the ground and the sparrowhawk had its claws well and truly in the woodpecker and was pecking at it madly trying to end the kill, feathers were flying and the woodpecker was still screeching, the prey was far to heavy to fly off with so the kill continued in front of us for the next ten minutes. daughter retreated into the lounge and I grabbed my camera. it was pouring with rain so I couldn't get any shots through the windows, so I went upstairs and slowly opened the window so as not to scare off the sparrowhawk - the last thing I wanted was to be left with a dying woodpecker to deal with! I needn't have worried, this sparrowhawk had no intention of leaving it's prey, it stayed in our yard with it for the next 1 3/4 hours in the pouring rain, with the light failing rapidly. when it eventually left it took what was left of the woodpecker with it, leaving just a few feathers behind. I am guessing it won't need another meal for a while now.
Below are a few of the photo's I took during this time, be warned some of these aren't too pretty.
Please don't shed too many tears for the woodpecker - they may be stunning birds to look at but they too will happily feed on young birds even pecking their way into nest boxes to do so.