Just before Midday: Alive Richard's Pipit
Out from the hedge came a disgruntled male Reed Bunting. He was keen to assert his territory and, as the birds tussled mid-air, just a metre or so above the bank, there was a Whoosh! and that was it! The ubiquitous(ish) Reed Bunting got away. The national rarity got snaffled by a flipping Sparrowhawk! My friend and I were the only ones to witness it and were standing there in disbelief, asking each other, “Did it get the Pipit?!”, when another hopeful observer arrived. We told him the Terrible Tale and, together, we walked towards the area where the Sparrowhawk had gone down. The bird flew up, still holding the obvious, bulky Pipit in its talons and made for the hedge along the Seaford Road. The last we saw of the Richard’s Pipit, its head was hanging limp and its still-warm body squished in the grip of a raptor.
40 mins later: Dead Richard's Pipit
As if to somehow compensate for rare Pipit deaths in the morning, the afternoon was filled with Rock Pipits. 12 or more along the Cuckmere River by Seven Sisters Country Park. Those and a pair of Stonechats were a more cheerful end to the day.
Post Script: It transpires that the “hopeful observer” to arrive just moments after the Pipit was taken was Arthur Greenslade, a keen Wildlife Photographer. When the Sparrowhawk went up with its prey, he was able to get the following photograph, which he tweeted last night. It’s a really superb record of the event.
@rbnUK Richards Pipit taken by Sparrow Hawk today at @NCINewhaven pic.twitter.com/uPEMPHFK5T
— Arthur Greenslade (@ArthurGreenslad) March 21, 2015
I took the liberty of lightening the shadows and highlighting the Pipit. I hope Arthur doesn't mind.
|Original Photograph by Arthur Greenslade (highlighting/circle added by me)|