High Weald

sparrowhawkThe Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) may be seen hunting at any time of year, but the lack of tree cover in autumn means it is more visible. The female bird will take whatever is available and easy to catch – birds up to the size of a wood pigeon are suitable prey.

These birds have recovered quite dramatically from the severe decline in the 1950s and 60s due to the effects of organo-chlorine pesticides, so much so that these very opportunistic birds can be seen anywhere including urban gardens.

Adult males have a slate grey back and white underparts, closely barred with orange. Their grey tail has 4-5 dark bars. Females are larger, with brown upperparts, a white stripe over the eye and dark barring underneath. They look heavier than the males. Their broad, rounded wings and long tail are adapted for flying between trunks and branches enabling them to weave in and out of trees at high speed. They never hover like kestrels.

They may be seen at any of the High Weald woodlands on our nature reserves page.