Over the last few days, the forty or so birds in the flock have scarcely settled to feed without suddenly retreating into the trees at the slightest sound or movement.
And they may have cause, as I suspect they are being very watchful for a predator that is a specialist in powering through a hedgerow (like the one at the back of the garden used as a temporary roost by the starling gang whilst they are plundering the food put out mainly for them) - the sparrow hawk.
This morning, quite early, the starlings arrived and had hardly touched down when they suddenly all retreated into the trees and bushes again and then exited in haste back over the roof tops. The garden has since been strangely quiet. Even the young blackbirds and robins have maintained a low profile. The food has remained on the lawn largely uneaten. One young magpie made repeated visits in the absence of the starling hoard but much food remains on the grass at nightfall.
I don't think the badgers will mind, but will the starlings return and is there a sparrow-hawk in play or is something else going on?
|Both photos show juvenile starlings - this years first brood, both now showing some adult speckling.|