Sunday, 27 October 2013

Achosnich Sparrowhawk

This is the small crofting township of Achosnich, seen on a recent October day of sunshine, sudden, sharp showers, and rainbows.  The picture was taken from the road outside the Sonachan Hotel, right by the Community Garden.

This sparrowhawk was perched on the power lines which serve Achosnich.  Many thanks to the Raptor for the identification, on the basis of his "yellow eyes, very yellow legs and barred tail".

If the sparrowhawk looks less than happy, it's because he was being mobbed by an unruly pack of small birds who were ruining his chances of catching anything.

On the subject of our local raptors, this pair of birds were seen recently wheeling over Ormsaigbeg.  The one on the upper right has the pinion feathers of a raptor.  The picture isn't very clear as the birds were smallish and flying high.  Is anyone willing to hazard an identification?


  1. Dave McFadzean Moniaive27 October 2013 at 20:12

    My first thoughts on seeing the picture was little auk but you say it was raptor like? They have a wingspan of 15 inches and are about 8 inches in length. They have white underparts and front like in the photo

  2. Going by the white underbelly type in 'Hobby. Bird of prey.' into Google then look at 'images'. See what you think? It's hard to tell the wing shape correctly from the photo as they were high up. The bottom birds wings are not sickle shaped though if it was two hobby hawks flying together. Hope this helps as I'm no expert on raptors. Never seen a hobby close up as they are always too fast.

  3. Correction. Sorry. The bottom bird looks more like a Merlin now and that is more likely in your area. Exact same wing profile shown on Merlin. Bird of Prey. Google Images.

  4. I'm fairly certain, Dave, that it was a raptor of some sort, in part from the way the pair flew. I like your suggestion, blueskyscotland, that it might be a merlin, as others have reported seeing what might have been a merlin at the other end of the village. If this is a merlin, I'm thrilled: it's the first I've ever seen. Jon

  5. Dave McFadzean Moniaive28 October 2013 at 15:36

    Have seen merlin above Achoshnich, on the flats south of Tom a, Chapuill, around Glendrian in Ardnamuchan and at several sites elsewhere in Scotland. They all have distinct dark streaked breasts. Sorry but rethink needed here folks?!

  6. I thought about that but if it was into the sun and at a distance it might appear white and bleached out as this has happened to me before with photos of birds taken at a distance. Going by the bottom bird a Little Awk has a completely different wing shape in fight to this as it normally flies with straight long wings although the top bird does admittedly look more Awk like . My money is still on a pair of Merlin's though unless it's a Merlin chasing a little Awk :)

  7. Dave McFadzean Moniaive29 October 2013 at 14:19

    Seems kind of aukward one this. I not really saying it is a wee auk ( though that was my first thought on seeing the photie as said). What I am saying is it is most certainly not like a standard merlin breast colouring both for male and female. Maybe it wis partially leaucistic?

  8. The Raptor here

    I was followed last week by a Merlin, I was driving theough the village when this bird (raptor) come out of the hedge line to my right, flew alongside my side window before flying in front of the vehicle and leading me up the hill below bonnet level for about 30 metres before heading off into the hedge on the left of the road. This encounter was brilliant and I am 100% certain it was a Merlin as it was too small for a Sparrowhawk and certainly was not a Kestrel. This would put Merlins in the local area at the time of this sighting. Hope this adds to the discussion.

    The Raptor

    PS: I cannot work out exactly what these birds are myself.