Blogger: Gena Correale-Wardle, Community Fundraising Officer

I’ve recently found a new friendship with a lovely sparrowhawk that I’ve seen flying around the train station and football club in Norwich. I say it’s a friendship, but I doubt my sparrowhawk has noticed me in the same way I’ve noticed her several times over the last few weeks.

The first time I saw him was during a Norwich City football match. I went to meet my friend at outside the stadium and as I was waiting I looked up at the sky which was beautiful shades of purple and pink. All of a sudden the stadium erupted in a huge cheer and a flock starlings flew past rather quickly, being chased by a small bird of prey. That was my first sight of him, scrambling to keep up with the small flock as they twisted and dived through the sky to avoid capture. I usually root for the ‘little guy’ in that situation, but I found myself willing the sparrowhawk to outwit the flock and have the satisfaction of having starling for tea!

The next week I had to go to London on an early train 3 days in a row. Twice I spotted my new friend gliding through the watery morning sky, cool as a cucumber and low enough for me to get a really good look at his lovely patterned underside. Such lovely white striped bars, really intricate in design and not something you usually get to study at 6:30am.

I was really surprised to see a bird I usually think of as being fairly elusive (for most of my life the only sign of a sparrowhawk I’d seen was a patch of feathers where unsuspecting prey had met an abrupt end), right there in the middle of the city. It did make me feel very glad that these beautiful birds are boldly soaring through the skies of Eastern England again, when 30 years ago these birds were barely breeding in the region.

Thank goodness the use of chemicals and pesticides that dramatically reduced the numbers of these amazing birds in the 1950s has been restricted to allow the birds to thrive in my local area once again. It’s incredible to think that without the quick work of the RSPB and other conservation organisations to make sure that chemical poisoning did not completely wipe out this species, I would not have met my new friend.

And now I am part of the RSPB, helping to ensure futures for many different bird and wildlife species, not just in the East, not just in the UK, but worldwide. That’s a great feeling! To find out how the RSPB is helping other species in need, have a look at our website http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/conservation/species/index.aspx and get a nice warm glow from the fact that your support allows this vital work to continue.

Artwork of male sparrowhawk by Mike Langman and photo of female sparrowhawk by Andy Hay (rspb-images).

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