Well done to Alan for identifying it as a Woodcock.
I'm not convinced a Sparrowhawk would have been responsible in this case. Woodcocks are largely nocturnal. They roost during the day typically in woods (hence the name) and emerge after dark to probe moist pasture for invertebrates. Sparrowhawks in my experience are daytime hunters. Also, with Sparrowhawk kills you typically see a circular mound of feathers where the bird has been plucked and not much else is left. Of course we can't see the whole view from Iain's photos. I wonder, therefore, if it was something like a fox that caught it feeding on the ground. Just my opinion. No matter really, it's well and truly dead.
I don't think any of us relish seeing a garden bird taken by a Sparrowhawk but they've got to eat too. I place my feeders close to a dense thorny shrub so that small birds have somewhere to escape and hide. Sparrowhawks will still hunt and kill birds whatever we do. By providing feeding stations are we are making it easier for them? Perhaps we should reflect on what impact we are having on bird behaviour to gratify our own desire to see attractive birds up close.
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