|Size comparison of very large Female SPARROWHAWK|
with BUZZARD (Buzzard foreground, Sparrowhawk behind).
[Copy of email I sent regarding the large Female Sparrowhawk:-
those interested in the regular Goshawk vs Sparrowhawk images may want to take a look at these rubbish ones of a very big Sparrowhawk (montage in sequence), may be useful for someone or interesting, if not completely boring.
I witnessed a sudden flurry of raptor activity where there were 6 birds of prey up together, they all seemed pretty agitated. There were 2 Buzzards up which seemed to be upsetting the local breeding pair of Sparrowhawks which were mobbing them. Another bird came over to investigate for a moment but went out of sight which I think was the local Kestrel. But most interesting was a different Huge, really huge, Female Sparrowhawk.
It came powering over flying much like a Peregrine hunting, with deep, powerful wingbeats with a split-second pause in between each one, unlike the quick, light wingbeats of your usual Sparrowhawk. It looked menacing & well built for a sparrowhawk & as it approached the Buzzards it turned & just glided along past them then circled a couple of times with wings out straight with protruding secondaries & tail very slightly fanned.
The tail was a bit scruffy at the end & when closed it wasn't as square tipped as you usually see on Shawk, it appeared so from side on but not when seen from below.
At this point the local Shawk pair seemed to distance themselves a bit which was a surprise as I'd expect them to see it off so close to their nest site.
I noticed that it was often pointing its tail slightly downwards & obviously twisting it like a rudder whist slightly fanning it when it changed direction, & that it had some (but not loads of) scruffed up feathers around the base of the tail as I might expect during breeding season (seen in pics 3,7 & 9 going left to right & down page). I also noticed that it seemed to droop its wings alot when gliding & soaring which made it look weighty.
With a sudden burst of speed it again powered along very Peregrine like in movement as it passed one of the Buzzards & as it did it twisted its head around a few times as if looking over its shoulder towards it which made it look quite long-necked (managed one pic of that, pic 5).
It circled again with wings straight but occasionally drooped then as the Buzzards passed it burst off again at high speed with powerful wingbeats, glided very straight & then almost appeared to be in a horizontal stoop as it almost went out of sight.
I saw it once more circle once in the distance where I saw it come head on (pic 11) showing that it had a pretty deep body. It then carried on in its original direction & I lost it behind some tree-tops.
The whole time it flew nothing like a Sparrowhawk, looking weighty & purposeful in motion & never looking light & floaty or with quick weak wingbeats, though possibly it was some sort of show of power to the numer of raptors up.
I've included a pic of the regular local Female Sparrowhawk up at the same time for comparison (pic 12) because even though you can't judge actual size from the silhouette flight pics you can see the difference in wing length, shape & over larger, heavier look. I've included (seperate to montage) one of the pics where a Buzzard is in shot - the Buzzard is closer to me & the Shawk behind but you can see that it isn't that much smaller!
Sorry if this is a long boring essay but I though that this kind of thing may be useful where people are really not sure when they think they may have seen a male Gos.]