There has been a clear decrease (23%) in the total number of tetrads in which Sparrowhawks were recorded between the two atlas periods. There was, however, virtually no change in the combined total of confirmed and probable breeding categories with the decrease occurring only in the possible breeding category. It is also notable that despite an overall decrease there were still 74 tetrads where Sparrowhawks were recorded during the later atlas for which there were no records during the 1984-1988 fieldwork. This makes interpretation difficult. It is possible that due to their secretive nature (especially during the incubation period in May and June) Sparrowhawks were under-recorded in both surveys.
At UK level Sparrowhawks have shown a long term increase, reaching a plateau in the early 1990’s since when they have stabilised. However, in Wales there are insufficient BBS records to obtain a reliable trend (BTO website 2009). In summary, it appears as if there may have been a decline in Pembrokeshire’s breeding Sparrowhawk population but it is difficult to be sure of its extent (if any). Perhaps targeted monitoring with better suited methods is at least worthy of consideration.
An accurate figure for the breeding population is not possible from any fieldwork carried out within the county, but assuming at least 2 pairs per tetrad in which it is recorded then a minimum of 400 pairs occur. The true figure is likely to be higher.
The Sparrowhawk has always been a common resident according to both Mathew (1894) and Lockley et al. (1949). Landowners waged ineffective war against them, Lloyd noting a gibbet at Slebech with ten corpses strung on it in September 1930.
The Breeding Birds Survey of 1984-1988 indicated that it remains widespread, though confirmed breeding records are few since the nests are notoriously difficult to locate. Judging from well-watched areas, the average density is two to four pairs per tetrad and hence the county total would be about 500 to 1,000 pairs. All the nests recorded were in trees, those in the most open terrain being placed in low willows and hawthorns. Sparrowhawks have nested on Caldey (1984), and Ramsey (Saunders 1976), but have only been recorded as visitors to offshore islands in recent times.
A common resident; numerous in the wilder unpreserved parts of the county.
This dangerous and recklessly courageous bird was very plentiful at Stone Hall, where we suffered much from his attacks upon the game. Scores of times we used to see a male Sparrow-hawk fluttering against our windows endeavouring to reach our cage birds inside, or watching them from the porch; and in the summer, when some of the cages would be brought out of doors, we repeatedly had to mourn over the death of some of our pets that had been killed by the marauder striking them through the wires.
The Snipe that dropped into the marshy meadow below our house were regularly worked by Sparrow-hawks, and a stile in one of the covers was the favourite place to which they were carried and eaten, so that the ground beneath was littered with Snipe feathers. For some time we attributed this destruction to Merlins, until one day we came upon a male Sparrow-hawk with a freshly-killed Snipe in his feet, which we picked up as the bird flew off. Any bunch of Teal that appeared upon the river used to be persecuted by Sparrow-hawks, until we have known them all to be killed one after the other.
The Ring-doves in the plantations were also frequent victims, being knocked off their perches on the trees, then eaten on the ground below. The appearance of two or three Sparrow-hawks about the places where the young Pheasants were fed was also regarded as ominous of mischief, but they succeeded in carrying off very few, as there was plenty of cover for the Pheasants to hide themselves in from the destroyer. Needless to say that we waged war against the Sparrow-hawks, taking their nests and shooting all we could, but we never seemed to make any impression upon their numbers. The young Hawks, while they are still in the nest, keep up a wailing cry, which generally betrays its position, although it might otherwise have remained undetected in the thick upper branches of some old spruce.
Accipiter nisus – GWALCH GLAS – Breeding resident Comparison with previous atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Breeding confirmed 37 23 Breeding probable 36 48 Breeding possible 185 125 No of tetrads occupied 258 (of 478) 196 (of 490) Percentage of tetrads 54% 40% There has been a clear decrease (23%) in the total number of tetrads in […]
Accipiter nisus – GWALCH GLAS – Breeding resident 1984-88 Breeding confirmed 37 Breeding probable 36 Breeding possible 185 No of tetrads occupied 258 (of 478) Percentage of tetrads 54% The Sparrowhawk has always been a common resident according to both Mathew (1894) and Lockley et al. (1949). Landowners waged ineffective war against them, Lloyd noting a gibbet […]
Accipiter nisus – GWALCH GLAS – Breeding resident The BTO winter atlas showed that Sparrowhawks were present in most 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84. The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square. The darkest blue represents over 3 birds seen in a day. It is likely […]
SPARROW-HAWK, Acripiter nisus A common resident; numerous in the wilder unpreserved parts of the county. This dangerous and recklessly courageous bird was very plentiful at Stone Hall, where we suffered much from his attacks upon the game. Scores of times we used to see a male Sparrow-hawk fluttering against our windows endeavouring to reach our cage birds inside, or watching them […]