In June we had a striking visitor to our suburban garden.
Perched on the high paling fence was a small bird. He had predominantly grey plumage with a little white and small hints of a peachy pink. From his fierce eyes and hooked beak I was sure he was a raptor - but an extraordinarily tiny one. After some research, and assistance from people who know about such things, I worked out that he was a little Sparrowhawk. This is not my photo, our bird had less peach.
These birds hunt by stealth. With explosive acceleration and an astonishing eye for aerobatics they fly known hunting runs extremely low and fast; To their prey they must appear from nowhere. This is a little clip of one - in the final seconds of the clip you see its size in context because it is standing by a fallen apple.
I was lucky enough to see our Sparrowhawk do some gung-ho flying, in defense as it happened. There is often an inky black rook skulking high in the trees at the very end of the garden - for some reason the Rook took exception to the Sparrowhawk and tried to dive bomb him. Happily the Pitts Special Sparrowhawk saw Stuka Rook coming and launched forward off the fence - fell almost to the ground and then shot off at ground level, in out and around bits of the garden, finally disappearing up and over a tall hedge. I like to think that before the Sparrowhawk flew he gave the approaching Rook an arch "catch me if you can" look, regardless I'm sure both birds knew that the Rook's flying was not in the same league. Sadly the Sparrowhawk has never seen fit to return - perhaps it's for the best as the Rook still waits.