Birds (Aves) – Birds of Prey


#### Note: Bird orders to be split####
This section deals with the birds that can be seen seen in Langstone Harbour and the Hayling Nature Reserves.

Diurnal Birds of Prey – Accipitriformes

True Hawks (Accipitrinae)

These are primarily woodland birds that hunt by sudden dashes from a concealed perch. they have long tails , broad wings and high visual acuity facilitating this life style.

 Sparrow Hawk (Accipiter nisus)  Resident
Sparrow Hawk (Accipiter nisus) Female. Copyright 2009 Peter Drury

Sparrow Hawk (Accipiter nisus) Female. Copyright 2009 Peter Drury

Adult male Eurasian Sparrowhawks have bluish grey upper parts and orange-barred underparts; females and juveniles are brown above with brown barring below. The female is up to 25% larger than the male – one of the largest differences between the sexes in any bird species. Though it is a predator which specialises in catching woodland birds, the Eurasian Sparrowhawk can be found in any habitat and often hunts garden birds in towns and cities. Males tend to take smaller birds, including tits, finches, and sparrows; females catch primarily thrushes and starlings, but are capable of killing birds weighing 500 grams (18 oz) or more.

Where these can be seen:
They are present anywhere in the nature reserve but most visible when in flight.

Buzzards, True Eagles, Sea Eagles (Buteoninae)

These have large powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs and powerful talons. They also have extremely keen eyesight to enable them to spot a potential prey from a distance.

 Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)  Resident
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) Copyright Peter Drury

Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) Copyright Peter Drury

The Common Buzzard breeds in woodlands, usually on the fringes, but favours hunting over open land. It eats mainly small mammals and will come to carrion. A great opportunist, it adapts well to a varied diet of pheasant, rabbit, other small to medium mammals, snakes and lizards and can often be seen walking across recently ploughed fields in search of worms and insects. The birds have incredible strength and are therefore able to pick up food of all weights.

Where these can be seen:
Mainly in the southern end of the salt marsh area and the tip field.

Osprey (Pandionidae)

The Osprey’s diet consists almost exclusively of fish. It has evolved specialised physical characteristics  and exhibits unique behaviour to assist in hunting and catching prey. As a result of these unique characteristics, it has been given its own taxonomic genus. Pandion and family Pandionidae. Four sub species  are usually recognised. Despite its propensity to nest near water, the Osprey is not a sea eagle.

 Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)  On Migration
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) Copyright Peter Drury

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) Copyright Peter Drury

This is the Eurasion sub species. This species stops over in Langstone Harbour during its migration north and South and therefore is only a temporary visitor.

Where these can be seen:
During their migratory stopovers they fish in Langstone Harbour and can be seen in flight to/from their roosts.

Falcons and Caracaras (Falconiformes)

Falconiformes, like Accipitriformes, typically have a sharply hooked beak with a cere (soft mass) on the proximodorsal surface, housing the nostrils. their wings are long and fairly broad, suitable fo soaring flight, with the outer 4-6 primaries emarginated. They differ from the eagles of Accipitridae, in that falcons kill with their beaks instead of their taloned feet. They have a “tooth” on the side of their beak for the purpose.

 Kestrel (Falco Tinnunculus)  Resident
Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) Copyright Peter Drury

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) Copyright Peter Drury

Adult Kestrel have thin tapered wings which enable them to fly at high speed and to change direction rapidly. Fledgling Kestrel, in their first year of flying, have longer flight feathers. This makes it easier to fly while learning the exceptional skills required to be effective hunters as adults.
As in the case with many birds of Prey, Kestrel have exceptional powers of vision.

Where these can be seen:
They hunt anywhere in the nature reserve but their favoured areas are the salt marsh area and the tip field.

 Peregrine (Falco peregrinus)   Resident
Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) Copyright Peter Drury

Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) Copyright Peter Drury

A large, crow-sized falcon, it has a blue-grey back, barred white underparts, and a black head and “moustache”. As is typical of bird-eating raptors, peregrine falcons are sexually dimorphic, females being considerably larger than males. The peregrine is renowned for its speed, reaching over 322 km/h (200 mph) during its characteristic hunting stoop (high speed dive), making it the fastest member of the animal kingdom.

While its diet consists almost exclusively of medium-sized birds, the peregrine will occasionally hunt small mammals, small reptiles, or even insects. Reaching sexual maturity at one year, it mates for life and nests in a scrape, normally on cliff edges or, in recent times, on tall human-made structures.[13] The peregrine falcon became an endangered species in many areas because of the widespread use of certain pesticides, especially DDT. Since the ban on DDT from the early 1970s, populations have recovered, supported by large-scale protection of nesting places and releases to the wild.
One of the local nest sites is on Portsdown Hill. Birds from here have visited the Oysterbed site.

Where these can be seen:
These are attracted to the lagoon islands in the breeding season and the shoreline.

Owls (Strigiformes)

Owls are birds that have large forward facing eyes and ear-holes;a hawk like beak; a flat face; and usually a conspicuous circle of feathers, a facial disc, around each eye.The feathers making up this disc can be adjusted in order to sharply focus sounds that come from varying distances onto the owls’ asymmetrically placed ear cavities. Most birds of prey sport eyes on the sides of their heads, but the stereoscopic nature of the owl’s forward facing eyes permits the greater sense of depth perception  necessary for low light hunting.

True Owl (Family Strigidae)

These are one of the two generally accepted families of Owls.This large family comprises around 189 living species in 25 genera. They have a cosmopolitan distribution and are found on all continents except Antarctica.

Genus Athene

Athene is a genus of owls, containing two or four living species, depending on classification. These birds are small, with brown and white speckles, yellow eyes and white eyebrows. This genus is found on all continents except for Australia, Antarctica and Sub-saharan Africa.

 Little Owl (Athene noctua)  Resident
Little Owl (Athene noctua) Copyright Peter Drury

Little Owl (Athene noctua) Copyright Peter Drury

This is a sedentary species which is found in open country such as mixed farmland and parkland. It takes prey such as insects, earthworms, amphibians, but also small birds and mammals.It can attack birds of considerable size like game birds. It is partly diurnal and often perches boldly and prominently during the day.

A long term nest site is in an old oak tree at the western edge of the brickworks field next to the Hayling Billy Trail.

Where these can be seen:
The area around the gated track, to the south of the salt marsh. They can sometimes be seen roosting during daylight, in the shrubs at the fringe of the woods.

Birds of Prey Gallery

View Gallery as Slide Show