By Mike Ford
An interesting story has unfolded about a Black Sparrowhawk that was spotted in various Hermanus gardens over the last four years. But there is concern about its health.
I was contacted by Peter and Alison Eustace on 11 March to tell me that there was a ringed Black Sparrowhawk on the roof of their house in Prestwick Village, Eastcliff. Brian Taylor had taken some good photographs which allowed the rings to be read – in this case a metal ring on the right leg and green over red anodised rings on the left.
I immediately suspected that this was one of Ann Koeslag’s birds. Ann is a friend of mine who lives in Cape Town and has been studying Black Sparrowhawks for many years. I followed the protocols and contacted her via Safring at UCT, and it was confirmed that this was indeed one of her birds, with an interesting history.
It was ringed as a nestling at the nest at Sunnycroft, near Kommetjie (3408S 1824E), on 4 October 2010, and sexed as a male.
It was re-sighted in August 2012 in the garden of Walter Mapham in Westcliff Road, Hermanus, and again in the same garden in November 2012.
Walter Mapham contacted me again to say that “that sparrowhawk” had been sighted again in May 2015 in the garden of well-known local photographer Mike Sander in Rocklands Road, Westcliff, who took a nice photograph of it having a meal.
Now, about this re-sighting in Eastcliff: Young sparrowhawks are often forced out of their natal territories by their parents, and roam around looking for a territory not defended by another male sparrowhawk, who would defend that territory to death.
It looks like this fellow finally found a suitable site in Hermanus, and has settled here. We should now all keep an eye out for him and possibly track his progress as he looks for a mate and an opportunity to breed.
Unfortunately the worrying thing is that the bird has obviously dropped condition since being photographed by Mike Sander, and has clear signs of feather mite infestation behind its eyes in the latest photographs.