The female Sparrowhawk is an impressive raptor compared to the almost cute, much smaller, male. She is as large as a Woodpigeon, with broad chest and piercing yellow eyes. She can actually bring down Woodpigeons. Although the thrushes appeared fearless, they always stayed over the hawk, not underneath. The hawk moved onto an ash tree nearby, and although higher up, there were fewer leaves in the way, and after some trying I found a clear line of view and managed to take some photos and a video of the 'missile' thrushes dive bombing her. This behaviour, known as 'mobbing' involves potential prey individuals harassing or sometimes actually attacking predators when they are encountered. Mobbing is at its most intense during the breeding season. It is a behaviour that is not completely understood. One explanation, the 'move-along' hypothesis, is that mobbing diverts the predator attention from places where there are nests or young. When the Sparrowhawk's young hatches, they will be fed almost exclusively on fledglings, so harassing the predators might encourage them to move on, and hunt somewhere else.
Mistle thrush with worms in bill (14/4/2015)