By Josie Adnitt
LOOK OUT: A photographer has captured the moment a sparrowhawk tested its hunting skills on an unsuspecting jay bird.
In the perfectly timed shot, a three-ounce jay bird looked to be shouting in surprise and backing away from an incoming and determined four-ounce sparrowhawk who was fast approaching with outstretched talons.
The action-shot style picture was taken in Sandnes, Norway, by engineer Steffen Johnsen (33) who is also from Sandnes. Steffen captured the images on a Nikon D4 camera with a 400mm/2.8 lens and was positioned 32 feet away when he took the shot.
“Most people who’ve seen this photo ask me whether the jay got away or not,” said Steffen.
“In the autumn, the young sparrowhawks are practising their hunting skills and they train on the jays.
“The sparrowhawks chase them over and over again, just to train and not to kill.
“The jays understand the difference and often allow the sparrowhawks to come close like in this picture.
“On the day I took this picture, I saw three or four different sparrowhawks chasing jays for up to five hours and not one jay was killed.
“The most important thing when photographing birds is to be well camouflaged so the birds act naturally.
“Also, learn to read the bird’s body language so you know when the action is about to happen.”
Sparrowhawks are small birds of prey that attack and feed on other smaller birds. They nest in dense woodland and are well adapted to hunt in confined spaces, which makes them well adapted for hunting in back gardens too.
They rely on the element of surprise and can even take out birds as large as pigeons.