Sparrowhawk (Tommy Holden)
Whilst half of the UK's birding community is either lusting after or going after the Siberian Rubythroat in Shetland back at base there has been heated debates rumbling on about the identity of the mystery small raptor seen at the beginning of the week by a relatively inexperienced Scrubber.
Many people cast comment and the range of possibilities varied from a Merlin (the bookies favourite) through to Peregrine, Hobby, Red-footed Falcon, Sooty Falcon and even Great Grey Shrike! It took a brave man, namely Scrubber Neville Smith, to stick his neck out and speak out to disagree with many commentators including the venerable Dick Forsman - a Jedi amongst raptor experts!
Neville called our mystery bird nothing more than just a male Eurasian Sparrowhawk. His rationale was quite simple; a Merlin would not sweep up into a willow and plus, on blowing up the flight images you could just about make out dark splayed primaries. Falcons don't have fingers!
It was fun to debate and the lessons learnt were that we all are learning and never discount the most likely bird.