A BIRD caught my eye as it flew low, past our window. It swooped and skimmed and I knew it was a bird of prey. It landed under our rose arch. I saw its long yellow legs and a bright yellow beady eye. It was a sparrowhawk.

We get quite a few of them, as I expect you do if you feed the birds. They are on the increase and hunt in our gardens. Faster than lightning, they shoot down and try to grab with their talons. But our birds are ready with their alarm call. One calls, and they all call, telling the whole woodland there is danger. The little birds, if they are lucky, escape, leaving an empty bird table.

But this hawk, today, had landed, and I watched to see what it was after. I peered through the window and pressed my nose to the glass. But I could not see anything he could eat. He began to walk along the flagged path, along the side of the fish pond.

"They don’t eat fish, do they?" I asked myself, in a sudden panic. We have several big goldfish – they have escaped the heron this year and am keen they survive into the spring. They were swimming alongside and looking up into that bright yellow eye.

Of course, the hawk was not interested in our fish (he never was – that is the osprey) and he continued walking on the path alongside our house. I could see he was a juvenile because the barring on his chest was made up of a chevron pattern – it forms lines in the adult.

It was then I saw why he was walking – he had been injured. I have often seen other birds mobbing a bird of prey and a sharp beak must have caught this young hawk. He had some feathers displaced and ruffled on his back, but I think only his pride was hurt. Head held high he strode across the drive, behind our cars and under the gate into Oak Meadow, where the grass is still long. He was safe.

In the days when starlings were 10 a penny – when a penny really was a penny – masses of them used to cloud over Oak Meadow. Just before dusk, they formed a huge black blob swishing and diving in the sky, like a giant floating monster. It is called a murmering. The starlings came to roost in our huge hawthorn, making such a racket, before they settled down to sleep. Hundreds of voices speaking at once. I imagined they were chatting to each other saying things like: “The nights are drawing in,” and “It’s cold for the time of year.”

Then, without warning they stopped. The silence, as they say, was deafening. It was just like the conductor in Last Night of the Proms lifting his baton to silence the orchestra. I think you have guessed who this conductor was – a cunning sparrowhawk waiting for his meal. That time he flew off when he saw me, and the ‘conversation’ started again. “Goodnight. Goodnight.”

You might be pleased to know I saw my sparrowhawk rise from Oak Meadow. He had smoothed his ruffled feathers, and all was well (or not, depending on your viewpoint).