Published: 13:28, 11 March 2021
| Updated: 13:39, 11 March 2021
A pleasing benefit of lockdown has seen hobbyist birdwatchers and photographers spotting more birds on their daily walks.
Amateur photographers in Gillingham are among those who have captured images of birds of prey eating their hunt and little blue tits chirping by the riverside.
Tracey Staples was walking along Gordon Road, Gillingham, when she heard a thud.
The 56-year-old employment advisor said: "I was walking by the football ground and suddenly heard something hit the floor behind me. I looked and saw the sparrowhawk with its prey on the floor.
"I always have my camera on me as I'm always taking photos, so I quickly changed my lens and captured the image.
"I was lucky it didn't fly away as I sorted my camera. I would've liked to get more pictures but two joggers were running towards the bird and it flew off. It was a brilliant opportunity and thankfully I had my camera."
Tina Shaw, 59, of Buttermere Close, has photographed a range of birds along Gillingham Riverside.
She said: "I really enjoy wildlife and nature photography, it's a hobby of mine.
"I love to take photographs when I'm out on walks. I find birds really interesting and love taking pictures of them."
The pet shop worker uses a Canon 7D camera.
Readers sent us their images after reading about a husband and wife who had spotted the rare sight of a bird of prey hunting in their back garden in Gillingham.
Helen Rowland, 43, and her husband Steve, 44, said the bird landed in their garden with another in its beak, then started pecking at it and killing it.
The couple were unsure what it was so readers were asked for help.
Dr Peter Collins, a zoologist from Chatham, was among those who responded, saying: "The photograph of a bird of prey having captured a smaller bird, which looks like a blackbird, is - according to a friend, Jason, and my brother, Chris, to whom I read out the piece and described the image - a sparrowhawk.
"I had thought buzzard but my brother, a knowledgeable amateur ornithologist, said the size difference indicated a sparrowhawk.
"Incidentally, the caption from Helen Rowland mentioned the predator bird had ‘another bird in its beak’ but birds of prey carry their quarry in their talons, not beak, as they would not be able to fly with a prey bird in their beak due to the change in centre of gravity. I hope this helps, and well spotted by the Rowlands."
However, Erika Kulig wrote in to say she believed it was a peregrine falcon. Some readers agreed with her but the majority went with the sparrowhawk view.
The sparrowhawk is part of the Accipitridae family. Adult male Eurasian sparrowhawks have bluish grey upperparts and orange-barred underparts; females and juveniles are brown above with brown barring below.
John Prout believed he saw a peregrine falcon in his back garden in Walderslade last year.
It is a widespread bird of prey in the family Falconidae.
It is a large, crow-sized falcon, which has a blue-grey back, barred white underparts, and a black head.
Peregrines and sparrowhawks are about the same size and have similar colouring to their feathers, as well as a noticeable size difference between the sexes.
The males are smaller in both species, but there are a few features which help when identifying between them.
Another photographer captured not one but hundreds of birds on camera when she spotted a murmuration flying above Rainham.
Samantha Fewtrell, a 38-year-old Twydall Primary School special support assistant, had seen the starlings flying at Motney Hill over three nights.