Spare a thought for the predator

PUBLISHED: 13:03 19 May 2006 | UPDATED: 21:52 28 May 2010

We ve all winced when watching those wildlife documentaries about the African savannah and seen a gazelle chased down by a lion, or gasped when a sparrowhawk has snatched a blue tit from our feeder. Putting aside the inevitable twang of pity felt for the

We've all winced when watching those wildlife documentaries about the African savannah and seen a gazelle chased down by a lion, or gasped when a sparrowhawk has snatched a blue tit from our feeder.

Putting aside the inevitable twang of pity felt for the hapless prey in such instances, I always think it must be a very hard life if you are a predator. After all, you certainly wouldn't have many friends.

Imagine you are a fox casually ambling along the riverside out for a morning stroll in the sunshine.

You would receive a less-than-warm welcome from any birds in the vicinity.

At the first sight of you, nesting gulls swoop at and 'dive bomb' you and scream at you with raucous cries in an attempt to drive you away.

They only cease their onslaught when you have made your retreat with tail tucked firmly between your legs.

How about this one for getting a raw deal? You are a tawny owl taking a nap in your favourite oak tree, posing no harm to anyone or anything.

All of a sudden, a mob of small birds arrives and surrounds you, with some birds occasionally fluttering up in your face.

Chaffinches 'pink' incessantly and great tits utter all manner of their 100 or so different calls in angry fashion. You'd certainly struggle to get a peaceful nap and perhaps the only option to get some peace and quiet is to move on to another spot.

And, let's face it, nobody likes to be woken up.

Being a predator is, for much of the time, a solitary and probably very lonely existence.

Not for them, the luxury of dropping down to a bird table to gobble up vast quantities of seed whenever they like, or going for a swim in the lake to feed on the bread being supplied by generous humans.

Hours and hours are spent in the search for prey and they often have to go very long periods without food. There are also many more unsuccessful attempts to make a kill than there are successful ones (some of which can result in a real loss of pride).

So, next time you see a fox carrying off a bird in its mouth or watch a bird of prey swoop to make a kill, spare a thought for them.

They have had to work very, very hard for their supper.

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