Friday, 11 February 2022

Bird of the Year

In the last twenty-something years I have seen Goshawk exactly three times: one in December 2004, a pair in February 2005 and another single in August that year. All three encounters were especially delightful because they were on my old Axe patch, when I lived in Seaton. Also, each was completely unexpected. The first occasion, in company with my old pal @birdingprof, provided the best view of the species I have had anywhere, with an adult perched up in a tree just across the field from us. We were scouting Dipper locations for an upcoming New Year's bird race and equipped with just bins, but even binocular views were sufficient to blow socks right off. Oh for a Nikon P900 in those distant times!

Following that brief flurry of sightings - and a few by other local birders - Goshawk suddenly became very rare again. I've never travelled to any breeding areas to look for them, so that was that. Until 2021...

Last year I was kindly given a tip-off, but wasn't really able to capitalise on it properly, and failed to see any. However, this year I was determined to make a proper effort and have been patiently waiting for a convenient sunny morning...

As I say, it's been many years since my last Goshawk, but the moment I clapped eyes on one again brought the memories flooding back. The slow, deep, elastic wingbeats are such a giveaway, and so different to Sparrowhawk. I had about twenty minutes of on/off scope views before the bird melted away. In size comparison with a pair of Ravens which gave it close escort for a while, I would say it was a male. I got one decent chance with the camera, and the following collage comprises every frame from the burst of seven. It was not close!

Male Goshawk. What a beast!

Needless to say, I have no intention of divulging the location. As far as I'm aware, those Axe patch birds were not around for more than a year or two, and I have no idea what happened to them. Perhaps they moved on of their own accord? Or maybe there was a more sinister reason for their disappearance? Whatever, there is no doubt that Goshawk is one of those birds where careless words can indeed cost lives. Much to our own collective shame as a species.

But on a more positive note:

Wow!!! What a bird!! 


  1. Yet to get a really good sustained look at a Gos myself Gav. All have been in the 'What else could they be?' department. Had the last one just a few days back when out fishing. It passed by so close that I heard it change direction.

    1. For such a large bird they're amazingly unobtrusive Ric. A real treat to see one well.

  2. Great shots Gav...just about any shot of one is great, but they are excellent...

    1. Thanks Stew. I'm glad it was in active flight at the time, and gave me a nice variety of poses. Fabulous bird! 😊