Monday, April 14, 2008

Brief Encounter......Brown Goshawk

Sunday morning, and undecided were to bird, I ended up at the Waterview Reserve at Sorell. This reserve is on the old Sorell tip site, and was once renown for high tide wader sightings. Sadly, these days there are few waders, their place taken by hundreds of gulls and Forest Ravens. Despite that, I have noted one saving grace on my infrequent visits, raptors, and my Sunday visit was no exception.
I had only been there a few minutes when a raptor flew from the sewage ponds and off towards the chicken factory grounds. I tentatively identified it as a Brown Goshawk, partly on silhouette and partly on having seen one here several months ago. I wandered on towards the water to scan the area. A few Chestnut Teal, 4 Pelican, several Little Pied and Black-faced Cormorant, a solitary Great Cormorant and a few dozen Pied Oystercatchers spread out on the distant tidal flats. Turning towards the chicken factory, I instantly picked up the raptor, this time sitting atop the wire mesh boundary fence. I decided to try to get close enough to ID it and possibly photograph it.
Using the numerous boxthorn bushes as cover, I closed to about 80metres, took a few shots, looked closely and decided it was indeed a Brown Goshawk, in immature plumage. Could I get closer? Using some dead ground and more boxthorn, I got to about 50 metres. It didn't appear to be too disturbed by my now obvious presence, but when it shortly 'voided', I knew it would soon be off! It flew, not far though, this time sitting on top of one of the many large hay bales, looking back towards me. While sighting it through my tele lens, it suddenly took flight, this time towards me and only inches off the ground, and fast! I desperately tried to get the camera to autofocus on this 'missile' as it passed, getting the one shot pictured at top. It disappeared in the fold of the slope, reappearing briefly, as it pulled debris from a pile of dry plants (image at right). Down again, and mantling over something, but I could only see the occasional flap of the wing. Off with something in its left talon, propping down on a nearby hay bale (at left). A quick look around and it was off into the blue gum plantation and lost to sight. It took me sometime to work out what it had caught (by looking at the enlarged images), which turned out to be some hapless mouse. The whole process was over in well under 2 minutes, and for me, they were very much adrenalin filled! Big buzz, and a record of it to take home to boot.[I suggest it's worth clicking and enlarging the upper image in particular, to see the goshawk in full cry]


Duncan said...

What a ripper Alan, you must be happy with that.

BirdingTas said...

Hi Duncan,
You have to fluke them occasionally! Only disappointed that I couldn't quite photograph the whole episode. Next time!

Graeme said...

love the phtoo of the raptor in flight - razor sharp - well done!

BirdingTas said...

Thanks Graeme,
I must say much of the accolade must go to the auto focus! Heart in mouth time as I willed it to focus. BTW, you got some great shots of birds during your Tassie visit, including a Bassian Thrush. It's taken me 2 years to get a reasonable shot of that bird--finally managed one last week.