Thursday, 16 December 2010

GoshawksA female Brown Goshawk sits on a branch near her nest and young screaming sharp alarm calls.

Many of the Tawny Frogmouths have failed at their breeding attempts this year and some have disappeared from their nest areas. I suspect that in territories where no further nests were built the missing birds might have been killed and eaten by the Brown Goshawks. So I have been noting the distances between goshawk and frogmouth nests. The vacant frogmouth territories are about 100-200m from the nearest goshawk nests and there are wider distances between frogmouth nests in areas where there are goshawks.

One frogmouth pair have failed twice this year and I noticed a Collared Sparrowhawk nest in the tree next to the second nest. Sparrowhawks are smaller than frogmouths, but aggressive, so perhaps they disturbed the frogmouths enough for them to fail at their nesting attempts. That pair of frogmouths are now on a third clutch of eggs about 150m away from the previous nests.

While I was measuring the distances between these nests the goshawks were very defensive of their nests and young. They repeatedly swooped at me. Their speed is astonishing and it was interesting to be in the situation of a small bird being attacked. These birds are efficient killers.

The female goshawk launches off to attack me.

Her flight is straight and deliberate.

Her eye contact was fixed, determined and focused on me.

It was only in the last metre or so that she pulled out and skimmed over my head. Thankfully they did not attack me with open talons as they would a small bird, her feet are dropping into partial attack position, but the sharp claws are turned in. She was too close and quick for the camera to focus.

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