Chilled Goshawk

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 McHeath 02:02 Tue

This Goshawk was just sitting in the water, cooling off on a hot evening in the park. I saw it from about 50m away and it allowed my daughter and me to approach to within about 10m before it flew into a nearby tree. I‘ve seen them doing splash baths before, but never actually just sitting in the water. Cool hawk!

(apologies for the quality, my phone was on full zoom)

In reply to McHeath:

Wow, you just wouldn't get that in the UK. As I'm sure you know sightings here (I've never seen one) are infrequent and fleeting.

Do you have Sparrowhawks (which are fairly common in UK suburbia - still fleeting) in the Berlin area or have they been supplanted by their larger brethren.

OP McHeath 08:31 Tue
In reply to Michael Hood:

The Sparrowhawks here do seem to be being forced out by their larger brethren; up until about 4 years back I´d see them fairly regularly, but now only once or twice a year. The Goshawks are pretty much omnipresent in the urban wooded areas and parks; no wonder, with the density of Woodpigeons which we have. I even saw an Osprey over one of the lakes in the South of the city in February, a bird which I´d only occasionally ever seen before at lakes on nature reserves well outside the city.

In reply to McHeath:


Never fails to amaze me how some wildlife adapts to their environment including interactions with humans.

In reply to McHeath:

Oh we have density of wood pigeons over here (usually too big for sparrowhawk although females will take feral pigeons), just not enough Goshawks for the population to spread out and discover those "easy" pickings in suburbia.

Maybe it's similar to peregrine population having to grow enough before they found out about the feral pigeons in cities.

 aln 12:34 Tue
In reply to Michael Hood:

I was sitting on a bench in a garden in a housing scheme in Inverness last week. A sparrowhawk flew across the gardens at head height, lovely stuff.

OP McHeath 12:56 Tue
In reply to aln:

Yes, sightings like that kind of take your breath away; the predators suddenly arrive at high speed like they‘ve just materialized from a 4th dimension, and then they‘re gone again, sometimes leaving a few little coloured feathers gently drifting down. I saw a male Sparrowhawk coming once, approaching the bird feeder I was watching in the cemetery; the large garden-like area was divided up by hedges all about 1m high, asymmetrical and with gaps in them. He was flying just below the tops of the hedges, using them as cover; I saw him take two 90 degree turns through gaps at top speed, navigating perfectly towards the gap nearest to the feeder, which he couldn‘t yet see. A last sharp turn, and the Great Tit never knew what hit him. Made me feel kind of humble in the presence of such perfection!

OP McHeath 13:03 Tue
In reply to Climbing Pieman:

Yes! There‘s a brilliant little book by Richard Smyth: „An Indifference of Birds“, which is about the effects mankind has had upon the evolution of birds. The jacket blurb says „Human history - from a birdseye view“, which pretty much sums it up. Full of interesting, quirky and surprising facts; highly recommended!

In reply to McHeath:

Thanks I’ll have a look.

 Billhook 21:50 Tue
In reply to Michael Hood:

Goshawks are often seen in forestry areas where I live (North Yorkshire).   I've come across a couple of nests just whilst out walking through the commercial forests around the NYMNP.

OP McHeath 21:56 Tue
In reply to Michael Hood:

> Do you have Sparrowhawks (which are fairly common in UK suburbia - still fleeting) in the Berlin area or have they been supplanted by their larger brethren.

Small PS - I went to my favourite cemetery to have a look for them after reading your post, but no Sparrowhawks, no sign of the resident Goshawks either; a family of 6 Buzzards was passing through and were behaving as though they owned the place, there was a hell of a racket with the juveniles screaming for food and all the songbirds in hysterics with their warning calls. Never a dull moment! Here’s the female:

Post edited at 21:58

OP McHeath 22:08 Tue
In reply to Michael Hood:

PPS - are these urban Buzzards also a thing in the UK? Here they behave more like the Goshawks, gliding fast and noiseless between the trees, then sitting very still and scanning the ground for prey (whereas the Goshawks concentrate on the pigeons and squirrels). I still can’t get used to it; the Buzzards of my youth were always circling high over fields and moorland, they were never in the woods. Or maybe I just didn’t see the woodland ones?

OP McHeath 22:13 Tue
In reply to Billhook:

That’s nice to know, thanks - beautiful birds!

In reply to Billhook:

> Goshawks are often seen in forestry areas where I live (North Yorkshire). 

I know that's one of the most reliable areas to see a Goshawk in the UK, need to sort out a visit at the appropriate time of year (spring) - maybe next year.

In reply to McHeath:

Although I've seen quite a few Buzzards in or around woodland, I still tend to think of them as belonging more in open countryside. I guess the truth is that they're fairly adaptable.

They're not really urban in the UK but having said that, I have once seen one from my garden and they're certainly around in the Irwell valley less than 2 miles away, but that's green space with woodland between various urban areas.

However, in terms of how likely are you to see a bird of prey in a urban or suburban setting - IMO:

  1. Sparrowhawk - most likely in suburban areas - but only if you realised what it was before it was gone
  2. Peregrine - most likely in the right bits of fully urban areas - many city/town centres
  3. Red Kite - in areas that they've spread to
  4. Buzzard

Something like a Kestrel you're much less likely to see in urban or suburban areas than any of those 4.

Post edited at 22:41
OP McHeath 22:37 Tue
In reply to aln:

Can’t resist another little anecdote, my first ever Sparrowhawk: I must have been about 8, and my Dad was driving us down one of those very narrow Cornish country lanes between high vegetated banks with hedges on top. A Songthrush flew up from the road and was flying in front of the car when the Sparrowhawk just appeared at high speed over the top of the bank flying at 90 degrees to the road, grabbed the Thrush, and was gone. They’re simply perfect and beautiful killing machines.

Post edited at 22:38
OP McHeath 23:28 Tue
In reply to Michael Hood:

That´s really interesting regarding urban birds of prey. I can´t speak for the suburban ones, but regarding the inner city with its big parks: if I wrote down lists of all my sightings/hearings daily, here it would probably be approximately:

1. Kestrel - daily

2.. Goshawk - every 3-4 days

3. Buzzard - once a week

4.  Red Kite - Once every couple of months at most, passing through overhead

5. Sparrowhawk - once or twice a year

5. Peregrine - never (they used to breed in the tower over the Berlin Civic Parliament, but they left).

Post edited at 23:30
In reply to McHeath:

It'd be interesting to get other people's views/experience on this.

My "ranking" is pretty much based on me being in north Manchester suburbs. At home, or when I'm in the area (maybe going for a run) seeing any bird of prey is a rarity but sparrowhawk is number one.

When I used to audit NHS and local government, I'd often be in the centre of Manchester or in/near the centre of one of the surrounding towns; e.g. Rochdale. Then peregrine would definitely be number one.

At my daughter's in north London suburbs it'd be Red Kite.

My often lunchtime haunt for the last two years seeing what's on/about a short stretch of the river Irwell in Salford (about a mile from Manchester city centre), I've seen sparrowhawk 2 or 3 times, peregrine flying over once (even though there's at least one pair in Manchester city centre) and kestrel once.

I'm up to 50 species' on/around that little nondescript section of the Irwell, best bits are Goosanders - seen up to 160 at a time, and Goldeneye in winter - seen up to 30.

 Neil Henson 10:20 Wed

 I still can’t get used to it; the Buzzards of my youth were always circling high over fields and moorland, they were never in the woods. Or maybe I just didn’t see the woodland ones?

I live next to a fairly large woods and regularly see buzzards both in the woods and circling above them.

In reply to McHeath:

One of my brothers worked on goshawk protection in the Peak District. He told me that there was a conifer plantation with an estimated 7 pairs of long eared owls. When a goshawk pair moved in, they all got predated. Stunning birds. 

In reply to Bottom Clinger:

Are there any Goshawks still in the Peak District?

I seem to remember seeing something saying they were no longer in the forested area above Derwent water.

In reply to McHeath:

From my work (a small community building):

1) hobby - one of the best views of one I’ve ever had

2) sparrowhawk

3) buzzard

4) peregrine

5) kestrel

There is a small brook and wooded areas close by. 

In reply to Michael Hood:

My brother reckons they are less rare than folk think, just elusive, and often over looked. Don’t know the specific details of around Derwent, but that is roughly where he worked. 

OP McHeath 17:46 Wed
In reply to Neil Henson:

Come to think of it, I spent all my yoof either up on the moors or down next to the river looking for trout. So no wonder I never saw any woodland Buzzards. Making up for that now though, here’s one from the cemetery today:

 Neil Henson 20:15 Wed
In reply to McHeath:


In reply to Michael Hood:

Kites are common as gulls in Reading and much of the M4 corridor. See them every day, mooching over the rooftops.

Don't think I've ever seen a sparrowhawk or peregrine.

In reply to captain paranoia:

I would expect kites to be the most commonly seen bird of prey in areas where they're now established, partly because they're large, partly because they've been successfully reintroduced and spreading, but mainly because their modus operandi wheeling about the sky is so visible.

If you had the same number of Sparrowhawks in the area (in reality they'd never get to that concentration) you'd not realise because you'd still only see them occasionally flash by; their modus operandi being secretive ambush merchants.

In reply to Michael Hood:

Yeah; kites are mooching carrion-seekers, not stealthy predators

 Raymondo 06:19 Fri
In reply to McHeath:

Here's another picture of a Buzzard, photographed in Kirstenbosch (RSA) by myself in 2022.

A Forest Buzzard (Buteo trizonatus), according to the book "locally common resident in forests and plantations". "Hunts for prey from perches along forest edges".

Book indicates they don't do a north/south migration to Europe though.  

OP McHeath 08:51 Fri
In reply to Raymondo:

Beautiful bird, nice photo!

 Raymondo 11:29 Fri
In reply to McHeath:

Thank You.

Yes , a beautiful bird, nice markings on their feathers.

In reply to McHeath:

> Buteoful bird, nice photo!


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