A few times in recent days I’ve heard the cackling of what I presumed to be a perched raptor quite close to the garden. Finally tracking it down yesterday afternoon, the bird took off from one of the elms on our nature strip – either a Collared Sparrowhawk or Brown Goshawk but I couldn’t be sure.
Rather than pursuing it in the hot sun, I stood and waited as the bird continued to call at a distance. Sure enough, after a short while it reappeared and made a rapid pass as I clicked off a few shots. This time identification was easier. It’s a young Brown Goshawk, possibly a recently fledged bird, celebrating a kill. The unfortunate victim is a small songbird – held in one foot and trailing headless below. There are a few features to note in confirming the identification. The brown barring and spotted pattern underneath indicates a juvenile or immature bird (both species are identical in this regard), while the rounded tail and semblance of a ‘beetle brow’ are typical of the Brown Goshawk. The bird also seems to lack a feature of the Collared Sparrowhawk, an elongated middle toe – look at the leg held against the tail.