Trust me …

… this pale smudge is a Grey Goshawk (white morph), an exciting observation for Newstead.

Earlier this morning I glanced up from the garden and spotted a white shape, soaring in tight circles, pursued by two ravens. It took a moment to register that this wasn’t a corella or cockatoo … then I raced back inside for the camera. By this time the bird was rapidly becoming a speck as it drifted north towards Welshmans Reef.

The images below are no better than record shots, but the identification is 100% certain.

Grey Goshawks are rarely observed away from their stronghold, the wetter coastal forests in areas such as the Otways. There have been a number of local records over the years, with three observations in the Mia Mia (1/12/1999, 1/1/2000 and 1/4/2002). For me though this is a local first.

The Grey Goshawk comes in two distinct colour morphs, grey or white, with the white morph more common in southern Australia. In Tasmania, where the species is relatively common, all birds are white morphs.

Grey Goshawk, Newstead, 14th February 2021


10 responses to “Trust me …

  1. … or a seagull chasing a lost chip …

    Seriously, a wonderful sighting 🤗

  2. Moral: go nowhere without yer camera

  3. A couple of years ago I was visited by a white morph as described, in my garden on Wombat Hill Daylesford. I was made aware of its prescence by a mob of ravens which were aggressively attacking it. The birds response was to climb deeper into the branches of an large oak tree. I was surprised by the persistence of the ravens as the attack went over 30minutes. The goshawk flew out of the oak, across the road to a stand of Fir trees where the attack was taken up for another 15 or so minutes. This event was repeated a few years latter in almost a carbon copy fashion.
    Some years earlier I had a close and personal contact with a Grey Goshawk which nearly knocked me over while it was hunting a Blackbird. Both ended up tangled in a barb wire fence just metres away. I had to get some heavy duty leather gloves inorder to attempt a release. The hawk did not release the Blackbird until I began to intervene. Both participants departed the scene in reasonable condition although I suspect a tad shaken.
    Not long after these events I watched from my living room window as what I believed to be a small brown falcon take a Musk Lorikeet. At first I thought the wind had blown a brown paper bag into the drive but it was the falcon forming a tent over his catch, quite a remarkable sight.

  4. I saw a grey goshawk white morph on our bush property in Drummond about two years ago. No photo unfortunately. It was swooping after some small birds who found refuge in a thick westringia bush.

  5. Good Afternoon Geoff,

    Your post today of a rare sighting of a Grey Goshawk prompts me to write to you of my own rare sighting.

    While from Melbourne originally I lived in Brisbane for nearly 20 years. For the past three years my wife and I have been living in Glenlyon, Victoria.

    A few months ago – I cannot remember exactly – I heard a distinctive plaintive and beautiful bird call. I knew the sound but could not place it initially. I then saw the bird, black and about the size of a raven, fly to the top of a large cypress tree. It was an Eastern Koel or “storm bird” as they are sometimes called in Brisbane (signalling the start of the rainy season in Queensland). I have many pleasant memories of the bird’s call in Brisbane, sometimes going all day and through the night.

    My bird book says they migrate to Australia from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. It was amazing this one was so far south.

    I saw and heard the bird only this once on this morning.


    Leigh Hibbins Glenlyon, Victoria


    • Dear Leigh, thanks for the note. The Eastern Koel is an amazing and memorable bird, that’s for sure. Over the past decade it has become a regular summer visitor to the Melbourne area and gradually extending further west. There have been regular sightings at Daylesford, Castlemaine and other central Victorian spots. One popped up in Newstead a couple of years back. Cheers, Geoff

  6. Amazing Geoff. I’d seen this species on the bird list for the broader area (e.g., the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club list), but didn’t know anything about when it had been sighted locally. Great to have this photo record, and a recent confirmation that it still uses the area occasionally.

  7. Great sighting!
    In 2012 an individual visited our garden (specifically the aviary!) here in Muckleford. Sadly a week or so later one was shot in Bendigo. Here’s a link to an article regarding that incident (article below the poem)

  8. Hi,
    I have enjoyed your emails for a long time now, always in awe of the information and photographs posted.
    Great to read others experiences as well.

    On the 13th I saw our young, large, Barred Plymouth Rock rooster running as if to attack, then racing away fluffed up and startled.

    Puzzled, with a quick scan of the yard we spotted what we believe was a white goshawk (white, striking yellow/orange beak and legs, orange eye) perched on a dropper between our two rabbits – happily oblivious to the danger above them.

    Managed a quick run of photos through our windows, then snuck onto the veranda to attempt more. Still very much a novice photographer but did get some reasonable close ups before it took off to land further away in gums.

    The rabbits survived and didn’t even react when it silently took off.

    Our property is on the edge of Rocklyn, with forest, the Rocky Lead Creek, a permanent spring and some open grassed areas.

    Feeling very privileged to have been able to observe such an awe inspiring bird up so close.

    I can email some of the photos to you if you’re interested.

    • Hello Di and sorry for the slow reply. A fascinating story and you are very fortunate to have observed this beautiful bird. Cheers, Geoff

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