August 16th, 2010, 05:29 PM
Spar' or Gos' ....?
Gentlemen; I've had this shot for several years now. I'd pretty much forgotten about it, to be honest. Now, maybe, I can find the definitive ID?
Craic is, I'm a rural Pest Controller, here in wild and woolly Co. Leitrim. One day, a neighbouring farmer asked me if I had any traps set down on the far land. I didn't. So, he asked what might be causing the cries he'd heard down there. Off I went .....
I soon noticed this ~ as I remember it, though it Was four years ago ~ sort of " Pelewwww! " call. This I tracked down as coming from this bloody great Hawk.
Yada, yada. I observed this thing as it flew from tree to tree, in a sixty yard or so circuit. I was probably about twenty yards off when I grabbed the shot with my pocket digital, on full zoom.
Then the parent bird showed up. 'She' was carrying what I could see even from a great distance, was a full grown rat. Tell by the shape. But, she never gave me a closer look. She peeled off and called the youngster to her.
I went back next day, with my bin's, and got a couple of glimpses of the adult ferrying food in for the juv'. Frustratingly, nothing definitive!
'Obviously' they were Sparrowhawks or Gos'. I really have zero experience of Goshawks. But, my god, the Size of this youngster?! Yet, I can't discount a big 'n beefy, female Spar'.
Can anyone here?
August 16th, 2010, 07:20 PM
August 16th, 2010, 08:14 PM
Deep water and clutching at straws, Colin. Too right!
Fair sized ash tree. I wouldn't like to be falling out of it.
I was rather hoping something about the posture of the bird, or anything I've related, might have indicated a fairer bet.
I have read, since, how Spar's are bold around people, while Gos' stay away? Well, the adult was having absolutely none of me! Barely came within visual range, to be honest. Just veered off when she saw me and stayed hidden. Next day, perhaps figuring I just wasn't going away, she streaked into view. Seemed to hand the young one something in mid air ~ or what ever it was. Don't honestly remember now and I was trying to concentrate on markings. Then she was gone.
Frankly? I reckon Goshawk. I'm just not up enough on juvenile, female Spar's to have made that call. Same with the legs. I couldn't get a look at the eyes. But, that young'n Was a whopper! No two ways about that.
August 16th, 2010, 09:33 PM
Looks Sprawk shaped to me. Sorry!
August 16th, 2010, 09:36 PM
Well I wouldn't argue with Colin's metaphors, but my strong gut feel from the photo is Sparrowhawk. The description of the call matches Sparrowhawk sort-of well but I'm not sure it matches Goshawk (I've heard very few Goshawks but the ones I have heard didn't sound like this). Check out the calls on xeno-canto for Sparrowhawk and Goshawk.
The new Collins guide does not show Ireland as within range for Goshawk, though I'm not sure if that's right - there are certainly reports of them breeding in Northern Ireland at least. In any case Sparrowhawk is clearly much likelier than Goshawk.
Size is always extremely difficult to judge and it's very easy, even for experienced observers, to get the wrong impression of size. Even with the right impression of size big beefy Sparrowhawks are big and beefy!
So my guess would be Sparrowhawk, but like Colin says...
August 17th, 2010, 10:37 AM
I don't think you can say either way from the photo.
The call is a juv begging call (as per Sparrowhawk), and xeno-canto doesn't have this for Goshawk but I can't imagine it's very different from Sparrowhawk - even Common Buzzard can sound similar.
If you saw several birds over several days then chances are a female would have been around. So it should have been fairly obvious if any of them were absolutely massive (Buzzard-sized, as opposed to Crow-sized).
The old rule of thumb about Goshawks/Sparrowhawks (if you're asking the question then it's a Sparrowhawk) isn't a bad one.
August 17th, 2010, 01:03 PM
Having looked at (and manipulated in Photoshop) this image, we are going nowhere!
Originally Posted by Ditch
The quote above from Ditch's post is most definitely not Goshawk behaviour (I see more Goshawks than Sparrowhawks here) - when a Goshawk has seen you it is "up, off and away", Sparrowhawks are much more used to human presence and less likely to be spooked.
But certainly no definitive answer to this one.
August 17th, 2010, 03:36 PM
I am afraid that it is nigh on impossible to identify the bird from this one (poor) image: I suppose that the apparently narrow ventral area might suggest Sparrowhawk more than Goshawk, and Sparrowhawks are a LOT commoner in Ireland than Goshawk, but I simply can't say any more on the available evidence.
August 17th, 2010, 05:34 PM
August 17th, 2010, 05:47 PM
There has been a lot written on forums about distinguishing between Goshawks ans Sparrowhawks, especially between male Gos and female Spars, and usually "in flight".
I have seen Goshawks at very close quarters (disturbed one recently eating a kill at 20 metres perched in a tree), the closest ever being a falconer's bird at Rainham Marsh many years ago. Once seen, never forgotten (apart from distant flight views) - they are almost the size of Buzzards and have a totally different "feel" (for want of a better word) to them than Sparrowhawks.
Better luck next time.