Red Goshawk at Hell Hole

Sightings within the local survey area for the period 1 Jun - 31 Aug 2010. The local survey area is a rectangular area extending from Kingsthorpe NW of Toowoomba to the Mt Whitestone/Fordsdale area SE of Helidon.

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Rod Hobson
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Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 8:03 am

Red Goshawk at Hell Hole

Post by Rod Hobson » Sun Jun 27, 2010 9:55 am

Folks,

Earlier this week (21.06.2010) I spent the morning until midday on a private property at Hell Hole in the range country on the southern edge of Toowoomba. Hell Hole is a wild and rugged landscape with some great patches of dry vine scrub, Brigalow/Belah woodland and Spotted Gum/Ironbark open woodland over Themeda grassland. The other 'positive' for Hell Hole and adjoining areas is that much of this country is owned by a group of committed environmentalists.

About 11.00am on this particular morning six of us were on the edge of an area of vine scrub at elevation and overlooking a deep gorge towards adjacent Rockmount. The morning was crystal-clear, without a cloud or wind; exceptionally warm for this time of year. One of our number drew my attention to a high-fling raptor asking if it was one of the local Wedge-tails. The bird was very high, quite a way off and I was the only person present with binoculars. My casual perusal of the 'Wedgie' pretty quickly evolved into disjointed babbling when I realised that the raptor was a Red Goshawk; a mature female judging by size and bulk. For the next five minutes the bird obliged by leisurely circling closer and closer under ideal viewing conditions. Carol Stephens, a dedicated local environmentalist, also an accomplished natural historian and birder had very good looks at the bird through my binoculars as well. Carol's first Red Goshawk. Unfortunately, fellow birder Robert Ashdown was off in the scrub photographing Red-naped Snakes and scorpions and missed this lovely event - the Red Goshawk still eludes him!

This is my first Red Goshawk from this particular area but it looks to be excellent country for the species with deeply dissected gorges and streams lined with tall eucalypts ideal for breeding Red Goshawks. It is also an area with the rich mosaic of vegetation types favoured by this bird and with a cornucopia of prey species such as three species of black cockies, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, currawongs, kookaburras etc. Despite this we've never been able to record breeding of this species in the Lockyer Valley since its 'rediscovery' here in May 1990. In the interim juvenile birds have been seen on at least two occasions (including a pair of youngsters with an adult male at Lowes Road, Gatton) so it is obvious that the raptor breeds here. It's tempting to believe that the Hell Hole bird is a different individual to the birds that have been irregularly seen over the years in the Gatton/Grantham/Helidon and Murphys Creek area. It'd be nice to think that the Hell Hole bird could even be a dispersed youngster of this pair. We'll never know for sure but one thing is certain, Hell Hole is hellishly good Red Goshawk country.

Regards,
Rod Hobson

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