Red Goshawks at Haigslea, SEQ

Sightings of local rarities (those asterisked on the club's official Species List and any species not listed. That includes Paradise Parrots!!!) Post your non-local rare or unusual sightings here too.

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

Red Goshawks at Haigslea, SEQ

Post by Rod Hobson » Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:56 am


On Friday 12.06.09 I travelled down to the Queensland Museum from Toowoomba. It started out normally but by the end of the outward trip the morning had progressed into the exceptional. Things started quietly enough with my sighting of a Wedge-tailed Eagle over Helidon. About half an hour on I came upon a second Wedgie over the Gatton Refuse Tip and a road-kill Barn Owl nearby on the Gatton Bypass. Pretty good thus far; breaking the monotony of the drive. At 10.20am things changed radically. I was approaching Sprengers Produce at Haigslea when I saw two raptors circling over this establishment in wide, lazy circles; out over the Warrego Highway then back over the surrounding fields. The produce merchant's was the epicentre of their circling. The birds were only about ten metres above ground level and were flying on slightly bowed wings in a lazy glide interspersed with a few casual and shallow flaps to keep up the momentum.

These raptors were clearly visible through my 10 x 40 binoculars, in fact diagnostic features could be clearly seen with the naked eye, as they passed overhead; a mature male and female Red Goshawk. I watched the pair for about 5-8 minutes and they were still performing the same aerobatics when I departed for Brisbane. During this period a small flock of feral Rock Dove, resident at the produce agent's, were wheeling about in great consternation, as were a few Straw-necked Ibis. Occasionally one of the goshawks would depart from its circling to make an half-hearted chase of one of the pigeons but they were clearly not too interested in a pigeon meal. I believe that the circling may well have been a courtship display, as the goshawks seemed much more interested in each other than in the pigeons (or ibis). GPS for sighting is 56J - E 465082, N 6950099.

When I first recorded this species at Grantham in the Lockyer Valley in the early 1990's it was also of a pair of adult birds. On that occasion the female was perched in a dead tree and the male was circling her in the casual fashion that the birds were also employing last Friday. On both occasions I have been absolutely astounded by the size disparity, especially in bulk, between the female and male Red Goshawk. The female is a massive, powerful animal as compared to the much slighter male. I do not believe that this dimorphism is anywhere as near as pronounced in any other Australian bird-of-prey. It is not a feature that is made enough of in field guides but is mentioned in HANZAB. Surely there is prey-partitioning between the sexes of this bird?

And, as if the cake needed any icing, about 40 minutes later I had a good view of a pair of Australian Magpies harassing a white morph Grey Goshawk over Moggill Creek at Kenmore - needless to say I was a bit late for my appointment in Brissie. But what a morning.

Rod Hobson

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Post by Russell » Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:14 am

It was 2:35pm on August 29 when I was on the way to Brisbane Airport on the Airport Flyer when I saw a Red Goshawk at Plainlands. We'd just stopped for a passenger at Plainlands and had just commenced again when I saw the bird sitting on top of a dead tree on the side of the Toowoomba bound lane (at the foot of the small mountain there). I was sitting just behind the driver on the right side of the minibus. The light was excellent and I could see it very clearly. The face, throat and chest were a light rusty colour which makes me think it was a male. It was facing the highway with its face looking north-west. Passport in pocket and camera in bag I realised I had only time to enjoy watching it go by. It was standing very upright and I was mostly struck by its massive, square shoulders and hefty chest but it dramatically tapered down to a long, narrow, square tail pointing straight down and could make out big yellowish feet centred on top of the dead branch. I knew I couldn't stop so I wantd it to be a Little Eagle but no facial markings and tail was too long and narrow.
Russell. :shock:

Post edit: I shouldn't really say it was a light rusty colour on the throat, face and chest but the rest of it was a darker reddy-brown. Face and chest was much rustier in colour than other raptors in the same light.

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