At the moment Gill and I are house-sitting for some friends in Roleystone while they are away overseas. I’m well occupied each day as I’m frantically writing my Masters thesis, working long hours each day so I can (hopefully!) get it done before Christmas. Today I had a welcome guest in the garden.
I happened to glance out the front window and look up to the bird-bath which I had filled with fresh water earlier that morning. To my delight a Rufous Whistler, who had been calling merrily from a nearby Jarrah sapling, flew down for a drink. It was brief though - no sooner had he taken a sip than he fluttered away hastily... and the reason why landed next to the bath on the floor. A young Brown Goshawk!
This bird was probably an immature (2nd year) bird, distinguishable from the adult by having mottled brown plumage. The Brown Goshawk is often confused with the similar Collared Sparrowhawk - the above photo clearly shows the more prominent brow, and the thicker, stocky legs of the Goshawk. For an interesting comparison look at this photo of a Sparrowhawk:
You can see how much rounder the top of the head is, and how the Goshawk at the top has much more of a ‘glare’. The other distinguishing feature is the middle toe: in the Goshawk this is longer than the other 2 toes, but not by much; in the Sparrowhawk the middle toe is disproportionately longer than the other two.
This little appearance gave me a nice break from writing my thesis, and reminded me that even some of our most cryptic birds come into our gardens, right near our houses, if we happen to look at the right time.