Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Goshawks at Great Cressingham

River valleys are excellent areas to visit in order to watch bird migration as the land either side of waterways have an abundance of vegetation which attracts migrating birds to feed and rest, additionally, these features also provide visual aids for birds on the move.
This morning I visited the Watton Brook valley near Great Cressingham for migrants, however, very much more was on offer which made this an excellent morning, initially however, the route to my destination was overgrown with nettles which made the going quite painful.
Some evidence of passage was seen this morning, however, the highlight goes to 3 Goshawks which appeared from the west and gave me my most prolonged observations I have ever had of this magnificent raptor.

Goshawks (Juv.) 07/09/13 Great Cressingham.  3 birds in total together.
6 Common Buzzards
3 Goshawks (2 juveniles)
2 Meadow Pipits (singles) overhead south
House Martin - light southerly passage
2 Swallows - south
1 Whitethroat
Blue Tits
Coal Tit
1 Reed Bunting

Goshawk (Juvenile) 7 Sept. '13 Great Cressingham
0920: Whilst positioned by the brook looking for migrants, I noticed a distant large raptor approaching a maize strip from the west. the wings were held level to the body, thus ruling out a Harrier or Buzzard species. I considered
Peregrine but then to my amazement I saw another 2 very large raptors appear and they were all Goshawks. 2 of these birds were confirmed as juveniles.
It appeared to me that the purpose of these Goshawks being here was for the third bird (presumed adult) to show the youngsters the benefits of hunting around maize strips where Pigeons and Partridges will congregate.
It was also interesting to see 2 juveniles sparring and chasing with each other, another skills honing lesson for this mighty raptor.
After watching the Goshawks for a while the birds eventually drifted off north-west, however, all 3 were seen again later, soaring low above woodland with at least 6 Common incredible sight.  It was at this time that the various differences between these raptors could be seen.
The protracted observation of these Goshawks today was without doubt one of my best encounters with this enigmatic raptor. 


  1. Aaaah! Goshawks... wonderful.

    I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your blog.
    It is very informative...
    and is keeping me in touch with what's happening, birdwise, in The Brecks.
    I used to live in the Swaffham area...
    my brother[#] still does...
    but moved to central France just over three years ago.

    Goshawks are an "occasional" across our valley...
    travelling between the wooded areas...
    but are always a fine site.
    More regular are the Harriers [Monty or Hen... we get both] quartering the fields.
    They nest in the "flatlands" on the tops.

    Resident are the Sparrowhawks and Kestrels...
    although we've had a Hobby here very regularly this year.
    If you want to take a look at where we are...
    and what we see...
    visit our wildlife blog...
    just enter Aigronne Valley Wildlife in Goggle and you will get a selection.

    We are placed between the Brenne, the Sologne and the Loire, Anjou Touraine... as well as the Loire Valley.
    But, despite that, we tend to see enough here, whilst working the potager!!

    [#] It is my brother's wildlife pix that are currently plastering the side of the Brecks Express!

    1. Many thanks for your comments Tim. It certainly sounds like you live in a beautiful area...I will look forward to following your blog.
      I have never seen 3 Goshawks together although I have seen singles over the years. Thompson Water close to Watton is another good site for this species.
      Thank you for getting in touch.


  2. Wow, Paul! Not one but three and all near enough to get some cracking photos. Well done, you. I feel most envious. Roll on the 19th when we go down to Tarifa to see the autumn raptor migration. Friend Andy reported that approximately 27,000 (twenty-seven thousand) Honey Buzzards crossed over last Friday. Approximately! Whose counting with numbers like that?


    1. Bob
      I am sure the Goshawks seen here were raised in a large private wood in Great Cressingham...this would make 2 breeding pairs on my patch.
      Your forthcoming trip to Tarifa for autumn raptor migration is something I would like to witness some time soon.
      I have 2 weeks off from Friday the 13th so hopefully will get some vismigging done on my local patch.
      I look forward to reading about your raptor migration....lucky man Bob.