Female Northern Goshawk at nestsite near Tegel airport

HabichtweibchenSun rays are breaking through the foliage and the twigs of an inner-city park in Northern Berlin. Just 3 km distant to Berlin-Tegel airport, some of the most reliable sites for Northern Goshawk (Accipter gentilis) can be found. A hint in the birding community, “…. look for trail behind the hill, then 100m to the east and scan the bigger pine trees for the impressive nest..” made me birding the parks around Tegel in mid June. Big city parks may be often just a stopgap in between two family arrangements, but parks are often excellent habitat to get an first and fast impression for the woodland species of a foreign country. Berlin with is many park is no exception. Some of the parks are small, but others are huge parks. All are full of gorgeous plants, trees and flowers – and birds as well. It is very nice to walk along the trails, some near the streams in the shade of huge trees.

After some searching at that morning I decided that a big bird in the canopy of a tall pine looked raptor-like enough to have a look through the binoculars. I could see that it was actually a young female Northern Goshawk (Accipter gentilis). The tree was a bit taller than it surrounding companions. There’s a pair that breeds for many years in the park so it might just be a good place to go in the right time of the year, to look for the offspring just after they have left the nest. At that time, they still stick around the nesting area waiting to be fed by the parents. The young female Northern Goshawk was not particulary shy, when she realized, that I had seen her and that I directed my tripod with the big lens on her. But at least she switched to another tree. Here you had excellent views – after the third or fourth change in location. The young female Northern Goshawk was remarkably silent; only once she cried a short and low-volumend call. Eventually a kindergarten-class with many noisey kids made her uncomfortable and she flew away.

There are 4 more approaches to make pictures of this otherwise very elusive woodland species. In general it is a good idea to scan locations which are famous to be frequented regularly by Goshawks. There seems to be a preference of Goshawks for sites near wetlands, which are visited especially in late summer or fall, where many (larger) birds rest and / or moult and are therefore available as prey for inexperienced, young Goshawks. Here, I could see and even photograph a young female Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) approaching me within a few dozen meters. Other images were shot from an elevated vantage point in the forest. You need time and patience. But then you see pretty easy that Northern Goshawk breeding pairs are territorial. With luck and patience territorial behavior is observed e.g. if other raptors as the Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo) appears. They are vehemently attacked.

A third opportunity, and the best time to look for adult Northern Goshawks is on mild days in late winter and early spring. Then the Goshawks are in their mating rituals – the display flights. If you know a territory – best, an area which was occupied already for breeding in previous years – you should look for a lookout to see the bird in flight.

A fourth opportunity is described extensively in the Goshawk-in-rain-forest-of-Norway blog. A bait in the forest, some days of patience, well-established bait location, a hungry Goshawks – and some money to pay for the man who care for the site, the hide and the bait. These are the incredients to shoot probably the best images of adult Northern Goshawks. A combination with snow in late winter is perfect for nice pictures.

The Northern Goshawk is about 45 to 67 cm in length and has a wingspan of about 130 cm. The female is larger than the male. The adult plumage is brownish gray on the back and consists of a white chest which is finely barred black. As you see in the image of the blog, young birds are brownish until the first moult on the upper side. The barring on the breast is replaced in young birds by a streaking or a line drawing. The stripes can be found on a white to beige-brown or in young birds on a yellowish ground. The iris of the eye is bright yellow in young birds. The color shimmers with age more and more into reddish. The beak is black with a yellow shoulder (cere).

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic, bird-lens.com is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic. Trips to remote places but also to city locations like this one to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. The nice images of the blog is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give a message, if bird-lens.com could serve you with an image needed before the new images are online.

Other successful shootings you can see under: www.bird-lens.com.

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