I’ve been seeing goshawks over the past few weeks out on the back hill and around the forest plantations on the neighbouring ground. The first sighting was the most notable; a glimpse of a pure white-breasted cock bird sitting out like a wood pigeon on the forest edge before turning up over the trees to reveal a blue-grey back and short, broad wings. I lay out in the grass yesterday and watched a hen bird circle high up around the hill before dropping down in a long taboggan-like slide to the cover of some red-skinned larch trees a mile away.
I do fear for the blackgame (and a host of other species) with these powerful, determined hunters in the area, but there is a terrifying squeak of pleasure in seeing goshawks out in the wild. They are doubly appealing because they are so intolerant of human disturbance, and despite the fact that they live on or around the hill all year round, I only tend to see much of them at the end of February or the beginning of March. If any more knowledgeable goshawk enthusiasts can let me know if there is anything more interesting or exciting in terms of behaviour I need to be looking out for at this time of year, I’d be grateful to hear it.
I watched a goshawk hunting with an eagle on a moor near Aboyne last winter, and the spectacle remains powerful in my memory. The eagle passed along the contour at no great height, sending grouse bursting out of the heather like popcorn. Lower down, skimming the heather, a goshawk shadowed the progress of the giant and waited for any sign of weakness in the panicked grouse. We had two hinds in the argocat and had spent a long, hungry day on the hill, but the sight was extremely striking. I only hoped that the jaws of the trap would not spring on a blackcock, many of which we had been watching nearby a few minutes beforehand.