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Out for a duck

September 6, 2013

DSCN2909Our pleasant walk was disturbed by finding an eviscerated carcass of what looked to be duck lying in the middle of the driveway. The only recognisable parts were the webbed feet. Whatever animal did the deed did a very good job. The skeleton was mostly intact but there was scarcely any meat left on it. This suggested to us that this wasn’t a fox or feral cat kill.

The carcass was obviously fresh. We may have even disturbed what was feeding on it. So we set up a remote camera at the scene, in case something returned to finish the meal. We returned after a few hours and sure enough the IMG_0007body had gone. The image captured on the camera was of a Brown Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus). The scientific name comes from the Latin accipere meaning to seize or to capture and the Latin word fascia meaning banded, referring to the brown and white bars on the underbody. The Collared Sparrowhawk looks almost identical to the Brown Goshawk. The main difference is the latter is stockier and has a heavier brow.

Goshawk version of a 'heavy meal'.

Goshawk version of a ‘heavy meal’.

It is hard to know if the bird pictured killed the prey or was just an opportunistic scavenger. Brown Goshawks normally hunt by diving on prey from low, concealed perches using speed and surprise as an advantage. Rabbits and mice make up most of the diet, which can also include birds up to the size of domestic chooks. Brown Goshawks will also feed on carrion. The kill is taken and eaten on a nearby perch. I presume that is where the Goshawk is taking its prize captured in the ‘action shot’ on our camera.

For such an effort it deserves raptorous applause.

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