Dark Chanting Goshawk Hunt

There are sightings and then there are sightings. While most first time safari goers are looking for The Big 5 sightings and other things like a Lion killing a Buffalo, people who have been on safari over and over and over again are looking to build up their safari sighting profile with more exotic, or unattainable, sightings. For some, like Twitchers, they’re looking for Lifer Birds like Pel’s Fishing Owl, or for big cat specialists, their looking for unusual interactions between species or for specific Leopards, etc. For myself I am always looking for the unusual, the different, or the once in a lifetime type sighting.

The other day, my guests and I were fortunate enough to witness a sighting in the different, or even once in a lifetime category. W were busy looking for Lion, when one of my guests asked me to please stop and back up as he’d seen a bird he was interested in. As we reversed there, on the left hand side of the car not more than half a meter from us, sat a Dark Chanting Goshawk on a very low branch. We stopped and chatted about it for awhile. The Goshawk was very calm, not moving, just enjoying the day. After five minuets or so, the bird still had not moved, which is unusual. It was a full grown adult, not a juvenile, so he should had carried off after sitting so close to the vehicle for so long.

Then, to my delight, the Goshawk jumped to the ground and started hop-walking towards a very small bush. He then started to jump and flap on top of the bush, moving this side and then that. For twenty-five minutes we watched this beautiful raptor try and hunt something out of a thorny bush. There were no audible noises coming from the small shrub, so I could not for the moment ascertain what type of creature the bird was after, but I explained to my guests that they usually eat small mammals like mice and shrew and also other smaller birds. I’ve even seen one eating a fully Crested Francolin.

As we were reaching the 30 minute mark of this fantastic sighting small little squeals started coming from the bush. Bingo! A mouse and the Goshawk had obviously finally hit home with his sharp and slightly curved at the end beak. A few seconds later in a furry of half opened wings and squeals the Goshawk emerge with a baby field mouse in his beak struggling and pleading. He then proceeded to fly up the tallest tree he could find to consume his hard earned meal. FABULOUS and unusual sighting indeed!    

By: Noelle DiLorenzo – River Lodge Ranger

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3 Responses to “Dark Chanting Goshawk Hunt”

  1. Ken Hackman says:

    I am an American birder who is coming to Kapama as a part of the EF tour in July, and am eager to have as many bird sightings as possible. Call me a cross between a twitcher and a true behavioralist! As a zoology instructor, I am actually going to be taking it all in, as it is my first trip to Africa, but I am as excited about the big six as I am the big five. What are our expectations species-wise in the Kapama area in mid to late July? Will there be plenty of photo ops? Thanks for your time!

  2. Clementine says:

    Hi Noelle,

    This was AMAZING indeed!!!
    What a fabulous experience in Kapama.
    You have been the best ranger and tracker with Nicholas.
    We will tell all our friends to come and see you there.


    • Liezel Holmes says:

      Thank you VERY much Clementine! Nick and I enjoyed you and your husband’s company very much! Come and visit with the whole family soon. We’ll see you then. Cheers!

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