• Andrew Kinghorn

The Goshawk Special Tour on 30 March 2019

We met the group at 9.30am at Kielder Castle and to our surprise our first birds of the day were a flock of noisy Whooper Swans which flew over our group. Soon we added Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch as we began our walk to look for raptors. By 10am we were in position and it wasn’t long before the first Buzzards were up and we had good views of Raven. Crossbills flew overhead, Meadow Pipits were displaying and Coal Tits became particularly vocal as the sun came out. More Buzzards were seen soaring as expected, but the high-flying Red Kite was a complete surprise, although frustratingly hard to see, unlike a displaying female Sparrowhawk which showed well. All in all, a good morning's birding as we returned to Kielder Castle for our lunch break where we were treated to a flock of 11 Raven overhead.

Still no Goshawks, so after lunch we returned to the favoured area, but positioned ourselves in a different spot further along the valley. It wasn't long before we had distant views of a female Goshawk, shortly followed by a displaying female Sparrowhawk which was useful for comparing the shapes and structures of the two species. Other birds seen included Goosander on the river below us, a Grey Wagtail we heard and a Mistle Thrush we both saw and heard as it perched on a tree and sang with its song echoing down the valley. By now it was mid afternoon and the rain set in so we returned to our cars and headed east to Tower Knowe for our final stop.

It was still raining steadily, but nevertheless we headed off for a short walk to the viewpoint and saw arguably our star bird for the day - an Osprey flying past along Kielder dam! Amazing to see one before the end of March and a great way to end our time with the group. But there was one more spectacle to enjoy not far from Kielder - a small flock of Mandarin Ducks that were waddling and grazing in a field. Strange to see, but somehow quite apt in sheep pasture.

Mandarin Ducks - © Andrew Kinghorn

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