DJS PHOTOGRAPHY

                        wildlife,  NATURE,  Environment,  PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS

 

 

Goshawk copyright David J Slater www.djsphotography.co.uk

Goshawk 1b (S)

 

Goshawk  Accipiter gentilis

 Forest of Dean, UK.

 

It's long been an ambition of mine to photograph wild goshawks.   Earlier in 2011 I was granted a licence by Natural England to photograph goshawk at or near the nest here in the Forest of Dean.   I had already photographed a few fledged birds in 2010, but I really wanted to record adults on the nest with chicks, or just adults perching close to the nest.  My first ever photo of a goshawk (above) was during my first year here in the Forest (2004), a chance encounter of a male perched watching me.  I was told by a local he often perches there, and so I thought this was one bird that was going to be quite easy.

 

 

 

Goshawk copyright David J Slater www.djsphotography.co.uk

Goshawk 05 juv

 

 

How wrong I was, and many years later and many fruitless hours spent in a hide, I had only achieved photos of juveniles soon after fledging (2010).  Although I had seen the adults on a few occasions, I was never lucky enough to have them land in front of the lens in a convenient spot - always with branches in the way or too high up in the canopy.

 

 

 

Goshawk copyright David J Slater www.djsphotography.co.uk

Goshawk 12 juv

 

 

This truly is a top predator of woodland with superb hunting skills.  They favour medium sized birds such as pigeon, duck and pheasant as well as squirrels.  These photos are truly wild birds high in the tree tops in the Forest of Dean.  I am lucky living here, as the Forest is perhaps one of the best places in the UK to see a goshawk, home to approximately 23 breeding pairs in an area 10 x 10 kilometres.

 

 

Goshawk copyright David J Slater www.djsphotography.co.uk

Goshawk 06 juv

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goshawk copyright David J Slater www.djsphotography.co.uk

Goshawk 13

 

With permission from the Forestry Commission, I put up my hide in 2011 for 2 weeks - and approximately 50 metres from a nest.  Finding the nest of a goshawk is a challenge in itself, and even when located it is often not good for photography due to either being obscured by trees, a bright sky background or a dark and gloomy environment.  Out of about 12 nests that I know about the one I choose turned out to be not as good as I had hoped for - but probably better than most nevertheless.

 

Goshawk copyright David J Slater www.djsphotography.co.uk

Goshawk 45c (crop)

 

Given optimal light and activity (and goshawk chicks do nothing for hours on end!) I got a few worthwhile images (above and below).  The image below is interesting because ot shows the difference in development of the male (large brown) and female (fluffy white) chick.  Males always outcompete the females for food from the adult and fledge first.  This male occasionally returned to the nest for a feed from mum or dad who is obviously overhead when I took the shot.

 

Goshawk copyright David J Slater www.djsphotography.co.uk

Goshawk 52

 

Below is a large crop of the male - don;t he look dopey?  I reckon he has his eye on me.

 

Goshawk copyright David J Slater www.djsphotography.co.uk

Goshawk 54 (large crop)

 

I also contacted the local raptor researcher who kindly invited me along a to a couple of ringing sessions so I could get great close ups of the chicks, albeit on the ground.

 

Goshawk copyright David J Slater www.djsphotography.co.uk

Goshawk 46

 

Goshawk copyright David J Slater www.djsphotography.co.uk

Goshawk 22


 

By late summer all of the nests were empty and I was left frustrated without any good shots of the adults.  Soon afterwards I was talking to my friend and fellow professional photographer Paul Miguel about his raptor workshops, and he invited me to photograph a goshawk with him.

 

Goshawk copyright David J Slater www.djsphotography.co.uk 

Goshawk 52

A beautiful adult male perched in mixed woodland.

 

We went to visit a shady woodland which meant very low-light level photography.  And here lies one of the problems with photographing goshawk - they rarely sit or fly out in the open meaning difficult photography.

 

Goshawk copyright David J Slater www.djsphotography.co.uk 

Goshawk 57

A great Autumnal image, and what amazing eyes these birds have.

 

I had seen wild ones flying through the trees by the nest.  They fly low and quick, often swooping upwards at the last second to perch.  I had positioned myself at the end of a clearing where the goshawk liked to fly between trees, but his lightning speed tested me and my trusty Canon 5dmk2 to its limit - in fact well beyond it's limit - this camera is not so good at tracking birds even in good light.  Manual focus and skill was all that was left....

 

Goshawk copyright David J Slater www.djsphotography.co.uk 

Goshawk 61





Goshawk copyright David J Slater www.djsphotography.co.uk

Goshawk 5266 (crop)

 




The only technique involved here was getting my reaction time up and panning to match the speed of the bird - literally about 100mph in gloomy forest habitat.    Calling on the Forest Gods eventually helped me to secure just a few images from about 30 flights.  Hope you like them.



Goshawk copyright David J Slater www.djsphotography.co.uk 

Goshawk 63 (crop)






Goshawk copyright David J Slater www.djsphotography.co.uk 

Goshawk 64




If you're interested in photographing this bird, please get in touch with me and I will get Paul to contact you (or visit his website at www.paulmiguel.co.uk).

 

 

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