Pale Chanting Goshawk spotted after 15 years

Pale Chanting Goshawk spotted after 15 years

While driving from Tweepalm waterhole towards Namutoni in Etosha National Park in April 2020 looking for Blue Cranes in the vast open grass plains next to Fischer´s Pan and recording all kinds of raptors for the Global Raptor Impact Network (GRIN), I spotted an adult Pale Chanting Goshawk next to the dirt road on top of a small tree.

Text & Photographs Dirk Heinrich

From the Summer 2022/23 issue

Pale Chanting Goshawks are the most common raptors in Etosha National Park and can be seen next to the roads all over Namibia. These chicken size raptors sit on bushes, small trees, large trees, anthills, on the ground and telephone poles scanning the area for any kind of food. They feed on anything, mainly mammals (rodents), reptiles and birds but also insects and carrion.

This Pale Chanting Goshawk had a metal ring on his left leg. I managed to take a few photos before the bird flew onto another bush further away. I was able to make out the letter K (prefix) and numbers 228. I hoped that the Goshawk would come closer again and my patience was rewarded when the bird went down on the ground, caught a small lizard and perched on a low tree a bit further down and next to the road again. Since the raptors and other animals in Etosha National Park are used to vehicles, I was able to park next to the small tree he was perching on. This time I managed to photograph the rest of the ring number: 97 (K22897).

Back in camp I had a look on my computer and my ringing data revealed that in fact I had ringed the bird in the park as an immature, in the presence of nature conservation officials on 20 February 2007, just a little more than 15 years ago. I had spotted the bird 4,08 km from the site where I had ringed it. It is amazing that the raptor had stayed in the area.

It is not the oldest Pale Chanting Goshawk in Namibia. Some of these raptors have been recaptured or recovered more than 20 years after being ringed. It is not yet known how old they get in the wild. I have ringed 312 Pale Chanting Goshawks, recaptured five and recovered one. This is my first re-sighting of one of “my” PCGs. 

An immature Pale Chanting Goshawk looks very different to an adult, has pale yellow eyes and an overall brown plumage, while adults have dark eyes and pale bluish-grey plumage. This youngster had a mouse, but instead of feeding he kept calling his parents, one of them perching above him.

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