Now this is quite hard to believe… but when R.’s parents were unloading their car for the trek down the stairs to the house yesterday, they were buzzed by a New Zealand Falcon (Karearea). It circled around, gave a couple of calls, and flew off.

These aren’t exactly common, but you can see them from time to time in the less busy parts of the countryside. They are very beautiful birds; magnificent flyers; and almost arrogantly unafraid of humans. On the farm down south (where we called them “sparrowhawks”) I once tried to see how close I could walk up to one perched on a fencepost. I got to within about 15 feet of it before it gave a couple of contemptuous flaps of its wings and settled on the next fencepost along - keeping its eyes on me all the time. I kept advancing, and it just kept going to the next fencepost… until finally it got tired of the game, and flew off.

My father once watched one take down a duck in flight - a bird much bigger in size and weight. It just dug its talons into the duck’s back and rode it into the ground. That falcon was one of a pair that used to nest on a rocky bluff above a creek, not far from a crossing. During the nesting season they would attack the musterers on horseback as they rode down the hill. Once one even attacked a dog, and would not be dislodged from the dog’s back until the dog in panic jumped into the creek. But I guess our constant incursions into the nesting territory eventually got too much and the birds moved on. They still nest on the farm somewhere and most years I can still get to see them if I’m lucky.

And so there’s at least one in the Western Hills now. The species survey at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary records these occasionally, but I hadn’t heard of any over our way.

I seriously want to see it.

Gathadair @dubh
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