Guardians of Niigata - Northern Goshawks.

An adult Northern Goshawk at rest at Junsai-ike, Niigata (summer 2010)

August is about the quietest time for Northern Goshawks in Niigata. There are some around but they’re hiding with their young in thick green trees that cover them from the heat. In the second last week of September I saw a clump of ducks flying along the river. A sign that goshawks and other raptors would also be on the move. The damp hot air and buzzing of dragonflies has slowly been replaced by cooler damp air and rain. Over the last couple of weeks more ducks have been arriving in Niigata and my favourite time for bird watching in Japan is underway. Each week duck numbers increase vastly and it’s the ideal time to watch out for the young goshawks that are leaving their parents’ protection and stalking the wetlands of Toyosaka, Fukushimagata and Sakata. Over the coming weeks more goshawks will migrate into and around town.

Above: the adult male just lands at the nest in Junsai-ike in the summer of 2009. I usually steer clear of birds at nests but the park is crowded with photographers pointing the gear at these guys. They successfully raised three young in both 2009 and 2010. I don't know before that, but they seem to ignore all the attention.

Young getting ready to leave the nest. (Junsai-ike 2009)

 Fine days in October and November are the best occasions to wait and watch as young and adult goshawks can be encountered charging waterfowl at the edges of the rivers and wetlands. Above: a young goshawk on the charge at Fukushimagata, late September 2009. (Just out of focus but I like the pose).

Again, the same bird on the attack with the splashes of ducks ducking for cover.

Another young bird skimming the reeds at Fukushimagata back in Winter 2005.

An adult in a sneaky low position waiting for prey to appear. December 2005 Fukushimagata, Niigata.

We can see goshawks fairly commonly around the traps throughout winter until many again retreat northwards at the start of spring with only a few pairs remaining to nest here again into the summer. And then September will come again. Above: An adult alongside the Shinano River, March 2009.

A young goshawk sitting a cherry tree and warming its wings in the rare March sunlight, 2006 Fukushimagata.

Above and below: two more views of an adult at Junsai-ike, 2010.

...And below, two newly fledged goshawks at Junsai-ike, 2010.