I heard some agitation amongst birds in my garden this morning and, looking for its source, I saw signs of a commotion high inside the canopy of our huge old mango tree. I grabbed my camera and watched until a large grey bird emerged, harassed by a few smaller birds, and perched on the tip of branch. The smaller birds (probably White-gaped Honeyeaters, from their alarm calls, but I didn’t see them clearly) quickly gave up the pursuit, allowing their victim to sit and gaze around.
It was clearly a hawk – the hooked beak and huge golden eyes were giveaway enough – but it was one I have never before seen in the garden and only glimpsed elsewhere. Checking Slaters Field Guide afterwards confirmed its identity as a Crested Hawk or Pacific Baza, Aviceda subcristata. The guide book calls it “uncommon to rare” in coastal regions from NSW around to the Kimberley. It is our only crested hawk, so exact identification is easy, and it is about the size of a magpie or kookaburra. Bazas are supposed to feed on frogs, insects and fruit in the treetops but I think this one must have been threatening the honeyeaters’ nest.
It stayed around for long enough to move higher in the mango tree and back again, looking all around from each vantage point before (perhaps) deciding that eggs were not on the menu and flying off.
I saw another, larger bird of prey soaring high overhead before I put the camera away. It turned out to be a Brahminy Kite, another very handsome bird with its chestnut wings and white head, but it was too far away for a good shot; here is a photo of one on Birdway.