Gordonton’s Don Riddell knew it wasn’t a hawk. He was pretty sure a NZ falcon was perching in his tree on Woodlands Rd.
He rang N8N (we have expressed an interest in things ornithological!) and we galloped over to admire one of New Zealand’s rare native birds of prey looking down on us.
The falcon turned up at his home about 10 days ago and a piece of rope, blue and red was dangling from his leg – possibly a jess as used by a falcon handler.
“He soon got this off his leg, we saw him working at it,” says Don.
The rope could also just be something he got caught up in, it’s hard to know. But the little bird (falcon are much smaller than harrier hawks) seems quite at home in his Gordonton tree.
While we were watching he shot from the tree, hunting down a small bird, which he missed.
The bird is probably getting a few yellowhammers and sparrows – so we left him to it.
Falcon, says NZ Birds Online, are widespread but rare; the population was estimated c.4000 pairs in the 1970s.
Local naturalist David Riddell says there are a few falcon around the Waikato, with regular reports from Hamilton but this is definitely near the limits of their range and they’re scarce in these parts.
“This is the first one I know that has visited Gordonton.”
Good spotting Don!
*N8N is calling the bird a male on the grounds that he is on the smallish side. Could be a lady falcon though, so apologies if we’ve got it wrong!
If you see an unusal bird in your backyard – do let us know! We’d love to hear from you!
- Click here for Don’s tale about the swimming weka of Pakatoa Island in the Hauraki Gulf. It’s a good ‘un!