Looking for the Goshawk – By Conor Mark Jameson

Looking for the Goshawk: Reviewed by John Miles. 

Isbn 978-1-4081-6487-1

Published by Bloomsbury

Hardback – £18.99


This is a not a scientific book but a great read with snippets of information from all around the Goshawks range especially in the UK. Conor has gone from finding his first bird stuffed  in a junk shop to watching the birds in his own garden down in Bedfordshire where the records are very thin on the ground. He has researched the history of the birds in the UK and fallen in love with T.H. White who wrote ‘The Goshawk’ in 1951. Conor even went looking for the cottage where the book was written and White’s grave in Greece. He also travelled to see some of the British experts in their area of usually mass conifer forests to learn about the birds. Where in contrast the expert was showing him Goshawks in the centre of Berlin!

Conor has written for many of the leading bird magazines like Bird Watching, British Birds, Birds and Birdwatch. He has also had articles in the Guardian, BBC Wildlife, The Ecologist, New Statesman and others. Conor wrote his first book in 2012 which was ‘Silent Spring revisited’ which was given the ‘Roger Deakin Award’ from the Society of Authors. He has also been a script writer for the BBC Natural history Unit.

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Like his first book there are some sad stories to tell especially in this country. The Forestry Commission at Kielder has had 1500 Goshawks rung to find out where they go but have only had 3 returns. [There is a big hole in the ground somewhere with most of these birds placed in it!] Another area had 486 birds ringed with 2 returns and one of these was shot! Even brain power is questioned in birds of prey using this amazing video of a Sparrowhawk drowning a Magpie –http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0Ycdt-agOA  The adaptation of flight by some birds of prey to confuse prey has also been covered.

An interesting fact is that the majority of the Goshawks nest in Forestry Commission forests and I ask the question ‘was that one of the reasons this government wanted to sell them to the private land owners so they could do their best to make the species extinct again in the UK?’ A real miss in the book was not showing how a breeding Goshawk has a massive effect on Grey Squirrel numbers. Yes the figure of 95% Grey Squirrel was shown but this could save the public £millions wasted on Grey Squirrel control by Red Squirrel groups who do not even encourage the return of the Pine marten. The 2 species working together would have a massive effect but who is stopping this from happening? Yes you guest it – The shooting estate who made the 2 species extinct in Britain for Goshawk and England for the Pine Marten!

Another lost theme was the name of the bird – Gos. Geese are too big to be taken by Goshawks says Conor but the word is spelt Gos which relates to Gos-ling – the young of the goose!  Any one interested in Birds of Prey will enjoy this book as I did and it should be on your shelf before Xmas! And if you have Darren Woodhead’s amazing painting of the cover don’t let me know as I want it on my wall!

2 comments to Looking for the Goshawk – By Conor Mark Jameson

  • 2000 young Goshawks rung and only 5 returns which shows that as soon as these young hawks leave the safety of the nesting area, they are shot, trapped, or poisoned.
    If only the protectionists would have allowed half of these birds to be allocated to experienced falconers, they could have been trained, flown, and hunted for one season, then released back to the wild the following spring all over the country, as fit, fat, experienced hunters. Then the whole thing could have been repeated over several years, a sort of man assisted safe dispersal.
    There is no doubt that when it comes to raptor conservation in the UK, the lunatic’s have taken over the asylum!

  • skydancer

    Thanks for the review john , sounds a great book, just ordered it .