She's looking for a goshawk

H is for Hawk - Helen Macdonald

"Slowly my brain righted itself into spaces unused for months. For so long I'd been living in libraries and college rooms, frowning at screens, marking essays, chasing down academic references. This was a different kind of hunt. Here I was a different animal.


Have you ever watched a deer walking out from cover?  They step, stop, and stay,  motionless, nose to the air, looking and smelling, a nervous twitch might run down their flanks.  And then, reassured that all is safe, they ankle their way out of the brush to graze. That morning, I felt like the deer. Not that I was sniffing the air, or standing in fear – – but like the deer, I was in the grip of very old and emotional ways of moving through a landscape . . ."


and here's the difficulty of using the bird book to differentiate between sparrow Hawks and goshawks, because the markings are the same, only the size is different; so . . . 


"Sparrowhawk: 12 to 16 inches long.

Goshawk: 19 to 24 inches.

They look identical. Goshawks are bigger, that's all. Just bigger.


No.  In real life, goshawks resemble sparrowhawks the way leopards resemble housecats. Bigger, yes. But bulkier, bloodier, deadlier, scarier and much, much harder to see.  Birds of deep woodland, not gardens, they're the birdwatchers' dark grail.

You might spend a week in a forest full of gosses and never see one, just traces of their presence. A sudden hush, followed by the calls of terrified woodland birds, and a sense of something moving just beyond vision."