White phase Grey Goshawk. Pic: Ian Montgomery. http://www.birdway.com.au/index.htm

This is a guest poem by the Australian poet Robert Adamson.

A few days ago I posted a link on Facebook to a short piece in the Herald Sun about the tragic death of the rarest of Australia’s raptors, the White-phase Grey Goshawk, in the Victorian city of Bendigo. This is Robert’s wonderful tribute to that bird – written in prescience perhaps long ago but unchanged but for the last line. See below for the Herald-Sun piece.

Robert says of his poem:

“I wrote the poem ‘Goshawk Over Broken Bay‘ forty years ago (would you believe?) and it sadly turned out to be a kind of prophecy. I slightly changed the final line for the memory of the rare white goshawk that was shot recently.”

Goshawk over Broken Bay

Pale morning grows through mist, settles on the bay

And lifts a hawk into the chilly air.

Warm inside my house I lean back on a chair,

Gaze through frosty windows at mid-winter’s grey.

A lone fisherman walks the rocky shore.

The hawk hovers, white, on a breeze above the beach:

Winter ghost-wings, out beyond my reach.

I check a field guide as sunlight moves over the floor

And meets the grate of my electric fire.

The man and bird are fishing from the headland’s reef:

Seen through glass, distortions of my grief

Kindle the flames of a theatrical desire.

The hawk tumbles for its balance in a pocket of air.

I hold the bird book tightly in my hands.

My whole life seems curbed by these demands

For order – I fling back the chair,

Stride straight through the back door to the high

Verandah and stare directly at the hawk.

There is no order: just excuses for more talk.

At the murder of another bird I loose my will to fly.

Robert Adamson,

Hawkesbury River, 1974


Here is the piece – and the saddest picture – from the report in the Herald Sun on the weekend.

Wildlife Rescuer Neil Morgan with dead Goshawk. Pic: Andrew Perryman, Herald Sun

Rare bird killed by shooter in Bendigo

POLICE are searching for an illegal shooter after a rare white goshawk was shot in Bendigo.

Authorities believe the rare bird of prey was shot with a high powered rifle on Saturday in Golden Square at 6pm.

Witnesses found the bird still alive after hearing two shots, but it died within minutes.

Wildlife rescuer Neil Morgan was shattered by the killing and said there were only 110 breeding pairs in the world.

I have never seen one in my life, we are really devastated, ‘’ Mr Morgan said ”There are only 110 known breeding pairs in the world, we don’t know if it had a mate. We have never seen one here.’’

The Department of Sustainability and Environment are appealing for anyone with information to ring Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.


 You can see more of the wonderful work by Neil Morgan and the folk at Wildlife Rescure at their website here.

Their latest message says:

W.R.E.S is currently trying to find the person responsible for the shooting death of an extremely rare White Goshawk bird of prey. The shooting happened in Golden Square. Police and the Dept of Sustainability and Environment are currently investigating.

Help us catch the person responsible, if you heard gun shots in the Golden Square area at approximately 4pm Sunday, March 18th 2012. Please contact the Bendigo Police.