Judith Christie lives in Forest Lodge and is an active urban conservationist. In her interview she talks about the competing demands of urban development and biodiversity; the birds, reptiles and insects she encounters in her immediate environment; and campaigns associated with Orphan School Creek Gully and the Blue Wren. In the excerpt below, Judith recalls a rare urban sighting of a Brown Goshawk.
It was only a couple of years ago. The ivy had got completely out of control down along the fence. And there definitely was a rat – I could hear it at night running up and down the fence in the ivy. One Saturday morning I was sitting out there and this bird seemed to sort of dive down onto the fence and I got a glimpse of it and I thought “Oh, it’s a bit late for a koel”, because it seemed to be stripey. The bird had come down and had knocked over a rake on the table, and seemed to have dived down into the middle of the table. I had to go [out]. I came back and it was like this scene of destruction. There was blood; and there was the rat’s tail hanging down between the rungs of the chair and then I found the stomach of the rat, and I found this sort of patch in front of the mirror on the left where obviously a large bird had sat and eaten the rat, and there was this scattering, and the skull, and I sort of thought then “What was it that I saw and I walked away from?” and that it was a Goshawk. In early autumn young Brown Goshawks are known to come into urban areas. You don’t see them flying around; they hang out in trees, they skulk, they see something. So this Brown Goshawk had actually taken a rat in the middle of that tiny little garden. It was quite a shock. I actually saw the bird again about a week later; it skimmed through the trees. I’ve never had a Brown Goshawk before or after. The fact that you have a rat running up and down your backyard is not nice but, hey, it can bring you a Brown Goshawk!