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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 73

Circus gouldi, Bonap. (Harrier.)

Circus gouldi, Bonap. (Harrier.)

Although the Bush-hawk has almost entirely disappeared from all the settled districts, the Harrier maintains its ground, and is extremely abundant on some of the sheep-runs. At Papaitonga my son lately saw one with a perfectly white head, but it was very shy, and he was unable to shoot it. These hawks are in the habit of hunting along the shores of the lake, and are a perpetual terror to the young ducks. They are destructive also to the eggs of birds nesting in the sedge, on one occasion no less than fifteen eggs being taken from a goose's nest. They are bold enough, too, in their manner of attack. One day I saw three or four large Sea-shags (Phala- page 113 crocorax novæ-hollandiæ) perched on the naked branches of a lofty matai near the edge of the lake, looking very fine as they balanced their bodies against the blue sky beyond. Presently a Harrier appeared in sight, and, without a moment's hesitation, swooped down on the group of Shags, and they, much to my surprise, instead of showing fight, made precipitately for the water. On another occasion one of these hawks made a determined attack on a flock of Black Teal (Fuligula novæ-zealandiæ) well out on the lake. The ducks splashed and dived, and evinced every sign of terror, and the assailant kept up the pursuit for fully half an hour, but without effect.

Apart from these depredations, I have reason to fear that these hawks have been interfering with the Mallards and other English birds recently placed by me on the Papaitonga Lake.