Monday, February 4, 2013

A tale of two Kites

In reality, this is mostly just a tale about one very beautiful Square-tailed Kite, however there is also a brief cameo by a Whistling Kite. I was on my way to the Barossa, for some birding time at Altona CSR Landcare Reserve, one of my frequent locals haunts up until the beginning of this year. I was driving through the back roads of Para Wirra when I flushed the Whistling Kite from the roadside where it had been feeding on some roo roadkill.

The Kite took to the trees, avidly pursued by two Little Ravens and a Grey Currawong. Needless to say, I quickly pulled over and snapped a couple of images out the car window before the attentions of the currawong became too much for the Kite, and it took off.

Whistling Kite (Para Wirra Recreation Park)

It was while I was walking at Altona that I came across the star of the show. I happened to glance at the treeline and thought that a particular branch happened to look "a bit funny." A quick zoom and snap with the camera revealed the culprit. I took a couple of record shots, before deciding to try and move closer to the bird (the path was leading me right to it).

 Square-tailed Kite (Altona CSR Landcare Reserve)

I managed to find a gap in the trees through which to photograph the bird and watched as it ruffled, preened and pooped in its relaxed state.

 The extra-rare headless form!!

After a time, the Kite turned its back to me and I thought I might be able to use it to my advantage to gain some more ground on the bird, and a slightly less cluttered angle.

Much to my pleasant surprise, I walked closer and the Kite barely even blinked, it was very relaxed and settled in to preen again. In fact, the only time it did flinch was when the noise sounding "gun machines" from a nearby property started up. It flinched the first 3 times, then after that, paid it no attention either.

Getting those hard-to-reach places.

While I settled in to watch, the bird simply went about its business of preening. Every now and then it would look straight at me, just to remind me that it was perfectly aware of my presence, but really wasn't too fussed. There were several times when the bird would look in one place and bob its head up and down a few times. It was interesting to see, and I wondered whether it had seen something and was trying to get a better perspective on it.

After preening, it was time for some sunning. I felt really privileged to not only get to spend a whole 20 minutes with this bird, but that I got to see some interesting behaviour as well. I got worried when the wings came out, but it was only for a bit of Vitamin D!

Then came the yoga...

After a few more wing stretches, the Kite's presence became known to a local pair of Grey Fantails, who saw it as their duty to swoop and dive and chatter and tease. The Kite became more alert, but still didn't seem too phased.

At long last, the experience had to end, and it was either going to end with the Kite taking off, or me running out of space on my memory cards. As it turned out, 353 photos later, the Kite casually went on its way and circled over the center of the park for a time (at which point Chris Steeles: managed some great flight shots) before disappearing into the big blue.

A poor quality image, but posted for the feather moult pattern in wings and tail.


  1. Now i'm going to have to put some of my shots up!! :-) Nice little story and images Bec!

    1. Would certainly love to see some. Would be cool to see the shrike title film too, even if it's not that great.

  2. Wow! One of Australia's most unique and beautiful raptors and didn't you have a great encounter. Your pictures are superb. Great description of how you found it. Well done.

  3. You have really lived up to your Blog title with this one! Thank you for sharing Bec.

    1. Haha, if only they were always close encounters. No problem, thanks for reading.