Field Notes Book: Attack is the Best Stragergy

Open fields and paddocks are of course a mecca for various raptors. Around the Werribee River Park (aka The Office), Black and Whistling Kites, Swamp Harriers and Brown Falcons usually make frequent appearances.
Presently however because of better conditions further north perhaps, there is only a handful of  raptors in the area.

As the Australian Hobby clutch hatched and the young grew, the parents became much more pro-active, and protective of the growing young.  One morning they had several encounters with Swamp Harriers and Whistling Kites.

The female was now sitting out of the nest, high up on well sighted perch. Any raptor that approached recieved a serious warning call, and if that didn’t work, a much louder, more rapid call, that also drove her from the perch in hot pursuit.  The male would arrive, usually from on high, several moments later.

Unlike Peregrines, Hobbies seem to make much more shallow stoops, presumably they cannot really physically attack the much larger Kites, so a game of bobbing across the sky, with quick shallow dives on the intruder is probably to put it off the job in hand, and eventually drive it from the area.

Welcome to the action.

  • Seriously you want to wander into my territory. Go ahead make my day.

  • A Swamp Harrier defending against a stoop

  • Here we go again. She is  rocketing out from among the trees. Warp Speed.

  • A Whistling Kite trying to deal with two attacking Hobbies.

  • Coming out of a stoop must really initiate a powerful ‘g’ force on the body.  From flat out to cruising in the blink of an eye.  You can see the angle of the wings changing and the air breaking over the back as the airflow changes.

  • After all the action has quietened down, the male quickly returned with a  top-up meal.

  • Hopefully see the young next week.

12 thoughts on “Field Notes Book: Attack is the Best Stragergy

  1. Amazing captures as always. Must be wonderful to follow so many raptors David, and see their interaction as you have so beautifully displayed with the Swampy interaction. Great shots even against the diffused light of the cloudy sky.

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  2. A brilliant photographic narrative! Great to see. They look so determined as they go into defend, protect, attack mode!
    Interesting that you mention seeing fewer raptors around, I was just thinking that the other day. Although the Sparrowhawks were back at Glen Orden yesterday! Willie and co escorted them away! Also sighted was a Rose-ringed Parakeet (blue) heading north a great speed as it either fled from its aviary or, having decided life was actually better at home, was heading home.

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    1. Gdave, As you know, they are seriously powerful in flight. They might not be the top of the chain, but they are cetainly within a wingflap of it. I believe they have ‘mapped’ the areas around them, and could fly the gaps between the trees with their eyes closed. Gives them such an advantage to come out from the trees, knowing where they are going to get the best attack spot.

      My own observations are that most of the larger ‘flocks’ of the bigger raptors have moved away.

      We have a ringneck somewhere in the trees in our street. I hear it regualry, seen it only the once. Haven’t walked that way recently, so hard to know if its moved on.

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    1. All good Eleanor, We have been so fortunate to have the time, and the place to enjoy these birds. There is no interaction with them in the same way we might work with Kestrels or Black-shouldered Kites. They much prefer to work on the tallest trees and disdain any attempt to make connection. We are about as important as the trees and branches.

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  3. These shots are as beautiful as educational. You’ve captured several diverse actions in different light conditions so well.
    I don’t see many raptors in my part of the world, except for the Swamp Harriers and an occasional Whistling Kite and I wonder where the Black-shouldered Kites are gone.

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    1. G,day Adam, we have been really fortunate that they are close enough for us to visit every other day or so, and that the area is realtively easy to access. The rest is just sitting and waiting. And they do a lot of that. 🙂
      I’d conclude that the majority of the free-loading Harriers and Kites are enjoying a well earned break somewhere with plentiful food.

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