Saturday Evening Post #155: Shadow Opportunity

Deng Ming-Dao writes,” Times of oppression and adversity cannot last forever. In the midst of great difficulty, a tiny opportunity will open—if only by chance.
You must be sharp enough to discern it, quick enough to catch it, and determined enough to do something with it.  Stick to it like a Shadow.”

“It is like a bird. If you try to catch it, you will miss. If you are always with it, moving at its speed, as much a part of it as its own shadow, then it is easy to seize.”

We have, tis fair to say, had our fill of lockdownitis. One of several pairs of Black-shouldered Kites that we’ve worked with over the years has flown several clutches of young while we’ve been at home with our four walls.

The sad thing is that the 5km limit we  have been forced to work to, just gets us to the turn-off to the road where the Kites territory begins. So it was possible to drive, and park, and like a kid looking in a lollyshop window droll on the glass.

But. Not able to get close enough to see what was going on.

The road runs off a major access road, so parking on the side, (within our limit) is fraught with its own challenges.  Myriad passing traffic, difficulty of parking on the side of the road, not to mention, standing about with a long camera lens  is likely to bring the wrath of some ‘public concerned individual” as to why we would be doing such a thing. And of course the inevitable visit from the long arm of the law.
So, we stayed away.
This particular pair, and really its the female, as we are pretty certain she has had two male companions over the past couple of years, have done their bit to keep the Kite species alive and well supplied.
Working backward, with the few clutches we had photographed without interruption and the number of clutches that were started and then we lost track of, or had begun and we came back on the end of the season with the young well and truly on the wing, we think in the past 3 years, they have had somewhere around 8 clutches.  Maybe 9.  On average she brings out 3 young, so given one known clutch failure, and one that only produced two young, it would be fair to say they have flown around 25 young birds.

Now we have a little more travel space, EE and I ventured out, among other places to see what the kites were doing, (If anything)   Parking well off the mainroad and scanning about, eventually we found one of the pair sitting high on a tree.  Not long after the female emerged from the top of a tree, and with much sqarrking encouraged the male to go hunting.
Bingo.  They have a nest.
That would be perhaps number 10 so far.  She is a bit of a workaholic.

Shadow time!  Hopefully the next few weeks will give us a chance to follow the progress.

The weather wasn’t all that kind, but here she is coming in with a fresh prize to prepare for the young, which must only be hatched for a week or so.

And just in case you’ve not seen a link before
The Peregrine Falcons high up on 367 Collins Street in Melbourne have hatched a clutch of three.
Here is a link to their video feed.



8 thoughts on “Saturday Evening Post #155: Shadow Opportunity

  1. Very busy indeed! A beaut capture. A wry smile crossed my face when you mention the presence in many places of public concerned individuals, that is the main reason I just haven’t ventured to some places.
    Hopefully the weather will pick up soon as I have a bit more time available now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All good.
      It has become such a paranoid world. 300 people can mingle around taking selfies, but should someone pull out a camera without a phone built in, it is a matter of public shaming.

      15km is a good start, but it still keeps us from some of our more frequented spots. Lucky to be out at all I guess.


    1. Thanks Eleanor, had she been a few seconds earlier, or later, I might well have managed some sunshine. But she came in with the clouds obscuring the sun. The way of it all.
      I know I’ve told this story before but I love repeating it. When I first started bird photography, one of the people who ‘helped’ me always told me about how hard it was to work with Black-shouldered Kites and that you could never get close enough. (I think it was to justify owning really long focal length lenses), and the classic example was one morning a Kite that landed on a tree about 100m inside a paddock. “See, you just can’t get close to them!”.
      As its turned out, I think they are the most approachable of raptors, (perhaps a well trainded Kestrel might be the exception). It is, I think easy to spot a Kite that is uncomfortable with a close approach, and as long as we don’t cross the invisible comfort line, most have been able to deal with our presence.
      This pair is among the more relaxed, but they get to see numbers of people.
      Perhaps they keep lists on eperson, 2 Canon 7D, 5 Sony A1, 3 Canon R6, 1 Nikon D500, 🙂

      Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another interesting post David, with an amazing capture, yes the restrictions do make it difficult for us birders, but you have done well despite them. We have only just realized our local park just falls inside the 5 km limit so I will posting it again this week. We are all hanging out for the 11th October for our first lot of relief from restrictions, everyone, including the opposition is sad Gladys is gone and angry at ICAC for their poor timing. It is almost like a conspiracy against her. Deng’s quote fits well with mine of Look for the Treasure in the Trial. Enjoy your week, we are off to a picnic with friends for the first time, as fully vaxed are allowed now. I really need a hair cut after 3 months, I am starting to look like my late teen days in the rock band. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ashley, good to know you have access to a worthwhile area. We are pretty much your middle suburbia, while there are patches of ‘park’ green around most are inhabited by those whose normal environment is the local shopping mall, so prams, mobile fones, active-wear and lose dogs make it pretty difficult to find, let alone photograph birds, and as David says, and at the same time avoiding the ire of public safety concerned individuals, (many of whom let their dogs and children run free in the area) Sad. But… what can be done.
      I don’t do comparative religion, but. It is quite interesting to me to observe that many of the points that come from each of the major religions when it comes to human nature all have been observing and recording the same sorts of behaviour and offering similar advice for dealing with them.

      Yep, I’m now sporting the Pony Tail that Despot Dan said I have to have.

      Have a fine day in the sun and enjoy the company.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Weather has kept me away from mine and the tree they use is right on the fence line of someone’s backyard. Someone with particular dislike to the public, indicated well by the intentional trained massive dogs who bark at you(even at 500mm length away). I have thus been reduced to one angle, in behind a levy where, the dogs without visual reference, soon forget I’m there. Problem is of course the lens barrel is now pointed directly at the house(well over actually but of course they wouldn’t see it that way.) So I have had a few strange looks from passers by. I should put more camo gear on and really look the part.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nah, not camo, slip on a Hi-Vis and everyone will think you are protesting about something. That, it appears, is public acceptable behaviour.

      I was once photographing some inflight Spoonbills near a block of flats and of course the inevitable over a particular flat. The guy in the flat came out and asked if I “Was getting some good photos”, and as it turns out I was, and I said yes. Wrong answer.
      He was having some domestic dispute with an ex and believed I was sent by some legal dude to keep an eye on his activities. No matter the explanation he was off his face.
      So, I have, never been back that way again, and take extreme caution about A) where I choose to photograph and B) where I point the camera.
      “Public Concern” has now deteriorated to the good guys being at fault, while the more outrageous and nutcase ‘minority’ are accepted and encouraged.


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