Along the Track: Territory is Everything

In realestate they say that position is everything.

We’ve been away the past week or so with the rellies on the family acres. So, not much birding to be done, let alone photography—if you bypass the usual family happy snaps.

We passed by a dam yesterday, and the eagle-eyed among us cried, “White-necked Heron”. But with the traffic and the icecream melting in the back, there was no stopping for such a rare event. Interestingly the day before that, we’d spied two White-necked Herons in a local water-retaining basin that was drying out. (But that’s another story)

Had it go back out past the dam this morning to get to the shopping centre, so loaded up the camera this time, well, you know. Just in case.

No case.

As I headed for home I noted on a comms tower at the end of the old road where we’d been photographing Black-shouldered Kites, (and we always look, just in case one might return), sitting on said tower was a Nankeen Kestrel, and with no icecream to worry about, I went for the looksee.

Looking very relaxed it was, and I moved up the little hillside for a better angle and view.
Suddenly the air was filled, (as they say in the classics), with the lovely quivering sound of Kestrel talk.
And a second one swung in, intent it seemed to unseat the present incumbent and take control of the tower.

Backstory behind us, here are the photo-moments.

A female, looking very relaxed and comfortable.
A crisp quiverous cry that is so typical of a Kestrel, she warned the approaching bird off.
Out of mischief or malice, the second one swung in, in full cry.
Had to wonder if there were two adults in the area, or whether these were siblings from a recent clutch.
No quarter given, or taken.
A second pass dislodged the original bird and it slipped down the tower trying to hold on, both to its position and dignity
With a lot of name calling it was time to think of a new plan
From its uncomfortable perch it dropped away to make its own attack.
But to no avail as it was swept from the tower.
If I thought it was all in fun, then then next few moments showed how serious they both were.
Both birds capable of giving as good as they got
It was interesting to see how quickly they could recover from being attacked to being the aggressor
But like all realestate disputes, it’s hard to reach agreement.
Several more cackling calls and it was all over and one flew out across the paddock to safer ground
While the victor took up a perch on a nearby power pole and resumed normal business. It seemed to me, that this would not be the last of the encounters.


10 thoughts on “Along the Track: Territory is Everything

  1. Thank you, David. I did enjoy this story immensly. They are such beautiful birds on their own but to put their fight in the scenery of these towers brings another dimension to their beauty. I’m looking at these shots over and over again. Strangely, my most favourite image is the one with the Kestrel sliding down (“With a lot of name calling…”).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Adam,
      A good choice of image. If I’d have shot multi-burst on the D500, I’d have made about 10 really interesting shots. I think it was hoping to find a spot to hold on to, and then just gracefully (as only a Kestrel can), it just drifted down and away from the tower. Lots of words to describe what was really a touching moment.

      Hard not to think I was incredibley fortunate to be there at that moment.

      One never knows when one goes out, what might happen.


  2. A wonderful insight into the Kestrel world David, with beautiful photographic depictions. It is interesting as to why the aggressor thought it necessary to dethrone the victim. As you suggest is it just one asserting dominance over the other or is there more to the story? Well captured my friend. It is always a concern when one buys ice cream and an interesting bird appears. For me it is usually that I have left my camera at home, but I carry a movie cameras always in the car. Have a great week 😊


    1. They are pretty elusive birds in the area. A wide ranging territory, and rare to get a close approach. Makes it much harder to work out their character.
      As the juveniles look pretty much like the female, it is possible we have two siblings so I guess we’ll never know.

      Liked by 1 person

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