Little Visits: A Raptor Moment… or Two

We started out heading to monitor several Black-shouldered Kites nestings, but as the early morning sunhine beckoned when we made it to the freeway we decided a coffee at Gerry’s at the Highway Lounge and then on the WTP for a looksee for robins.

Coffee despatched, we didn’t have any success with the Robins however.

For those that have visited the WTP we headed on up toward Ryan’s Swamp.

A good move it turned out to be as there were a number of raptors working along the roadway.

Our first sighting for the day, a Black Kite among the old trees
A female Nankeen Kestrel was ‘hawking’ up the remains of breakfast. A little furball lump of undigestible rubbish.
We spotted this Brown Falcon ‘walking’ along the road, no doubt it had scored a meal, as it flew to the tree and the next 45 minutes or so we stood with it, as it slowly digested the meal. There is something special about being able to observe this bird, unstressed, and watch its various character traits.
Handsome in the early morning light with dark storm clouds building behind
A number of Black Kites were also in the same area. It looks like full on dogfight, but these big birds seem to love to play about together
Another Black from the same area, and it appears to have nesting in mind.
Yet another Falcon swept in to see what was going on.
It didn’t take us too long to find a pair of Black-shouldered Kites at work on nesting. Unlike most Black-shouldered these were nesting in the top of a dead tree in the open. Here the male has just arrived to relieve the female for awhile.
Nesting hasn’t blunted her hunting skills
Don’t mess with Mamma. She is unhappy about the Black Kite attention on the treeline
More Kestrel hunting. I missed the catch of this one.
A pair of Brown Falcons, they are not ready to mate, but are doing their best to keep the pair-bond alive and bright. He has just swept in from a few aerial stunts to impress her. She is crouched ready to accept his advances. We again spent 15 minutes or more watching their various antics, and after a lot of calls and cackles, they both flew to different perch area to repeat the performance
Hey, I think you look pretty special. Well I can’t speak Brown Falconese, so who knows what he said.


Along The Track: Kite Nursery

We have been following a pair of Black-shouldered Kites since early January.

It’s been an on and off again project, both for the Kites and for us. Because of the distance, its just that little too far to be regularly checking on them, and in the beginning, they were somewhat half-hearted about making a start.

But by late Feb, it was pretty clear she had taken a nest in a pinetree next to a public carpark. The Point Cook Coastal Park is now surrounded on the landside by housing estates and is a popular walking, bicyling, picnicing location, so the carpark is always extremely busy.

Early morning light, or late afternoon is best suited for the location, and it was not unusual to see a photographer or two standing on the grass against the fence line waiting for the young to show themselves.

I thought it wise to wait until the cycle was nearly over and I had a reasonable show of the activities, rather than just publishing a few isolated moments of the action.

So in the growing tradition of the blog, here are the pics to tell the story.

After a month of sitting on her eggs and another 3-4 weeks of feeding the young, Mum was finally ready to put them on display.
At first we thought there might only be two, but eventually a third little head made itself visible. Perhaps one of the eggs was late hatching as it seemed one was always behind the other two in gaining the skills
Once they were out and about, Mum went off for a rest and Dad took to raising and feeding them. They were very vocal in expressing their needs
Not sure which day they flew, but one morning we arrived to find them out and about. Those first few days are a bit awkward in the air.
Landing is always a traumatic event for the first few days
Rule #5 In the Black-shouldered Kite Manual.
Don’t harass Dad to go and catch a mouse
Time to meet the friendly neighbourhood watch
One of the last skills to learn is aerial transfer of food. They always seem to be willing to participate in this activity. The one thing I’ve noted is that he already knows whose turn it is to take the mouse and will avoid the attacks of the others to be sure the right one gets the offering.

And like all good Black-shouldered Kite stories, the last we see of the young is them sweeping out over the field, hovering and then diving down to secure their own feed.

We are left to wonder is the pair going to have another clutch soon