Little Journeys: The X-Rated Story

We had as the story is told, been shopping early in the morning to beat the rush before Metro Melbourne is forced into lockdown because of the stupidity and thoughtlessness of people.
As a friend of mine has put a sign in his window, “Welcome to Melbourne. The home of the stupidous people in Australia”.
Dictionary definition of stupidous: One who knows how stupid they are and still continues to act stupid; hence the ous at the end.

On a whim, as we had indeed packed the cameras, you know, on the off chance, wink wink, if the light was good, we might make a last journey to the beach area at Point Cook.

So, as The Banjo did write,  we went.

As soon as we arrived, EE called, “See, Black-shouldered Kite on the highest branch”, and of course she was right. Not that anyone would doubt.

Within a few moments of getting out of IamGrey, it was obvious that this was the female of the species, as very quickly the male swept in first with a mouse, then with a stick for the nest and then for pro-creation purposes.

Unlike the pair we’ve been working with locally, these two are pretty much about the same size, she being a bit better weighted.  They have a much more robust relationship too, as he is quite capable of giving as much as he gets. She might rule the roost, but he is definitely not subordinate.

Time passed, and as we hadn’t thought about lunch or any snacks, we were just as refreshed watching the birds going about their important business, and sitting in the sunshine enjoying the serenity around us.
We did make it to the beach, but not before an interlude with Cassia of Cinnamon, the Brown Falcon that featured here with her two young last year.  No doubt she is back and establishing a nesting territory.  Time will indeed tell.

By late mid-afternoon, with a full memory, and a full memory card or two, it was time to head for home.

The lockdown this time seems to have enough flexibility for a return visit or two so we might be able to follow the new Kite family in a bit of detail.  Just going to have to buy a set of golfclubs or a fishing rod or surfboard, to carry around, as such activities are gazetted.

Here is a few from the day, and a link here to the X-Rated Material on the webpage.

Looking remarkably refreshed after two successive nestings, the female is preparing for another round.
Meanwhile down in the forest the male is collecting the necessary building materials.
Personally beak picked and ready for installation. It took me a few minutes to locate where he’d settled.
Heavy lifting done, time for the next step in baby-making
His next mission it to provide some top-up snacks
She has the casual one legged approach to landing
This was an interesting transfer, as he bought in the mouse, and then set for quite a few minutes before she flew in to wrestle it from him.
The handy dandy workman at work.
Each twig or branch has to come from just the right spot, and he often has a hard time getting the branch to break off.
In bound with just the right piece.

 

Photographic Essay: Three Up

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m just about to save you from reading 6,849 words.

The young kites are well on the wing, and just about able to look after themselves.  Dad is more a mentor than a ready-food source.

While a kite’s life is usually one of isolation, sort of makes sense in the current lockdown pandemic: Note I did not say pandemic lockdown :-), the young kites have spent more of their young lives together in the nest and around, and so are often quite happy to sit together.  They rarely squabble over food, although are prepared to put their case for the next meal quite forcibly.  Fortunately Dad has his rules, and they are followed.

But getting all three together is not a regular occurrence.

So here are a few that I’ve been fortunate to capture, and on this link, https://adobe.ly/3eSgpC3  
there are several more variations.

Enjoy.

Photographic-Essay: Annoying Relatives

It happens just about every-time.
You settle in for a quiet meal-in peace, and a hungry, noisy relative drops by looking for a little bit of the action.

One young Black-shouldered Kite had just recieved a top-up from Dad.
Time to find a quiet branch.
Then, with the usual racket, one of the close relatives drops in to see if there is a handout.

This looked like a good branch to enjoy a quiet snack
Hey, hey, here I come, any for me?
I’m here, are you going to share?
Short answer is obviously No!
Checking that it didn’t leave anything behind.
Now to find a better spot
Lunch in the sun. More than picnic.

Photographic-Essay: Landing Right(s)

As the young local Black-shouldered Kites have continued to grow, they reached the point where all the necessary training had ended, and they needed to take a leap-of-faith and step off the trees and taste the thrill of flight.

It is interesting to watch how they tackle this major step, and I’ve often wondered if there isn’t some internal brain function that kind of switches on the ‘Let’s Go’ signal, and they finally ease their grip on branch or leaf, and suddenly find themselves free.

However.

All the training does not prepare them for the next event.

HOW DO YOU STOP THIS THING?

With no aeronautical skills to speak of, they resort to a simple, crash into the leaves at the top of the tree. Surprisingly, they are not very heavy, and the whole momentum thing doesn’t seem to harm them in anyway.  After a little they even begin to figure out how to slow things down a bit, and sort of just ‘lob’ into the leaves.

Within a couple of days, they have most of the skills for landing on branches, and soon they can practice high-speed manoeuvres and swing in on just about any branch from any angle.

So here is a week or so’s worth of flight and landing shots.  They are but a smallish collection as we’ve had a few good days with them over the past week.

I’ve also begun to make some Shared Photos Albums on Lightroom Web.

Here is the address for this current set.  https://adobe.ly/2N38chS

I’m thinking in future to put the bulk of the story pictures there, and then insert a link in the weblog. This means I can share a few more of the event without filling up  the page here on WordPress.

Hope it works for you. Feedback welcome.

Before you can fly you must stretch the wings and build up the muscles. Not easy when you siblings won’t give you any room.
EHHHH yaaaa!
Help!!! Look out here I come
No speed control, and not much finesse.
Error of comedy. The top one had landed successfully, its sibling wants part of the action. But landing on a vertical branch offers new challenges
Ok, locked on, now to fold up the sails, trying not to knock off the other bird
Simply not enough room for both to balance, the first bird yields the space.
This one missed the branch and tumbled through the gap.
Balance, balance, balance, hold tight, balance. I think I can do it.
Full on hit the leaves, and get close to the other bird
It couldn’t get a grip and nearly knocked the other bird from its precarious perch.
Long distance shot. The little bird had wanted to get close to Dad, but knocked him from the stick, unfortunately it grabbed his foot as a landing spot. The big fella was not happy.
Rocking back and forward trying to right the body angle.
Trying to land on the top of close comms tower.
Up, Up, Up, but.
It ran out of lift before it brushed off speed and hit the tower sideways
Two weeks on the wing, and the smallest of targets are achievable.

Photographic-Essay: Training Your Black-shouldered Kite, an Attitude of Gratitude.

The blog has been a bit quiet of late.  And as one of my mentors David DuChemin says, “My heart has run out of words.”  Between social changes, and restrictions, to a world-wide outpouring of grief and cry for justice, it has left some with mental whiplash.

Yet as David says, “We’ve got so much, we are healthy, safe, and have gratitude for what we do have.”  For those who don’t know David’s work, he has been involved for over twenty years with several NGOs (Non Government Organisations) at work in several countries, including Africa, India and Afghanistan. And he says of the current situations, “I hope it has long been abundantly clear that I will always fall on the side of compassion, justice, the oppressed and the broken. I just don’t have words right now.”

Words just don’t seem sufficient.
So while I’ve been quiet, in-fact there have been a few things happening in the field.
All of them items for which both EE and I are grateful that we have been graced to enjoy.

  • My Flickr friend, and commenter on our blog, David Nice, was kind enough to advise of the location of a nesting pair of Black-shoulded Kites.
  • We managed a week of really great weather.
  • Shivering cold mornings and glorious sunny days.
  • Windless weather.
  • Right in the middle of the young Black-shoudlered Kites fledging and learning to hunt.

There are a lot of images here. Mind, it is but a tiny part of the bulging folio of photo-story that EE and I have been able to make over the past couple of weeks.

Let’s begin at the end, today, and see how these amazing little creatures are beginning their lives.

Dad herding one of his young back to the nesting area. It had decided to see if it could join him on a hunt. Not likely. To move it along he gave it a wing clip as he went by.
Suitably chastised it headed for the tree.
The rich colours are impressive
Dad arriving with a mouse and getting plenty of attention
This snack goes to the nest area, and the young are quick to follow.
Next food top-up he hovered out in the open, dangling the mouse. But the young one’s didn’t quite get the idea
Another delivery and this time one of them decided that it was worth the effort to get its own snack.
Locked on and speed slowing down.
Hard to imagine the calculations going on in the young head.
Looks like its locked on to use the left claw for the contact
At the last moment, instead it swings in with the right claw. Also Dad has repositioned the mouse so that it will make contact.His legs are closer together as he moved the mouse over.
Target acquired
Dad waits until its all secure before releasing
Success!
“My work here is Done”
To the victor the spoils.
Here is another transfer, this time on a branch. A dangerous move as the young one can easily knock him from the branch.
Again he waits until it is secure before letting go.
No mouse here!
Youngster mantling over its successful transfer.

Moments: The Little Warrior

This series was shot a couple of years back.
EE and I had been working with a pair of Black-shouldered Kites for over a year, and they had managed two successful nestings.

The nest was at the very top of a small pine tree inside a farm paddock, the birds would often fly out over the roadway where we were parked.

Just about fledging time a troupe of Black Kites moved into the area and took great interest in the young ones sitting high-up out in the open.  This resulted in some great aerial battles by Mum and Dad, yet the Blacks persisted in coming back and getting closer.
Of the three young in the nest, one was obviously a few days ahead of its siblings, and while not a great aeronaut yet, it could fly well enough to look after itself.

On this morning the Black Kites were even more intense on their attack, and swooped right over the remaining nestlings.

Mum and Dad flew frantic missions to see them off, but were not having much success.
It must have gotten all to much for the Little Warrior, as it burst out of the trees and joined in the foray.  Dad then had a new problem, and that was to hunt the young one away from the far more skillful Black Kites.

However the young warrior was not having a bar of that and continued to press attacks against the larger birds. What the big birds thought of it would have been interesting.  But it tired quickly, and needed to drop down on to the tree for a rest, followed very closely by one aggressive Black Kite. Fortunately nothing came of the attack, and the bigger birds became bored and like teenagers in a shopping mall, moved on to see what else they could find.

Dad flew out and caught a mouse, and quickly returned to reward his Little Warrior.

Black Kite over the nest.
Leave my family alone.
The big birds would not take NO for an answer.
Dad doing his best to keep the young one away from the bigger birds
Swinging in past Dad, and heading for an attack
Well if noise was enough to intimidate the Blacks, the young one certainly gave its best shot.
Defending upside down and Dad watches for other danger.
After a few minutes in the air, the young Warrior needed a rest, but the big birds did not stop their pursuit.
As a reward Dad arrived with a nice fresh snack to reward his Little Warrior.

The Fine Art of Feeding

Over the past few weeks I’ve managed to collect a few Black-shouldered Kite feeding routines.

It always involves the male of the pair doing the hunting. Often times the female will fly out meet him and take it from him in the air.

It seems to me there are at least three techniques used by the birds.

1. Scary:  He hangs motionless in the air with the mouse presented on an extended foot.  She sweeps in at a great speed, flips upside down, claws out, and takes the mouse. The stress on his leg must be quite large as this a non-stop movement.
2. Dainty:  Again he hangs midair, she lines up from underneath and plucks the mouse with her beak.  She is practically motionless at the point of contact.
3.  Easy, but under pressure.  This is always a branch transfer. The main reason I think is that it might be easier on the male, but most times its because of prying eyes circling about to see what chance they have of taking off with a free lunch. Usually once it has been transferred she will sit mantling the food until she feels safe to deal with it.

When the young are very small, Mum will prepare the food, and then go to the nest and feed small pieces to each of the youngsters.  As they grow, she delivers, but they feed, and before fledgling Dad will deliver straight to the nest. The young will share the meal.

Once they are on the wing, some feeding takes place on the nest, and as they grow more confident in the air, the male will hang the mouse down and give the young a chance to hone their flying skills.  It has to be said that a hungry young one is more enthusiasm than skill, but that improves rapidly. In the end they can gracefully take it from his dangling claw.

So let’s illustrate some of those techniques.

Lining up for an approach
All systems Go!
Precision
And away

 

Another mid-air claw to beak transfer.
Transfering from a branch. She has rushed in and nearly knocks him from the branch.
The female, mantling over a mouse as a squadron of Black Kites waits for an opportunity to help themselves.
With no flight skills to speak of this is not going to go well for the young one.
Juvenile, “Hold still Dad, I’ve got it.”
Missed by… That much…
Turning back for a second run
You can’t fly through Dad to get to the mouse
All wings, legs and loud voice, but the angle of attack is all wrong
Sailing past, but no mouse.

Monday Morning Musing: Surprise!

Funny how somethings just catch up on you, when you least it expect it.

A few days ago, I’d left the Black-shouldered Kite nesting area with a few shots of the two just-fledged juveniles sitting on top of a tree.  Also had the feeling that it would be the last we’d see of them due to the travel restrictions and the like that were about to settle in.

However as  EE had not been out for the week, I had need to do both grocery shopping and also we were both in need of some well earned ‘exercise’, and we decided to combine both activities into the one trip.

We thought the local park to crowded and restricted, so to relieve the pressure on that location we motored on a little further.
I must admit to feeling much more secure in the middle of a 40 acre paddock than pushing a shopping trolley around a bustling supermarket.
No one at the carpark on our arrival, so we set off through the scrub.

Well, fancy that. What a surprise; we were in the area of the nesting Black-shouldered Kites.  🙂

What was even more astounding, and taking tongue-out-of-cheek for a few seconds, was that there sitting in the tree together, enjoying the morning sunshine, was not two juveniles, but three!

The one on the left in this shot, seems much darker and richer brown, so I suspect it is a couple of days behind the others, as they have already begun to lose some of that lovely ginger colour.

So clever mum had not only survived all the heavy rain, hail, strong winds and cold snap, but had hatched three young ones for her trouble.
We waited a few minutes before moving on, and one of the older ones took to the air.  Bonus.

It made our journey home a much more enjoyable time, and I quickly dashed through the Woolies lines—that’s why I pick Woolies.  🙂
and we were home in isolation in no time.

I recently came across, a link to the benefits of “Forest Bathing”, shinrin-yoku (Japanese) 

Here’s a quote:

This is not  hiking, or jogging. It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.
Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge.
By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.

And if someone should challenge you here is a detailed scientific study on the benefits to the body.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5580555/

Jon Young’s “Sit Spot”, is another example of such a practice.

I am not disputing the Government’s current stance, as firm action is needed, but a touch of wonderful chlorophyl generated good-will makes the heart sing.

A proverb I read somewhere said, “A merry heart does good like a medicine”.

May your time of isolation bring you harmony and the opportunity to enjoy the small things in your around.

Remain

Davyyd

The wonderful rich ginger colours will fade so quickly, but so good to see them on the wing.
Hard to pick from a single image but this one is practicing hovering.
Tricky stuff for the over enthusiastic but clumsy flying young one. In the end, dad took the mouse back to the nest for safe and easier transfer.

 

 

Little Visits: Out of the Box

For those who follow my Saturday Evening Post, and #75, last weekend, in particular, here is the next installment.

We had guessed the young kites would be on the wing over the weekend, and so decided that Tuesday would have the best morning light, and we were gearing up to go first thing.
On Monday, on the way back from a shopping trip—essential groceries only-of course— the ABC radio informed us as of 11:59pm today (Monday), everyone would be required to stay at home and a $1602 fine would be imposed. The Deputy Commissioner of Police, Shane Patton, said there were no exceptions and police leniency would be minimal.
I looked at the four allowed activities, and couldn’t see; “Ok to go and photograph Black-shouldered Kite fledglings” anywhere.

I suppose I might have rationalised that a ‘walk’ for health reasons, might get by, but no leniency is a bit ominous.
I also pondered Scomo’s definition of “Essential” the previous night and how the good lady wife, Jenny, had gone out and bought the stay-at-home-kids, jigsaw puzzles, considered by the pm as “essential” to keep said offspring amused while at home.
But again I pondered trying to argue such a case with a uniformed officer writing my ticket as I spoke.

So we bolted home, skipped lunch, and grabbed the photo gear and as the Banjo says, “Went”.

We were much later than we’d like to be, feeding the young happens early, and then everyone in good Black-shouldered Kite practice settles down to snooze until later in the afternoon, when it’s time to trip down the road for the male, to bring in fresh supplies.

The young had indeed fledged, and one flew over us almost immediately and landed at the top of the a nearby pine tree, and stayed there the next couple of hours.  I concluded later, that it was the one that had recently been fed, and its sibling was still waiting for “Couch Potato” to stretch his wings and bring in another mouse. The giveaway was the continual “sraaarcking” call.  In the meantime it amused itself by climbing through the branches of the trees and jumping from one tree to another.
Eventually it ended up on the same tree as the other one.

Then “Ubereats” turned up with a mouse, and it was finally able to get its meal.

Unless the ban is lifted in the next week or so, I guess this is the last of the series we’ll be able to enjoy.

A shout out to the female in this case, as she has bought this clutch through some of the worst weather, driving rain, hail, strong winds and freezing cold days. All from high atop her open penthouse. Little tiny featherless young in wet stormy weather must be hard to protect.

Remain

At first a bit hard to find through the trees as there was no real access.
The rich golden colours show up so well
The second one turns up scrambling through the branches
Perfect little birds
And a comparison of front and side colouring
“I can do a wing stretch”
“Mine’s better”
Look, look, its Ubereats delivery
“Who’s been a good bird then?”
Dropping into the nest area for the young one to come and collect
“Hey, that one has my name on it.” What is interesting is they do not squabble over who’s turn it is. Well at least not yet.
Let me show you my cute little tail. See its still got the brown edging.

Moments: Hiring a “Tradie”

EE spent much of November and December working with a Black-shouldered Kite pair that were raising two new, fine looking, young.

By the end of the year, the pair had given the young ones their marching orders and apart from a week or so of occasional visits the young now seem to have taken the hint and moved away.  Interesting to see, mostly the male, fly round them and keep them away from the resting female. Try as they might to slip past him, his diligence and vigilance, and fly skills meant it was all a bit in vain.

So, we thought. That will mean the adults will move on soon, as this area hasn’t traditionally had a ‘resident’ (not that Black-shouldered Kites are resident), pair.

So we thought.

On the way through the forest in the morning, and we were surprised to hear the pair contact calls.  She with a harsh “SCRaaaCH”, and he with a plaintive ‘Pee, pee”.

And there they were both sitting together on the edge of a clearing.   Ok. Time to get some pictures before they leave.

So we thought.

Surprisingly, after just a short break—less than a month—  they are back in business with a new nest site.
So while she sat and occasionally gave encouragements, he took on the role of a ‘tradie’. Lifting and bumping branches, twigs and long sticks. Then rearranging them into the chosen treetop.

While all this anecdotal, and is for this pair only, its been interesting to watch the progress.

Each stick is very carefully selected, and cut, or broken from a surrounding tree. He spends many minutes in the selected tree, and then either nips off the short small twigs or flys at them and pulls them off, or failing that flys at them full tilt and carries off the main branch by force.  Doesn’t always work, as occasionally a stick just doesn’t want to break away. 🙂

Then back to nest, much ‘pee, pee’ing as he approaches, and parachutes down into the treetop.  Then there is quite a bit of activity as he carefully threads it into the right place and satisfied, he usually spends a few minutes (say about 10!), sitting in the nest, and working out perhaps, what is needed next.

Then its off to “Bunnings” for the next load of building supplies.

In the hour or so he made about 6 visits, and she remained on her branch a long way back from the activity, and occasionally added her thoughts to the procedure.

What is interesting of course is that they have settled in for a second nesting. Perhaps the food in the area is likely to improve.

Time will tell as to their success.
In the meantime, here’s the Tradie.

She was quite happy to preen and watch proceedings from afar.

Stepping out of the nest to continue the work.

Off to Bunnings for another visit. Perhaps he likes the sausage sizzle on Tuesdays.

The early morning smokey light has given him a richer colour, and at first I thought it must have been one of the young birds in their ginger dress.

 

 

 

Moments: Rainy Days and Sundays

The Carpenters may have sung about Rainy days and Sundays, all those years ago, but the past couple of days have made a tremendous change on the countryside around us.

Many paddocks that were dry and barren, or had a blush of winter grass on them, are now shiny, polished lakes, with several cms of water covering the lower surrounding areas.

Not much fun for our favourite pastime, so EE and I have been a bit housebound of late.

It’s not so much the rain. I’ve been wet before and understand the process, in much the same way birds do.  You get wet, and then you dry out. No point in arguing with the obvious. As my long ago bushwalking leader used to  say, “If you want to stay dry, STAY home.”

It’s the wind.  Hurts the eyes, makes the cold colder, drives the rain through the best wet weather gear and is just plain uncomfortable to stand around in peering through a wobbling viewfinder.  Not to mention the(lack of) wisdom of taking expensive camera gear out in those conditions.
And don’t even think of hiding under trees in such weather.  The news has had to cover several unfortunate incidents regarding uprooted trees.
So better to stay at home, drink warm cacao in hot almond milk, and dream of better days.

But you can, as EE says, Only take so much indoors.  We looked at the weather, and as she has an arrangement with several pairs of birds at the moment, it was time to go see if the rain had washed out their hopes of an early clutch.
First casualty we found was a pair of Masked Lapwings that had taken up a nesting site on the lawn of a nearby shopping centre.  The sheen of water across the nest site, and lack of parents anywhere pretty much confirmed the worst for that pair.  Not that they’ll be setback.  She’ll be back as soon as the water recedes.

But all the birds with tree based nests were ok it seemed.  One small area of trees, that used to surround a small wetland is quite the maternity centre at the moment, and there are lots of anxious males sitting around wondering what to do.
Ravens, magpies, Pacific Black Ducks and Chestnut Teals, Black-shouldered Kites. A pair of White-faced Herons, although to give full disclosure, its hard to say they are actually sitting at this stage.

One of the more interesting sightings was a Fan-tailed Cuckoo pair.  They are giving a pair of Red Wattlebirds shivers. Lucked out trying to find the nest, (if its there yet), but the Cuckoos seemed to be relentless in the area, and the Wattlebirds were seriously aggressive, but really couldn’t see off the determined Cuckoos. Be interesting to see what happens.

Here is a visual diary of the morning out.

Australasian Pipit.
They nest in the grass. Apparently they will nest anytime season is conducive.
Proud Dad, waiting, waiting, waiting.
Another male, hoping to lead me away from his brood
With plenty of time on his hands—paddles, he is practicing his one legged stand
Another ‘busy’ Dad
One of a pair that were eager to appear as if they were feeding off the fence, but most likely they were watching a pair of very nervous Red Wattlebirds.
A Black-shouldered Kite, contemplating taking up diving lessons to find mice.

A Day at the Farm

Tis true to say that EE and I haven’t been down to the Western Treatment Plant for quite a number of weeks.  The weather, health things, family events and perhaps a touch of sloth just seems to have gotten in the way.

My photo mate Neil, sent me a note about his last weekend trip, and we decided if the weather opened up a bit, we’d at least drive down 29 Mile Road for a looksee.

So this morning after a couple of Tai Chi class sessions,  we loaded up with lunch, a cuppa or two of Earl of Grey and of course the essential cameras and headed out in the warm sunshine, (and to tell all the story, the rather crisp wind as well).

Before we reached Beach Road junction, we spied some Flame Robins, but they wanted to work far out in a paddock, and we could only get glimpses.

Further on down, and a trio of Black-shouldered Kites were keeping the mice on their toes.

And as we sat with lunch at the first corner on the 29 Mile Road, a Spotted Harrier wafted by making some very nervous Swamphens.  As we entered the T Section area, we were looking for Brolga as Neil had sighted them here at the weekend, but we lucked out.

Next we found a single Flame Robin female that was working around a puddle of water on the roadway.

Looking up, I heard the familiar call of a Black-shouldered Kite with a mouse, and as we looked a Black Falcon swept in from no where and after a little evasion from the Kite, the Falcon secured the prize and took off with the erstwhile and very angry kite in hot pursuit, but to no avail.  The Black is just that good in the air.

As we drove back out, lo, the very Brolga had turned up in the first pond and were busy preening, we shared the last of the Earl of Grey and enjoyed their unconcerned wardrobe adjustments.

So for a first day back at the farm, it was a most enjoyable and profitable time.

The fur flies as the Kite prepares lunch
Fast food
Spotted Harrier at work over Swamphen pool
Australasian Swamphen with impeccable table manners
Golden-headed Cisticola
Female Flame Robin
Black Falcon speeds in on a free lunch
Easy to see why the Kite has no hope of winning this battle
Having lost its mouse, it did at least give the Falcon a parting swoop.
Preening Brolga

Enjoying the Freedom of   Flight

Black-shouldered Kites Growing up. October 10, 2017

Waiting is not Patience. Patience is about the moment,
 an intersection of the strongest story with the right light,
 the best timing and an awareness of the around.
 Waiting makes us pay attention. David Duchemin

You’re Welcome Here.

We’ve been tracking a clutch of Black-shouldered Kites down on the 29 Mile Road at the Western Treatment Plant.  The young have been on the wing now for over two months, and are now the expert hunters.  They are just moulting out the last of their juvenile ginger and grey feathers and the eye is taking on the rich ruby colour of adult-hood.

The best perches in the area are along the roadside, the few trees and fenceposts and man-made solar panels and the like.  And because of their consummate skill in the air, and the vast quantity of mice in the area, the young kites seem quite oblivious to human presence.

So sometimes it’s possible to get right into the world of the hunting birds—not as a long distance observer—in a hurry—but to take the time the learn about the birds, their preferences for hunting areas and their choice of spots to enjoy their successes.

I’ve been reading and following photographer David DuChemin and his approach to teaching a photographic vision.  He has a series called Vision is Better.  He talks about patience, waiting, the involvement in the around and being able to identify with the subject to really tell their story.  On one such video he travels to  British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest to photograph the Spirit Bears – a white variation of the black bear.  His video is shot from a short kayak trip, and I think its possible to really get both his excitement of the area, and his immersion in the moment, (if you will allow the pun).

Here’s the link if you’ve got 10 minutes.  https://craftandvision.com/blogs/all/vision-is-better-ep-20

 

Continue reading “Enjoying the Freedom of   Flight”

Training up the Kids

Now that Kitty and Kalev-the Brave, have their two young on the wing things get a bit more interesting.
Learning to be a Black-shouldered Kite is not a copy book exercise.  There are lots of practical things to be considered as they develop not only their wing power, but also their ability to read the wind, find mice, learn to hunt, how to hover, and the myraid other things that are needed to make a Black-shouldered Kite successful.
Among those things are off course the ability to sit very quietly and unobtrusively on a perch. The thinner the better it seems.

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Continue reading “Training up the Kids”