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Inspiring and Supporting Photographers of Australian Birds

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Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite (Image ID 45368)
Photographed byMichael Hamel-Green on Tue 16th Mar, 2021 and uploaded on Wed 17th Mar, 2021 .
Resolution1012x1400
Viewed37
ID45368
CommentI was driving along Paradise Road on the way home from some already very exciting bird encounters at Werribee Treatment Plant when ahead of me there was an extraordinary sight, a largish bird hovering in the one spot in the sky ahead of me. It stayed hovering long enough for me to stop and take this photo, taken from a considerable distance, so not easily cropped to get a closer view. But a distant perspective does in its own way convey how a bird is responding to a wider setting, in this case searching downwards for possible prey (or, since it is a juvenile, perhaps just practising its hovering skills!). According to Stephen Debus (Birds of Prey of Australia, 2019), a Black Shouldered Kite “hovers with legs lowered and tail depressed” and then “drops feet-first with wings raised high over back”, which certainly seemed to match what I was seeing. Although viewed from afar, the Black-shouldered Kite juvenile characteristic reddish-brown ring around the breast, and faint white wing fringes, are just visible. While we are familiar with the ability of some smaller birds to hover, especially Pardalotes, it is always astonishing to see a larger bird doing this. It recalled for me when I first saw the amazing sight of a kestrel hovering in the Tempelhof Field in Berlin three years ago. Unfortunately, I was unable to photograph it at the time. No wonder it was just such a sight of a Kestrel hovering that inspired some of Gerard Manley Hopkins most famous lines :“My heart in hiding/Stirred for a bird, - the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!”(“The Windhover”).
EquipmentNikonZ7ii Nikon 300mm f4 PF TC1.4 420mm ISO 1000 1/6400th f8 Handheld
LocationWerribee Treatment Plant, Werribee, Victoria
Keywordsjuvenile, in flight, behaviour/display
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