A Cloud of Kites
I am trying to go for a morning walk every day.
For the good of my health.
Morning walks are very productive birding times here in Australia. Yesterday I saw and heard the usual suspects: honeyeaters, Galahs, Crested Pigeons, Little Ravens, Yellow Rumped Thornbills, House Sparrows and Common Starlings.
From time to time we have the odd Black Kite or two glide silently over head as we work in the garden. Rarely more than two but sometimes three or four can be seen at the one time. I was taken a bit by surprise to count a loose flock of 22 Black Kites circling at a spot nearby. This is unusual around here, though on one occasion a few years ago I did see at least 50 in one location. I assumed that there was a dead animal lying somewhere nearby, or perhaps a rubbish dump in the vicinity.
My experience with this species in Australia is for single birds or up to 3 or 4 together. I understand that they can congregate in large numbers elsewhere in Australia and in other parts of the world. On my visit to Thailand and Nepal last December-January I saw small flocks only. It seemed to be the main raptor in Kathmandu.
There probably isn’t a collective noun for Black Kites so I’ve made one up. A “Cloud of Kites” sounds good to me – it is perhaps an act of apt alliteration and acidic assonance? Kites are not mentioned in the Wikipedia entry on collective nouns for birds.