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.


5 Responses to “A Cloud of Kites”

  1. Wolf says:

    Nice work on the blog renewal!! It looks great now!

    I also go for long walks every day and I never forget my pair of binoculars. I enjoy observing hawks (they do marvelous shows, dancing high up in the air), magpies and jays, but also the little birds (tits, finches, sparrows…). If I’m lucky, I even see an occassional deer (I once met one face to face while I was picking wild cyclamens in the woods – she came as close as 2 metres from me and just stood there, staring at me as if I was an alien or sometihg) or a rabbit. It’s lovely – one just has to know how to enjoy nature! It’s still so beautiful and fairly unspoilt in Slovenia!

    P.S. I left you an answer on my blog, too!

  2. Trevor says:

    Hi there again. Actually I can’t take credit for the blog design. My son – the IT Whizz of the family – maintains this blog (and the other two) so thanks again to him.

    Your part of the world sounds very beautiful. We are just coming out of the driest winter on record and already we’ve had some scorching hot days and summer is still two months away. Yesterday was 36C with a hot north wind. On the other hand we have had some beautiful days too, about 20-25C.

    Many farmers are suffering because they will not reap a good wheat harvest and there is little pasture for the sheep and cattle. Our reservoirs are quite low too so next week we start severe water restrictions in SOuth Australia.

    But the birds are still breeding prolifically – so it must be going to rain soon!

  3. Wolf says:

    Wow – 36 degrees! I wish I was there! We only had 14 degrees today with a very cold north wind! You see, our north wind is always cold and it brings good weather back. After two days of heavy rain it’s slowly improving. It’s supposed to be sunny and warm tomorrow again.

    It sounds like your farmers have the same problems as ours had this summer. It was so hot and dry that nothing could grow properly. We also had a huge fire in Primorska (that’s the area near the Adriatic Sea). It took the firemen from all around the country nearly ten days to extinguish it. Fires are another thing that you know in Australia quite well, aren’t they? I always feel sorry for the animals when the woods are on fire. Many of them can’t escape and die horrible slow deaths.

    I read about your vegie-patch on my blog-comments. What kinds of vegetables do you grow? Do you have any special Australian kinds of them (native to Australia)?

    Here in Slovenia it’s the vine-picking season. Did you know that we have the oldest vine in the world here? It’s in the Guiness’ Book of Records, as well. The 400-year old lady produces delicious wine. It stands in the middle of Maribor (the second biggest town in Slovenia), spreading its branches along the wall of the Town Hall. The picking of this particular vine was on TV just yesterday. It was quite interesting.

    Till next time!


  4. Trevor says:

    Hi there again Wolf. Welcome back. It has been 36C again yesterday and today so I’ve been indoors catching up on blogging, emails and other writing stuff.

    Bush fires are very real here in Australia and are a huge problem. Last December we had our bags packed in the cars ready to leave when there was a huge fire just up the hill from our home. There was a cool change forecast and that would mean the wind would change direction and come straight for us. Fortunately the fire fighters – brave people – put it out before that happened. You can read about it here:


    Our vegetable garden is going fine despite the heat. I get out early in the morning to water it. We have water restrictions meaning we can only water before 10am and after 5pm. It’s a good time to see the birds too. The Hares have still been around but they haven’t found the vegies.

    We are growing onions, tomatoes, capsicum, cucumbers, rhubarb, zachini, silverbeet and a BIG patch of strawberries (110 plants – yum yum). Soon we will have potato, lettuce, beetroot, carrots, peas, beans, pumpkins, melons and whatever else my wife thinks of for me to plant.

    There are a few vegetables and fruits that are native to Australia but very few people grow them This is called “bush tucker” (tucker means food) and is eaten by some of the Aboriginal people who still live on the lands. (Most Aboriginal people now live in towns and cities.)

    Soon we would like to plant some Quandong trees. They are also called Wild Peaches and make a lovely sweet pie. My wife has written about it here:


    We also love Muntries which grow wild around here. They are pea sized berries and taste like sweet apples. They make a lovely jam but you need a lot of time to pick enough to make even a small jar of jam.

    That wine sounds great. Have you tried Australian wine? South Australia is famous for its lovely wines, much of it grown in the Barossa Valley about an hour’s drive from here.

  5. Wolf says:

    Hi there,

    I’m sorry I only got around to answering now. I’ve really been very busy and hadn’t had any time to play with my computer – so I fell behind with all my e-mails and blogging. But, don’t worry – I’m back online again.

    36 degrees you say? Wow. We are currently in a period of quite cold weather (0 degrees Celsius and below), but the weatherman has promissed a rise in temperatures by Friday (again up to 15 degrees). So, you see, I’m in a dilema: to put away my summer clothes or not? When there’s 15 degrees outside, I still wear T-shirts, but when it’s below zero I really have to put on a jacket.

    Yes, I know about Aussie bushfires. They really are a problem: a threat to people and animals. I saw a TV documentary a week or two ago and it mentioned how many animals die in them. But then again: without them many plants wouldn’t be able to grow, would they?
    It sounds like it was pure luck that stopped the fire from reaching your home! Thank goodness!

    You really have quite a garden! So many plants… I admire you for being able to keep all of them under control! If I had that many plants in one place, I’d give up pretty soon and the weeds would probably start spreading all over the place! I see that you have all the vegetables that we grow in Slovenia, too. You see, gardening is quite popular in Slovenia and a neat garden is usually every houswife’s pride and joy. My mum once had a garden, too. It wasn’t as versatile as yours, but it had all we needed: lettuce (3 or 4 different kinds), parsley, carrots, reddishes and potatoes. We even grew a record-sized potato once(I don’t remember the exact measures of it, but it was huge!). But the garden soon became a burden. The soil had to be brought in every time before planting and manure was another problem (despite living in a village we couldn’t get any, because the farmes need it for themselves). So, we gave the whole thing up and grass grew over the patches soon. You can still find some lettuce around, growing between the grass, though. And it’s actually quite delicious, too!

    Bush tucker! Yes, I know all about that! You see, in my final year of studies I also had a subject called “Australian Studies”. Our professor gave each of us an assignment: we had to write a seminar paper on a specific topic about Australia. Mine was “Bush Tucker”. I then had to give a short lecture about it in front of the whole class. And I even added a little extra: I found a recipe for damper (the bread of Aborigines) on the net, and I made little buns for the whole class! It was a huge success and the professor gave me a 10 (which is the highest grade you can get at the universitiy here in Slovenia)!

    Unfortunately I hadn’t had the luck yet to be able to try Australian wines. They’re not available in Slovenia. The closest shop is in another country: you can buy them in Austria (in Wienna, to be precise), but you have to know the right shop – otherwise you can spend days of futile wandering around the city in search of a bottle of Aussie wine. A bottle also costs a bundle! However, if I ever get the chance, I’d love to try some of your wines. I know they are famous!

    Hope to hear from you again soon!


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