On my recent trip to Ethiopia I had the opportunity to spend quite a few hours birds in the grounds of the international school where my daughter was teaching. She lived on the campus and we were able to stay with her in her apartment. The school campus was quite large and included a football ground (soccer) and a small forest of eucalyptus trees.
By far the most obvious birds visiting the school were the Yellow-billed Kites. At first I thought that they were Black Kites as we have them in large numbers here in Australia. The Yellow-billed Kite (Milvus aegyptius) is regarded as a sub-species of the Black Kite which also occurs in Ethiopia. The one shown in the photo above does not appear to have a yellow beak, so it is almost certainly a juvenile bird.
The kites were in abundance every day both on the school football ground and soaring overhead. Sometimes I could see 20 – 30 soaring on high and just as many low over the oval or actually on the ground.
A skill I admire in nature photographers is getting great still photos of moving birds or animals. It’s something I am still very much a novice at and will need to practise much more to get it right.
While this photo of a Black Kite soaring over the Murray River at Mannum taken a few weeks ago is not brilliant, I’m still quite pleased with it. Mind you, it has had a little treatment on my computer to enhance certain elements.
Click on the image to enlarge.
Last spring my son and his family came over to South Australia for a short holiday. During that time we all went to the local open range Monarto Zoo. This zoo is a part of the Adelaide Zoological Gardens and we like visiting on a regular basis, especially seeing it is a ten minute drive from home here in Murray Bridge. Being Life Members we also like to get value from our tickets.
On this visit last year the weather was beautiful with plenty of sunshine and a pleasant breeze. The bird life was also very cooperative.
I took the above photo of a Black Kite soaring low overhead as we went on one of the walking trails in the zoo. It came low and also slowly enough to get a reasonable photo.
Black Kites are widespread and common in the Murraylands region. Quite often – almost daily – we have one or two glide quietly over our house. In other parts of the town I have also seen small flocks of up to about five soaring near each other. Several years ago I saw about fifty on the ground or gliding low overhead near a small abattoirs on the eastern edge of town.
Black Kites are very common birds of prey throughout their range which includes Africa, Eurasia and most of Australia (except Tasmania). I have seen them in many places here in Australia and this species is also on my Thailand and Nepal lists. It is a bird that is hard to miss.
Strangely enough, even though they are regular visitors to our home block – or should I say, birds that regularly fly over our block – I had not managed to get a good photo of one. They are usually too high up for a good shot as they soar overhead.
On a recent visit to our local open range zoo, Monarto Zoo, a solitary Black Kite came down close overhead and soared around several times checking us out. It was a good opportunity to get a reasonable photo.
I was putting out the rubbish bin a few days ago. Our rubbish is collected once a week and it requires a 60 metre walk towing the bin behind – we have a long driveway.
I was in that kind of mood where the brain was in neutral and the eyes weren’t really trained for birding. It happens.
The brain suddenly snapped back into focus as a Black Kite soared low overhead, perhaps only 15 metres above me. Great views. Seemed to have a few feathers missing on the wings. I wonder what caused that? Maybe it’s been in a scrap with another bird.
As I returned to the house two Australian Ringneck parrots were sitting in a tree right next to the house. They just sat there less than 5 metres away, watching me for a minute before flying off. They are regular visitors to our garden. The above photo of one of them at our bird bath was taken last year.
This is one of the reasons I love being a birder; I don’t have to travel anywhere to enjoy my passion. The birds just come to me, insisting that I share my garden and my life with them.
All I can say is – fantastic.