One of the most common birds of prey seen while driving in rural Australia is the small kite known as the Nankeen Kestrel. In fact, on a recent trip driving from home in South Australia to Sydney, a distance of just over 1300km, I saw more of this species than any other bird of prey. Although I didn’t keep a count, I seemed to see one every few kilometres.
Despite it being so common I have been frustrated in not being able to get a good photo of this species. I’m still frustrated; the photos on this post are far from perfect because they were taken in poor light late in the day and during fine drizzle which accounts for the haziness, but they are better than no photos at all. I’ll just have to keep trying.
The Nankeen Kestrel is widespread in Australia and Papua New Guinea, and occasionally in New Zealand. It is very easy to identify with the diagnostic brown colouring on its back. It is also very easy to see driving along because of its habit of hovering on the air watching for its prey, perhaps a grasshopper, beetle, small lizard or even a mouse.
The individual shown in these photos posed nicely for on a roadside fence post during a shower of rain just as we were leaving the Corny Point Lighthouse on Yorke Peninsula. He appeared to be quite wet and cold from the terrible weather conditions of the day.