Today I feature several more photos taken in the grounds of Bingham Academy in Addis Ababa, an international school where my daughter was teaching last year. There were always several dozen soaring over the campus or low over the ground. On many occasions I saw anything from a dozen to 20 or 30 feeding on the school oval. I can only assume they were catching insects and beetles stirred up during watering of the grass.
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.
Earlier this week I took a mid-morning break to have a coffee and to do some reading. It was a beautiful day with bright sunshine, moderate temperature and no clouds. It was the complete opposite of some of the dreary,gloomy, drizzly weather we’ve had this winter. I was enjoying the warmth of the sun, and the coffee wasn’t bad either.
As I read, a bird call nearby attracted my attention from my book. I’d heard this call several times in the previous few days but had not managed to catch sight of the birds. I recognised the call as that of a juvenile Nankeen Kestrel begging for food from the parents. A few seconds later an adult bird flew overhead, closely pursued by two young ones begging as they flew.
They went across our garden so quickly it was only a brief glimpse. They didn’t land nearby so there was no opportunity for a photo or two, so I’ve included a photo of a different bird of the same species taken in nearby Mt Barker some months ago. I have observed that they had been landing regularly on the cross bar of a nearby electricity power pole. Getting close enough without disturbing them can be a challenge as they can see me coming.
I’ll keep trying.
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.
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.