This morning I was working out in the garden early before the heat of the day. I had been doing some mowing after all of the rain we’ve had over winter and spring. I’d just switched off the mower, that noisy beast, when I heard a familiar bird call overhead.
Three Nankeen Kestrels were flying low over head, two of them chasing after the first while calling. I recognised the call as that of the young birds begging for food. They are a regular breeding species here in Murray Bridge, South Australia but I don’t often get to hear or see the young ones. It’s good to see this species thriving here.
Nankeen Kestrels are found throughout Australia but they are uncommon in Tasmania I understand. They are one of our raptor species and are the smallest of the kites found in Australia. The Letter-winged Kites and the Black-shouldered Kites are just marginally larger.
This species is most commonly encountered along country roads in rural Australia. They can been seen hovering 5 to 10 metres above the ground or hanging motionless on a stiff breeze while searching for a feed. Their diet consists usually of mice, grasshoppers, insects and small lizards.
Their preferred habitat is grasslands, plains, farmlands as well as roadside verges, but they are equally at home in the built up CBDs of towns and cities.
Perhaps the most spectacular view I’ve had of this species was an individual soaring at eye level within metres of where I stood on a visit to the control tower of Melbourne Airport.
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.
On our visit to Mallacoota in far eastern Victoria in January we went for an after dinner walk along the foreshore and estuary of the river. It was a calm, warm evening and we had a pleasant time exploring this lovely spot for the first time. We decided that this is one place we needed to revisit – and stay four or five days at the very least.
In the quiet estuary we saw many Black Swans, Australian Pelicans, a few Pied Oystercatchers and three Royal Spoonbills.
While on our walk we saw several Great cormorants as well as some Little Pied Cormorants. Two Whistling Kites patrolled the shallows in the company of a lone White-bellied Sea Eagle. I’ve not seen too many sea eagles in all of my birding, so this was something special. I was surprised though that there were not many ducks in the estuary. In fact I only recorded a few Australian Wood Ducks. Perhaps the kites and eagle had scared them off.
The inlet is an ideal haven for fishermen, and this is iluustrated by the large number of boats present in the water and on trailers in the caravan park. There are also boats offering cruises on the river, like the one shown below.