A few days ago I wrote about two juvenile Nankeen Kestrels chasing after one of their parents, begging for food as they flew overhead. I been observing this family of birds ever since and have seen them land frequently on some nearby power poles. From the decorations on the post and cross rail, they use this viewing platform frequently. It gives an excellent view of the road and of the paddocks on either side of the road. It also has a good view of our mallee scrub.I hope they are catching plenty of the local mice.
Earlier last week I was having a mid morning coffee and doing a spot of reading in the lovely winter sun. I heard the plaintive begging call of one of the young and saw that it had landed in the favoured power pole. I had my camera at the ready and stalked through the trees to get a closer view – and hopefully a good photo.
I’m quite pleased with the results, as shown on this post.I didn’t manage to get the adults actually feeding the young because the one I did get was becoming agitated by my presence, so I backed off so it could feed in peace.
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.
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.