Surprised by a Kite
Sometimes – no, make that often – nature photography can have its frustrating moments. Take the two photos on today’s post. We were having a picnic lunch at Portuguese Bridge, just over 100km north of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. Around us and other visitors to the area we saw a dozen or so Yellow-billed Kites soaring around and swooping low over where people were eating. They were actually causing some distress to others but I thought it a good opportunity to get some practice at shooting birds in flight.
The above photo was one attempt, but I only managed to get part of the bird in the frame. At least it is more or less in focus! The photo below fills the frame, but is out of focus. The problem here was the slight delay between getting it in the viewfinder and the camera actually responding to the focussing mechanism. It’s challenging trying to do this and I have had varied success. When it comes off it’s great. Many other times it is frustrating.
On a more interesting note, one of the birds caught me by surprise, much to the delight and amusement of our picnic group. One of our party J and I were sitting near the edge of the cliff having lunch. The view over the Blue Nile Gorge was impressive, plummeting some 1000 metres to the river below. The kites kept circling menacingly. I said to J, “If I hold this piece of my bread roll up…” Before I’d finished the sentence, one of the kites swooped down and snatched the food out of my outstretched hand!
The offending kite left a scratch mark on my finger but I’m not sure if it was a talon or its beak. After that we retreated under the cover of the nearby veranda to finish our meal without harassment, only to have a local cat smooching up for a handout. Despite all this “drama” the meal was great and the view inspiring. Kind of made up for my photographic blunders.
Yellow-billed Kites, Addis Ababa
Over recent weeks I have been writing about the birds I saw in Ethiopia on a visit there last December. I’ve already written several posts about Yellow-billed Kites here and here.
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.
Pied Crows, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Pied Crows are one of the common birds you can see on a visit to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. I saw many on my visit there late last year to visit my daughter who was teaching at an international school in the capital.
The birds shown in this set of photos were feeding on the school oval. The grass had just been watered and I suspect that this stirred up quite a deal of insect activity. In the last photo you can see a Yellow-billed Kite, a species that is also very common in and around the city. Every day during our 2 week visit I saw dozens of this species of kite. Sometimes the sky was filled with 50 – 100 of them soaring over the school and the surrounding suburb.
Yellow-billed Kites in flight, Addis Ababa
With so many Yellow-billed Kites soaring around the school grounds at Bingham Academy in Addis Ababa, I was able to get some good photos over the fortnight we stayed there with our daughter. I always take opportunities to hone my photographic skills but realise that shooting birds in flight is one area I’ve not fully mastered yet. On this post I show three shots of the kites in flight, and while they are not brilliant, I am quite pleased with them, acknowledging that I still have a long way to go in developing this skill.