The difficult thing with writing posts about a bird of prey is taking a photo of one first. Without a photo, the post might be a bit ‘dry’ but usually birds of prey are a) high up and b) moving, causing obvious problems. So I was quite pleased to get a picture of this whistling kite.
Fortunately it chose to land on a tree right in front of me with one of its parents, making life much easier for me. The two of them took off and circled overhead a couple of times, allowing me a good look at its underside to help identify it later on. These were in Yanchep National Park, WA.
I also see them circling up and down the edge of the coastline regularly, though I can often hear them ‘whistling’ long before I see them. I realise the quality of the following picture isn’t great, but I post it for 2 reasons. Firstly, I was jubilant to capture it on film at all given how hard it was to see it at that distance and speed through my camera’s viewfinder. Secondly, it shows the value of some apparently rubbish photos. Although it’s not a sharp picture, it shows the bird’s markings from underneath. When I got home, I was able to match up the photo with the pictures in my field guide to identify it. I can now recognise its whistling cry, but at the time I wouldn’t have known what it was.
If you’re in Queensland, you can’t rely purely on hearing its whistling cry anyway – the Spotted Bowerbirds there are known to mimic the whistling kite (though no-one seems sure why). You will find these kites over most of Australia. They like to hunt young rabbits and also fish, so a coastal area with a rabbit problem is ideal territory.
So, if anyone has a fantastic, clear photo of one of these in the air, well done, and feel free to send it for me to upload for all to see.