Monday, April 28, 2014

The Raptorfest continues....

Actually I could probably call this a Falcon-fest! :-)
In the past two weeks since I posted my last blog, I have had some wonderful encounters with some of our beautiful Falcons!
Started with a drive one afternoon just to see what was around... after driving about 8km and missing a chance at a pair of Brown Falcons! I came across my favourite local bird... a Black Falcon sitting preening itself on a fence-post! The best bit though... was it didn't fly until I had taken about 20 images! Rapt! These guys can be a little flighty so any chance to get some perched shots is always a bonus!
The accommodating Black Falcon!

and then after a few images it thermalled  up straight above me until it was out of sight!
 After the fun of the Black I was on my way home and came across one of the Brown Falcons I had flushed earlier! This time I got a little closer... but it was still a flighty one for this species and the shots were only just ok!
 
Brown Falcon looking relaxed whilst I was still a distance away!

and then when I got too close!
 Like in my last blog post I pulled up to my house and found the male Hobby from my local pair feeding on his favourite perch just out the front!
 
Australian Hobby feeding on some poor unfortunate unidentified little bird!
 The next day I went back out to where I saw the Black Falcon. This time there were no Falcons but I did see a Little Eagle fly past about 150m away!
 
Little Eagle... it was a little distant for a decent shot! But always nice to see one in the area as they are not common here!
 Next was a trip to Gluepot Reserve. Raptors weren't really my focus for this trip... but when a young Peregrine Falcon came rocketing in out of nowhere when we were checking out a flock of ducks at an ephemeral lake at Old Gluepot I wasn't going to complain!
This was quite surprising as I had never heard about Peregrines occurring in the area! Whether this was just a young one passing through... I'm not sure?
Anyway it was there and thumped a Wood Duck right in front of us too! Luckily for the Duck the strike wasn't fatal... and when they both were falling to the ground the Peregrine pulled out as they were about to fall into an Acacia bush! The Duck fell into it and survived! About 20minutes later it flew out looking none the worse for wear! Can't imagine how the thump was amazing!
 
Locked onto it's target!

The unsuccessful hunter!

They are very beautiful in their spotty immature plumage I think :-)

So here's hoping for many more raptor filled weeks as we progress through 2014!
Cheers for now
Chris

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A four day Raptorfest!

As many of you probably know I'm a big fan of the birds of prey! In the last few days I have been treated to some amazing encounters with some of our southern Aussie raptors!
 
Peregrine Falcons
 
I was lucky enough to spot a Peregrine sitting up on a power-pole whilst on my way home from work the other day... As this pole was quite close to the Tanunda Sewage Ponds most likely it had been hunting the some many ducks which frequent this spot! Luckily the pole was next to a road so I could slowly drive in closer to try for a shot! As I got closer I noticed another Falcon sitting about 25m out into the adjacent paddock... this was the female sitting on a Pink-eared Duck kill! She immediately flew up and joined her mate on the power-pole, which gave me the opportunity for this shot below showing the big difference in size between the male on the left and the female on the right!
 

After a short period of watching me sitting in the car the female decided I posed no threat and flew back down to the kill...



Meanwhile the male watched on! So lucky to encounter this scenario in beautiful late light too :-)


After she had had her fill she flew off up the fence-line and landed on the fence to digest her meal and watch the day slowly fade!
The male thought this was the chance to get a feed so then flew down for his turn for duck dinner and I tried for some images of him... he was a lot more flighty and I couldn't get close enough for a decent shot... so I turned to look at the female and saw this fantastic scene in front of me! The light was gorgeous and the silhouette it created gave a super photo opportunity! 


Australian Hobby
 
On the same trip home as I encountered the Peregrines above I also came across my local pair of Hobby's sitting out the front of my house! The light was almost spent but I managed a couple of images of the female...


Black-shouldered Kite
 
Another encounter I had over these four days was this one with a pair of Black-shouldered Kites! I was driving to a friends place when I saw one sitting typically on the top of a dead branch of a Sugar Gum near Wasleys here in SA, as it wasn't too high I thought it a good photo op! When I got out and grabbed a few shots another unseen bird took off... closely followed by the original bird! Both flew high and I thought the chance of a decent shot was done! But then one of them came back down at good speed for a Kite and landed again on the branch! The other bird then started coming back down displaying on the way down in typical Elanus Kite fashion fluttering it's wings in the process. When it landed as well they both took off and played a game of chasey right in front of me! Gotta be lucky sometimes :-)
 
Here's the second bird coming down during it's display!
 


and the aerial chase is on!


Brown Falcon
 
Last but not least was this Brown Falcon which was hawking flying ants the other day! At this time of year in the right conditions we often get flying ant hatches here! and the birdlife certainly know how to fill their bellies up with them! There were Magpies, Ravens, Starlings and Wattlebirds all enjoying the easy feast! But for me the highlight was photographing this cool Brown Falcon catching the tiny insects! It was cartwheeling around all over the place and was a lot of fun to watch :-)


 

With the nice light now falling for longer during the day now the sun is heading north... Here's hoping for plenty more cool ops with our wonderful birds of prey!
 Cheers
Chris