Kite with mouse

This juvenile Black-shouldered Kite was so far across the grasslands that I almost didn’t press the shutter button; I’m glad I did.

 


Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris) – juvenile with prey
1/2000, f/6.3, ISO 800

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I watched a pair of young kites chasing each other around the skies and occasionally stopping to hover, surprisingly briefly, before dropping out of sight among the dry grasses. I took several photographs as the sky-play was fascinating to watch and I particularly like the rufous colouring on juveniles; adult Black-shouldered Kites have piercing red eyes rather than the brownish-orange eyes of this youngster. Although I’d been photographing the birds in flight I hadn’t seen this one dive and I didn’t know about the mouse until I uploaded the images.

The mouse has its head to one side and its mouth open, there’s even a catchlight in its left eye. It appears to be alive (though I hope not) as it has its left leg held against the kite’s talons. It looks so much like a posed shot that I think I should offer the image to the museum preparators in case they want to recreate a real-life stance for one of their exhibits.

The CSIRO has recently warned that we might be facing a mouse plague in South Australia and Victoria due to the wet spring. Grain farmers stand to be badly affected but Black-shouldered Kites will be delighted.

Happy birding

Kim

 

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