The Return of the Black-shouldered Kite

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Woko
Woko's picture
The Return of the Black-shouldered Kite

Before our revegetation on the south eastern slopes of the Mt Lofty Ranges in SA I regularly saw Black-shouldered Kites & Australian Kestrels patrolling the grasslands. As the trees & shrubs matured these raptors were rarely seen.

About four years ago I began to see signs of what have turned out to be Australian Swamp Rats. Now there are frequent sightings of Swamp Rats. Their holes & galleries are all over the property. And lo & behold for the last three weeks a Black-shouldered Kite has been observed most days. Today a Black-shouldered Kite rose from the grass about four meters from where I was walking. On investigation I found the fur & intestinal remains of an Australian Swamp Rat. 

Ain’t nature grand? 

ajanderson25@ho...
Ashley Anderson's picture

Good to hear!

If you remember, our local patch had been revegetated over the last decade or so too. 

BSK and Kestrels are regulars there and watching them hunting is amazing at times.

Saw a Kestrel ACCELERATE into a dive to the ground and bounce back up a foot or so. Was quite amusing!

(Ground being marshland/reed matting).

Woko
Woko's picture

Yesterday there was an Australian Kestrel about the place, another species which has declined markedly since our revegetation got under way about 30 years ago. Not only that but I notice Southern Boobook calls are more consistent over the last couple of years. I strongly suspect a connection between the general reappearance of these birds & the presence of the Swamp Rats. 

ajanderson25@ho...
Ashley Anderson's picture

Agreed. 

Bandicoot are plentiful here, though probably generally too large for these two species.

Many other small furry animals, lizards and frogs abound as well.

Woko
Woko's picture

The Black-shouldered Kite is still about along with, today, a pair of Black Kites, one of which has been around for 3 weeks. In addition to the usual Brown Goshawk & Brown Falcon, other raptors which have been seen recently are a Little Eagle, Black Falcon, Australian Hobby & Peregrine Falcon. A Southern Boobook Is still on many nights. As Men at Work once sang (but probably not to Swamp Rats), "you better run, you better take cover".

davoeng1
davoeng1's picture

what do you think they were eating before?  Field mice?

Woko
Woko's picture

Since most of these species weren’t around as regularly as they are now & in such numbers it’s hard to say, davoeng. I imagine mice would have been & probably still is a significant part of the Southern Boobook diet since we have both it & mice around from time to time. I saw a Brown Falcon take an eastern brown snake several years ago.

The Black Kite pair is still around & I’ve found two rabbit carcasses beneath the Pinus radiata tree where they roost. Neither the Black-shouldered Kite nor the Australian Kestrel is around now. 

Lightuningbird
Lightuningbird's picture

I only see black shouldered kites around spring, when mice are active. Around this time of here I see mostly falcons, in cluding a peregrine nick named Pery. Brown falcons and eagles as well, and a harrier one in a wile. 

The raptor species exclude: peregrine and brown falcons, nankeen kestrels, whistling, black, and black shouldered kites, sea and waeged tailed eagles spotted harrier, and an unidentifiable harrier.

Lightuningbird
Lightuningbird's picture

The “unidentifiable harrier”  not a good photo, I could always draw what I saw.

AJ Anderson
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Sure its not an Owl?? That is a massive head...

Otherwise Pale morph Little Eagle is only possible Raptor with that chest configuration that I can see. Also booted legs and upright stance. Just like an Owl!  8-D

Lightuningbird
Lightuningbird's picture

That would make sense. It made no call, but it was early in the morning. A moment before I took the photo, I saw it’s wings, they were black or very dark gray. The only reason I thought it was a harrier is because it had very long legs, and was eyeing the budgies in the cage.

they only owls in my birds book are sooty owls...and I’m way out of there range. North west vic

Lightuningbird
Lightuningbird's picture

Drawing in my bird note book.

(sorry is the picks a little big)

Lightuningbird
Lightuningbird's picture

Hmm...little big

Lightuningbird
Lightuningbird's picture

Fore some reason, I couldn’t finde sooty owl in the bird finder...

AJ Anderson
AJ Anderson's picture

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_barn_owl

Females larger and darker. 

A number of other possibilities too. 

Lightuningbird
Lightuningbird's picture

That would make sense I quite often here a barn owl. The angle of the light might be why it looks gray, and the line beneath it’s eye is the dark line around the owls face.

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