Where there’s smokes there are raptors

It’s autumn and it’s smoky. At this time of year the smell of burning stubble pervades our local landscape, although perhaps less so than in years gone by. A gradual shift to low or no-till farming systems has seen a decline in this practice in recent times.

Stubble burning west of Newstead, 8th April 2013.

Stubble burning west of Newstead, 8th April 2013.

Birds of prey are often attracted to fire – in northern Australia large flocks of raptors, often numbering in the hundreds, will gather to feed on animals disturbed during burns. We don’t get anywhere near these numbers in southern Australia, but it is not unusual to see congregating raptors around stubble burns during autumn. Such was the case a few days back on the Moolort Plains, with a loose flock that included Brown Falcons, Whistling Kites and a young Wedge-tailed Eagle in attendance at a small stubble fire.

This Brown Falcon was keeping an eye out  for rodents disturbed by the burning stubble.

This Brown Falcon was keeping an eye out for rodents disturbed by the burning stubble.

Wedge-tailed Eagles are not often seen on the ground. The golden-brown 'shawl' on the head and neck indicate a juvenile bird.

Wedge-tailed Eagles are not often seen on the ground. The golden-brown ‘shawl’ on the head and neck indicate a juvenile bird.

After taking flight the young eagle skirted the perimeter of the burn in seach of prey

After taking flight the young eagle skirted the perimeter of the burn in search of prey

A useful background article on stubble burning can be accessed here.

2 responses to “Where there’s smokes there are raptors

  1. Wow – photo of the wedge tail is amazing

  2. Wonderful photos Geoff. Your blog is a total gem. Thank you so much. George.

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