In the past couple of years a once common raptor of the plains, the Black-shouldered Kite, has been worryingly scarce … even as its favourite prey, Mus musculus, has been abundant.
In recent months I’ve started seeing the return of a few of these beautiful small kites and at the weekend I spent an hour in the company of the bird pictured below. Spotted first on a high exposed perch it appeared to be surveying its surroundings for a likely meal. Over the next hour it departed on five occasions to hover over an adjacent area of rough basalt grassland, returning four times with a House Mouse … an 80% strike-rate.
Unlike most other raptors, the Black-shouldered Kite can be quite confiding and this bird allowed me to approach within thirty metres. What a privilege to be able to witness it hunting successfully. After each meal it uttered some gentle contact calls, an effort I suspect, to attract the attention of a mate to share its territory with.
Fingers crossed for a successful breeding season for this charming raptor.