Tales from The Knoll

To: "chat line" <>
Subject: Tales from The Knoll
From: "John Layton" <>
Date: Wed, 1 Jun 2005 11:19:01 +1000
 Hi, you all,
Early yesterday arvo, as I hiked up the north-eastern side of The Knoll on Lake Ginninderra Peninsular, a covey of at least 12 Brown Quail flushed from grass about 15 metres short of the summit.
I watched a Black-shouldered Kite flying back and forth, hovering here and there. It descended in two stages, and landed in long grass. It was on the ground for about five seconds before it ascended and resumed hunting. Three minutes later, it descended again, five seconds on the ground and up, up and away. Due to the distance, I couldn't discern if it was carrying prey. I watched it as it flew along and, suddenly, another kite hove into the field of view of my binoculars. It flew up beneath the hunting kite, flipped over on its back and the birds' talons appeared to make contact. An aerial exchange of prey? Don't know. Thwarted by the tyranny of distance.
Anyhow, the kites flew off and perched on a small eucalypt tree about 70 metres away. Five minutes later, one kite flew up and appeared to mount the other kite. It stayed in this position (wings flapping all the time) for some seven seconds. I don't know if this was a successful or attempted copulation, or some other mating ritual. The dominant kite resumed  its perch and, five minutes later, took wing and I lost sight of it.
Then COG member John Brenan (sorry, John, I've probably got your surname wrong) and his dog emerged from the woods behind me. We watched the perched kite and then John spied two raptors doing some contour hunting over a distant wooded area.We had a good view of one as it perched but we were too far away to say if it was a sparrow hawk or a goshawk.
John Layton.
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