Thanks for those comments. The helpful contributions of
Dan, Philip, John R and Tobias justify Roger inscribing an unlikely juv Black
kite on his list for that patch.
For those of literary tastes, I might mention that my own
comment ‘looking for all the world like a Black Kite’ was intended
to echo what I recalled Richard Hannay saying when he met Sir Walter Bullivant
in ‘The Thirty-nine Steps’: “looking for all the world
like a black stone” [the code phrase]. Hannay is referring to a
near-invisible trout lurking in a stream. However not entirely
trusting my memory I consulted the text and find that what Hannay actually said
was “”I’ve got him now. You might swear he was a black
On the subject of raptor ID, I might add a further little anecdote.
On the Thursday, kiteless as we were, Roger took me to Shepherd’s Lookout.
A couple of raptors were circling below, which I initially took for goshawks, I
suppose because birds can seem larger when you look down on them. When
they rose into the sky they could be confirmed as sparrowhawks (slighter,
squarish tails). The 3 snaps on the left and the 2 on the right show a
bird with a differing tail shape depending on how it is being held.
From: Daniel Mantle
Sent: Saturday, 25 September 2010 12:01 AM
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Quite a puzzle
I would certainly agree with Philip on this id. Looks good for Black Kite to
1. Dark eye patch
2. Two-tone and rather slight bill (base of bill looks yellowish on my monitor
but I wouldn't really expect too much colour on a young Black Kite but still
the base of the bill is typically paler and in sharp contrast to the black tip
whereas Whistling Kite never really show such a strong contrast)
3. looks like a pretty standard Black Kite tail shape to me
4. Long wings on the perched bird (almost reach tail tip whereas tail tip is
much longer than wing tip on perched Whistlers)
5. Underwing pattern looks to be mostly dark - I don't think this is purely an
artefact of the photography and I think we would still be seeing some of the
classic Whistler underwing pattern in these shots. Black Kite underwing is
somewhat variable but a nearly uniform dark underwing is fine for this species.
other Whistling Kites have been seen in the vicinity. Moreover the
impression conveyed by the first picture above is of a fully plumaged bird.