birding-aus Whistling Kite flock

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Subject: birding-aus Whistling Kite flock
From: "The Dam Lamb Service Clan" <>
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999 23:04:43 +1100
I regularly do BOP Watch on drive to and from home and work, 77 km. from Maleny, on Blackall Range, Sunshine Coast hinterland , to Redcliffe, 30 km. north of Brisbane. My route traverses the beautiful Glasshouse Mountains and I regularly pick-up whistling kites around Beerburrum , near a large battery chicken farm. Until tonight, four was the max.number I'd recorded at any time.
     This afternoon at 1715hrs. I observed a flock of 35+ whistling kites soaring high in the sky just south of Mt.Tibrogargan , slowly heading east towards Pumicestone Passage. My initial reaction was that they were Torresean Crows or Straw -necked Ibis, both commonly seen in large flocks in this area. However their flight pattern said "raptor" so I pulled over, extracted the binos., and a good, long look. Sufficient of the flock were low enough to observe the usual identifying marks and flight patterns.
Most birds appeared darker than usual underwing although they were backgrounded (?skygrounded) by a large dark stormcloud which may explain this.They were unhurried , slowly circling, in loose formation with many going off in different directions and at different levels before slowly regrouping again.I could not discern any other species in flock, spent some time looking for tell-tale tail of Black Kite, though have not ever seen Black Kite in this area. (Saw tens and hundreds in flocks in outback Qld. and NT last year however)
             Wonder if anyone else observed them? What prompts flocking behaviour in this species? Are they all/mainly juveniles ?Peter Woodall does raptor counts in southern Moreton Bay (approx.70km. south) in which large numbers of Whistling Kites are invariably counted.
            On arriving home was greeted by our newly-resident Wonga Pigeon waddling down driveway whilst female Koel squawked from low branch.
                        Russ Lamb,Maleny,Qld
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