June 2017 “Here come the Kites”
I have had the luck of living close to a successful pair of White tailed kites just outside my back yard for the last five years. Swainson hawks used to use the nest, and still come by and harass the kites periodically. This year the Kites have four, possibly five youngsters all up and flying along with the parents. Sounds like dinosaurs in the back yard with the strange screams they all use to lure a field mouse from mom or dad, or to tell their siblings to give a bird some room on this branch. I must say, the swains made less noise. The kite parents are bringing in field mice at an amazing pace, using a hunting pattern sometimes North towards the Delta, other times South towards the flood control basins. They seem to know which areas are the most productive at specific times of day. The young birds hang out near the nest practicing flying, diving, hovering in the wind, and landing with balance with coordination. Soon after, they begin snatching mice from the parents in mid-flight. The young birds seem to pick up the techniques quickly.
I have picked out some of my favorite photos of this year’s White tailed kites. The youngsters show the orange rust color on their chest and sometimes on the head, while the parents usually white with black patches on their wings and fire red eyes.
Also, sharing a couple of older photos of the Tule elk from Point Reyes /Tamales bay area. I have found some new looks, and re photo shopped some pictures taken originally on overcast days in 2012. The population of elk was cut in half in recent years, creating a debate of whether this is a natural die off, or as some have stated, the inability of elk to locate fresh water during the recent drought years. I linked an article from an SF chronicle staff earlier in this blog back in October 2016. In that article, it was pointed out that less than a dozen Tule elk were the last ones in California in 1874 when the species was thought to be extinct. There are other herds currently in California and their numbers are over four thousand today. Hopefully, with all this rain, the population will remain consistent in the Point Reyes / Tamales Bay reserve in the future.
|White tail kite performing last minute adjustment to nest prior to babies...|
|Bull Tule elk winter of 2012|
|Western coyote at Los Vaqueros reservoir N/S|
|Large bull winter of 2012, fall fighting is over, elk boys hang together...|
|White tail kite mouse transfer (one of next four)|
|Parent picture white tail kite, encouraging youngsters to follow|
|Young white tail flight, they will loose the rust and gain the fire red eyes...|