Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Raptor Raptures

I was painting the deck at Mum and Dads yesterday when the local tui started nutting off. I looked up to see a falcon land in the top of the neighbours Norfolk Pine Tree! I just love falcons but they are even less common than the kiwi so unfortunately you don't get to see wild ones very often. This one has a bit of a rep in the neighbourhood due to its sporadic raids on a flock of doves kept by Bill who lives two doors down. Fortunately Bill appreciates what an awesome bird the falcon is, in fact he's a bit of a fan like me.

My photos aren't the best quality but they are good enough to show the distinctive "tear stains" the dark marks below the eyes that make the falcon easy to identify if you are close enough. Our other common raptor, the Australasian Harrier (most of us know them simply as "hawks") are quite a bit larger than the Falcon and are more often seen soaring over grassland or cruising the side of the roads looking for roadkill.

The falcon has quite a different style of flight and hunting and I reccomend anyone that is interested in our birds of prey to visit the "Wingspan Birds of Prey Trust" in Rotorua. Once you have seen these birds in action you will appreciate how different they truly are. If you can't organise a visit just check out the next $20 note you pull out of your wallet cos thats the falcon on it.
And by a strange coincidence I took these shots (below) of a Harrier just this afternoon. I took Billy the WonderDog out for his run a little earlier than usual and as he was poking about under the woodpile sniffing out a bunny this harrier came over the shelterbelt, probably looking for the same rabbit.
I can't usually get decent pics of our local hawks as they have eyes like a... well... hawk and swerve away as soon as they see me. This one however circled twice above me before heading off over the paddocks.

The afternoon sun showed off his lovely rusty colour and just check out his yellow eyes in the last shot. In an older bird the plumage gets paler, some old birds look almost white. The young birds are dark by comparison.


Lucky Dip Lisa said...

I think we have a pair of falcon's living near us, I often see the birds but not well enough to tell if it's a hawk or a falcon. Either way it's a magnificent bird to watch.

I bet one day you will have perfect shots of these:)

Mandy said...

Thanks Lisa. :)