Monday, October 25, 2010

Magic of La Janda - the Black-winged Kite

The Black-winged Kite inhabits open areas with scattered trees in western and southern Iberia. It is a species that also breeds in Morocco and which finds in Iberia the northern edge of its range.
This beautiful bird seems to have experienced a range expansion during the twentieth century and its success has been linked to the spread of managed dehesas - open parkland with grazing mammals - which is structurally similar to its native African savannahs. It is here that it finds the small mammals which make up a large part of its diet.
La Janda, former site of Spain's largest lake, in south-western Spain is a favourite site of these birds in the autumn and winter. Here the habitat is ideal for this species that arrives in substantial numbers making La Janda a great place to see these birds.
La Janda showing typical Black-winged Kite habitat. Riverside poplars surrounded by fields with the town of Vejer in the background (above) and olive dehesas in spring (below).

During migration time this habitat is also used by passage Black Kites (above), here waiting for the sun to clear the morning mist. Marsh Harriers (below) also frequent the canal embankments where the kites also hunt.
The greatest competitors seem to be Kestrels with which they often fight (below).
This competition seems to be for prized perches from which they patiently watch for prey on the ground (below).
This leads to spectacular interactions between different kites (below).

But they also hunt from the air with their unique yawing glide, with wings held up. Their black upper-wing is then most obvious.

The juvenile birds of the year (above and below), with traces of brown plumage and a scaly upper wing pattern, seem to stay close to the adults in the autumn but they hunt independently.

Watching these birds is one of those priveleges of Nature that are hard to describe. I hope these photos have gone some way.

1 comment:

  1. Great monographic on the Know known as Black winged Kite!! ( Old Blsck shouldered Kite) LOL I found the photos just awsome!!
    Thanks for the chance of seeing this pics clive,