I was watching a flock of Blue Jays and had followed one through my view finder into a tree. Wait! Those are not Blue Jays.
Much more interesting were these two Mississippi Kites consuming a meal. I had never witnessed this behavior so I continued to photograph even though my vantage point wasn’t great. Interestingly, the Kites weren’t concerned about the Blue Jay, who soon flew off.
You can see how large the Kites are compared to a Blue Jay in the first image.
Taking photographs up into a dense tree poses many challenges: leaves and twigs blocking the view, over exposed sky in the leaf gaps, and too much shade on the subject, to name a few.
I tried a couple of angles, working my way around some shrubbery on the ground.
I did determine from one image not shared here that the food was a small bird.
Up to now I had only seen Kites eat insects, snatched from the sky with their feet. In this last image one of the Kites was grooming and gave me a decent view of one foot.
I was delighted to find this Barred Owl perched over the bamboo pond yesterday morning. Reports from many of my photographer friends have been that the Barred Owl Owlet was feeding himself and neither he nor the adults had been spotted recently.
I’m not sure if this is the chick from this year or one of the parents, or maybe a completely different owl. He did treat me to one swoop over the water then did some grooming.
I didn’t see him catch anything and he was content to look around.
With an unmistakable silhouette, the Swallow-tailed Kite is an amazingly skilled flyer. From Cornell’s All About Birds: “Rarely flapping their wings, they soar and make tight turns, rotating their tail to steer.”
These images are cropped quite a bit; I didn’t get any close ups, but if you enlarge the photos you can get a bit more detail.
Guaranteed to make your neck hurt they are very cool to watch.
While doing all this acrobatic flying they grab flying insects with their feet:
Then pass the prey to their beak:
On this day an approaching storm and boisterous clouds added to the drama of the scene.
Their territory and numbers have dwindled in the US, and are continuously threatened by habitat loss.
This morning the male Barred Owl did land in a sunny spot over the pond while he was hunting and I was in a good spot. I didn’t know until later, but the female and owlet were in the trees behind me waiting for their breakfast.
Today was the first time I’d been to the swamp in a week due to the extreme heat we’ve been having. We went early and were home by noon. It was already 95 F (35 C).
The Barred Owls I’ve been watching rarely perch in a sunny spot, but its an owl after all, so you take what you can get! The sunlit trees in the background here sparkled like jewels as the owl scoped out his next snack.