Tuesday, August 3, 2010

White-tailed Kite Day 3

The White-tailed Kite continued for a third day. It was found once again very early this morning at Stratford Point. While I spent a lot of time at Stratford Point, most of it was while the bird was absent. I did not witness these events - friends and birders have passed on the general stories. It hunted for rodents not long after sunrise, eating a mouse and a vole from around 6AM to 8AM. It even sat on a telephone pole for one of its meals. A huge highlight of this increasingly prolonged visit was an encounter with a juvenile Peregrine Falcon. The two birds tangled at Stratford Point, attacking one another and even locking talons in mid-air. The impression I got from eyewitness accounts was that it was not particularly vicious, but these stunning photos from Tom Sayers portray a lot.

Thanks Tom! What amazing pictures. The kite flew across to Short Beach and spent some time in the trees around the playground before disappearing before 9AM. No one could locate it for quite some time, though the general thought was that it had gone east and was between Short Beach and Connecticut Audubon Society's Coastal Center at Milford Point. A few hours later, it was located, oddly enough, on a sand bar. This worked out wonderfully for many people as they could visit the CAS Coastal Center and take a short walk to scope it on the sand bars. It certainly loves the Connecticut Audubon Society. Milford Point also had a Royal Tern, Black Skimmer, and various counts of Red Knot.

Apparently the kite spent from around 9AM to around 5:20PM going from bar to bar, progressively moving west. It ate something on one of these bars in the mid-afternoon, mantling and protecting its kill. I have no idea what it caught out there, though it seems unlikely to be a rodent. The species rarely eats birds, but there were many shorebirds in the area that seem like possible prey. High tides and fading daylight must have encouraged it to return to Stratford Point. Upon arrival, it quickly caught and ate a large vole, disappearing until dark, having gone to roost for the night (presumably) in one of the trees near the property.

Photos 2-4 © Tom Sayers; photos 1 & 5 © Frank Gallo

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