February 17, 2019, San Joaquin River Delta; February 10, 2019, San Francisco Bay. I’m lucky to live in an area where White-tailed Kites are relatively common. Yesterday we went on a birding trip through the San Joaquin River Delta with naturalist David Wimpfheimer on a boat operated by Dolphin Charters. I recommend both. Along the way we saw about sixty species. One standout was this beautiful and cooperative white-tailed kite. He watched us as we slowed to watch him and then, bored with us, he took off. He flew out about two hundred feet and then wheeled around for what I’d like to think was a fly-by for the camera, but I know he was looking for lunch. If he’s anything like his cousin who lives by the San Francisco Bay, I’ll bet it was a good one.
Last weekend we were walking on the levees in the marsh area by the bay in Sunnyvale. The walk was ostensibly for exercise, but we brought cameras too. We always bring cameras. (The weight of the big lens makes for better exercise. That’s what I tell myself. Of course, there just might be birds . . .) The kite you see below was kiting — hovering — for more than three minutes. During that time, his position over the marsh didn’t vary by more than five feet as his eyes swept the ground. Then down he went. Lunchtime.
If anybody tells me to go fly a kite, I’ll tell them that these raptors do it better.
(Nikon D850; Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2, final editing in Adobe Photoshop.)