Kite at Work

White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus). Video Laura Lange.

This video and the two photos below are by Laura Lange, a new contributor to this site. She writes:

My name is Laura Lange, I identify as gender queer/gender fluid and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I’ve lived in the East Bay ever since I graduated from UC Davis and entered the biotech workforce. My interest in birds originated from my father who was always pointing out Great Blue Herons to me as a kid especially when they landed in our back yard. He would loudly proclaim that they ate gophers and I just couldn’t fathom how such a slim bird could choke down a huge rodent!

I first became interested in Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley because of the Burrowing Owls. I remember back in 2007 or so when I saw multiple owls overwintering, now we are lucky if one shows up per year. With that said, I’m currently obsessed with hummingbirds, hawks and trying to spot the overwintering Burrowing Owl which is what drew me to the park again this year. I met Martin, CEO of Chavez Park Conservancy first via his amazing website and then by chance in person early this year as I was searching for the owl he had posted about being there. I managed to gain a glimpse of the owl later in January but didn’t own a specialized camera at the time so could only capture what looked like a tiny hump in the grass, which was hardly something to brag about. After that, I made email contact with Martin who helped point me in the right direction for what entry level photography equipment to purchase and I came back to the park on Feb 6th, 2021 to practice capturing bird photos.

On the way out to search for the Burrowing Owl, I snapped some beautiful pictures of an immature Snowy Egret hunting in the low tide of the North Basin Cove area. That experience alone made my trip worth it but I pressed on in case I had a chance of meeting the owl again. My secret wish to spot the owl didn’t happen. After searching the nature area with my binoculars for 30 min, I got fed up when a small flock of pigeons flew in and started pecking around.

As I let out an exasperated sigh to myself about the pigeons, planning to return to my car, I saw out of the corner of my eye, the telltale fluttering of a kite mid hunt. I viewed the bird through my binoculars and camera as I waited for the kite to get a bit closer to me so I could take some quality pictures and try out the video function of my camera. Sure enough, the kite settled on a branch in the nature area and then swooped down to the ground where a crow joined it and seemed to hassle it for a bit. The first photo is when the kite flew to the ground. After stomping around on the ground for a bit, it went back to hunting. I was fortunately close enough to snap a few photos of it hovering and then I sped walked closer still. Meanwhile, the kite had finally caught some prey and perched to eat it in plain sight. I was now in range to document the kite de-furring and consuming its meal with my Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ300 camera. The experience was extremely gratifying overall made even more so by the opportunity to share later. Thank you to Martin for creating this website and for encouraging amateur bird watchers like myself. 

White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus) Photo Laura Lange
White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus) Photo Laura Lange

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