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At last!

At last!
Photo Information
Copyright: Gerhard Theron (gerhardt) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1936 W: 244 N: 4106] (11620)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2005-05-07
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon EOS 300D, Canon EF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L IS USM, Digital ISO 100, Hoya UV-Guard (77mm)
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/1000 seconds
Details: (Fill) Flash: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Birds of Southern Africa [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2005-06-08 5:14
Viewed: 4988
Points: 62
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Black Shouldered Kite (juvenile)
Elanus caeruleus

Also known as AFR: Blouvalk ENG: Black-winged Kite, GER: Gleitaar, FRE: Elanion blanc.

“caeruleus” is derived from the Latin word meaning blue.
”elanus” is Latin for a kite (from Greek elanos, probably from elayn(, to drive or persecute).

Interesting enough the scientific name’s translation is Blue Kite which is what the Afrikaans name “Blouvalk” means.

Vital Statistics
Wingspan : 84 cm [34in]
Weight : 250 g [10 ounces.]
Preferred prey : Rodent specialist
Incubation period : 31 days
Clutch size : 3 - 6 eggs
Status : Very common resident
Nesting site : Tree tops, usually Acacia Spp. or other thorn trees
Nestling period : 35 days
Hunting success : 20 % (of each attempt)
Habitat : Open Grassland and Savanna Woodland

This diminutive little raptor is one of the best known birds of prey in SA, and is very commonly seen. It has white under parts, grey upperparts, and a very distinctive black shoulder patch. Its eyes are red, bill black, feet and legs yellow and it has a short white tail. The sexes are indistinguishable. The juveniles of the species have basically the same plumage pattern, but their upperparts are washed with brown, as is the top of its head and neck. Its eyes are also grey - brown. Change to the adult plumage takes about a year.

These raptors feed mostly on rodents and have two different hunting strategies:
1) Striking prey from a perch
2) Striking from a hovering position

When it takes to the wing, it soars to 30 or 40m and begins hovering. It will hover for only 10 to 20 seconds over one point while scrutinizing the ground, and then breaks off to repeat the process in another position. When it spots a rodent while hovering, it begins its strike in a gentle fashion, only speeding up a few metres from the ground, plunging head first at 90º, and only at the last moment extending its talons for the kill.

When striking from a perch, it merely drops onto its prey at the desired angle. Roughly 70 % of its time is spent hunting from a perch, and 30 % hovering. Its success rate is in the order of one successful kill from five attempts.

The Black Shouldered Kite is a small rodent specialist, concentrating on three species in particular. These are the Angoni Vlei Rat, the Striped Mouse and the Multimammate Mouse. This is also the order of their preference. When these are not available, this kite will also kill lizards, insects, and very occasional doves or tortoises. However these alternative prey species only consist of less than 2% of their diet.

The species will always remain a favourite with bird watchers and enthusiasts alike. I hope you like it too. This was also taken on my trip with Callie to Marievale.

PDP, dew77, coasties, milloup, sAner, anoop, red45, TAZ, ddg, hummingbird24, Zeno, Fisher, christophe, liquidsunshine, AndyB, puffy, Comandante, JeanMichel, marhowie, Signal-Womb, naki, chiliu, Luc, horia has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • PDP Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor [C: 2821 W: 344 N: 3779] (11769)
  • [2005-06-08 5:20]

Congratulations! A great shot and you should be very pleased with all your efforts. Beautiful composition and details. Excellent, I'm very pleased for you.

Hi daar, dis pragtig. Dit is iets wat ek ook wil doen.. I am still battling with birds in flight. good details and great compo :D

ek is jaloers

Hello Gerhard!
This is amazing shot with wonderful blue sky!
Just perfect composition!

  • Great 
  • dew77 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4432 W: 248 N: 4028] (13270)
  • [2005-06-08 5:44]

Hello Gerhard!
Very nice action shot.Clear eyes,details,blue sky are wonderful.TFS...:-)

Great action shot Gerhard. The shape reminds of the Star Ship Enterprise from Star Trek. Wonderful clear blue sky for the BG. Excellent catchlight in the eye too. Awesome! Thanks

What a beauty, nice and sharp, good light and well caught against the beautiful blue sky ;-)

  • Great 
  • sAner Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1455 W: 74 N: 1426] (4750)
  • [2005-06-08 6:27]

Hello Gerhard,

Fantastic composition, good details and great pose of the flying bird (wings up!). You even captured the catchlight in the eye (wow!). You must be pleased with this photo. Very well done & TFS!


  • Great 
  • red45 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2636 W: 74 N: 9091] (31094)
  • [2005-06-08 6:40]

Congrats Gerhard! Perfect capture of this great bird. It looks like on blue-box, amazing colour of sky. Blouvalk is detailed and in great pose. TFS!

Nice and clear, the lighting is great. Well done.

Très belle photo, avec un ciel magnifiquement bleu.
Felicitations !

  • Great 
  • ddg Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 867 W: 24 N: 1008] (5507)
  • [2005-06-08 9:55]

Belle action Gerhard, as t on une idée de la vitesse de vol de l'oiseau au moment de la photo ? Mes félicitations pour ce magnifique shot, Didier.

It is not hard to see how the Enterprise (Star Trek) got its shape and design, Gerhard.
Well done on this fine capture, it is a very difficult thing to get them in flight.
Congratulations on a fine posting.
Thank you.

  • Great 
  • Nico Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 199 W: 1 N: 335] (1321)
  • [2005-06-08 11:02]

Long time no see (otherwise I just slipped). Excellent shot. Photo perfect.

  • Great 
  • livios Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2150 W: 319 N: 4263] (16942)
  • [2005-06-08 11:39]

Gerhard, he really seems to be fast, very fast.

A great capture with an excellent contrast.

Pov and composition are very nice too.

Great flight-in, Gerhard.
This bird must be very fast but you was faster,
Very good details, good exposure, nice colours and well composed.
Excellent work, my friend.

  • Great 
  • Zeno Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 483 W: 0 N: 1345] (10867)
  • [2005-06-08 12:48]

Very sharp and amazing contrast. Beautiful pose of this magnificent bird.
Thanks for sharing.



  • Great 
  • optic Gold Star Critiquer [C: 322 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2005-06-08 15:58]

Hello Gerhard!
You did a great capture, excellent action shot nice colours & razorsharp details. Thank you for the note!


  • Great 
  • Fisher Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1540 W: 309 N: 2234] (8915)
  • [2005-06-08 16:10]

What a shot, Excelent composition and lighting. Beautiful work.


Sharpness: 4.5/5
Color: 5/5
DOF: 5/5
POV: 5/5
In a friendly way Christophe

Well captured Gerhard,
well composed and great details. The kite looks like it;s travelling a quite a speed.
Thanks for posting

  • Great 
  • AndyB Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1366 W: 32 N: 1351] (3982)
  • [2005-06-08 19:29]

A superb capture Gerhard,
Good sharpness,excellent composition and even a catchlight in the eye.
Fabulous work.


  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2005-06-08 19:48]

Wonderful photo, Gerhard. What a fantastic shot of this kite in flight. Great position of the wings. Very sharp details. The black-shouldered kite is one of my favorite birds, and I have never seen a young one. It sure changes a lot in coloring from juvenile to adult. Thanks for showing us this one. : )

  • Great 
  • puffy Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 289 W: 0 N: 339] (1351)
  • [2005-06-09 1:25]

Hi Gerhard, excellent action shot, a beautiful bird you got there, great composition, clarity and details! The eyes is so pretty. Very well done... :) Thanks for sharing!

  • Great 
  • TAZ Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2241 W: 47 N: 3167] (10926)
  • [2005-06-09 3:26]

Belle et intéressante composition photographique bien réalisée pour cet oiseau en vol. Jolies couleurs et bonne netteté malgré le mouvement.
Great action shot !!!

Hello gerhard!
Superb action scane.Details,sharpness and composition are perfect.Thanks for sharing.

A joyful catch for you and a great pleasure for us to see this small beauty. You have everything here: speed feeling, super sharpness (eye+++), ideal light, ideal POV with front and rear part of the right wing echoing in symmetry the left one. Ideal blue BG. Congratulations my friend!

Top notch Gerhard! Very nice!!!

Yes, another excellent capture Gerhard, superb work and technique.

Regards Steve.

  • Great 
  • naki Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 382 W: 27 N: 5] (40)
  • [2005-06-10 17:18]

Great capture Gerhard. Excellent details on this missile. I can even see the shine on its eye.
Very well done.

Superb shot!
Very nice colour,sharp detail.

  • Great 
  • Luc Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1835 W: 301 N: 4287] (14767)
  • [2005-06-15 15:08]

Hello MF Gerhard.
Personal assessment of the photo: excellent.
Strong visual impact.
Aptness of the photo for the site: excellent.
Personal assessment of the note: complete.
Thank you very much for sharing this fantastic bird.

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