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The Destroyer

The Destroyer
Photo Information
Copyright: Japie Venter (japie) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1814 W: 100 N: 1904] (5187)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2005-04-22
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon EOS 300D, Sigma 50-500 F/4-6.4, Digital ISO 200, Skylight
Exposure: f/10.0, 1/500 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): Predaceous birds - Aves predadoras, Birds of Southern Africa, 50-60 points chapter 3, 40-49 Points (Chapter 5) [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2005-07-28 12:37
Viewed: 9668
Favorites: 2 [view]
Points: 90
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
The destroyer – of rats, cameras and photographers. When I saw this chap diving to catch something I ran to get between him and the sun so that I could get the best light. Keeping my eyes on him (only) I ran into a large pole at the entrance to the hide which I’m sure wasn’t there before! The impact sent my camera flying with me diving to catch it. I did mange to catch the camera, but the impact broke the hot-shoe of my flash ($100 to repair).

He must have felt sorry for me as he landed on the tip of dead tree about 40m away, looking directly at me, but still clutching his rat. The wind was behind him pushing his feathers forward as can be seen in the capture, but most importantly – HE HAD HIS RAT AND I HAD MY CAMERA,ONE SHOT OF HIM AS WELL AS A RATHER LARGE BRUISE!

I have posted a Black Shouldered Kite
before but I will repeat its vital statistics, I owe him at least that.

Black-shouldered Kite (127)
A common, grey and white raptor with a black shoulder. Size 33 cms - larger than a laughing dove. Afrikaans: Blouvalk.

The upperparts are bluish grey, with black wing coverts which appear as a distinctive, black shoulder patch. The underparts are white. There is a small black mask around the eye. Young birds have a reddish-brown wash on the head and breast and the feathers of the upperparts are tipped white. The bill is short with a sharp, hooked tip to the upper mandible. The bill is black, while the feet and legs, and the cere (skin at the base of the bill) are bright yellow. The eye is dark red in adults and brownish-orange in immature birds.

The Black-shouldered Kite is a common and obvious bird of the open veld and farming areas. It is usually seen perched on telephone- or power pylons or lines, In the absence of natural or man-made perches, it is able to hunt by hovering on upturned wings about 50 meters above the ground. When prey is sighted, the kite "parachutes" gracefully straight down into the grass. Black-shouldered Kites are highly nomadic - moving about in search of rodent prey.

The Black-shouldered kite eats mainly rodents as well as small birds and insects.

Breeding occurs all year round with a peak in the summer months. The nest is a small platform of sticks about 30cm in diameter, which is placed near the top of a tree in a fork.
The camera settings:

Program Setting: Shutter Priority
Focal Length: 500mm
F Stop: F/10
Shutter Speed: 1/500 sec
ISO: 200
Tripod: No
Flash: NO!
Reflective Panel: No
Cable release: No

carper, goldfinchtr, christophe, manyee, extramundi, AdrianW, wallhalla15, Fisher, AndyB, milloup, scottevers7, PDP, liquidsunshine, marhowie, chiliu, janhendrik, dew77, red45, Comandante, ddg, nofer, coasties, gerhardt, bedford67, sandpiper2, Luc, Motrem, OdetteVN has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Fisher: Thanks for the workshopjapie 4 08-02 16:28
To milloup: I should have known!japie 1 07-28 17:05
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • carper Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1973 W: 119 N: 2582] (8439)
  • [2005-07-28 12:45]

prachtig Japie,
Leuk je weer eens te zien. Prachtige compositie, tegen de blauwe lucht, prachtige pov and een hele mooie kleuren, uitstekend werk,
gr. Jaap

Wow what a shot!It has more meaning when i read the notes so I can understand why Kite is looking like that!I can see that he felt merciful in his wild looking eyes:)

Superbe photo Japie !!
Magnifique ce destroyer ;-) !

incredible shot. almost looks as if he/she is posing for a portrait, thanks for posting!

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2005-07-28 13:43]

What an incredible shot, Japie, and what a story! The black-shouldered kite is one of my favorite birds, and this one is gorgeous. You caught him with his eyes straight at you, feathers all fluffed up, and a mouse in his talons. What else can you ask for! (Well, maybe no broken hotshoe!)
Congratulations on a fantastic picture. TFS. : )

Hello Japie.
A pleasure to look at your work again. Hope everything goes well. Beautiful picture with really strong composition and colours.
PD: You have been a bit to kind in your critic in my last post, shapness is awful :) Best wishes.

Japie, this is a excellent Picture. Great colours, sharpness excellent, a very nice composite. Well done.

Hi Japie,

A beautiful capture and well done on the composition and lighting. I'm glad no flash was used.
The only nit, if you don't mind, I find the image abit soft, I'm looking at his eyes.
Overall, well done.
I tried a workshop for you, hope it is o.k.


  • Great 
  • zakiwi Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 154 W: 20 N: 274] (1309)
  • [2005-07-28 15:19]

Hey Japie,

What a fabulous shot. Nice to see that you recovered in time to get the shot. Well done.

  • Great 
  • AndyB Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1366 W: 32 N: 1351] (3982)
  • [2005-07-28 15:45]

Hello Japie,
This is a very nice capture.
Excellent composition and POV,a great pose and a superb blue sky BG.
Nice work,well done.


  • Great 
  • Graal Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Silver Note Writer [C: 751 W: 31 N: 20] (5100)
  • [2005-07-28 16:00]

Very good portrait, Japie. Here all is ok. Friends all told You. Well done.
Rgs, Aleksander

  • Great 
  • livios Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2150 W: 319 N: 4263] (16942)
  • [2005-07-28 16:36]

Japie, sorry for the flash, but that's great to know you're okay.

Another excellent capture by you.

Great pose, pov and composition. The eyes of the bird are really amazing.

An excellent job.

Oh, Japie, I'd have loved to watch you dancing the ballet in order to try to save your camera ;-))
Anyway, although I'm sure he's laughing in this photo, he did allow you a very nice capture in return for your efforts and costs. Those breast feathers look soo soft and fluffy. Good light and POV and his dinner is even in the photo, too ;-)

Hi Japie,
I thought the photo was outstanding to begin with, but after reading you note, I had a good laugh. It sounds exactly like someting I would do. I really like the composition with alot of space underneath. TYhis makes it appear he would have been sitting high up in the tree. The colors are great, and those eyes! Excellent Shot!!

  • Great 
  • PDP Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor [C: 2821 W: 344 N: 3779] (11769)
  • [2005-07-28 18:18]

Hi Japie, I'm sorry about the bruise and I'm sorry that you broke your flash. :-( At least you managed to take this away.

The composition is excellent and it's a grat looking pose. I think it is a little soft in focus. Apart from that it's a splendid job, well done.

Wonderful capture Japie,
Sorry to hear about the damage to your camera, and well done for getting the shot you wanted. The kite has a great pose.
Great colours, POV and details.
Thanks for posting.

  • Great 
  • jossim Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1538 W: 5 N: 2240] (12636)
  • [2005-07-28 22:43]

Superbe prise nature japie !

Félicitations !!

Fantasties Japie. Ek wens weereens dit was ek wat dit kon regkry. Ek kan niks se wat nie al gese is nie.


  • Great 
  • halki Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 242 W: 9 N: 105] (471)
  • [2005-07-29 2:30]

Hello Japie!
Excellent capture!Details,composition are wonderful.
Thanks for posting...

Amazing capture!
Great contrast, very good details of the feather and eyes, beautiful blue sky.


  • Great 
  • dew77 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4432 W: 248 N: 4028] (13270)
  • [2005-07-29 4:12]

Hello Japie!
Very nice capture.EYE CONTACT is wonderful;).Details,POV and composition are excellent.TFS...:-)

  • Great 
  • red45 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2636 W: 74 N: 9091] (31094)
  • [2005-07-29 5:12]

Don't worry Japie! This shot was worth all these troubles :-) Bird looks excellent, I love its look, it says - why me? it's your fault Japie. ;-) Great photo with story!

Hello Japie!
Wonderful shot.Eyes,feathers,POV,framing and composition are excellent.Into my favr.Thanks for sharing.

I can't decide which I like better Japie..your story or the photo! ;-)) Same thing happened to me a month ago. In my excitement to set-up, the camera took a dive and the flash hot shoe cracked...It's a wonderful shot from 40 meters, that 500mm has a great reach..Well done!

Hi Japie
Nothing to declare
In a friendly way Christophe

  • Great 
  • ddg Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 867 W: 24 N: 1008] (5507)
  • [2005-07-29 11:04]

Bonjour Japie, bravo pour ce shot trés reussi, le plumage de l'oiseau est magnifique. BG is perfect , very good sharpness too. Felicitations Didier.

Hi Japie, what a wonderful image and what a great note. I think it was worth the bruise myself (though its easy to say that when its someone else sporting the bruise). I love the light so your instincts were spot on. I also love the way the wind is blowing his feathers. Can you send him over to my place when you see him next, we think we may have a rat here :(

  • Great 
  • puciu Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 469 W: 0 N: 16] (2631)
  • [2005-07-29 16:24]

SUPER !!!!
Rewelacyjna fotka Japie.
Doskona³a kompozycja i ostro¶æ.

  • Great 
  • nofer Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1190 W: 366 N: 811] (2307)
  • [2005-07-29 21:52]

Muito boa foto. Mesmo SEM flash!!!!!!
Pássaro lindo mas "malvado". He... He...
Excelente composição, muito bom momento.

A beautiful shot, Japie.
It's nice to have back, pls don't disappear again, at least not for long.;-)
You picture is lovely. Well composed, nice colours and good POV. A very interesting note.
Great work, my friend.

Hello Japie

A lovely composition. The dark blue BG enhances the white plumage. Nice POV, excellent detail and clarity. The image is a bit soft, noticable around the eyes and beak. Nice work. Thanks.

This is a great compo and the pose with the feathers forward looks very nice. Without adding insult to injury I do think there is a slight blueish cast on the capture. These critters are rodent specialists with more than 95% of their diet consisting of it.

I am sorry to here about the flash mount and your "near death: ;) experience. Hope the bruises are better though.

Hi Japie,
Superb shot; this raptor is impressive. I appreciate the composition with the subject perched on a dead branch. The raptor has very sharp details and is well detached from the pure blue sky. Cheers.
TFS, cordially,

  • Great 
  • optic Gold Star Critiquer [C: 322 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2005-08-02 7:39]

Hello Japie, you did a great action shot i like the composition the colours & clear details. Amazing catch, thanks for the note & story, as you i broke 3 times my canon flash (hot-shoe) reglued & go :-)


I can just imagine this story in 20 years time, the fish was 'this' big, if you know what I mean.
Funny thing is, I'm sure we've all had a mishap like this trying to see/shoot a particular species. I remember when I was up on Cape York with a few birders. We went running to see a Golden-shouldered Parrot. My friend Ron was last in line, fidelling with his camera. We watched in horror as a King Brown Snake slithered across the track and Ron just ran over it, still fidelling with the camera. Then he looked up, saw us looked back and got the shock of his life. The snake didn't know what to do, then kept going.
Anyway, I'm rambling.
Nice shot of the kite and his rat by the way.

Wonderful capture Japie! Big red eyes are amazing and look at those talons! Good composition, great pose of the bird, nice colors and details. TFS!

  • Great 
  • Luc Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1835 W: 301 N: 4287] (14767)
  • [2005-08-02 16:27]

You know, Japie, I am very proud to share photos on the same site than yours. But when I see so beautiful photos, it is the humility which replaces the pride.
Now I know how to obtain the sympathy of my subjects. I have only to show myself more awkward than them and maybe that one day there will be one who will pose for me in a so perfect way.
Your way of writing your notes is always so nice.
Take care of you, Japie. I already broke myself one foot some years ago because of a moment of inattention. I do not wish that it arrives to you, nor to whoever, moreover.
TFS MF... and thank you for your "presence" too!

Japie, with a shot like this I would almost say it was worth a broken flash-shoe - almost.

Wonderful capture and very clear and clean. I especially like the look in his eyes. He is really watching you. Excellent handling of the light on those white feathers against the clear blue sky - a real hard one to get right.

All over a very pleasant and interesting picture to look at and a interesting note;-).

The deep blue background is very dramatic looking, suitable to the scene you've described. He seems to have his head tilted trying to figure out just what he just saw happen. Very intense eyes, well captured, I hope the bruise was worth it to you.

What a magnificent bird! Good composition with a perfect light, very pleasant this wind in feathers. Saddened for your flash and fortunately you have no wound. Good note. And we think that the photo is not an extreme sport! LOL

Quel magnifique oiseau! Bonne composition avec une lumière parfaite, très agréable ce vent dans les plumes. Désolée pour votre flash et heureusement vous n'avez aucune blessure. Note intéressante. Et l'on pense que la photo n'est pas un sport extrême...! LOL

Hi Japie
Very nice shot and great composition.
Also very nice Bird ;)
Tanks for sharing

After such an ordeal to get this shot Japie, I must congratulate you. Although it's just a bit soft on the focus, having the rat in the claws is quite a rare shot indeed. Well done, and I hope you have recovered from the bruising. I commend your dedication to providing this wonderful shot after falling.

Hierdie is nou regtig 'n baie mooi foto. Alles is perfek.


Hi Japie, for what its worth you have composed yourself well enough to snap a lovely shot.
Thanks for sharing

I laughed but that is not polite at all!!! So sad, I have 6 broken cameras, no one will even fix them. ! He is magnifcent, truly! Is he worth a $100? He does have the rat, and so you decide! Th elump also is too sad, I havce fallen in many a hole watching something thru a camera, not alert to danger. Beautiful photograph, splendid bird!

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