Expect the unexpected

To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect
– Oscar Wilde

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Last Friday night, I set my alarm for 6:30 am so I would be at one of my favourite bird of prey places before sun up. I got out of bed, went outside, felt the icy air and thought, I don’t want to be standing by the side of a road on a cold winter morning. I went to back to bed and woke again at 8:53 am!
The sky was a perfect shade of blue, so I had coffee and breakfast and went out, even though the golden morning light had long gone.
When I arrived, things looked good. Black Kites were flying over the paddocks and Whistling Kites were calling from near their nesting tree. Then a White-bellied Sea-Eagle flew past.
Suddenly alarm calls filled the air. What could it be, I wondered? This place always has birds of prey flying around it, so the local birds shouldn’t have been worried. I noticed some magpies mobbing one particular bird.

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I raised my camera and took a few photos, although the bird was far away and flying past the sun against dark cloud. When I checked the photos on my LCD screen I was astonished. The mobbed bird was a Grey Goshawk, but not just any Grey Goshawk. It was a white morph: a bird of prey so white it looked like an angel.

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And speaking of angels, I next sighted two Black-shouldered Kites. They were circling high up, but a while later one landed on a power pole. I slowly walked towards it, taking photos as I edged closer. Suddenly it took off and started hunting in the paddock on my side of the road.

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I took photo after photo of it hanging in the air like a puppet, head bowed and little legs dangling.

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When it flew back to the power pole, I thought it just had a runner of grass in its talons. I turned my attention to a Black Kite, which was circling me. When I looked back at the Black-shouldered Kite, I realised it was eating. It was swallowing a large mouse, and what a difficult job that was!

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Two firsts for me – bird and behaviour – so I will remember to always expect the unexpected!

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