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A keen lookout

A keen lookout
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: 2007-01-18
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon EOS 20D, Canon EF 500mm f/4 L IS USM, Digital ISO 200
Exposure: f/4, 1/3000 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Birds of Prey- RAPTORS, Birds of South Africa 2 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-01-23 2:39
Viewed: 6704
Points: 52
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Black-shouldered Kite
Elanus caeruleus

This diminutive little raptor is one of the best known birds of prey in Southern Africa, and is very commonly seen. It has pure white underparts, grey upperparts, and a very distinctive black shoulder patch, hence its name. Its eyes are red, bill black, feet and legs yellow and it has a short white tail. The sexes are indistinguishable.

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

While using the perching tactic, the bird changes its vantage point every 10 to 20 minutes.

When it takes to the wing, it soars to 30 or 40 m [100 – 130 ft] and begins hovering. It will hover for only 10 to 20 seconds over one point while carefully 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, its 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.

SelenE, red45, marhowie, wkshelton, star74, Tamrock, Argus, jaycee, horia, sAner, loot, coasties, dew77, RAP, manyee has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To loot: Gevrek...gerhardt 1 01-23 03:42
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Critiques [Translate]

Hallo Gerhard,

Ook nie baie tyd nie, maar sal later kom verander. Puik foto!


  • Great 
  • badar Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 106 W: 0 N: 160] (785)
  • [2007-01-23 3:00]

Hi Gerhard,
This is very well composed, the details are sharp , the blue & pinkish sky behind makes it special.
Badruddin Ali

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2007-01-23 3:07]

Hello Gerhard,
What a beautiful capture... The light is great. I liked the blue sky and the colored cloud in the composition, it adds an extra bonus to the whole photo. Very good focus and sharpness. TFS

  • Great 
  • loot Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
  • [2007-01-23 3:22]
  • [+]

Hi Gerhard

Nice to see a posting from you again.

A great capture of this lovely and pensive little kite. You managed excellently to present this small raptor in all its natural beauty and that at maximum focal length which could easily result in a shaky or soft image. I just love those lively eyes.

Your composition is excellent with this guy sitting high on his perch looking out for supper. The colours are very rich aided by this late afternoon sun and the details are very sharp. The sky forms a perfect backdrop which enhanced the bird and made it stand out while you made remarkable use of the available light.

Great work and TFS.

NS. Sjoe, my Internet is gevrek vanoggend. Ek het jou foto oop gemaak toe daar nog geen ander besoekers was nie en ek kon nou eers my kritiek gelaai kry. Omtrent 'n ½ uur later. Groetnis.


Very good pic. The lighting is exceptional, great POV, BG, DOF and Composition. The pic is also very sharp and detailed. TFS,

  • Great 
  • red45 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2636 W: 74 N: 9091] (31094)
  • [2007-01-23 5:19]

Hello my friend!

It is good to see some new work from you. As always great! Beautifull bird with great light and colours. I like wide open composition and pastel BG. I hope we'll see new photos from you more often!

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2007-01-23 6:34]

Hello Gerhard,
Terrific light, excellent dof, sharp and colourful against the beautiful background. Altogether an excellent composition!
TFS and regards, Ulla

Hello Gerhard,
A keen lookout, and a "keen" eye for the shot mf.
There's not a single thing not to like about this one. I've yet to get a bird of prey in the wild..not even a damn zoo shot for that matter ;}
Very well done
PS - And Happy B-day in advance..in case I forget :)

Hello Gerhard,

Excllent composed and capture shot the colors are stunning The POV is really well done,

TFS Kyle

  • Great 
  • star74 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 211 W: 3 N: 598] (2474)
  • [2007-01-23 10:10]

Hello Gerhard,
Wonderful shot of this raptor,
Perfect POV,background and sharpness,
Nice Job

beautiful in very nice lightning and
with good sharpness and fine pov!
like the composition
very good!

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2007-01-23 10:18]

Hello Gerhard,
Sharp, well-composed, excellent lighting, good POV and pose: in what other way would one present a Black-shouldered Kite?
TFS and regards, Ivan

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2007-01-23 12:01]

Hi Gerhardt,

Wonderfully sharp picture of the Kite. His claws must be huge! I love the expression on his face. TFS


  • Great 
  • hester Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1515 W: 18 N: 3165] (11638)
  • [2007-01-23 13:01]

Lovely! wonderful light here. Stunning composition, great POV and sharp details. Really lovely



  • Great 
  • jossim Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1538 W: 5 N: 2240] (12636)
  • [2007-01-23 13:15]

Superbe oiseau et très belle image.Félicitations pour la belle lumière qui fait bien ressortir les détails et couleurs de l'oiseau.J'aime bien la composition avec la pose du spécimen sur cette branche.
Merci Gerhard!

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2007-01-23 13:37]

Hi Gerhart and very nice to see another wonderful post from you ;)
This is a splendid capture!
I really like simple but very effective composition, with a lot of room in the direction of the kite's sight.
I also like the POV here as well as the great warm light, which comes and brightens up the bird's face.
The grip of the kite to that brach is another thing that caught my eye - very well visible and interesting.
The BG is a bliss, the framing is nice and all the colors and tones are simply charming.
Very, very well done!

Bravo and TFS

  • Great 
  • sAner Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1455 W: 74 N: 1426] (4750)
  • [2007-01-23 15:38]

Hi there Gerhard,

How have you been? Long time no see my friend? Excellent picture Supersharp as always and very lovely and natural colors. Good composition aswell. TFS!


  • Great 
  • marcin Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 138 W: 0 N: 268] (2057)
  • [2007-01-23 15:47]

hello Gerhard
beautiful bird, very nice picture


Hello Stranger

Nice to see a post from you. I see you still haven't lost the skill of taking the most awesome shots! All the elements are present to make this stunning. I especially like the light! Thank you MF! :-)

  • Great 
  • dew77 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4432 W: 248 N: 4028] (13270)
  • [2007-01-24 2:38]

Hello Gerhard,
Wonderful capture.POV,warm lighting,catchlight in eyes,simple BG,details,expression on face and composition are excellent.

  • Great 
  • RAP Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2524 W: 345 N: 2373] (7405)
  • [2007-01-24 7:30]

Siempre es grato volver a ver imágenes tuyas publicadas mi viejo amigo.
Bella captura a partir de un excelente punto de vista realzado por el apropiado encuadre.
La composición es bien luminosa, con apropiado foco y agudeza, aunque algunos detalles del pecho del ave parecen algo soft.
Me encanta el efecto de despegue de la silueta del animal sobre el imponente cielo tan bien logrado.
Un cordial saludo desde Buenos Aires... Ricardo

It is always pleasing see your images published again my old friend.
Beautiful capture starting from an excellent point of view enhanced by the appropriate framing.
The composition is very luminous, with appropriate focus and sharpness, although some details of the chest of the bird seem something soft.
I love the effect of takeoff of the silhouette of the animal on the imposing sky so well achieved.
A cordial greeting from Buenos Aires... Ricardo

  • Great 
  • carper Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1973 W: 119 N: 2582] (8439)
  • [2007-01-24 12:39]

great shot here Gerhard
fantastic birdshot with a fantastic pov and a good quality, very good photo job mijn vriend.
gr. jaap

  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2007-01-26 16:37]

Hi Gerhard, what big eyes this fellow has. And he's looking so intensely for food. Well captured and TFS

What a gorgeous bird, and a perfectly wonderful image of this kite. The sharpness and POV are extraordinary.

Thanks for sharing!


what a beautiful bird, very proud looking, great pov with him perched up on top of that tree..love it. TFs
Donna :o)

thanks for your comments on my photo "An Ice Storm " :o)

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2007-02-22 23:51]

How did I miss this one, Gerhard?
One of my favorite birds!
A wonderful portrait with beautiful light and excellent details.
The light on the kite is gorgeous against the lovely clean BG.
I really like his pose, and the way he is looking at you.
TFS. : )

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