Swallow-tailed Kite is not a species I expected to see in Nova Scotia, it’s just way too rare here and the chances of connecting one of the very infrequent fly-bys are astronomical, there is more chance of successfully chasing an ace. To see one here you need the kite to find us, obviously, then it needs to be seen, again a given but, it needs to be seen by one of the more sentient people, someone who might actually notice what is around them and who can differentiate between the regular and unusual. Then you need the bird to stick around and they don’t have any sort of record of doing that here. The clear shortcut is for the kite to fly over a birder and then to decide, for reasons only a Swallow-tailed Kite could explain, to soar around a bit and be easily visible from a high point, simple.
This all happened May-11th 2017 when Alix d’Entremont had a Swallow-tailed Kite fly over him while driving highway 103 home. He called me and his enunciation of the word “Swallow-tailed Kite” was as much to make himself believe what he was seeing as to inform, I detected a little shock in his voice. Southern Nova Scotia is a big place, a Swallow-tailed Kite is a relatively small raptor but, if you don’t buy a ticket you sure as sure don’t win a raffle. So we went for it.
Cape Sable Island to Argyle is 52.9km and will take 42 minutes to get there legally, which, of course, is what we did (officer). After a phone conversation with Ronnie d’Entremont, who was equally law-abiding as he passed Liverpool on his way home from Halifax, had us aiming for Crowelltown Road, an elevated area which would give some sort of panorama of the general area. Not really expecting to see anything myself, Sandra and Mike MacDonald exited the van and scanned, and there it was!!!
Even at range the swallow-like tail and the pied underwings was clear. It swooped around a bit and did typical kite-like things, well it would, and lingered aloft long enough for hastily called birders, all of whom we had passed on the road to Crowelltown, to get up the pitted road and take in the view. It was a long way away and the camera did a sterling job in getting anything at that range so, apologies for the quality of the shots, a composite. Check out Alix’s blog (link on the side bar) if you want to really see what it looked like.
We lingered after the kite had drifted from view and we scanned the skies hopeful that it would reappear, especially as Ronnie and Sharron were getting close, it never did though, such is birding. ‘Big thanks’ to Alix for the call doesn’t cover it but I’ll say it anyway. Big thanks to the kite for finding the Argyle area interesting enough to hang about a bit.
Here are the best of the rest recent shots, relegated to the ‘and finally’ slot by the superb kite.
What a view – a Great Horned Owl near Yarmouth.
Male Northern Harrier, Chebogue.
Yellow-rumped Warblers everywhere right now, Fox Sparrows are usually just passing on CSI but this one sings too.
Below, one of two Cattle Egrets found by Ervin at Chebogue Point recently. Thanks to the farmer for letting us walk up to see them.
Above, an immature male Orchard Oriole at feeders near Argyle or possibly in it. After, a mal and female Rose-breasted Grosbeak in the same spot and a female Indigo Bunting there too.
Below, just a Common Raven.