Flying Kites

Besides photographing grey herons while I was in Kochi, I also spent time watching black-eared kites (Milvus migrans lineatus), magnificent birds of prey with a distinctive call that I absolutely love:

Black-eared Kite (Milvus migrans lineatus), Japan
Black-eared kite (Milvus migrans lineatus) in flight (License image)

These birds, which are called tobi (トビ) in Japanese, are abundant in Kochi prefecture, patrolling the skies, preening on beaches, soaring high above the treetops.

black-eared kite, Milvus migrans lineatus, Japan
Black-eared kite flying above the ocean (License image)

From a bit of background reading on the internet, I gather that the birds in this area are a sub-species of black kites (Milvus migrans), which are found all over the world. One visual marker for the sub-species seems to be the distinctive white patch on the underside of the wings.

Like most large raptors, these birds usually fly high above, making it difficult to take photos other than from far below. I was lucky enough to find a spot that got me elevated enough to be at eye level for the occasional fly-by.

Milvus migrans lineatus, Japan
The penetrating glare of a black-eared kite (License image)

And with some persistence (i.e., sitting in one place for far too long, being antisocial, ignoring everyone and everything else), I was able to watch individuals argue a few times, like this...

Milvus migrans lineatus aerial combat, Japan
A couple of black kites having a minor disagreement (License image)

...and even see one bird snag a fish from the water:

Milvus migrans lineatus catching fish, Japan
Happy raptor, not so happy fish (License image)