Saturday, May 05, 2007

Mississippi Kites Mating

It was late in the day. I had just eaten supper and was feeling lazy, but the day had a little light left in it, so I grabbed my camera and walked the property. A haze from wildfires in Georgia had muted the light and I really wasn't expecting much in the way of photographs. Down by the mailbox, I could see a Mississippi Kite soaring like a speck in the sky. It was at an altitude and horizontal distance that made a photo impossible, but I could see the distinctive shape that told me the kites were back.

Every year we have a pair of kites that use our place to perch, hunt, etc. I was a little concerned this year, because I had not seen them yet. Even if I couldn't photograph that distant kite, I was still thrilled to see him. I started to push on into my woods when a rustling nearby stopped me.

I had been standing still and quiet watching the kite and something was creeping through the palmettos. Pretty soon, an armadillo poked his nose out and proceeded to snuffle his way towards me. I almost left then. Armadillo and barred owl photos are daily events here, but then the dillo did that "stand up on your hind legs, sniff, squint" thing they do, so I stayed still for a few more shots.

That's when the shadow passed over the ground between the dillo and me.

It was the kite and it landed in the old pine snag across the street! It did this while I was standing a hundred feet away with the sun at the right angle!

THANK YOU MR. ARMADILLO! I would have moved on and missed this if it weren't for you.

I took some handhelds for insurance shots and then risked moving over to my huge mailbox stand by the street. I needed a tripod and the United States Postal Service was going to assist me.

I leaned onto the mailbox and braced myself as I fired off shot after shot ... thankful for the spare batteries in my jeans. Then he flew off.

I was stoked.

Then he came back!

Then a second one showed up!

Then, and this is where I still have "pinch me, I must be dreaming" bruises, the two of them mated in the light of a setting sun.



I had to crop these quite a lot, so they're a bit soft. The sun was low and they are also a bit underexposed, but I still feel like I was given a gift that afternoon.
What's the proper way to thank an armadillo?
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20 comments:

Deb said...

Wow, just wow.

Thank you, armadillo!

Floridacracker said...

Deb,
Maybe some mealworms would be a nice thank you gift.

robin andrea said...

What a great moment, fc. The pics are beautiful.

Wayne said...

Yep - wow! Those are amazing photos. Good on the armadillo for his alertness - we wouldn't get that out of our possums.

The fabulous colors must be due to all that Georgia smoke.

Laura said...

Awesome pics!! We had a pair of Osprey that returned to our lake place each year, and I remember looking forward to watching the babies show up each time. So I can see why you'd go looking for the kites, I would too! great shots!

Did you know we had smoke from the Georgia wildfires about 2 weeks ago? Way down here in Tampa bay! It's the season for it now, unfortunately. We need rain badly.

pablo said...

Stop apologizing for your pix. I think they're fantastic. I think the softness makes the artistic. This is a fine series of photos.

Hurricane Teen said...

GASP!! I thought this was a family friendly blog!!!!

Great pics, as usual. They look great!

threecollie said...

Those pictures are so astonishing that I can't find words to say what I want to. Just plain amazing!

Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

That is a superb series of photographs. Seeing this activity could be one of those once in a lifetime occurances, and you captured it perfectly.

Cathy said...

God bless the US Postal Service! These pictures and an upright Armadillo!?
Wish I had the words to express my admiration of these shots. Guess "Wow" will have to do.

Paintsmh said...

Amazing, simply amazing. Talk about the right time to be out with a camera!

rcwbiologist said...

I guess armadillos ARE good for something. Fantastic shots, thanks for sharing.

Peggy said...

I've turned a bright green with envy! SUPER set of photos--talk about being in the right place at the right time! Great job!

Peggy

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Give him a card that says you'll tell everybody in the family that armadillo tastes like chicken.

Floridacracker said...

Robin,
Pretty astounding huh! bought a lottery ticket tonight just in case this luck thing carried over.

Wayne,
Yes, the GA smoke has a special quality, but we've had quite enough now.

Laura,
Yes, it's been smoky all week here. Your lake place? What are you doing in cement land?

Pablo,
Sorry, but there's some real good photographers that drop in here and I feel the need to make excuses :)

HTeen,
Oops! Forgot to card you before you logged on.

ThreeCollie,
And no stingrays!
Thanks you, that was a great complement.

Hal,
So far it is definitely once in a lifetime ... well, two if you count the fact that he flew off for a minute after the first round and came back to mate again.
Does that count?

Cathy,
"Wow" is always welcome here :)

Paintsmh,
I find if I keep it with me, these events get photographed. Imagine that!

RCW,
Something besides undercarriage ornaments.

Peggy,
Thanks! Pure serendipity.

Hoss,
Actually, they taste like greasy pork, but will do!

LauraHinNJ said...

Oh - you have the best birds and such luck with getting them at the perfect moment!

I've never seen a kite. They do tend to show up here around this time of year by mistake, but I've never been so lucky as to see one.

I watched some oysercatchers with similar ideas on the beach yesterday. It's that time of year!

;-)

misti said...

WOW! I love those! They are beautiful! Does their range make to the Everglades? We have snail kites obviously, but they are hard to spot and aren't as pretty. My favorite are they swallowtail kites. They are so graceful swooping about and just beautiful to watch. I'll have to post some we took on a hike in Big Cypress.

Floridacracker said...

Laurahinnj,
I read that Miss Kites are expanding their range so hold on. I love oyster catchers, so dressed up in their black and white.

Misti,
They are beautiful aren't they? The Swallowtail Kites are my favorite too, but I have never seen one perched anywhere. Soaring yes, perched no.
I haven't seen a snail kite yet.
I rangered in Big Cypress back in the 80's. I liked the Bear Island section alot.
Thanks for commenting!

Sandy said...

Those pics are priceless.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks Sandy!