Black Kite is one of the rarer raptors in south-east Queensland, becoming much more numerous west and north of the region. I was surprised therefore to come across about 20 birds while birding today with Jim Sneddon in the Bli Bli area of the Sunshine Coast. I've not seen the species in the three years that I've been living on the Sunshine Coast. Some of the kites were roosting together in Maleleuca tree-tops, as in the image above.
The kites included this adult with the bird behind it seemingly in immature plumage. The birds were feeding around an area of grassland which had recently been burned.
The kites were watched as they flew from the burned grassland to other fires in the surrounding cane farms up to a couple of kilometres away. The presence of fire is the only explanation for the birds turning up here, but how they detected the fires is a mystery.
The Black Kites were associating with unusually large numbers of Whistling Kites, with as many as 12 Whistling Kites in the air at once. Other raptors seen included Spotted Harrier and quite a few Black-shouldered Kites.
In the evening we enjoyed fine views of a pair of Eastern Grass Owls in grassland in the area at a site where I had not previously seen them. This brings to eight the number of sites where I have seen Eastern Grass Owl on the Sunshine Coast. One of the birds we saw - presumably the larger, darker female - is in the image above, by Jim Sneddon.
Here is another image by Rob Hutchinson, probably of a paler male bird.