Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Allendale Kites Field Trip

The Audubon South Carolina Board & Friends Fun Day trip to Allendale on July 28th was a resounding success! Twenty-four people, some from as far away as Greenville and Conway, attended with hopes of seeing large numbers of Swallow-tailed Kites. They weren't disappointed. Based on photographs, there were at least 110 birds circling at the site.

Swallow-tailed Kites are a social species and once their nesting is complete in late July, they often gather in large feeding flocks. By mid-August most of the Swallow-tailed Kites will have left South Carolina enroute to their wintering grounds in South America. Swallow-tailed Kites are a state-listed Endangered species in South Carolina with an estimated 170 breeding pairs in 2004. Audubon South Carolina is working hard to protect Swallow-tailed Kites and their habitat.

The targets outside of Allendale were large coastal Bermuda hay fields. As the group pulled up to the fields around 10:00am, the first Swallow-tailed Kites were already swooping low over the fields in search of June bugs. June bugs are type of Scarab beetle and their green and black bodies are not much bigger than the size of a quarter. Fourtunately for the hungry kites, the hay fields were full of June bugs. With each swoop, the kites seemed to be effortlessly catching the June bugs with their feet. Unlike many other raptors in South Carolina which perch before eating, kites often eat their prey while flying.

Stay tuned...the land manager intends to cut another nearby field next month, which should once again attract a multitude of the Swallow-tailed Kites!
Edited text from Jeff Mollenhauer's upcoming newsletter article. Images by Jeff Mollenhauer.

1 comment:

Myrtle Beach Week said...

Incredibly great shots. You get some very nice wildlife on film.