A Snack on the Fly – Black-eared Kite

Black-eared kite (Milvus migrans lineatus) eating fish in flight

This image is of a Black-eared kite (Milvus migrans lineatus) eating a fish in flight: it is a shot that I particularly like because it shows an interesting behavior of the bird.

Black-eared kites are large birds of prey with dark brown plumage and black feathers over the ears. They have large wings (with a wingspan of about 50 to 60″/130 to 150 cm) and spend much of the time soaring and circling in the sky. Viewed from beneath, kites have prominent broad white patches under their wings, just before their dark wingtips. The end feathers often splay into “fingers” when they’re flying (source: Japan Times and Silly Reflections).

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As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)


28 thoughts on “A Snack on the Fly – Black-eared Kite

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you so much! I am so glad you liked it.
      If I am not too indiscreet (and of course if you are reading this), can I ask you what your name is? 🙂

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you, Heather! Yes, patience is definitely key in wildlife photography: things just follow nature’s rhythm and schedule. But those who wait may be rewarded by nice images! 😉

  1. Duff's Wines

    Loved this pic. We have ospreys on our lake and I see them plunge and soar with a fish but no detail or true image f them like this. So clear and interesting. Loved the bear you shared a week or so back. Not sure I want the same clarity with the bears that share our space at the cottage.

  2. ChgoJohn

    Beautifully shot, Stefano. Watching a bird struggle with its newly captured prey is really something to see. Capturing it is incredible and a testament to your knowledge of the subject and patience. Lucky for us you’re willing to share your work. Thank you.

    1. Stefano Post author

      Ha! That is indeed the question! I am pretty sure that, despite the type of food, it would go for a Black Kite pinot noir 😉
      Thank you for your kind words 🙂

  3. kbvollmarblog

    Dear Stefano,
    what a great picture! I have never seen a black kite but I once saw a red kite in North Wales attaking a young sheep that was ill. I especially like that you just got the moment the kite ate his fish. I wanted to take a photograph of the red kite attaking the sheep too but I could not get near enough – or one could say I didn`t had the right lens at this time.
    Thanks for sharing this spectacular photo – like all your wildlife pics
    With Love from the Norfolk coast

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you very much, Klausbernd!
      I am glad you liked the shot. Kites really are powerful and fast birds of prey.
      Lots of love right back at you all! 🙂

  4. Dina

    Dear Stefano,
    it’s a treat to the eyes to see your wildlife photography. What a truly great capture. It’s not only very interesting to learn about wildlife and nature reading your posts: as you are an outstanding photographer, I’d very much appreciate if you’d tell us if the shot is handheld, what lense, aperture, shutterspeed and Iso goes with this beautiful shot.
    Thanks! 🙂

    1. Stefano Post author

      Dear Dina,
      Thanks again, and glad you enjoyed the image 🙂
      This is the technical information for this shot: Nikon D300, Nikon 200-400, 1/1600 sec at f/8.0, ISO 400, on a tripod with gimbal head. Believe me, unless you have the strength of an NFL quarterback you cannot handhold the 200-400 plus a pro camera and keep it steady enough to keep your subject in the frame, focus and not have a blurry image due to camera shake (despite the VR)! If you get that kind of lens, you need to use a gimbal head (such as a full Wimberly or the very convenient Sidekick that I use) on a sturdy tripod. If you are shooting from the window of a car you can also get by using a beanbag, by the tripod+gimbal head solution is the preferred way to do it.
      A big hug,

      1. Dina

        Thank you for all this very useful Information, dear Stefano.
        And I thought the 70-200mm is heavy… So I suppose this sturdy tripod is very heavy as well… Was is a sidekick? I see, photography in this range is very healthy, I have to take up sports again.:-) Seriously, I’m going for a 2 hour brisk walk along the Rhine this afternoon with a friend and she just called and sked me to bring my camera. I can’t carry the 70-200 on the camera and feel comfortable for 2 hours!. I’m so used to carry the D200 with the 18-200 around my neck, I can do that the whole day without being uncomfortable so I’ll put the DX lens on for today. Which lens do you settle for when you go for a walk, let’s say in a scenery you know and you take your camera with you to be weaponed, just in case?
        Bigbig very grateful hug across the pond

      2. Stefano Post author

        Dear Dina,

        As to tripods, my recommendation is for a carbon fiber tripod, because they are light(er) but still very sturdy. I have always used Gitzo, which are wonderful and durable, but there are other options out there. I suggest you get a model without a center post so it can go as low as possible, which is a very useful feature.

        Then you will need a smooth, solid ballhead: I use a Markins which I am very happy with (after a few ones I had had before which had driven me crazy), but Really Right Stuff or Arca Swiss also make some really good ones.

        And finally comes the Sidekick for your long lenses… Essentially: the best way to support a long lens is to resort to a gimbal head. Wimberley is the best producer of those and they have two models: the full Wimberley which is wonderful, but requires you to remove your ballhead from the tripod, which means you need to carry with you two heads if you plan to not only use a long lens but also for instance to do some landscape photography. The alternative is the Sidekick which is a clever attachment that converts your ballhead into a gimbal head. Here is the link to their home page so you can better understand what I am saying: http://www.tripodhead.com/products/sidekick-main.cfm

        Pro gear is heavy, there is no way around it. However, there are things that can help. For instance using a good strap (I like OP Tech, but there are many good ones on the market) and specialized fanny packs, small backpacks or messenger bags (here I very much like Think Tank products, but Lowepro and other brands also make excellent products).

        Finally, my own answer to your question regarding an all-around lens is that… unfortunately I do not think there is only one. This is because wide range zooms (say those with a max focal length which is more than 3x the min focal length) are compromise solutions and even with today’s technology they just cannot perform well throughout those focal lengths. And also because every situation you find yourself in may require a different lens to fulfill your creative vision. So I end up carrying ideally the 14-24, the 28-70 and the 70-200 in a small backpack or shoulder bag or, if I really need/want to go light and am in a city environment, I may only carry the 28-70 and the 70-200. Bu again, that’s just me – others may have different ideas/habits! 🙂

        Big hugs,

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