“Had just finished for the day (last Sunday), been a very hot day and was resting near the car when I saw these two birds from far off. One was a Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus intermedius) the other looked like a crow but much bigger (1.5 times the Brahminy Kite size) (above left). There are only a few pairs of Brahminy Kites in the city and I thought it may be chasing the other bird from its nesting site. As they drew closer I recognised it was an aerial battle between two raptors – the Brahminy Kite and the Changeable Hawk Eagle, dark phase (Spizaetus cirrhatus limnaeetus) (above right).
“I have only photographed aerial combats twice in the past. This one spanned from one horizon to the nest and lasted 4-5 minutes…
“Although the Brahminy Kite was the aggressor throughout my observation, note that the Brahminy Kite’s right wing is badly damaged. Suggesting that earlier in the fight it may have suffered damage at the hands of the Changeable Hawk Eagle.
“The Brahminy Kite stayed persistently above the Changeable Hawk Eagle and did not allow it to get the upper hand. It made a number of sorties, swooping down on the Changeable Hawk Eagle. The Changeable Hawk Eagle responded by twisting its body in mid air and presenting its talons, repeatedly (saw this four times) (above). Finally the Changeable Hawk Eagle gave up and the battle ended at the other end of my viewing horizon.
“I saw the Brahminy Kite return ‘victorious’ alone. …been seeing it around my area this week, yet to find a nest.
“I am indebted to Dr David R Wells and Krys Kazmierczak for help in identifying the Changeable Hawk Eagle (dark-phase).”
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh City, Perak, Malaysia
13th December 2009