“An hour after sunrise on the morning of 6th February 2011, a Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) was observed carrying a large stick in its talons (above). A few House Crows (Corvus splendens) were giving chase not far behind. The kite was obviously delivering nesting material. When it flew into the foliage of a mangrove tree by the seashore, I could barely see that another kite was receiving the stick from the first. This pair of Brahminy Kites was constructing their nest.
“After watching a few rounds of nesting materials being delivered, I saw the female flew out from the vegetation to perch on a bare branch that was some thirty metres away from the nest. This time, instead of delivering nesting material, the male flew in to land directly on the back of the female (above). The kites were in breeding mood and I was about to witness their mating. The mating was swift. The action was over in less than 6 seconds from mounting to dismounting. However, as the pair was quite a distance away, it was not certain whether there was successful copulation. The attempt may not have been successful and may have been aborted prematurely due to the presence of crows. During the action, one of the crows had flown in and positioned itself at a high vantage point overlooking the pair (below left). After the male dismounted, the female continued to perch on the branch and stared at the intruding crow. Was the female reproaching the crow for intruding her privacy?
“I was apprehensive of success for the kites’ nesting due to omnipresence of the crows. Three weeks later, the kites were still around. Alas, so were the crows. And the crows were still harassing the kites; teaming up in numbers to torment the breeding pair. There were crows near the nest and even in the nest when the kites were not around. They will also chase the kites when they were in flight (above right). This was to be my last time seeing this pair of kites in the area. When I checked after another week, my fear was confirmed. The pair of kites had abandoned their nest. It was a failed nesting.
“Hopefully, they will find a more peaceful place to continue with their breeding.”
Kwong Wai Chong
18th July 2011