Kites fly­ing high over Ha­long Bay

Bird Watching (UK) - - Bird The World -

In­hab­ited by pi­rates in the late 19th Cen­tury, Ha­long Bay isn’t short on char­ac­ter. The UNESCO World Her­itage Site con­sists of about 2,000 in­di­vid­ual lime­stone pil­lars, and has quickly be­come one Viet­nam’s top tourist hotspots. I was on a large rick­ety wooden boat, which bull­dozed its way out of the packed ma­rina. Away from the ma­rina, the jour­ney was much more gra­cious. The cap­tain guided the boat lazily through the first set of islets, steer­ing with his feet and us­ing his hands to send a text mes­sage. The at­mos­phere was serene – the sun was set­ting over the lime­stone col­umns, bathing them in a glo­ri­ous golden light. Each pil­lar had its own unique level of ero­sion, but all were slowly crum­bling into the sea. I was watch­ing a huge jel­ly­fish go un­derneath the boat, when out of the cor­ner of my eye I saw a bird of prey cir­cling one of the lime­stone islets. I couldn’t quite see what it was, so used the long­est lens I had. On first im­pres­sions, the rap­tor looked re­mark­ably sim­i­lar to a Red Kite. I later found out it was a Black Kite, a rar­ity back home, but seen all-year-round in Viet­nam. As we sailed fur­ther into the bay, I saw three or four kites cir­cling the colos­sal towers. It made to­tal sense to see them out here – the bay elim­i­nates the threat of many land-based preda­tors and the wa­ters have a plen­ti­ful sup­ply of fish. As the sun set, I watched two Black Kites hunt over the bay in the last re­main­ing light. Nei­ther were able to make a catch, but they did oc­ca­sion­ally get a lit­tle too close to­gether, try­ing to claim dom­i­nance over the ter­ri­tory.

The cable car over Aus­tralia’s Blue Moun­tains of­fers an op­por­tu­nity to catch a rare glimpse of Black Cock­a­toos from the air This beau­ti­ful Blue Glassy Tiger but­ter­fly was among the high­lights found at Mon Tha Than wa­ter­fall in Thai­land

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