Kites flying high over Halong Bay
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