1 February 2015

Black Kites over urban Hong Kong

Every winter Hong Kong is home to about 1200-1300 Black Kites (Milvus migrans lineatus).  A few stay through our summer, but by April the majority will be heading back to Mongolia and southern Russia to breed.

If you "split" lineatus as a separate species (as Mark Brazil does in "Birds of East Asia") then they are Black-eared Kites, but HK follows the IOC, so, "Black Kite" is what they're called here.




















In December last year - along with Samson SO - I accepted an invitation by Canon Hong Kong to take part in a project to celebrate the presence of the these raptors in healthy numbers around our city.

Samson's Eco Institute site is here

http://www.eco-institute.com.hk

Canon are promoting the new 7D Mk2 camera and two new lenses, a 100-400mm f5.6 II zoom and a new version of the 400mm f 4 DO lens.  The brief was to the use the new kit as far as possible to photograph Black Kites in an urban setting.

Between early December and early January I took thousands of shots of kites, and I feel as though I've got to know them better as a result.

A joint exhibition of some of the best of these Black Kite photos is on at the Innocentre, 72 Tat Chee Ave, Hong Kong from tomorrow (Feb 2nd) until February 8th.  It's just down the road from Kowloon Tong MTR Station.

http://www.canon.com.hk/en/corporate/press_release/pressReleaseDetails.do?prmid=10990

Five of the photos above are among the shots displayed.  Which five ?  Well, you'll have to get along to Tat Chee Avenue to find out !

UPDATED  9th Feb 2015

Some shots from the show.




At the end.....



Thanks to Samson and Iris SO, and the people from Golin (PR) and the Canon Hong Kong team, for making such a challenging project fun.

   

15 comments:

  1. incredible photos. Between the two lenses, which do you prefer? I have been seriously looking at getting that camera and a Canon 400 mm lens. I cannot afford a bigger lens. Did you get to keep the camera and lenses you tested?
    John

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    1. Hi John, I think the 400mm DO is best for birds, especially in flight, but the 100-400mm can be much more flexible in terms of overall picture composition. Close focussing means it will be great for perched insects, or flowers. It's heavier than the DO though, smaller aperture, slower to focus. Don't forget the good old 400mm f 5.6 lens - light, fast, and significantly less expensive.

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  2. We have a number of them wintering in Penang state but not quite in the same league as Hong Kong. Great images by the way.

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  3. Must have nice to try the new 100-400. Good shots anyway!

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    1. Thanks, Stu. It seemed like Christmas had come early, but I had to give it back !

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  4. Black Kites manage in human environments incredibly well. Some really interesting images there. My husband just loves his 200 - 400 so if these two new ones are in that league, they should be good. I'll be interested to hear what you though too.

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  5. Sonja, both the lenses are very sharp, but the zoom weighs more. I've seen people using the older 100-400 for bird photography very successfully, and the new one will be good, too, but if photographers are always using the zoom at 400mm then maybe a fixed length 400mm lens could be faster and lighter.

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  6. Superb Pictures, John. I remember seeing these kites when I visited Hong Kong in 2000. I call them Black-eared Kites here in Japan too as they are bigger and bulkier than the Black Kites I often see in Australia. Regardless they are exciting to watch. Very skilful fliers. I also just remembered someone in Hong Kong contacted me years ago about some of my Kite pictures in Japan... Hmm, I wish I could go to the exhibition.

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    1. Thanks, Russell - I think our kites here are all the east asian form "lineatus", same as in Japan

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  7. Kites of all species seem to adapt well to urban life and I have seen numerous species in towns and cities around the world. I remember once being in Larned, Kansas visiting friends and we all had to troop down to the local baseball diamond to watch their granddaughter playing in a game there. I think I was the only person present ignoring the game and watching the Mississippi Kites hawking for insects overhead!

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    1. David, Yes, highly visible species such as kites can add to the travel experience... I remember eating satays and looking at Brahminy Kites in Malaysia a few years back.

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  8. A great series of shots John. Over here and as I am sure you know it is the Red Kite which does well. Good advice about the 400mm F5.6, a brilliant lens.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Phil ! I've seen Red Kites from the M40 - their reintroduction to England and Wales has been very successful, no doubt. And interesting photo opportunities of them at Gigrin Farm.

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  9. Nice contribution John! Although I'm no longer in HK due to work, it has the liveliness I adore, everything from food to birds are so accessible!

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