Kites and Harriers

After getting photos of the avocets at what turned out to be the heart of the San Pablo Bay NWR I followed my Garmin’s directions on how to get to the San Pablo Bay NWR and ended up at a small, nondescript building on Mare Island. I sure didn’t see any signs indicating it was a NWR office, but it may well have been. Still, it sure wasn’t what I was looking for. (GPS devices have a nasty reputation when it comes to wildlife areas.) Luckily, nearby we found the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve with a four mile walk.

I’d hoped to see shorebirds on the walk but the trail was too far from the shore to get any good pictures of shorebirds, even if there had been any. What we did see might even have been better. There were Northern Harriers

female Northern Harrier

everywhere we looked, which made sense since one of the species they were trying to protect was an endangered mouse.

I see Northern Harriers too often to get very excited by them, but I got much more interested when this White-Tailed Kite flew by.

White-Tailed Kite

We don’t have white tailed kites in the Pacific Northwest, and the only picture I’ve ever managed to get of one was a distant shot while walking a trail in Santa Rosa.

Things got even more interesting when it became obvious that the kite and the harrier didn’t like each other and seemed more concerned with each other than with us.

Kite and Harrier

The Kite quickly gained altitude and began to circle the Harrier.


We didn’t wait very long before the Kite dive-bombed the Harrier.

Kite Dive bombs Harrier

I can’t imagine the Kite really wanted to hit the larger Harrier midair, but it came so close it was impossible to tell whether it had hit it


It was definitely the highlight of the walk, and one of the highlights of a very good birding day.

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