Most day’s at The Cape there is a raptor sighting, particularly over the grassy open spaces, the restored creek line and the Bunurong Coastal Reserve. Raptors observed include a range of kites, harriers, falcons, hawks and eagles.
White-bellied Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) VULNERABLE
A large and imposing eagle that patrols beaches and inland water bodies. Although they are known to be along the Bunurong Coast, they are uncommon at The Cape but several observations include: perching on a double story house Seaberry Dve near Seaward Dve, a flyover of the open grassland space in Nov 2019, and flying along 2nd Surf Beach in Jul 2020. A juvenile Sea-Eagle (not seen at The Cape to date) is brown and buff in colour and could be mistaken as a Whistling Kite at distance. The adult is unmistakably grey and white in plumage. They are listed as a vulnerable species in Victoria
Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax)
Australia’s largest raptor, a majestic bird of black and rufous colour, its distinctive features are fingered, outer primary wing feathers and the wedged (diamond shaped) tail. There have been no observations within The Cape precinct, but a single bird was seen soaring over farmland to the north of Seaward Dr in Feb 20.
Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus)
One of the more common raptors seen flying over the open spaces of The Cape (usually with Little Ravens, and sometimes Galahs in pursuit to warn them off). They are also seen regularly working the sand dunes, coastline and coastal reserve bush. A beautiful bird, it looks similar in appearance to a juvenile White-bellied Sea Eagle and Little Eagle from a distance. Distinctive features include lovely splayed finger feathers at the end of its wings, a long, rounded tail and pale underwing pattern.
Collared Sparrowhawk (Accipiter cirrocephalus)
A sporadic visitor to The Cape and mainly seen on the edge of coastal bush in the reserve, particularly at the southern end of Sunlight Blvd, where it has been seen perched over surrounding scrub. It mainly hunts small birds by ambush.
Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris)
The Black-shouldered Kite is a fairly regular visitor to the coastal reserve and is often seen flying and hovering over The Cape open spaces. It is a beautiful small hawk with clean white, grey and black plumage and piercing red eyes. It has discovered the tree stags in the creek line as a great spot to perch and is very conspicuous in this environment. It primarily hunts rodents, insects and small lizards.
Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides)
Another beautiful, small raptor which is seen along the coast, in the coastal reserve but more so over the grassy open spaces in the south west sector of The Cape where it is often seen during the day hovering for insects and small rodents. It is has a distinctive horizontal hovering action with a fanned tail before diving quickly and steeply towards its identified prey.
Brown Falcon (Falco berigora)
The Brown Falcon is uncommon at The Cape and has only been observed closely once, late afternoon, in the Bunurong Coastal Reserve near the F Break track. It was noticeable by its sluggish flight action and pale underwing plumage.
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
A superb looking bird which has been seen in hunting action within The Cape. There is a pair that reside locally (which is generally centered around a nest in a rock face, most likely along the Bunurong Coast). The first observation of the Peregrine was in late 2019 when it was seen attacking an Eastern Rosella in the grassy open spaces near the central wetlands. With the installation of the tree stags in the creekline, a pair of Peregrines has been seen regularly during July 2020, including an attack on a lone Galah. It is an amazing spectacle to watch a bird fly at very high speeds to hunt sizeable prey. In both cases, the rosella and galah escaped!