The most frequently seen birds of prey in the Kapiti district are the large Australasian harrier hawks. The hawks can be often seen gliding over the fields and wetlands, but are also encountered by the roadside scavenging for roadkill — an activity which, unfortunately, can lead to their untimely demise when they collide with passing vehicles.

As well as the larger harrier hawk, there is another New Zealand bird of prey — the New Zealand falcon. This species is rarely seen in our area, but recently two have nested and raised chicks successfully at Hemi Matenga.

These beautiful birds are not scavengers like the hawks, but are deadly hunters of other birds. Their huge eyes provide amazing vision as they patrol their territory, enabling them to spot and target flying birds from high above.

They dive at up to 200km/h to seize the unsuspecting victim, taking their "kill" to a favourite perch for plucking and eating. Though this may seem cruel, the falcons and their prey are part of the natural order of things in our country — just nature at work.


I was invited to photograph the falcons by some people who live on Seddon St on the Hemi Matenga side of Waikanae. The falcons have been returning to perch in their trees every afternoon for a few months, so sightings are almost guaranteed.

While I can't reveal the location of their residence, I would encourage residents of the area around there to keep an eye open for these amazing rare visitors. Fingers are crossed for the birds to return next year, and breed again.

— Roger Smith