I spent a couple of hours this calm, balmy morning on the hawk tower at Santa Ana NWR and was rewarded with a pair of Hook-billed Kites. They came up distantly at about 9:40 over the Cattail Lake area and moved to the southeast gaining altitude and interacting with another pair of birds that may also have been Hook-bills. They were too high to find in my scope. When the kites first came up, a couple of birders popped up on the tower(at least they had binoculars) and I told the lady I thought I had a Hook-billed Kite. Her response was "Oh. Is it kiting?" Ugh!
The Hook-billed Kites then reappeared coming from the Pintail Lake area and did a few laps over Willow Lake. The male then perched about 100 yards west of the tower for ten minutes. Later the female appeared over Pintail Lake. I then left the tower and on my way out met the morning bird walk group. I asked them if they had seen the kite and one guy said "No. But we got great looks at the Red-shouldered Hawk right over our heads." I showed them my pics and then they realized they had misidentified the kite.