Sunday, 8 December 2013

Spreading Those Wings

It’s now been nearly 2 months since I removed Kuyu from her nest and fitted her with a GPS/Satellite transmitter. About a month ago she made her first flight, and carried on moving away from her nest. Now she is beginning to spread out further and, as the above map shows, she is beginning to move down off the ridge and explore the lowlands.
How is she surviving, and what is she eating? Young wedge-tails like Kuyu are still very much dependent on their parents for food. Viewing her movements alone is interesting, but to provide some context, let’s see what her mother Gidjee has been doing. For a start, we need to zoom OUT! 

This map shows the area covered by Gidjee during over the same time period depicted in the first map above. Our powerful adult female eagle has covered most of her home range in just a few days, soaring as high as 2700m above the ground, and (during dawn and dusk), visiting regular hunting haunts, including some well-wooded areas inside the feral-proof mammal enclosure (possibly hunting for Burrowing Bettongs), and a number of rabbit warrens outside the enclosure. Kuyu is apparently left on her own for much of the day (although keep in mind we don’t have a tracker on Mulga, Kuyu’s father, so he may well be ‘guarding’ her while Gidjee is hunting), but her mother normally roosts within a few hundred metres of her each night, sometimes apparently sharing the same tree.

Take today for example. At 3pm Gidjee came in to meet Kuyu on a perch tree on the ridge, probably delivering some prey. She spent a few hours with her daughter, then between 6pm and 7pm, the two parted and roosted in different trees, with Gidjee moving south and Kuyu heading north. At 4am the next morning our diligent mother was already heading to a favoured hunting place nearly 2 km from her roost.

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