Tuesday, 25 November 2014

On the Wing

Jarrkanpa has now learned to fly - but only just! Today is the first day we have recorded satellite fixes away from his nest, indicating his first (albeit very small) movements. It is now one week since we satellite-tagged him, and based on an age estimate calculated when he was banded, Jarrkanpa has flown the nest at the age of approximately 90 days.

Can you imagine the feeling of making your first flight, lifting up above the tree-tops, floating on the wind, and getting an even greater perspective on the wetland at the doorstep of your nest? It must be pretty amazing!

We know juvenile eagles' first movements tend to mirror those of their parents very closely, based on field studies of wedge-tails, and from Kuyurnpa's post-fledging movements last year as tracked by satellite (although for this study we only have a sample size of n=1!).  So based on this, I expect that tracking Jarrkanpa's progress should reveal approximately where his parents' home range extends to. As today is the 'official' fledging date, I've decided to make a prediction of the size of this range, using the simple map below (click to enlarge). This is based on the proximity of neighbouring nests which I know have been active in 2014.

You might recognise the wetland shown in this map - it is the same one covered by much of Wallu and Wurru's home range. The nests of their two 'southern neighbours' are shown at the bottom left of the map - N62 and N72. Jarrkanpa's parents' neighbours' most recently active nest is N44, to the east. We'll see over the next few weeks how accurate this prediction is. Watch this space!

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