Saturday, 20 December 2014

To the Water's Edge

The last time we checked in with Jarrkanpa, he had only just fledged, making his first flight at the age of nearly 3 months. The map above shows his very limited movement from the nest, which is situated just behind a line of dense Melaleauca shrubs that border the edge of a seasonal lake.

Eleven days after his first flight, Jarrkanpa had moved to a new perch and over to the water's edge:

And by yesterday, just over 3 weeks after fledging, he had learned to move along the whole edge of the wetland, flying to roost in a patch of tall gum trees about 700m east of his nest (as shown on the far right of this below map):

You're probably wondering why I'm saying 'wetland' when these maps clearly show a white claypan which doesn't look very wet! But if you cast your mind back to the updates from earlier this year, you might remember this post from March which showed the amazing flood waters that soaked the landscape. Although not shown in these maps, the wetland has remained remarkably full for most of the year, attracting large numbers of breeding waterbirds including swans, ducks, stilts and terns. This abundance of birdlife, together with the flourishing mammals attracted to the water and surrounding green pasture, will have produced some great food for eagles, a key reason for the breeding success of nearby eagle pairs. 

Here's a picture taken just after sunset on a late October evening, showing a foreground of samphire still inundated with rare outback surface water. Although it is now dwindling as daily temperatures rise, this water is still present today, and it will no doubt be very helpful at keeping local wildlife (i.e. eagle food) alive, and building Jarrkanpa into a strong young wedge-tail well equipped for his life ahead.

In the last post I also uploaded a map predicting the size of Jarrkanpa's parents' home range. We can now look at the past 3 weeks tracking data and see how he has started to fill out my predicted home range quite nicely:

My predicted home range for Jarrkanpa prior to him fledging.

Jarrkanpa's home range 3.5 weeks after fledging. Wallu's territory is shown in the background.

You can see from this early tracking information that, as Kuyurnpa did last year, our little boy is now starting to expand his flight area to fill out what is probably his parents' home range. How far will he have moved when we next check in?

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