Saturday, 13 June 2015

Wallu: 2 Year Anniversary

Here is Wallu, doing what he does best - flying high and about to launch into a dive, fast! Just like our eagles, time has flown fast since this photo was taken at the end of last year. We are now half way through this year and have rapidly got to today's important milestone: the 2 year anniversary of Wallu's capture. It seems like only last week that I experienced the exhilarating adrenalin rush and launched from the car toward the trap in which Wallu was caught, before fitting his PTT to see where this eagle would 'dare' (you can read all about that here).

This male eagle has now been satellite-tracked for 730 consecutive days and has roosted every single night in the same home range. A massive concentration of the GPS fixes recorded by Wallu's PTT has occurred adjacent to what is clearly this eagle's main food source: a highly active rabbit warren along the edge of a seasonal lake. Wallu visits this location virtually every day.

More than 10 000 GPS fixes have been recorded from Wallu's PTT during the 2 years of tracking.

Wallu's very concentrated home range lies just north of Lindsay Gordon Lagoon, a large seasonal clayplan on Matuwa.
It is quite fitting that today, on the 2 year anniversary of his capture, Wallu will for the first time be shown to a Blue Mountains audience at the Leura screening of the documentary 'Where Do Eagles Dare?'. I am super excited about showing the film to a different audience in what is certainly a beautiful part of Australia.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Crowdfunding Campaign Launched

I'm super excited to announce the launch of a crowdfunding campaign to continue with this eagle tracking project. Info below!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Kuyurnpa Sighted!

Today, after trekking over 2 km through water-logged country surrounding a Pilbara flood-plain on Roy Hill station, I was delighted to see Kuyurnpa, alive and well! She was satellite-tagged in October 2013 but has not been sighted since she began juvenile dispersal in March last year. The above photo was taken just before this gorgeous girl, now in her second year, took to the air and sailed away in a long glide, disappearing behind the shrubs.

After recording some information about her morning perch, I then investigated her overnight roost site, which was located in a tree a few hundred metres away.

Kuyurnpa's roost tree, where she spent last night, surrounding by flat, cattle-grazed floodplain.

This tree was one of the only eucalypts among an otherwise flat plain. Such trees are probably preferred because they provide a large raptor with easy access and a good view at dawn and dusk when potential prey might walk past. On the way to this location, I sighted three more eagles, two of which were adults. This suggests Kuyurnpa is perhaps hanging around other eagles, a tactic which probably helps her find food and increases her chance of forming bonds with other birds. Such behaviour has been observed with Golden Eagles in Scotland ('birds of a feather flock together'!). Here you can see the horizontal limb on which our girl spent the night, only about 2.5 m above the ground, as well as a fresh pile of whitewash below:

A closer look at the eucalypt bough showed very fresh imprints made by Kuyurnpa's talons. I smiled with excitement to think I was standing almost level with where this beautiful eagle had sat and gripped with those massive weapons, the same ones I had held firm when removing her from the nest to attach a PTT nearly 2 years ago!

Fresh talon imprints show exactly where Kuyurnpa sat.