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.

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