Friday, 21 October 2016

Welcome Goonta!

This is the beautiful Goonta, the latest magnificent Wedge-tailed Eagle to join our family of satellite-tracked birds. Goonta was banded last week, and after receiving approval to commence the fieldwork component of my PhD a few days ago, we returned to her nest today to fit her with a harness-mounted PTT.

Bill Brown prepares to place Goonta in a handling bag after her PTT has been attached.

Using a new attachment procedure that I recently learned from my wonderful raptor-researching friends in Scotland, I fitted the transmitter to the eagle's back using a Teflon harness, which is stitched on at the front creating a 'weak link' that will eventually disintegrate. The transmitter is light (70 g) and makes up only a very small proportion  of the bird's total weight (2.5 kg). It was wonderful to be able to share this experience with Bill, and also with a good family friend David Ryder, who I have known since very early on in my ornithological career (about 27 years!), and who has also been volunteering to help with this year's research.

After snapping a few photos, Goonta was then placed back on her nest, and this time she stood and watched us carefully, probably wondering if we would be back to visit again. Other than to spy her from a distance and make sure it is behaving normally, we won't need to disturb her again - the monitoring will now be done via a remote satellite connection!

The PTT is just visible on Goonta's back.

It is hard to believe that 3 years has passed since we tagged the previous juvenile female wedgie Kuyurnpa, who has now travelled over 10 000 km each year since. Time - just like these amazing birds - flies fast! I can't wait to see where Goonta goes!

Goonta watches the sun set from her outback eyrie. It won't be long before she'll by flying towards it.

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