Friday, 5 May 2017

Perth to the Pilbara

It's now a month since Walyunga, a beautiful male Wedge-tail from our Perth study area, began his juvenile dispersal period and started flying north. Amazingly this bird decided to maintain this trajectory for the next three weeks, moving between 50 and 200 km per day until he hit the Pilbara coast! By midday on 30th April, Walyunga had arrived at Karratha, 1200km north of the nest on which he hatched. This remarkable journey is the longest continuous distance travelled ever recorded for a Wedge-tailed Eagle, a truly amazing feat considering Walyunga is only 7 months old! It is a similar movement pattern to that of Kuyurnpa, who also reached the Pilbara coast in her first few months of independence, and I suspect the recent wet conditions in this region are an attractant for young eagles seeking areas with high productivity. This is something that will hopefully become clearer as my research continues.

Meanwhile Malya, our single survivor from the Matuwa study site, conducted his first 'prospecting' flight on 6th April, drifting 12km north of his natal territory between 11 am and 3pm, before coming home to roost. Then, on 26th April the 9am flight departed Matuwa and Malya was on board! By sunset this eagle was roosting 140km north, and he continued in this direction for the next few days, reaching Lake Dora near Punmu Community by the end of the month. What amazing distances these eagles are capable of flying! More updates soon!

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