Welcome to the News section of the iNSiGHT Ornithology website (
www.simoncherriman.com). This blog contains updates about various things I've been up to, interesting environmental issues and observations I make regularly while going about my day. It is designed to be fun AND educational, and inspire you about our wonderful natural world. Happy reading!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

10 Years

Today I visited this Wedge-tailed Eagle territory and discovered a beautiful female sitting on her nest. She flew as soon as she saw me (from a few hundred metres away!), and I climbed high above the nest, revealing a well-lined nest cavity that housed 2 eggs. This is the tenth year in a row I've made such a visit and followed the breeding progress of this particular pair of eagles. They have built quite a few new nests during this time, using each one for a couple of years then moving on to a new site. But today, almost as though celebrating 'my' decade, I found the eagles had returned to and refurbished an old nest, the one I first recorded them breeding in back in 2004. At the time the nest was brand new that year, but years later had almost totally collapsed prior to this year's breeding season. The giant Jarrah tree in which it sits has now died (as you can see in the photo below), has 2 feral bee hives in it, and several years ago hosted some nesting (feral) Rainbow Lorikeets, but nevertheless it offers the eagles a prominent view of their domain.

Having a clutch of 2 eggs is the usual scenario for wedgies, and this female has laid 2 every year now for 10 years. Below you can see the difference in egg colouration - one egg seems to 'get more ink' on its way out and consequently is always more speckled than the other. It is also normal for eagles to rear only one chick to fledging age, a pattern this pair has also followed, producing 1 juvenile in 8 out of 9 years, with 2006 being a bumper year for rabbits resulting in both chicks surviving. Unfortunately, 2 of the young eagles produced over the last decade have died, both within months of fledging, after colliding with powerlines.

From my position high above the nest on the other side of the tree (the right-hand fork of the above photo),  I could see right over the surrounding Banksia woodland. This territory is one of my favourites for providing context, as just 18km away, the skyline of Perth is visible in the distance. I often use this as an example to illustrate that wildlife is all around us, not a separate thing that is kept away in National Parks, and having our largest species of raptor breeding on a capital city's doorstep is a strong reminder of this. In this photo, you can see the female eagle watching me from 1km away (top right), and if you look really closely, you can also see another much older nest silhouetted against the city skyline, more than 2km away. What a view to celebrate my 10th year of eagle checking!

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