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!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Yirrabiddi


I'm SOARING!! Today I experienced the most THRILLING moment of my life so far! It was a sheer privilege to be with respected Noongar elder Dr. Noel Nannup, on this, his Noongar Country, to work with a native raptor that has been soaring over the Jarrah forest and watching humans engage with country for thousands of years. Noel named this absolutely gorgeous female eagle 'Yirrabiddi' - which in language means 'path up above' or 'path in the sky' ('yira' = up, above/sky; 'bidi' = path or trail), because of the beautiful trails this bird will leave as she moves through the sky. Noel's first mention of the name brought tears to my eyes, as it was such a perfect, meaningful Noongar title. What a piece of heartfelt magic!

Yirrabiddi was born on a large eyrie very close to my home in the Mundaring Shire, and the territory in which her parents live includes my family home. I have a distinct memory from the age of about 7 of watching the adult eagles circling high above our block, and this was fresh in my mind as I headed out to check the nest last week. Seeing a very large juvenile perched high in the the nest tree was a thrilling discovery, and I knew she was ready to be satellite-tagged. I have wanted for so long to find out more about the movements of this particular Wedge-tail family, and it was an exciting feeling today to take the first step in doing so.

Yirrabiddi's nest was over 20m high in a glorious Marri tree.
 
After scaling the nest tree and securing the juvenile eagle, I was fortunate to have the assistance of Neil Hamilton, a good friend and eagle handling mentor, who held Yirrabiddi while I took measurements, fitted her with leg rings, and attached the transmitter. Having her powerful eyesight temporarily disabled with a falconry hood kept the wedgie calm throughout the process, and she had a certain aura about her that made this tagging experience all the more special.

 

While ringing and tagging eagles it is always interesting to take note of certain details that are not necessarily easy to see when the bird is viewed at a distance. Yirrabiddi had particularly beautiful nape (neck) feathers which were fringed with blonde at their tips. This is something I have observed with only a few Perth Hills Wedge-tails (including one ringed last year), but most are uniformly golden on their head. I've seen quite a few photos of juvenile wedgies from other parts of Australia, some of which are almost white, and am always fascinated by this individual variation.


With the processing complete, it was time to return Yirrabiddi to the canopy. I scaled the rope and hung just below the eyrie, then removed her from the canvas bag and lifted her towards the sky. With talons thrust forward and a single, powerful flap of her mighty wings, she lunged upward and stood securely back on the nest. What a moment that was!


My warmest thanks to all who were involved today, especially Noel, for agreeing to be the Noongar presence I was so keen to have visit this special homeland Wailitj family, and Brendon Gough, an old Parkerville friend who also grew up in this area and was watching the eagles long before I was even born! I am also super grateful to my good friend Judy Dunlop who took the amazing photographs that solidify the memories of this wonderful experience. I am feeling incredibly humbled, and blessed to be alive. What an amazing eagle day!!

A happy bunch. My bird-banding supervisor Neil Hamilton with grandson James; Dr. Noel Nannup; Yirrabiddi, and my good friend and fellow Parkervillian Brendon with daughter Jorja.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Korung: Another Sat-tagged Eagle


Yesterday it was a wonderful feeling to deploy the second GPS/Satellite Platform Terminal Transmitter (PTT) on a juvenile Wailitj / Wedge-tailed Eagle in the Perth Hills region. Meet Korung, a beautiful female eaglet who is about 9 weeks old. As with Wailitj, the male satellite-tagged last week, she was removed from the nest for a brief period while the PTT was fitted, and while she was ringed/banded and measured. Then she was then returned safely to the canopy, which has a great view over the surrounding Jarrah forest. I am extremely grateful to the crowdfunders who supported this research, and for them I recorded a short video of Korung back on her nest which you can watch on my Facebook page here.

We were fortunate to have had Hilary Smale from ABC local radio accompany us and produce a fantastic podcast for Peter Bell's breakfast show on ABC 720, which you can listen to here. Lorraine Horsley also wrote up a piece for ABC News online, and Sarah Brookes from the wonderful, local Echo News published this article on the significance of a fantastic, positive collaboration with the Department of Parks and Wildlife, following the death of two eaglets in a prescribed burn last year, which is now helping to reduce the impact of burning on these majestic eagles.

It will be wonderful to watch the first movements of these satellite-tagged Wedge-tails as they start to explore their home territories, then wander across larger expanses of Perth Hills forest!

 

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Inspiring Glen Forrest


Last week I was privileged to have the opportunity to attend Glen Forrest Primary School and give a talk to the entire assembly about the importance of engaging with and preserving our wonderful environment. As with all public speaking activities, I emphasised to the next generation that in order for humans to be healthy and happy, we need a healthy environment. This talk was part of a local environmental project initiated by a dedicated group of locals and school 'Mums', supported by the Mundaring Shire, who have been working hard to preserve bushland in the Glen Forest Super Block, a large remnant of native vegetation that supports a range of local native wildlife.

After the talk, I helped the students install a number of Nest-boxes in the Super Block, which will be monitored by the school to see which birds or mammals take up residence in the coming months. You can read more in the Echo News article here.