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.|