Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Aquila audax ( bold eagle) Wedge-tailed Eagle.

Much of yesterday was spent sitting on the new lawn steps. They're new, for one thing, and having somewhere in the open to sit was what a lot of the fuss and bother was all about. So here we sat, dogs and I, for the endless fly-past of helicopters going on overhead. But that's wasn't all.

Late in the day a wedge-tailed eagle, the largest bird of prey in Australia, swept overhead. With a wing span of up to 2.5m, it can soar up to 2000m for hours, riding the winds and thermals, helped by its keen eyesight with frequencies extending into infrared and ultraviolet. We often see them around here, singly or in pairs (they are monogamous), lording it over their territory, arcing across the sky in vast circles. Probably unjustly victimised in the past for supposedly killing lambs, they are now protected. Their diet is mainly rabbits, smaller roos, wallabies, reptiles and road kill. If they do take to live-stock, it is thought to be in small numbers, and then animals in poor health or dead anyway.

This one was flying solo, but not for long. From seemingly out of nowhere, in flew another smaller bird, at the same altitude, and sometimes even higher. It flew in close, came alongside, took to some sudden near misses, or is that near hits, looped-the-loop a few times, tossed off a few aerial smart-arse tricks, and then was on its way. Distance made it hard to see the smaller bird's detail. Zooming in on the shots, I suspect it may have even been a young wedgie. Anyway, I'll have what it's having. It was a fantastic and daring display, and these are just a few of the shots taken with a zoom, then again zoomed in with i-photo:


Idling through my bird bible, the Readers Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds, I find that intruder is most likely the feared Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), the pigeon hawk, the peregrine.

The silhouette is classic.

The look is scary.

It is one of the world's best known raptors, the fastest bird known, a symbol of speed and audacity whose appearance sparks panic in likely prey, any small to medium sized bird flying in the open. When it dives (stoops) for a victim, it can reach speeds up to 300 km/hr, braking by pulling its body up and grabbing the prey with its talons. It is known to harass larger birds, flying more slowly than when attacking, with all the look of playing. That's what is going on in those pictures above.


persiflage said...

Hello. I am enjoying your blog, which I found when I googled Pinchgut. I too admire and enjoy their work and had done a little rave on my own blog, and was glad to see there were other comments. Are you a musician?

wanderer said...

Hello persiflage and thanks for dropping by. Not I'm not a musician, at least not this time round!