Bird Of Prey

I guess there was one interesting activity that happened while camping on the Melbourne Cup Weekend at Neerim South and a simple story is as good as any. On one of the days there was an almighty cacophony in the gully opposite to where we were camping and, upon investigation, we discovered that a Wedge-Tailed Eagle had caught an Ibis. This had raised the ire of numerous birds, especially several Magpie Larks that were in major attack/harassment mode around the eagle.

Wedge-Tailed Eagle with Ibis and Magpie Larks - Neerim South Victoria

Wedge-Tailed Eagle with Ibis and Magpie Larks – Neerim South Victoria

Wedge-Tailed Eagle with Ibis and Magpie Larks - Neerim South Victoria

Wedge-Tailed Eagle with Ibis and Magpie Larks – Neerim South Victoria

Such was the determination and persistence of the Magpie Larks’ attacks, that they actually managed to drive off the eagle. But that was not long-lasting, as the eagle soon returned with reinforcements (two other eagles), clearly in an attempt to cause further distraction and hopefully to enable it a better chance at taking off with the Ibis. But the Magpie Larks weren’t having a bar of that and put up an even greater resistance, facing the significantly larger foe with seemingly no fear.

Wedge-Tailed Eagle with Ibis and Magpie Larks - Neerim South Victoria

Wedge-Tailed Eagle with Ibis and Magpie Larks – Neerim South Victoria

Wedge-Tailed Eagle with Ibis and Magpie Larks - Neerim South Victoria

Wedge-Tailed Eagle with Ibis and Magpie Larks – Neerim South Victoria

Wedge-Tailed Eagle with Ibis and Magpie Larks - Neerim South Victoria

Wedge-Tailed Eagle with Ibis and Magpie Larks – Neerim South Victoria

Eventually the eagle managed to take-off with its prey, but even then it wasn’t an easy task, as it was still beset by the Magpie Larks till the very end. The entire event was quite a spectacle to watch and everything happened pretty fast. It’s not something that you see every day and it’s certainly not something that you can anticipate happening even if you were purposefully observing the eagles, so I’m reasonably happy with the overall results. Some may feel sorry for the Ibis; however, nature is what it is and there was certainly no malice on the eagle’s part, just a need to survive.

Wedge-Tailed Eagle with Ibis - Neerim South Victoria

Wedge-Tailed Eagle with Ibis – Neerim South Victoria

Wedge-Tailed Eagle with Ibis - Neerim South Victoria

Wedge-Tailed Eagle with Ibis – Neerim South Victoria

From the photography perspective, the first five shots were taken with the equivalent of a 500mm lens (on a 35mm camera) hand-held at a high enough shutter speed (1/1600 sec), which more or less froze the action. However, the last two shots were taken with an added 1.4x tele-converter (making the lens the equivalent of a 700mm lens, for more reach) and I forgot to check the shutter speed (1/320 sec), which introduced some blur. That 4kg lens can, at times, be both a help (the weight can dampen camera shake) and a hindrance (the weight can tire you out quickly), but you work with what you have when there’s no time for planning or preparation.

Update: We were back at the same place on the following Australia day weekend and the eagles were back, but this time I tried to get them in flight while they were searching for prey. They were fairly high up and moving about quite fast in the air currents, so I had a devil of a time trying to keep them in the view screen. They’re not the best shots, but I find them interesting regardless.

Wedge-Tailed Eagles - Neerim South Victoria

Wedge-Tailed Eagles – Neerim South Victoria

Wedge-Tailed Eagle - Neerim South Victoria

Wedge-Tailed Eagle – Neerim South Victoria

Wedge-Tailed Eagle - Neerim South Victoria

Wedge-Tailed Eagle – Neerim South Victoria