Monday 13 June 2016
I recently found a spectacular White-bellied Sea-Eagle nest. It is very large, and conspicuously situated in a tall eucalypt.
I found the nest totally by accident. As I was driving through a new development, I saw a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles circling. Although they were quite high, I stopped to take a few photos.
As I was watching them, I heard the unmistakable honking of White-bellied Sea-Eagles. I walked towards the sound and saw the huge nest. Then I saw the Sea-Eagles in a nearby tree.
I will never forget my shock and delight at finding a nest. I have seen many Sea-Eagles over the years, including juveniles, but never a nest. I couldn’t believe my luck!
After spending some time in the nest, the Sea-Eagles flew to a nearby tree and started honking again.
Then they mated. It was brief but I was stunned to have such luck.
Thursday 16 June 2016
I went to visit the nest late this afternoon. No birds, but nice light!
Friday 24 June 2016
Another visit and no birds. I’m wondering if they have another nest.
Saturday 25 June 2016
No birds in the nest, but I did see one flying over a nearby swamp. I heard them calling from the other side of it a bit later.
Saturday 9 July 2016
When I arrived, I saw the Wedge-tailed Eagles. I think they had been upsetting the White-bellied Sea-Eagles, who were honking.
As I crept towards the nest, I suddenly realised that the White-bellied Sea-Eagles were sitting on a branch not far away. I sank down behind a post and watched them. They sat there for a good 20 minutes, just calmly looking around.
Eventually they flew off over the swamp, which is in the opposite direction to the nest.
Wednesday 13 July 2016
I was horrified when I went to check the nest and saw how fast things are being dug up and built near the nest. The eagles weren’t there.
Monday 18 July 2016
I checked on the nest today and things had got much, much worse. My usual parking spot and route to my hiding place was fenced off and a tree had been cut down. One of the eagles was at the nest but was scared off by the continual driving back and forth of two large dump trucks on a dirt track only 100 m from the nest tree.
After having a bit of a tussle with two magpie larks, the eagle settled back in the nest.
But when a grader drove down the vacant land, it flew away and didn’t come back while I was there.
Saturday 23 July 2016
This morning I dropped in briefly and was thrilled to see one White-bellied Sea-Eagle fly in to the nest. It stood there for a while, poked around a bit then flew away. I’m almost certain there was no change of parents.
I went back in the afternoon to try and get photos in the lovely light, but the eagles weren’t there.
Saturday 30 July 2016
The developers are there all the time now. I haven’t visited all week because the last few times I went, the construction vehicles were there in the early morning and didn’t stop until sunset. Today is Saturday and I visited the nest at about 8:45 am. I couldn’t believe it when I saw a bulldozer pushing soil and rocks around what used to be a grassy slope adjoining the land the nest tree is on. It was making an engine noise, a clattering sound like a jackhammer and an occasional beeping sound. It was persistent and intrusive.
I’m afraid human disturbance has caused the eagles to abandon the nest. I was there for about 1 1/4 h and watched the nest for the entire time. I did not see or hear the eagles. I feel particularly sad this week, because it is 47 days since I saw the adults mate. White-bellied Sea-Eagle eggs take 40-42 days to hatch. If things had gone well, baby eagles could be hatching right now in this nest, as they are in the Sydney nest.
This story has a sad ending because developers want to make money and people want to build their dream homes. Years ago, two eagles built their dream home in a strong tree on open land. Now, they are being driven out by the noise and movement of people who are taking, taking, taking the land. The new homes are relentlessly moving forwards, like a glacier. Only the swamp will stop them.
Thursday 18 August 2016
I have been almost afraid to visit the nest but decided to do so after work today. I arrived at about 4:30 pm and parked on the nearest street, as the whole approach has been roped off by the developers. What I saw was truly horrific: great big diggers and water tankers driving up and down near the nest. It was the most graphic example of human disturbance of nesting birds I have ever seen.
I decided that the eagles had long since abandoned the nest, but continued to watch. Just before 5:00 pm, the heavy machinery finished for the day. All of a sudden I noticed a single eagle flying in wide circuits around the nest tree, with a persistent magpie-lark in hot pursuit.
The eagle landed a few times in the nearest tall tree, then miraculously landed in the nest and disappeared into it!
I would have loved to have gone closer, but didn’t even consider doing it after all the eagles had had to endure during the day. They deserved some peace and quiet. I stayed in the car, then left feeling hope, not despair. Two streets away, I saw another eagle flying towards the nest. If only I’d stayed 5 minutes longer!
Saturday 20 August 2016
I dropped in to check the nest and was thrilled to see no heavy machinery and hear no noise. I could see more of what was being done to what was a grassy slope 2 months ago.
It looked as if they were preparing to put in roads and a water supply.
I put on full camo and crept around to the nearest place I could hide and observe the nest. I put a camo scarf on my camera and even covered most of my face. After a while, I noticed an eagle flying towards the nest. I lay back and stayed still, so I didn’t look like a person. The eagle landed on the nest.
Then another one popped up and flew away!!! I was so excited. The one in the nest had been completely hidden. You can see the head of the one that flew in in the nest (on the right).
The one that flew out seemed to sit on the air, moving forwards incredibly slowly. It landed on a dead tree and was set upon by a determined magpie.
It took to the air again and was chased viciously. The other eagle joined it for a while.
One landed in a bushy tree and one landed back in the nest. It snuggled down, then disappeared from sight.
Sunday 21 August 2016
I had been so thrilled to see the pair in the nest that I popped in again this morning (although the sun is in the wrong place for good photos in the morning). After waiting almost an hour, I saw an eagle return to the nest area carrying what looked like a bunch of eucalypt leaves. The magpies were still annoying the eagles.
I’m not sure if it was just bringing fresh material for the nest bowl or had tried to snatch something out of a tree. On the very first day I saw these eagles, I saw one fly to a tree and grab something, but could not tell what it was.
It landed on a bare tree about 200 m from the nest tree and seemed to be looking over the swamp. I had to get home, so I left quietly. When I suddenly appeared, it didn’t respond to me (by flying over and circling me). When I got to my car, I glanced back just in time to see it land in the nest.
The other one popped up.
And then one left.
Saturday 27 August 2016
As I was driving towards the nearest street, I saw one eagle flying towards the nest. I managed to keep it in sight and saw it land on the nest. One eagle flew out almost straight away and flew away over the swamps. I was sure it was gone so I walked to a large stump that I could hide behind. The digging has progressed and some workmen came and went today, even though it was Saturday.
I noticed that Little Corellas were nesting below the eagles (see the little white head in the hollow below) and I think I saw Rainbow Lorikeets going into another hollow.
I waited for nearly two hours until the eagle came back. Before it landed in the nest, the other one popped up and flew to the lookout tree.
The first eagle was chased by a magpie when it was about 50 m from the nest tree.
It eventually landed above the nest.
After a couple of minutes, it descended into the nest and disappeared from sight. I wish I knew if there were eggs, or chicks, and how many. If only I could see in!
When I left, I saw the other eagle in the lookout tree, calmly preening.
Sunday 28 August 2016
I arrived around 4pm and saw one bird on the nest. It flew out and was chased by the magpie. Eagles are BIG!
I heard one honking on the other side of the swamp and the one in the nest flew over to join it. After a few minutes they went to the lookout tree.
I saw one go back to a tree near the nest.
Then get into the nest. I love watching them slowly alight. I was lucky enough to see them come and go a couple of times in lovely afternoon light.