White-bellied Sea-Eagle nest 1 September 2016

Sunday 4 September 2016

I thought I wouldn’t get to see the eagles this weekend because of family commitments, and I can’t go during the week because of the people working on the site. I only had 30 mins, so I sat in my car, hoping to see something. After about 20 mins, I heard loud honking coming from the swamp. Soon I caught sight of one eagle flying towards the nest. It landed and the other eagle popped up. The first eagle (male by smaller size) had a fish in its right foot! This is the first time I’ve seen an eagle bring food to a nest.

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They stayed in the nest together for a little while. I could see them tugging at the fish but I couldn’t tell if they were feeding any young ones. The male soon moved to a branch and let the female eat alone.

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Saturday 10 September 2016

I arrived at around 4:00 pm and had to sit in the car for ages because there was a big increase in the number of people around: learners driving, people walking dogs, work cars driving down the construction site and families inspecting their slabs and the steel skeletons of their future homes.

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I was finally able to get to my hiding place in a ditch. I lay on my belly in the long grass – hoping no red-bellied black snakes would come by – and covered myself with a 3 m piece of camouflage fabric I bought online. I was so well camouflaged that many different birds flew as close as 1 m over me without responding to me.

The sun set and I began to fear that people had finally caused the eagles to abandon their nest. It was nearly 6 pm when I finally saw an eagle flying towards the nest. The one in the nest flew out, I heard some honking then an eagle flew back and settled in. You can just see its little head.

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Sunday 11 September 2016

I decided to go along again today, but just stay in the car. I took some photos of all the new temporary fences, dug up blocks, concrete slabs and steel frames. I’m so afraid that if there are babies, they’ll be scared out of the nest prematurely by the constant activity and racket.

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Soon after I parked, an eagle flew out of the nest then got back in in about 2 mins. So they’re holding on.

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Saturday 17 September 2016

I decided to just look from the car today, so as not to risk disturbing the eagles. People were really annoying, wandering around looking at all the slabs and frames of rapidly growing houses.

After about 40 minutes, an eagle suddenly flew out of the nest, went about 200 m and settled in a tree which I could not see. I heard loud honking, which sounded like it came from 2 distinct voices. 4 people came and stood no more than 3 m from my car while I was waiting to photograph the eagle returning to the nest. Why there? Grrrr!

One eagle flew around the nest tree several times and eventually settled in the nest. I’m sure it had something in its talons but I cannot see anything in the photos. I’m too far away. The eagle disappeared into the nest very quickly.

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Sunday 25 September 2016

I went out today after a heavy storm with hail. I arrived at about 4:45 pm and stayed in the car (there was a lot of lightning around and some more rain). A couple of times I thought I heard faint honking, but didn’t see an eagle. At about 5:50 pm, I finally saw an eagle fly into a tree about 250 m from the nest. There was a lot of honking – it sounded like two to me but I could only see one in the dim light. It stayed in the tree, so I don’t know how the nesting is going.

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The development is going full speed ahead. There are now seven partly-built houses on the eagle side of the nearest street to the nest, and many more houses on the other side of the street and on adjoining streets.

Wednesday 28 September 2016

I decided to drive by the nest this morning, although I mostly avoid it during the week. I didn’t see the Sea-Eagles, but saw several vehicles driving up and down 60-150 m from the nest.

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I saw the Wedge-tailed eagle pair circling up high for the first time since early July. I wonder if they are nesting, or if their nesting territory is being destroyed too?

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I saw lots of tradies working on the various houses – including on the roofs, where the eagles would clearly see them – and heard chainsaws and other loud tools.

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Another thing: I realised last week that a new road is being made and it looks as if it leads towards the nest. I thought the nest was just inside private land on one side but I don’t know all the boundaries. The poor, poor Sea-Eagles; it will be a miracle if the nesting attempt is successful. I’m so afraid there is a baby -or two- and it will be frightened out of the nest prematurely and die.

Friday 30 September 2016

I’ve been looking at a map and I’ve worked out that where I park is about 330 m from the nest tree. The nest tree is about 50 m inside a fence on the boundary of private land. The closest houses being built are about 250 m from the nest tree and heavy machinery is driving up and down the land all daylight hours 5 days a week between about 60 and 300 m from the nest. The eagles used to have it really good: they are only about 400 m from the start of a body of water and there were extensive grasslands, farmlands and swamps that were probably relatively undisturbed.

The Sydney Sea-Eaglet SE17 is 9 weeks old today. I think if there are babies in my nests they will be a similar age.

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White-bellied Sea-Eagle nest 2 September 2016

Thursday 1 September 2016

As I walked towards the nest, the birds seemed to fly from the nest area. I don’t think they could have seen me, because I was still quite a distance away, and I couldn’t see their nest at that point. I moved under the cover of a tree, put on all my camouflage gear and stayed very still. There’s no way I want to disturb them.

There were 2 black kites flying around and at least one of them went after one of the eagles.

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I waited for nearly an hour and a half and saw an eagle circling every so often. Some times it passed over my hiding place but other times it circled over a nearby stand of trees. It finally landed in the nest tree, but then flew out.

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A while later it landed in the nest tree again. I was hoping to see it go down to the nest, but it flew away.

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I had to go, and didn’t see them at all when I left.

Monday 5 September 2016

When I walked towards the nest I saw a single eagle flying around. I settled under a bush 150 m away (I find it very hard to judge distances, but have checked on Google Maps. Don’t be fooled by the photos – they are heavily cropped.). Over the time I was there the eagle would fly a bit then settle in the nest tree 4-5 m above the nest, or in another tree and just sit and look around.

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At about 5:15 pm I decided to go while it was not there and took off my camo pants and collar. Just then, the eagle returned. It landed above the nest, then after a few minutes descended into the nest!. I watched it completely disappear from sight. When it had been out of sight for a while, I quietly and quickly left, and it stayed in the nest.

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Thursday 15 September 2016

As I walked to the nest from the direction that usually allows an unnoticed approach, I was spotted by one of the eagles. I was still about 300 m or farther away and could not see the nest. The eagle seemed to float above me, riding the wind without the need to flap its wings.

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I walked to my usual bush and scurried under it. I quickly donned camo shirt, gloves, collar and scarf then covered myself with a 3 m piece of camo fabric. The eagle flew in large circles over the whole nest area, including sometimes over my hiding place. I heard  it make a few soft noises then saw the other one.

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They flew together for a long time, sometimes low, sometimes high. I didn’t know if they knew where I was or if they were checking to see if I’d gone. I stayed totally still, leaning against the trunk of the tree.

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One landed in the tree above the nest. I worried about both being off the nest so decided to go as soon as they flew out of sight. One soon saw me and flew around until I was more than 500 m away. They gave the appearance of watching what I was doing rather than defending their nest. Still, I may not be able to there any more, because I can’t risk having them leave the eggs or chicks for too long. I guess as soon as they see me, I’ll just turn around and go home.

Monday 19 September 2016

I decided to go towards the nest the first way I found, but stay completely under trees (and walk quietly). I think I got to the end tree, where I could just see the nest, without the eagles seeing me. I saw one fairly soon, flying over, so I donned my camo and clung to the tree trunk. I realised it was carrying something: a dusky moorhen. I had been wondering what this pair ate.

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I watched one, then the two for a long time. Sometimes one flew over and made a ‘cluck cluck’ sound. I didn’t know if it saw me (other birds had flown right past me at ground level without seeing me) or was just patrolling the nest area. If it saw me, I know where the saying ‘eagle eyes’ comes from because I was so still and under a leafy tree.

I saw a fast bird of prey that I thought was a falcon go past and a short time later I saw a light morph little eagle. It seemed to circle with them and they didn’t seem to mind it.

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I couldn’t get good photos because I stayed hidden. I could sometimes only see one eagle but didn’t know where the other one was. I didn’t see them go to the nest but loved seeing them fly together. I decided to leave early and came out of hiding so they would see me go. I got a few photos  – they are very lovely.

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Monday 26 September 2016

I walked towards the nest completely under the trees but as soon as I got to the end tree, which is the first place I can see the nest from, an eagle flew from the nest tree towards me. I don’t know if it was in the nest because when they get into the nest they are out of sight. I still can’t see if there are any babies in the nest.

The eagle started to circle over my tree so I moved farther away. When I couldn’t see it, I stopped against a tree (150 m away) and covered myself with my camo fabric. The eagle didn’t seem to know I was there and soon settled on a branch above the nest. All of a sudden the other eagle dived towards the nest, fast with wings pulled in, and landed on it.

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It flew off the nest again. I noticed it was carrying something.

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It looked like a little water bird, maybe an Australasian grebe.

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Both eagles started circling the nest area and I thought they knew I was still around. I decided to walk out into full view so they could see me leave and know I had gone. The eagle kept hold of its prey the whole time. It’s important that if there are babies, they eat all prey provided so they grow properly.

Friday 30 September 2016

Today I visited in the morning and I had some very exciting discoveries! As I began my walk across to the eagle nest, I noticed a dark bird leave a nest in a tall eucalypt. I wondered if it was a black kite, although I think there is only one official record of them nesting in our area. It came back and I saw that it was an Australian raven. I thought I heard a whistling kite, and about 200 m from the raven, I saw a whistling kite in a tree.

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I thought I saw a second whistling kite, but when I looked up, the bird that was flying was a black kite. I looked at the group of 6 mature eucalypts and there was a nest made of stout sticks with a black kite in it!!!!

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There may have been 2 whistling kites and 2 black kites: I’m not sure. The black kite nest was 4-5 m from the top of a tree that was about 35 m tall. The tree was on the edge of an open grassland.

I walked towards the eagle nest and saw an eagle start to fly towards me from the nest tree or an adjacent tree when I was about 230 m away (I’ve had a look on some maps so I can be more accurate with distance). I then saw the other eagle flying along the tree line where the nest tree is, carrying something in its talons. The prey was round and dark; I believe it was another dusky moorhen or similar.

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I also saw a nankeen kestrel! Looking on the map, I think I may have stopped at a tree about 150 m away. A magpie chased the eagle with the prey (smaller eagle, so male). A black kite and the female eagle came over every so often to look at me and flew around each other.

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There was some work going on in the new development, which I can see from the map is 300 m from the nest tree. It wasn’t very noisy, but 2 helicopters flew over while I was there. One of the eagles landed in the nest tree (top left corner) at one point. I hoped that it had accepted that I was no threat, sitting completely still against a large tree trunk. However, it flew out again, so I left, and checked out the black kite nest again.

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White-bellied Sea-Eagle nest 1 August 2016

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.

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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.

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The eagle landed a few times in the nearest tall tree, then miraculously landed in the nest and disappeared into it!

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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.

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It looked as if the developers were preparing to put in roads and a water supply.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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It took to the air again and was chased viciously. The other eagle joined it for a while.

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One landed in a bushy tree and one landed back in the nest. It snuggled down, then disappeared from sight.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The other one popped up.

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And then one left.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The first eagle was chased by a magpie when it was about 50 m from the nest tree.

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It eventually landed above the nest.

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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!

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When I left, I saw the other eagle in the lookout tree, calmly preening.

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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!

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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.

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I saw one go back to a tree near the nest…

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…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.

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White-bellied Sea-Eagle Nest 2 August 2016

1 August 2016

Today I  approached the nest from a different direction. I could tell there was an eagle standing on the nest, so I only crept as far as the nearest cover I could get to without being seen (a clump of spindly bushes 150 m from the nest tree. What a thrill: my first sighting of an eagle on the nest.

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After about 10 mins, the eagle flew away, strongly, and in a straight line. It was over open country and I could still see it when it would have been several kilometres away.

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I decided to leave while the nest was unattended, so I would not be seen. When I had walked halfway back to my car, an eagle flew past me travelling towards the nest tree. It came from a different direction, so I assume it was the partner!

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15 August 2016

I haven’t been able to visit the nest for a while, but today was a beautiful day so I called in after work. One eagle – or maybe two but never together – circled then landed in the nest tree at regular intervals.

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It usually landed near the top of the tree, well above the nest, and was harassed and chased by a pair of currawongs.

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I waited until after the sun set, but did not see it go into the nest. So I still don’t know if the nest is in use. I think I only saw one eagle, but maybe the other is incubating, right down in the middle of the nest.

Monday 29 August 2016

Last week was rainy so I didn’t visit the nest. Today, as I made my way towards the nest, an eagle flew overhead.

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I hid under/in a tree about 150 m away. As I looked through my camera, I realised that a second eagle was in the nest!! It’s not immediately obvious, against the left bough.

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After some time, this eagle flew out and went to a branch higher in the nest tree.

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The first eagle sat in a tree about 100 m from the nest tree. They both just stayed in these positions for more than an hour.

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Eventually, the first eagle flew around a few times then landed near the second one in the nest tree.

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They stayed there for about 10 mins, then flew off together. Once they had been gone for a while, I walked back to my car (more than 0.5 km away). I was far away from the nest, nearly back to my car, when one eagle flew over me!

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White-bellied Sea-Eagle nest 1 July 2016

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.

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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.

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Eventually they flew off over the swamp, which is in the opposite direction to the nest.

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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.

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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.

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After having a bit of a tussle with two magpie larks, the eagle settled back in the nest.

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But when a grader drove down the vacant land, it flew away and didn’t come back while I was there.

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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.

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I went back in the afternoon to try and get photos in the lovely light, but the eagles weren’t there.

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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.

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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.

White-bellied Sea-Eagle Nest 2 July 2016

5 July 2016

Today, acting on a tip from a bird friend, I found a large nest. It is not as large as the one I found last month, but impressive nonetheless.

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I wondered if it was in use, and by whom. Before long, a White-bellied Sea-Eagle flew overhead. I crouched in the bushes, hoping that I was not visible from the air.

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I stayed until the sun set, hoping to see the bird visit the nest, but did not see it again.

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19 July 2016

After work, I went to visit the nest for a second time. Soon after I arrived, I saw a single adult Sea-Eagle circling high in the sky.

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It disappeared for half an hour, then suddenly appeared. It appeared to circle the nest tree but did not land. I could not see a partner, either in the nest or in the air.

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I stayed until the sun set. All the while, I could hear the continuous drone of construction vehicles ripping up land for housing. The new roads and house lots are very close, but I don’t think they will get any closer. If this Sea-Eagle does have a partner, maybe they won’t be rudely pushed out of their home by human disturbance.

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As  I left, I saw the Sea-Eagle perched in the bare branches at the top of a tall eucalypt. I couldn’t help wondering if it was watching the construction vehicles eat into its habitat, and feeling as devastated as I was.

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26 July 2016

After work, I headed to the nest, equipped with full camo gear (I picked up a great pair of polar fleece camo pyjama pants last weekend). While still a reasonable distance away, I saw one, then two, Sea-Eagles! I also saw at least 4 black kites. They were all circling fairly high. I snuck over to the nest after they moved out of sight. I did not see them for nearly an hour, then one started flying in large circles around the area of the nest tree. While hidden in camo gear and under heavy foliage, I took a few photos in the late afternoon light.

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I thought it had gone then suddenly realised one of them was perched on a branch of the nest tree!

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I waited until I thought it had gone then left by walking under trees as far as I could from the nest tree before appearing in the open. The Sea-Eagle did see me and cruised around me, moving forwards very slowly. It is so much easier to photograph them without sun on the white feathers. This photo was taken after the sun had set.

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White-bellied Sea-Eagle nest 1 June 2016

Monday 13 June 2016

Today I 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.

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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.
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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.

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Then they mated. It was brief but I was stunned to have such luck.

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Thursday 16 June 2016

I went to visit the nest late this afternoon. No birds, but nice light!

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Friday 24 June 2016

Another visit and no birds. I’m wondering if they have another nest.

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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.

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