Sea Eagle and Turtle dinner

Sounds like a fairy tale, but no, when I emerged from the track at the Bingie Wetlands a beautiful adult White-bellied Sea Eagle took off from the other side of the pond.

I hid behind the foliage at the edge of the track, the bird was on the other side of the water!

My heart sank, so near, yet my chance had flown before I even realised it was there. Black ducks on the pond also swam away from me and took off.

Pacific Black Ducks

However another bird circled around, landed and proceeded to feed on something on the ground.

circling raptor

It was very speckled, obviously a raptor, I thought it might be a Harrier.

What is it? in the photo you can also see the turtle shell at the bird’s feet

I was hiding behind a wattle bush and trying to hold steady to capture clear shots of the very distant bird.

bird on top

Finally I had to stand up, but the bird was so absorbed in the struggle with its prey, that it did not fly. Now I could see that the inert lump on the sand was definitely a small turtle.

my last photo, the turtle is upside down, a lot of fun having been enjoyed by the juvenile Sea Eagle

When I got home I studied the bird book and discovered it was not a Swamp Harrier, but a juvenile White-bellied Sea Eagle. You can see although he is very speckled, there are patches of white as his adult feathers come through. Perhaps the adult I saw leaving had shown the young one how to take a turtle from the pond, and then left him to work out how to get the meat. When the young Sea Eagle had flown off a Raven came down to feed.

P.S. Email from my local photographer friend John “Christine, I enjoyed the eagle photos but it is not a juvenile sea eagle.  The shot of the bird flying shows flat wing shape with very  long fingers  – sea eagles have a characteristic deep V shape and the fingers aren’t that long.  The tail looks wrong too, the sea eagle has a wedge shaped one whereas your bird is more square.  I think you initial harrier ID was closer to the mark.

I have not had time to reinvestigate yet, but options are open!


21 thoughts on “Sea Eagle and Turtle dinner

    • thank you claire, i was afraid they were too unclear, so good to know you enjoyed them …. i was showing S your allotment story since he is president of our community garden but forgot to comment … keep up the good work!

  1. Lucky you, Christine, to watch this display of Nature in the works. I do feel for the poor little turtle though. Had I been there, I’d have probably tried to save the little fellow …. I know, that’s a Nature “no,no”…but I’m sure the turtle would have been relieved. 😉

    • with hindsight i would say he had been quickly dispatched by that large beak, probably well before i stumbled in to the scene, i was too awestruck by the eagle to think about it at the time, and so far away that i was not sure what he had for a while 🙂

  2. I ‘ve watched the carnivore birds. It is remarkable that whether it’s a fish or rodents what they eat are the guts and toss away the meat. I think lions and tigers do that too.

  3. I wish you had unlimited funding and could afford to buy the really long lenses, because you clearly have the desire and time to try for these shots. Oh, and if you ever do get unlimited funding, Canon has a really nice 800mm lens. You know, in case you should feel the desire to buy a poor American a nice Christmas present. Beautiful shots and thanks for sharing.

    • great idea randy, and when you come into your millions we could meet up somewhere with our long lenses and take some wonderful pics! meanwhile i think even having a small portable tripod might be a help 🙂

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