Sunday, February 5, 2012
Encounters with Fish Eagles
African Fish Eagles, close relatives and almost look-alikes of the American Bald Eagle are in many ways a symbol of African wildlife, and certainly of African bird life. They exist in many areas south of the Sahara and can be found almost anywhere where there is water. The sound of a fish eagle calling is so evocative that one can more-or-less see them when one hears them. I tried to find web links to that evocative sound to add here, but the one I tried did not work. Sorry 'bout that.
Here are a couple of series of pics from encounters with these beautiful birds.
The first ones came from the Okavango Delta in Botswana where our boatman showed us how it is that so many wonderful pictures of eagles “at the moment of grasp” are seen grabbing a fish from the surface of the water. He purchased a few fish from a local market, none more than about 18 cm in length, and then proceeded to make two small cuts, one near each end, in the side of the fish. We had wondered what the lengths of papyrus in the bottom of the boat were for. Now we found out. The boatman threaded about 15 cm of the reed into one of the cuts, and made sure it just emerged from the other. As we approached yet another bank-side tree with its resident eagle he began to make a call sounding just like the bird. He had had lots of practice and the bird at once paid attention.
We had other amusing and not so amusing (at least for the birds) encounters. The flagship spot for tourists to bird watch and enjoy a two-hour boat ride in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park is a trip down the Kasinga Channel.