Fish Eagles Displaying
January wildlife news from Oserengoni
I was driving near one of the water points and came by this two African fish eagles perched on a dead Leleshwa tree. Beneath their watch was a great array of wildlife, Giraffes, Wildebeests, Elands and Grants gazelles. Way off in the distance nestled on a large acacia tree was the eagle’s half year old chick calling out to the parents. I turned to see what would have prompted the kwee…. Kwee…. kwee calls from the chick only to realise that a couple dozen of the African white backed vultures were flying headed in the direction of the particular tree the chick was perched. This must have freighted her, for ordinarily, the two hardly compete for food although the fish eagle is known to peculate other bird species in a behaviour scientist refer to as kleptoparatism.
I did not expect much for I guessed the vultures were headed for water, after all, they are scavengers incapable of killing their own prey. I was wrong, the female fish eagle was in no way going to take chances and would do anything to protect her baby-including showing off. In a classical downward dive, she threw herself off the tree and lifted off onto high elevation headed for the direction the vultures were coming from. Typical of birds of prey, the female is the larger of the two, weighing at between 3.2 to 3.6 Kg and with a wingspan of 2.4(8 feet) this female sea eagle named after a French naturalist was going to assert herself in what appeared to be a sheer show of might than a serious act of defence.
The taking off had a couple of both comical and ostentatious effects, the otherwise content wildebeest grazing underneath got the scare of their lives and took off in all directions at speeds that would have left “George”-our lion, impressed. On the other hand the vultures split up mid-air and headed off at great speed.
All this while, the male eagle was sitting on the same patch of tree watching and possibly feeling very proud and happy to have picked on this particular girl.