Wednesday, 24 February 2010

It's about fun....Eastern Imperial Eagle

I had no idea when I started writing this blog that raptors, eagles in particular, were going to descend from the skies, so to speak, and feature so prominently here. I was expecting to be spending a lot of time on shorebirds in the Laem Pak Bia area. Well about 30 minutes south of my home herre, just off the main highway, is eagle heaven and there hasn't been an occasion in the last few weeks when I have been there that I haven't seen at least two species of aquila eagles: greater spotted, steppe and eastern imperial eagles make the Wat Norng Blah Lai area their winter quarters. Unfortunately I am a bit out of my depth and I am learning that correct identification of these species is by no means straightforward.

Thanks to Phil Round I can confirm the photograph below is of a juvenile eastern imperial eagle. I made it a steppe eagle, juvenile, and possibly a greater spotted eagle, pale morph. I sent the picture to Phil and he kindly put me right: "classic juvenile imperial". I took it on 6th February 2010 in the Wat Norng Lai Blah area.

Eastern imperial eagle, juvenile, aquila heliaca, Wat Norng Blah Lai 06.02.2010

This spurred me on to do a little research and  it is officially listed as Vulnerable by BirdLife International. The population is estimated to be between 5,200 and 16,800 birds and the trend suggests these numbers are declining.  The link takes you to a very thorough profile of the species and it makes reference in a number of places to the ease with which it can be confused with other species. Phil Round also acknowledged this too. Phew!

Now I feel humbled as opposed to that initial feeling of frustration at not being able to make a correct identification. I really want to learn more about these birds. I want them to survive and flourish. What a privilege to be able to view such a majestic bird and indeed to be able to capture it on camera. Phil Round advised though that changes in rice cultivation cycles could have a profound effect on these eagles; specifically, in Thailand,  the move from single to double cropping driven by economic necessity.  It is amazing what you learn as you go along.

I am hooked.

1 comment:

  1. Good shot, the weather was so dry and parched in your area.