Our second Black Eagle nest camera was set up at the Porcupine Hills nest on the 9th September 2013 at the same time the nestling was tagged. We only returned in April, to retrieve the camera and I have selected a good sample from over 7,000 pictures to provide some insight into the activity that occurs between long quiet spells where nothing happens except for the chick to shift position, stretch a leg or wing or fiddle with some nesting material.
Below are the first two pictures taken by the camera just after the chick was placed back onto the nest after tagging. A partially consumed Egyptian Goose was found on the nest.
About two hours afterwards, the female paid a visit and fed both the chick and herself on the remains.
our biggest surprise was the next prey item brought onto the nest
I am told it is a grey rhebok calf that weighs in the vicinity of 5-6Kgs. In all likelihood the animal was caught above the nest so that the eagle could glide down onto the nest with its prey.
Rhebok are usually associated with hilly/rocky areas, but they have been seen amongst the wheat fields of Caledon and then often on plateaus and valleys in the mountains. Porcupine hills is situated in a relatively shallow area and therefore one could conclude that they were grazing on some steep slopes.
Another explanation put forward that I am not entirely sure I agree with but cannot rule out is “the possibility of the calf being plucked from lower ground as the eagles have massive power and it has been recorded that they do molest(interpretation can be debated upon) antelope in general.”
I was very surprised when 24 hours later all that was left on the nest of the young calf were the hind quarters.
the adults must have managed to somehow separate two thirds of the carcass and remove it from the nest. Activity that the camera did not pick up.
A few days later it rained and I thought it would be interesting to note that prey can be caught in the rain as the following sequence of picture show.
I regularly come across pictures like these where I am sure the eagles are aware of the camera. Its operation is entirely silent and the infra red flash at night emits no light, however there must be the faintest of buzzing or clicking that the eagles pick up.
And below judging by the size of its crop, an entirely replete chick.
Other prey items brought to the nest:
Red Rock Rabbit?
and another rabbit, less red this time
I am not sure if the following sequence of pictures are of the remains of an Egyptian Goose or perhaps another aquatic bird…..
It was interesting to note that during the three weeks the camera was taking pictures no dassies featured as a prey item. We hope to set up another camera this next season and compare prey items brought to the nest.