The bird in the photo above, a Wedge-tailed Eagle, was one of a pair that decided to scare the congregated ducks on the ponds of the water treatment ponds of Papunya, a remote community about 250 kms WNW of Alice Springs. I thought the ducks had become a little bit neurotic but then looked behind me and saw the WTEs. One of them came closer than the other, and I haven't witnessed them swooping ducks before even though I have heard lots of people say this happens. Up close, they really are amazing birds, and even "tucked" they still look huge. The pair dipped on the ducks, and headed off to hunt further afield. The following is a series of photos as it turned and swooped, with the final photo showing a very lucky Grey Teal in the background as the WTE was checking me out, not its normal food..
My second Bird of Prey experience comes with no photos, but a story. I was watching the Zebra Finches fly from behind the car, over the fence and down to the water in the Ponds. They would then fly back in numbers and head for the trees behind the car once more. On the third occasion of this event, as they were returning, I spotted what I thought was a pigeon to start with, but then soon realised it was a bird of prey. It was coming fast, and swooped down low over the ponds, rose sharply to avoid the fence, still chasing the Zebra Finches and then chose a finch to target. The Zebra Finch sped over the fence, flew close to the ground between the fence and the car and then flew safely into some thickly branched part of the tree behind the car. The Sparrowhawk had almost caught the finch as it went over the fence, then followed the finch down low and came directly over the front door of the car towards the tree behind. I could have almost reached out and grabbed it as it flew past it was that close. Not that I would have been anywhere near quick enough. It failed in its attempt to catch the finch and after realising too late it couldn't go into the branches, it seemed to flutter about above me then flew off to a nearby tree to lick its wounds, still hungry. I'm not sure who got the biggest shock, but I certainly had a much more enjoyable experience. For once the camera wasn't at the ready, but it was special to watch the events unfold for a change.
The rest are photos of birds and some of the countryside around the Papunya area:
The beautiful colours of the road and the hills