Thursday, 16 June 2016

Eagle nests are large

A typical Golden Eagle eyrie site in Scotland
set on a broad vegetated ledge behind an old Rowan tree 
The golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos chicks are now large enough to ring and I visited this nest a few days ago with Adam Ritchie, a fellow eagle researcher. Simon Cherriman, a friend and another eagle researcher - mostly of wedge-tailed eagles in Australia - helped and gained experience of how things are done in Scotland.

The chick is about 30 cm long and 20 cm broad, so this is a deep wide eyrie 

It was good that Simon came to this eyrie, for as the two of us roped down to the nest I was reminded of the size of these nests. I don't always appreciate that when alone. But with another person on the nest the scale became clear. The nest was huge.

Simon measures the length of the chick's head and bill
there is room for two people and the chick on the nest 

The chick was ringed and measured within minutes, a minimal intrusion when the adult birds are often away from the nest for hours when the chicks are this age or older - this chick was about four weeks old. Although I am sure the adult birds would have been watching us from a distance all the time.

The trailing edge on the foreground of the nest is the birds' landing platform, they don't flop down
 onto the nest but glide and stall onto the lower edge, then walk up onto the platform.
It also shows how easily the birds can launch themselves out onto the air straight from the eyrie
- there is a lot of space below

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