I was going through my photographs the other day and came across this one I took of two wedge-tailed eagles when we lived on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. They were high up so I can’t bring them any closer with cropping as the images get too fuzzy. Nevertheless, you can clearly see the wedge-tails of these eagles and the way their feathers fan out at the tips of their wings.
I visited the north-west of Western Australia once and we were driving along a straight, isolated road with only bushland stretching out either side of us, when my friend suddenly slowed his big SUV right down and started crawling along. Startled, I asked him what was wrong and he told me nothing, except up ahead was a wedgie with road kill. Apparently if you hurtle towards this raptor with a kill on the side of the road, it will see you as an enemy trying to pinch its prey. So it will attack you. The eagle will, of course, come off the loser in such an encounter but it can also cause enormous damage to a vehicle given the bird’s size. Anyway, we crawled past the eagle with its meal and I always remember being so close I could see its face turning to watch us imperiously, ready to attack if need be. A truly amazing and unique experience.
Eagles played a big part in my life back in Australia. We’d see them often when we lived halfway up Mt French in S-E Queensland. One day our three cats and little Jack Russell pooch came haring into our home with their hair standing on end. We heard the flap of wings outside, went out to find out what as going on, found all our hens under bushes, and a wedge-tailed eagle had just missed out on lunch. At the neighbouring farm, a puppy went missing and it most likely was caught by a wedgie.
I missed the eagles in the UK, where we lived from 2002-4, but saw one or two occasionally when we returned to Australia. As we were driving away towards Perth, after selling our home in Pingelly, on the wheatbelt, we were decidedly nervous about our decision to move to the Eastern States without any fixed address, trusting we’d find the right home. Two eagles flew low right across our bonnet and windscreen and I took that as a very positive sign that we were making the right decision.
In Woodenbong, on the far north of New South Wales, we’d see the occasional eagle but kookaburras were our significant bird there. When we moved to Traralgon, in Victoria to the east of Melbourne, we never saw eagles. But when we moved to Bowraville, on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, we hit Eagle Central. We saw eagles all over the place, magnificent birds, sailing slowly and majestically in huge circles in the thermals. Once one flew right across our window – an amazing experience to see an eagle in flight at such close quarters.
I remember being in a shopping centre in Coffs Harbour once when an eagle flew low over the parking area and was amazed that no-one was aware of this magnificent bird in our midst. Similarly, I remember having lunch at a lovely little cafe overlooking the Nambucca River at Nambucca Heads when a huge sea eagle flew along the river just above head height. Again, people just didn’t notice this wonderful bird right under their noses.
You don’t see eagles here in North Cyprus and it’s sadly because they get poisoned or shot by hunters during the hunting season. You do get the Bonelli’s Eagle here but it’s not terribly common. I do miss my eagles very much. On the other hand, I don’t miss them enough to move back to Australia!