Today I hiked out into Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve with Colin. The reserve is owned by Cape Nature and managed by Rika du Plessis. Together they have a 5 year plan to monitor the breeding success of the Black eagle on and around the reserve. Colin has worked for Cape Nature for an inspiring 20 years and takes pride in monitoring the eagles. He has been monitoring this nest since incubation began in late May.
It’s a unique area of the Cederberg with a drier climate and succulent Karoo vegetation (as opposed to the Fynbos on the western side of the Cederberg). At his time of year there’s some water in the rivers and things are coming alive; pinks and yellows are blooming, rock pools are teaming with tiny tadpoles and bright green new growth is sprouting.
Colin visited this nest yesterday. From the bottom of the valley he could see that the adult was sitting on the edge of the nest rather than in the nest. Today’s mission was to hike to the peak on the opposite side of the valley and see down onto the nest. Although there’s no hiking path Colin knows the valley intricately and led us through a maze of boulders, along the river and up the steep slope to our vantage point.
We arrived and set up our telescopes and zoomed in across the valley. There are three Black eagle nests on this cliff – two of which are amongst the largest I have seen. Sure enough, on the far left nest there was an adult eagle sat on the edge. It had back to us and was looking into the nest. Once focused in we soon saw a movement of white fluff. Without a doubt there was a chick there. We watched the nest for three hours. We saw both adults; which actually spent more time off the nest and hunting than with the chick. When the adult left the nest we had a clear view of the chick. Although it is probably no more than a week old, it was walking (or falling) around on the nest using its small stubs of wings for balance. Looking through the scope at this sight made the whole area feel even more alive. Here was a stage of life which we normally don’t get to witness.
Thank you Colin for taking me to this nest today. I won’t forget my first ever view of a Black eagle chick!!
|Adult on nest... there's a chick in there too!|