I have spent the last three weeks working with Victor Garcia from the Spanish Ministry of Environment during what has been a period of intensive efforts to catch and GPS tag adult Verreaux’s eagles . It has been a long build up and after many early starts, long days and failed attempts we finally caught our first adult Verreaux’s eagle in the Cederberg during the afternoon of Friday 6th April. This was a moment which I have been dreaming about for more than a year and having the eagle in my hands is a moment I will never forget.
We believe that the eagle is the male of the pair, although we cannot yet be certain. He was is a very good condition and weighed in at 3.4kg with a wingspan of 2.2m.
In collaboration with a team of scientists at the University of Amsterdam we are using a 40g GPS tag. The tag was mounted on the bird with a Teflon harness and will be recording data up to every 3 seconds. in order to better understand the habitat use and hunting techniques of these birds in contrasting environments. The whole capture and tagging went smoothly and the eagle was released again after 45minutes. Upon released it gave us the pleasure of watching it’s magnificent flight as it circled around the valley before rejoining it’s mate.
The process would not have been possible without the generous assistance of staff from Eagle Encounters who happily joined us for the field work. I would also like to send a big thank you to Donkies Kraal for accommodating the team while we were in the Sandveld, even when we were rained out of field work and needed a place to stay with no notice! As always I am also grateful to the Cape Leopard Trust and my friends at Driehoek Tourist Farm for their support and enthusiasm.