On Tuesday evening we picked up Mark Cowan in Clanwilliam to drive out to the Sandveld ready for the first camera deployment on Wednesday. Mark is a freelance climber with a wealth of experience ranging from putting up the latest whale collection at the Iziko Museum to abseiling to raptor nests for chick ringing studies. We were excited to meet and to finally get on with the daunting challenge we had – to put up six nest cameras at Black eagle nests.
|Picture by Tom van der haeghen|
I was feeling excited and apprehensive as we reached the top of the first nest cliff on Wednesday morning. Mark and Patrick prepared the abseiling equipment while I triple checked the final programming of the camera. Once the mass of equipment and safety gadgets were fully established and Mark was ready for the first drop Patrick and I wished him good luck and we were left waiting for him to come back. The adults flew around for the duration of the process giving us some impressive flight displays and possibly even aiming their excreta in our direction!!
|Programming the cam (Picture by Tom van der haeghen)|
Finally Mark reappeared over the cliff with a big grin on his face and giving us the thumbs up. There were two eggs on the nest which I know are due to hatch this week. It was all done in perfect timing to record the moment and Mark was very happy with the set up. We hurriedly packed the gear away and retreated from the scene. On leaving the area, the eagle was happily incubating under the watchful eye of our motion sensing camera!
We have now repeated this process on another two nests meaning we have reached our first goal of deploying three cameras in the Sandveld and now have to move on to do the same in the Cederberg. Today was meant to be the first one here in the Cederberg but the rain and cold stopped us getting out. However, this has instead given me the opportunity to update the blog! We now wait with excitement to retrieve the SD memory cards and photos at the end of the breeding season.
With my biggest thanks to Mark Cowan, Patrick Banville, Darling Brew, Donkies Kraal, Tom and Tessy!