Friday, 12 October 2012

The Ups and Downs of research


This season has seen many highs and lows of field work. The moment in May this year when we GPS tagged the first ever wild Verreaux’s eagle will always be ranked as my personal high. I don’t think anything will ever beat that. In contrast, 5weeks later when we saw two eagles flying in the nesting territory, both without a GPS tag, and I lost contact with the tag I assumed the harness had broken and the tag had been lost.
Despite this I was excited about what we had learnt and the research went on. Since then we have GPS tagged a further two eagles, another of which did remove the harness after one month. This eagle can now be positively identified solely by the orange leg ring it has. The other of which is still flying the Cederberg skies and downloading data daily.
When I got home two days ago I checked the base station for any new downloads. I immediately noticed an old tag number appearing – It was the number of the first tag, somehow back in contact. I waited for what felt like a long 30minutes while the data was processed by out partners at UvA-BITS. When I saw the data I couldn’t believe my eyes. The day we lost contact with the tag was actually because the eagle flew a 75km journey Northeast of the Cederberg on a journey in which he travelled 110km in 2days. But even before he left his former territory, his apparently “life-long” partner was flying with a new male in front of his nest! So welcome home old “Pops”, these are highlights for me!
GPS tracks of a travelling eagle!