Welcome to the News section of the iNSiGHT Ornithology website (
www.simoncherriman.com). This blog contains updates about various things I've been up to, interesting environmental issues and observations I make regularly while going about my day. It is designed to be fun AND educational, and inspire you about our wonderful natural world. Happy reading!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Another Carnaby's Chick

It was a thrill today to see another Gnolyenok / Carnaby's Cockatoo chick peering up at me from inside one of the cockatoo boxes in a local reserve in Mundaring, the third of its kind to be successfully raised in the past three years. These endangered birds were first recorded breeding in 2015, when the Shire of Mundaring supported the installation of a suite of nest-boxes for a post-bushfire recovery program.

Earlier this week I was fortunate to visit the reserve with the WA Musuem, local Friends Group coordinator Ron Coloquhoun, Mundaring Shire Environmental Officer Jolene Wallington, and other community volunteers, to see this precious creature fitted with an ABBBS leg-band. This harmless tag will help researchers identify it in the future, maybe even when it is feeding its own offspring in a local nest-box! Fingers crossed we have many more moments like this to look forward to in the future!

Jolene holds the Carnaby's Cockatoo nestling during banding, while her daughter Emma watches on.

Friday, 1 December 2017


It's hard to believe that 10 years have passed since I installed my first Black Cockatoo nesting box on my friend Jeff's block in the Porongurup Range! Today Jeff and I celebrated this anniversary by paying a quick visit to the block and checking this box, as well as the five others that have been installed at the property since 2010, all of which have been part of increasingly successful breeding. by Gnolyenok / Carnaby's Cockatoo. We were thrilled to find Carnaby's Cockatoos in every box! The two most recently installed boxes, which went up in May this year as part of a Birdlife WA and South Coast NRM educational workshop, both had heavily chewed entrances, tell-tale signs of prospecting (and usually occupancy) by Black Cockatoos.

A large vertical box installed in May with a newly hatched Carnaby's Cockatoo chick.

These findings give me such a thrill because they prove the design of my large vertical nest-boxes is effective, and also that newly installed boxes can become occupied so readily when placed at known breeding sites.

Three cockatoo chicks were banded as part of an ongoing WA Museum study on their movements and survival, an exciting addition to the study that Jeff and I have been carrying out on the breeding of Carnaby's Cockatoo in the Porongurup range. It was amazing to see these birds so close, and heartwarming to think of the beautiful moment when they will make their first flight into the Karri canopy and beyond!

This Threatened cockatoo chick hatched inside a nest-box made from rubbish!

Monday, 27 November 2017

Djoorabiddi & The Project

Last month I had the privilege of taking a small group of people to visit a beautiful eagle eyrie in a remote part of the Perth Hills. This included Jo Manning from Murdoch University's public relations department, and Thom and Darrell from Channel 10's 'The Project', who (very excitingly!) were tagging along (pardon the pun!) to film some of my fieldwork to fit a GPS/Satellite transmitter to a juvenile Wailitj / Wedge-tailed Eagle. The bird I managed to catch on his nest was a very calm, placid young boy, who was given the name 'Djoorabiddi' by Noongar lady Alison Murphy. This word is derived from 'djoorab' = good natured/happy, & means 'go foward happily'. Alison's father Noel last year named my beautiful Parkerville eagle 'Yirrabiddi' (path/journey in the sky), so it was truly magic to have a journey theme connecting these two Nannup-derived names!!

The story of how we fitted Djoorabiddi with a satellite transmitter was played last night on the Sunday Project, who kindly gave me the below copy to post here. Keep your eyes on the Wedge-tailed Eagle Tracking website for updates on Djoorabiddi's progress, and the movements of other juvenile Wedge-tails from the Perth Hills and further a field. Enjoy!

Friday, 24 November 2017

Sign of the Seasons

Today there was an official celebration of the completion of Sawyers Valley Primary School's Nature Play area, a project which has been coordinated and delivered by the school's Natural Resource Management team, thanks to a State NRM grant. I've been privileged to be part of this project and participated in recording local fauna, taking guided walks for students and parents, and contributing photographs for interpretive signs that emphasise the area's cultural and environmental values. It was great to see the above Noongar Seasons sign installed today (just in the nick of time before the project finished!), which featured a variety of photographs of Perth Hills wildlife from my photo gallery. Thanks to the NRM team for the invitation to be part of such a great environmental initiative.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Leonora Eagles

I've just returned from WA's Goldfields region where I completed the arid zone component of my Wedge-tailed Eagle Tracking research for 2017, satellite-tagging two more Matuwa-born Wedge-tailed Eagles. After this fieldwork had been completed, I was very excited to drive south and spend a day on country with a group of Leonora District High School students, an environmental educational activity arranged by the CSIRO's Science Pathways program. We found five eagle nests along some stunning breakaway country that I was privileged to be shown by teacher Fifi Harris. My friend Dave from CSIRO made a wonderful short film about the day which you can watch here. Also, local ABC radio presenter Rachel Day phoned while I was in town to chat about eagles - you can listen to the audio of the interview by clicking 'play' below.

What a busy week out bush it was! Now back to the desk to catch up on all the admin...

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Twin Brothers

These two amazing Wedge-tailed Eaglets hatched on a nest built by the parents of Wailitj - the Perth Hills' first juvenile eagle to be satellite-tracked - about a month ago. Given that Wailitj only survived for 2 months post-fledging, it was thrilling to discover his parents had doubled their 'output' this season.

At the end of September, with the help of some beautiful young boys (sons of some Perth Hills friends of mine) who have been keen to learn first hand about my eagle research, we fitted this brood of 'twins' with colour rings, weighed and measured the birds, then made ourselves scarce. With both having reached the age of 5 weeks, the odds were that they should continue growing healthily to fledging age of 3 months, but nothing is certain in the ever-changing natural world.

I was very excited to return to their eyrie this morning with my great friends Mick and Rianna and their two young sons Jarrahn and Bhodi, and find both eaglets (now juvenile eagles!) still alive and well! We fitted these birds with satellite transmitters - the second set of 'twin' WA wedgies to be sat-tagged - and I paused to photograph the partially consumed ibis on the eyrie as I placed them back 'home'. With this nest site definitely having the theme of 'two boys', I decided to give Jarrahn and Bhodi some homework: to come up with names for each eagle, with the only rule being that (as with all my Perth Hills eagles) they had to be in Noongar language.

The next day Mick rang me to let me know that the birds were to be called Naakal (= quiet) and Ngooni (= bother), two very appropriate Noongar words. It will be a privilege to follow the movements of these young brothers when they fledge and begin to wander around WA. I wonder if they will stay together on their journey?!

Naakal (left) and Ngooni sit next to a freshly killed Australian Ibis on their eyrie.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Ticking Off Eagle Nests

The time of year for Wailitj / Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax) ringing is upon us again, with most nests having quite large eaglets that are the perfect age for fitting with colour rings. Having just returned from my arid zone eagle research site at Matuwa last week, I was ready to carry on 'eagling' in the Perth Hills over the weekend and visited an amazing eyrie to ring/band the chick with my beautiful friend Dani on Sunday morning.

This eaglet 6-week old eaglet's eyrie was framed beautifully by the nest tree's limbs.

The eagle nest was located high in a live but very old and partially hollow Powderbark (Eucalyptus accedens) tree, which made the climb a nerve-racking but spectacular experience. I scaled the main trunk using ropes, then tied a safety line around the huge limb that I followed out towards the nest, inching my way along and trying not to pay too much attention to the multiple entrances to its hollow cavities, all covered in chew-marks from prospecting activities by local parrots.

This Powderbark tree has been growing in the landscape for several centuries.

I reached the young Wedge-tail and admired his view across the beautifully forested surrounds, before lifting him gently into a handling bag and lowering him safely to the ground below. Dani took him into the shade where we both worked quietly to weigh, measure and fit the two types of rings/bands. Having the bird so close allowed me to notice a small Kangaroo Tick (Amblyomma triguttatum) at the edge of its eye.

A kangaroo tick is visible just below the eaglets brow, smaller than the ever-present bush fly in the centre.

While ticks are perfectly good climbers and probably capable of ascending into the canopy on their own, I suspect this parasite may have been transported into the eagles' eyrie 'on board' a Yonga / Western Grey Kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus) joey, common food for eagles nesting in the Perth Hills. Once the joey had been eaten, the tick probably went crawling for an alternative host, with the eagle chick being the nearest new victim. I chose not to remove this parasite as I know that these animals do drop off eventually, and risking damage to such an important part of such a young bird's body was not worth it.

Ringing and processing complete, it was great to place the eaglet back on its lofty nest and take in more off the amazing view. Now onto the next nest!

Monday, 28 August 2017

Eaglets & ABC Afternoons

It's the time of year again in this beautiful season of Djilba when our marvellous Wailitj / Wedge-tailed Eagles are welcoming their new eaglets into the world. Yesterday I was thrilled to come across a wedge-tail 'suspiciously' gliding into the trees and a few minutes later, locate a new nest, one of those 'rare' ones in which both eaglets had hatched successfully and survived their first ~5 weeks.

On most nests I monitor, the larger eaglet kills the smaller one during the first fortnight, so it was very exciting to find both chicks looking fat and healthy.

The arrival of 2017's first eaglets has recently inspired me to post a few images on my Instagram and Twitter accounts, which prompted 720 ABC Perth to get in touch. Last week I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity by Gillian O'Shaughnessy to talk on her WA Afternoons program, so I had the idea of arranging this to be done live from the canopy of a tall Marri tree in the Perth Hills! The interview was booked for 2 pm on Thursday, and just beforehand, I was thrilled to climb another of this year's new nests, peer over the edge, and be greeted by this magical sight...

This eaglet is almost 4 weeks old, and as you can see in the below photo, still has a tiny egg-tooth, something which, after helping the chick break out from within its calcified prison, remains present on the end of its new bill for about 5 weeks. His first amazing primary feathers were emerging too, just visible as tiny feather pins in the above photo.

This egg tooth has a trail of dried salt which extends along the bill, the result of 'gaping' behaviour - the bird equivalent of panting - which helps lose heat in warm conditions.

It was very exciting to share this sight with ABC listeners, talk about my ongoing eagle research, and also mention the 'Where's Wailitj' Crowdfunding campaign that I'm currently running via the awesome team at Pozible. This publicity, and the fantastic article published by the Hills Gazette the following day (which talked about some of the threats to juvenile wedgies like drones that may have killed Walyunga earlier this year), created some nice media attention and helped the crowdfund climb even closer to its target! I am so grateful to all those who helped publicise my research!

If you missed the interview you can listen to it now on the ABC WA Afternoons blog here.

And if you haven't pledged to the crowdfunding campaign yet, watch this video and then visit the Pozible campaign website to make your pledge!

*POZIBLE 2017 from Simon Cherriman on Vimeo.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Hawk-Owl Boxes for Christmas

This fabulous nest-box is one of 30 that were recently constructed by a fantastic bunch of school students from the Christmas Island District High School, under the supervision of their teachers Brad and James, a project initiated by Range to Reef Environmental and supported by Christmas Island Phosphate. These artificial tree-hollows were made for a unique, endemic and Vulnerable species of nocturnal bird of prey, the Christmas Island Hawk Owl (Ninox natalis). Range to Reef engaged me to become involved in the work, and after having closely related Southern Boobook Owls successfully use nest-boxes I installed in Perth and the WA Wheatbelt region early last year, I recommended that Range to Reef supply the same design to the school. I very privileged to be asked to assist with installation and have just returned from the island (which is one of the most amazing, unique places I've ever been!) where I worked with Range to Reef to find an arboreal home for all 30 boxes. I'll write more on this soon, but for now, here are a few snaps from the trip!

Boxes were installed using the tree-friendly 'Re-Cyc-Ology method with wire and hose-pipe.

Spot the Hawk-Owl nest-box! This one was hung about 20 m up in a beautiful Sysigium tree.

The awesome team from Range to Reef: Roget, Sophie and Andrew!

Despite spending over a week 'hanging out' in the rainforest, most of work was conducted during the day when Hawk Owls are roosting, and I was a little sad to climb on the plane and leave the island without having seen one! However, I know that one day I'll be back - hopefully to find owls nesting inside one of their new homes! In the meantime, I know the island's beautiful Frigatebirds will be soaring above the rainforest and keeping an eye out.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Kala & Aus Geo

You might remember a few weeks ago when I was thrilled to find Kala, our sat-tagged juvenile Wailitj hanging out with his parents, and be lucky enough to take some close-up photos of him perched in the morning sun. Today Australian Geographic reported on a recently published journal article about Wedge-tailed Eagle movement ecology (as studied by DNA), and one of these photos of Kala featured as the headline image! You can read the article, which contains some very interesting findings about the ecology of wedgies in Tasmania, at the Aus Geo blog here.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Armadale Kaaraks

Early last year the City of Armadale gave me the wonderful opportunity of installing a variety of nest-boxes for wildlife throughout several bushland reserves, many of which were designed for Black Cockatoos. I was extremely excited when Tony Kirkby, a cockatoo biologist, who, along with Ron Johnstone from the WA Museum's Cockatoo Care Project, has studied Kaarak's (Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoos Calyptorhynchus banksii naso) for many years, emailed me through the above photo. This was a fantastic sign that less than a year after installation, one box was being used for breeding!

Fresh chew-marks on the sacrificial chew-posts provide convincing evidence of cockatoo occupancy.

Today I was installing more nest-boxes (this time for microbats) in the area and took the opportunity to visit the active cocky box. Under Tony's guidance on the phone, I walked quietly through the bushland to the nest tree, and after observing for a few minutes then 'raking' (knocking on) the nest tree, discovered the female did not emerge. This was a good sign that a chick had hatched because adult Kaaraks are known to only brood their nestling for a week or so, then leave it on its own for most of the day while away foraging. Tony was happy for me to scale the tree and confirm there was a chick present, and also to photograph in order for its age to be estimated. When I reached the rim of the nest-box, I was met with this absolutely remarkable view!

A tiny ball of yellow natal down-feathers huddled in one corner of the nest-box, swaying ever so gently from side to side. This beautiful new gift to the world was only the second Kaarak chick I had seen in real life, and appeared a lot smaller than I expected. I lowered my camera inside the box to snap a few closer photos from a side angle, then film a few short video clips (watch a short one of this beautiful young bird on my Facebook feed here), just as a large flock of Baudin's Cockatoos flew noisily over the treetops. The nestling made a few soft rasping noises and swayed from side to side, but otherwise showed no reaction to the goings on in the outside world. Keen to keep disturbance to a minimum, I snapped some descending gear onto my rope and left the canopy behind, then walked away from the nest tree as quietly as I had come. The only sign of adult red-tails was a single, distant 'kreeee'.

After seeing these photos, Ron and Tony tell me this young Kaarak is just under a week old, and is quite young to be left alone by itself, but it does happen. I am most grateful to Tony and Ron, who mentored me during the successful use by Carnaby's Cockatoo of a nest-box in the Mundaring Shire just over a year ago, and who continue to offer guidance with various ornithological projects I am involved in. What a lucky find - and an awesome way to end the week!

Monday, 29 May 2017

Eagles & Drones

Interactions between Wedge-tailed Eagles and drones are becoming more frequent as humans intensify our land use and make increasing use of aerial vehicles for survey work. In the last few weeks, many people have sent me a link to this ABC News article which featured the above image, taken by Leigh Nairn while using a drone to taking photos of his farming activities, of an eagle just before it attacked the camera. Today I received a timely call from the ABC who were keen for my opinion about possible impacts of such attacks to the eagles, which came just as I was driving to the vet with the carcass of Walyunga, a Perth-born Wedge-tail that flew to the Pilbara region less than a month after beginning juvenile dispersal. Walyunga died suddenly and the evidence suggests this was because his wing feathers were chopped by a small, fast-spinning rotor-blade, like that on many drones (i.e. those larger and with more blades than the typical commercial example of a DJI Phantom or similar, which is what most people imagine when they think of a drone). As I mentioned to the ABC, it's not only drone operators who suffer losses as a result of these interactions, and it places emphasis on the importance of research that may potentially determine ways to minimise their occurrence. Part of my PhD research aims to investigate 3-dimensional space use of territorial adult eagles, but a big gap at this moment is funding. I'm applying for grants but am always keen to hear from anyone that may wish to sponsor my research. If this is you, please email me!

You can read more about tracking eagles using GPS/Satellite technology at the Wedge-tailed Eagle Tracking website here, and also listen to the interview on the ABC's Country Hour website here (the segment on eagles and drones starts at 32 minutes). Let's hope we are able to combine eagle tracking and drone operations to help find a solution to this human / wildlife conflict.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Twin Boxes for Twin Creeks

Twin Creeks is a 1200 ha community Conservation Reserve managed by the Friends of the Porongurup Range, and is set on a beautiful block of remnant vegetation just east of Mount Barker. Earlier this week I had the privilege of visiting this reserve to work with Birdlife Australia Project Coordinator and good friend Tegan Douglas and run a community education workshop about Black Cockatoo conservation, which involved building and installing two nest-boxes for cockatoos at Twin Creeks.

Cocky box construction is underway!
It was wonderful to meet some local folk enthusiastic to help our unique birds, and see a couple more potential artificial nest-sites for our threatened cockatoos installed in relatively young trees that will not form natural hollows for at least another century.

Afternoon abour-work: the second cockatoo box is hoisted into position in a tall but thin Wandoo.

After this workshop was complete, we headed on to my friend Jeff's block on the southern side of the Porongurup Range, to run a second educational workshop about the successful use of nest-boxes by Carnaby's Cockatoo. This workshop was supported by South Coast NRM and I am so grateful to Liz Tanner for her amazing work to make this happen! Liz and another lovely bunch of local bird-lovers turned up to hear the history of the cockatoo 'breeding population' which has grown in size during the past 10 years, and to assist with the installation of two new boxes. Cockatoos usually arrive to breed at this site in October and November, so it was great to see these additional sites in place with plenty of time to be discovered before the 2017 breeding season!

The second of two new cockatoo boxes in situ at Jeff's, each of which had an amazing view of the Karri forest!

Down from the trees for a brief moment, it was time to head on to Albany for the next part of my down south week of outreach... but more on that later!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Change in the Feather

While out in Wailitj (Wedge-tailed Eagle) Kala's home range today, I came across this dead Yonga (Western Grey Kangaroo), a common prey item for eagles during this time of year. Closer inspection reveal some fresh scats (the white blotch in the bottom left of the photo), and footprints in the sandy gravel told me eagles had fed on the carcass very recently. Suddenly, some crumbling bark falling from above made me look up, and THERE, peering down at me with gimlet eyes, was Kala! The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and I rush to get my camera, but the eagle launched and flew to another tree and I only managed a fleeting snap as he let out a begging call to his mother, who was perched on the other side of the river, and disappeared behind the trees. The next morning, however, I woke up in the dark and headed back to see if I could catch the family back at the 'roo at first light, and sure enough, Kala's golden juvenile feathers were the first thing I saw glowing in the rising sun's rays.

Kala's PTT aerial and yellow colour-ring are clearly visible in the morning sunlight.

These beautiful blonde wing covert feathers provide a great example of the wide dorsal wing-bar typical of juvenile wedgies.

Juvenile eagles like Kala have in their first year a very golden or even blonde appearance. While their breast and belly is often dark brown with pale flecks, the crown, nape (back of the neck), mantle ('shoulders'), and the 2 main layers of wing coverts (median and lesser primary and secondary coverts) are very pale in colour. As the bird ages, its overall appearance becomes brown after 3-4 years, then black after 6-7 years. The 4-5 rows of very pale covert feathers on the dorsal surface of the wing, as seen clearly in the above photograph, are a key feature which allows the bird's age (within a year or two) to be determined, thanks to the detailed observations of Michaels Ridpath and Brooker, who published this information in the 1980's. Despite looking at eagles for so many years, I have not been able to take a photograph of a wild bird which shows this detail so clearly.

What was also very interesting was to notice how Kala's pale feathers had become much lighter in colour since fledging. When I watched him take his first flight from the nest nearly 5 months ago, his juvenile feathers had quite a reddish-brown appearance. Check the last photograph on this news post to see the amazing change!

After walking right beneath Kala, who this time seemed much more accepting of my presence, I spotted his parents perched in a dead tree on the side of the rugged valley slope. Sneaking closer, I was thrilled to be able to photograph both birds together before they slunk away.

Kala's parents, a classic pair of dark, adult Wedge-tailed Eagles. The male is on the right.

The first thing I noticed about this pair was how dark the female (on the left in the above photo) had become since I last saw her 5 months prior. Here's a closer image of this magnificent bird, which shows her overall black appearance, with evidence of some pale nape feathers and a few 'blonde' covert feathers on her wings.

The pale 'lump' in this eagle's throat is her bulging crop, half full of the kangaroo on which she had fed earlier.

When Kala was still a nestling, I managed to photograph the same pair perched near their eyrie, and back then the female had a much paler nape and her wing. This suggests she has undergone a significant moult since her chick fledged at the end of 2016.

Winding back the clock a little further, the same female was even paler in 2015 when I first noticed her as a particularly young bird and a 'new addition' to the territory. After successfully breeding in 2013 (when I managed to capture quite a bit of footage of this pair's nesting behaviour), the resident (very dark and mature) female had gone missing, and I'd seen the male on his own on a couple of occasions. Then I spotted him with a very pale bird, at first thinking this could be his offspring from the previous breeding season. I soon realised it was his new mate, however, when I observed him 'showing her the real estate' by performing exhilarating dives from above the valley and landing on several eyries. She followed him closely and the pair perched together in several nest trees, keeping a close eye on me while scanning the valley below. On that day I didn't have a zoom lens with me, but did manage to capture a few distance photographs (in very low light!) that show how pale the female was in August 2015.

Kala's mother was very pale in August 2015 when she first paired up with the resident male.

The new female's nape was very pale in 2015 when I estimated her to be ~3 years old.

Although Wedge-tailed Eagles do not normally enter the breeding population while immature, there are certainly records of birds breeding before reaching the normal 6-7 years of age, when they can be more or less considered 'full adults'. Kala's mother was certainly in immature plumage when she joined the resident male in this home range, and it has been amazing to see her darken over the past 3 years and attain her stunning adult appearance now.

When Kala's parents met in 2015, the pair only inspected and refurbished nests and did not attempt to lay eggs until 2016. This behaviour is quite typical of long-lived birds that do not necessarily breed every year anyway, and it has been very exciting to have a bird that is recognisable and allowed me to follow the pair's progress. The changeover in females provides good evidence that when existing birds die or leave a breeding home range, they can be replaced quite quickly and the home range can continue to be productive. Knowing that we will be able to follow with satellite tracking the movements of Kala, the beautiful eagle that is (almost certainly) his mother's very first offspring, is indeed an exciting feeling!

My last view of this eagle family was seeing Kala swoop in to join his parents on a tall, dead perch tree, and begin to preen his feathers. With this magic sight in my mind, I glanced at my phone to check the time. 8 am. Perfect time to start my day!

You can see more images of these and other beautiful eagles, and a short video from this exciting find, on my Instagram account here. Happy eagling folks!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Recovered Roadkill

It's never pleasant to find dead animals killed by vehicle collisions along our roads, but taking the time to investigate a carcass can lead to important scientific data being gathered. Peter Jephcott, who was recently crossing the Nullarbor, had stopped to take a closer look at a dead Wedge-tailed Eagle when he noticed it had a yellow ring/band on its left leg. He then took the time to locate the second stainless-steel ring on the bird's other leg, obtain the contact details of the ABBBS, and report the recovery. As it turns out, this bird (#003) was one I ringed as a nestling 15 months ago in the Avon Valley east of Perth, a location ~960 km away from where Peter found it!

While it is sad that the bird was found dead, it is wonderful to have obtained the information about it travelling such a huge distance, considering this was only the third wedgie marked as part of the current colour-banding study. This recovery is now the longest movement recorded (by ringing/banding) for a Wedge-tailed Eagle, with the previous longest distance of 821 km being recorded in 1965 after an eagle banded in Canberra during 1964 was recovered in Cunningham, Queensland, after being shot. It is truly amazing to continue learning how far juvenile birds can move over such (relatively) short periods of time. Thank you so much Peter for your fantastic contribution to eagle research! I'm hoping that this discovery will inspire others to sharpen their 'eagle-eyes' and make more reports of banded and colour-banded wedge-tails - dead or alive!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Giant Eagles of the Forest

I've recently returned from Tasmania where I spent the last 2 weeks volunteering with University of Tasmania student James Pay, who is also studying Wedge-tailed Eagles for his PhD. Some of James' work has involved satellite-telemetry, so I was thrilled when he gave me the opportunity to visit Tassie and assist with the attachment of transmitters to juvenile eagles, something I have been slowly gaining experience doing since Wallu was satellite-tagged in 2013.

More information is coming soon, but for now I wanted to post a few images of the magnificent bird that is the Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax fleyii), a subspecies of wedgie that, as I was totally amazed to discover first-hand, is so much bigger than its mainland cousin!

Tasmanian Wedge-tails are normally very wary but this female was an exception to the rule.

The eagle's habitat in this southern-most part of its range is usually tall Eucalypt forest.

Eyries like this one built in a tall Mountain Ash (E. regnans), are very camouflaged in the canopy.

The characteristic pale head and dark bill of a juvenile Wedge-tailed Eagle.

Woldja, an 11-week old Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle that I was thrilled to capture.

Bill Brown holds Woldja while James Pay fits a harness-mounted satellite transmitter to her back.

Woldja's feet were eNORmous (nearly the same size as my hand!) - an adaptation for taking the larger prey animals like possums and paddymelons found in Tasmania.

All juvenile eagles have a pale head but Woldja's was an incredibly beautiful blonde colour.

A beautifully calm 8-week old Wedge-tail with a transmitter being fitted.

The incredible tree-climbing skills of Dave James allowed access to some very high eyries!