Again this morning the female brought a large stick. The male followed with another stick. They re-arranged things again, before both leaving. There are no signs of fresh leaves though – keep watching.
Some time after the eggs were removed the eagles have returned briefly to the nest. Each morning we have heard the pair calling from nearby, mostly early in the morning. Both have been seen regularly on their river roost. This morning the female flew in to the nest early with a big stick, followed soon after by the male. Both moved things around a bit for a few minutes, then left.
After a couple of visits in the early morning, the eagles have left the nest now. Both have been seen on the river roost and are probably still in the nest area in the forest. The female did not visit the nest at night. We are watching with interest to see if they might possibly lay again.
After gaining all approvals, we were able to reach the nest and remove the eggs. The cherry picker was luckily able to reach the nest (just – at 20m) with minimal damage to any vegetation. Some measurements were taken and we returned to the ground safely. The adults watched from their nearby lookout and the male returned fairly quickly to the nest. That night the female remained on the nest all night as usual. After testing at the Animal Referral Hospital, both eggs were shown to be infertile, though in good condition. We are investigating further testing of the egg contents, particularly for persistent organic pesticides.
Both eggs are definitely unviable and all approvals have been made to retrieve the eggs for analysis and testing – the appropriate licence and ethics approval as well as permission from SOPA and OEH. This work should be carried out on Monday. It will be very interesting to see if the adults return to the nest or even lay again.
Just before midnight the female sat up and was heard calling loudly. A boobook was seen to fly past the nest, followed shortly after by the male, landing on the nest from a branch above. Both eagles stood on the nest, calling loudly and protecting the eggs. This is the first time we have seen such a reaction and observed both adults on the nest at night. We wonder if the boobook is using a hollow nearby?
The boobook has been heard calling from the forest again and even made a landing on the nest, causing the female to sit up and take notice.
The male brought a large Whiting into the nest – minus its head as usual. Our friends taking photos on the river reported that same fish caught from the river a little while before. He ate the head then delivered the fish to his mate on the nest. At this stage it seems to be only fish brought to the nest. Pictures from the river show that the female is catching prey herself as well.
Still waiting. As it is around 8 days since the first egg was expected to hatch, it is probably unviable. The second is a few days over, so there is possibly hope for that egg. Last night the female was on the nest all night from dark, standing for a stretch and shuffle every hour or so. During the day both eagles have shared incubation again, though the male has brought three small fish to the nest. Might this be different behaviour? The eggs have been uncovered for only a short time. Both eggs are stained and marked, with no visible signs of “pip” or cracks at this stage. We are starting to plan for retrieving the eggs from the nest if they do not hatch.
During the night a Southern Boobook was heard calling, possibly near the nest. The female startled and both eagles were calling. The boobook is not often seen or heard in the forest here, so it was a pleasing record.
At first light the female is sitting tight still, but calling gently. Shortly after the male flew down and took her place. The dawn chorus has been loud, including the sweet trill of the Fan-tailed Cuckoo. Pied Currawongs continue their nest watch.
The wait continues with both incubating again during the day. They are still bringing in fresh leaves as well.
Anxious waiting. We are waiting for a sign of hatching of either egg now. In past years for this pair, incubation has been around 40 days. The female is on the nest at night, shuffling and turning a couple of times. Both parents are incubating during the day. Early in the day the male brought part of a fish to the nest which she ate and then returned to the eggs. Later in the afternoon he brought a bream, which she took off to eat. There have been several clear views of the eggs.
Nearly there. After a long night on the nest, the female received a small fish from the male, just after 8:00am. As usual, he had eaten the head first. She took off to eat his offering, before returning to incubation. During the day, both shared the work, with the eggs uncovered only briefly. She returned at one stage with a large spray of fresh leaves for the nest. The 2 eggs are clearly visible when the adults change over, cradled in the bowl of green leaves. We are watching closely for the first sign of hatching – “pipping”. The male had a long shift during the middle of the day, relieved by the female later. Just before dark he brought a large fish, which she ate on the nest, with a quick break before the long night shift again.
Although the female has been taking the night shift each evening, the male made an attempt to take part. Well before first light he landed on the branch above, moved down to the nest and tried to move her aside. She only stirred, but sat tight and after a while standing in the nest, moving a few leaves and twigs, he left for his roost nearby. He returned as normal at first light and took his turn, giving the female a break after a long night.
Incubation in earnest: The female was on the nest all night, head tucked under her wing, with occasional stretches or change of position. At first light the male flew in to take over for a short break. During the morning, both adults took turns on the eggs, both bringing sticks and leaves as well. The eggs were uncovered for only a brief time. At this stage of incubation, the adults are spending a similar time on the eggs, though the female incubates at night. In the middle of the day, the male sat for nearly 2 hours, replaced by the female later for a similar time. She left when he returned with an offering of a fish carcass later in the afternoon. After a feed away from the nest, she returned and settled for the night.
A surprise night visit: A Grey-headed Flying Fox made an unexpected landing on the side of the nest during the night. It hung from the side of the nest for a couple of minutes, showing an eerie eye-shine below the nest, before flying elsewhere. A bit risky as the eagles have been recorded catching flying foxes.
2 eggs! Another egg was laid, again in the late afternoon at around 6:00pm.
The female appeared to be caught in the nest as she took off with a fish. However, looking closer, the prey could be seen caught under a stick, causing the female to “stumble” as she took flight. After a struggle with the fish, she changed her grip and took off to eat her fish nearby.
An egg was laid in the late afternoon. Both parents share incubation duties and continue to bring fresh leaves to the nest. Will there be another egg?
For the last few weeks the White-bellied Sea-Eagles have been very busy renovating their nest. At the end of the breeding season last year, the nest was a flat platform — now the rim has been built-up to form a deep, leaf-lined bowl. Fresh leaves are brought in and are ‘chewed’, trampled and arranged into a cup.
There is a significant peak of stick-collecting in the early morning, dropping off towards midday, with a smaller peak late in the afternoon. Some of the sticks added to the nest are very large.
Egg laying is expected soon — we are watching for subtle changes in behaviour.
Keep watching the live action here.
At first light, both eagles flew onto the nest, after duetting nearby. Other early morning calls were also heard – including the Grey Butcherbird and Australian Ravens. The nest is now massive, with the rim substantially built-up and a deep leaf-lined cup forming. When the male stands in the bowl, the rim reaches to his shoulders. Just before 7am, the male brought a long branch, with forked twigs at one end, which he struggled to place into his desired position. This branch was well over 2m long. The female followed with her offering as well. At times, both struggled to place the same stick. Egg laying must be close.
Early in the morning, the male brought a fish and then again in the middle of the day. The female accepted this food later, eating on the nest before flying off again. Most sticks and leaves were brought in the morning and more renovation continued in the late afternoon. Both spent some time “chewing” at leaves in the nest bowl, forming a dense layer of leaves to protect the expected eggs.
After the usual early morning renovations, the eagles returned in mid afternoon, when the male brought a partially eaten fish to the nest, which was carried off by the female. Later, he brought more fish, which he left on the nest to be eaten later by the female.
Both eagles continued to bring sticks and leaves to the nest. The male brought food for his mate, always fish at this stage. The eagles have been seen less frequently on the river, apparently spending more time in the nest area.
Another large fish. Part of our research is recording the prey brought to the nest. This pair of sea-eagles feed mainly on several species of fish, eels and Silver Gulls. Both eagles continue to bring large sticks and arrange them, building up the rim and strengthening the structure. The female is bringing sprays of leaves.
The first fish. As nest renovation continues, we expect that the male will bring food to the nest for his mate. The first fish was brought in the afternoon and quickly grabbed by the female. Green leaves have also been brought in by the female. One of the team, Jon, has been studying this period of breeding over the last few years. Earlier years have seen leaves and fish delivered from early to mid-May, with the female bringing the majority of leaves until about the last week before laying. Then the male brings in most of the leaves. The female appears to "slow down" in the week preceding laying and appears to reduce her nest-restoration activities (in contrast to the male). It will be very interesting to see what happens this year!
A night visit. The infrared light allowed us to see a cautious nest visit by a Brush-tailed Possum. During the day, birds are occasionally seen on the nest when the eagles are absent, including a Brown Goshawk. Rainbow Lorikeets often gather (and have been caught on at least one occasion). The smallest visitor has been a Spotted Pardalote –very hard to spot among the large sticks.
While the cameras were down, the eagle pair have substantially built up the rim of the nest. This stage of the breeding cycle has not been observed so closely before. The eagles have been heard duetting early in the morning, from another tree fairly close by. Hopefully the eagles will return soon to the nest. At this stage no food has been brought to the nest. In past years, later in the breeding cycle, the male has brought food for the female. Note – the current stream view is from the new camera position – viewing the action from the opposite side of the nest.
At last – a quick evening visit to the nest by the male. We have been waiting for their return to nest renovation after the disturbance of the camera installation.
The cameras have been installed again – taking about 4 hours. The PTZ camera is in the same tree as last year, and the other is now on the nest tree, with the Infrared attachment. This is on a higher branch, looking down onto the nest bowl. Now we have 24 hour live-streaming again. Microphones are in place again. However at the moment, radio 2UE is broadcasting, from one of the nearby radio towers. Hopefully this will be fixed soon. If the volume is turned down, eagle duetting and other calls can still be heard above the radio.
Heavy rain all day and the eagles made no early morning nest visits, unlike yesterday when they brought several sticks. Just before 3pm the male was seen catching a large fish from the river, taking it to the river roost to feed. Later after the rain stopped, they brought more sticks in the evening.
Nest renovation is continuing in earnest, with visits mainly in the early morning. The male brings quite long sticks, often longer than the nest is wide – well over a metre long and quite thick through. The eagles are rarely seen actually gathering the sticks – much of their behaviour other than right at the nest remains private.
The pair mostly visit the nest early in the morning, bringing the odd stick to the nest. They can be heard duetting from high in the nest tree or nearby. They continue to sit side by side on their favourite river roost, looking up and down the river.
The last sightings of the eaglets were in early February. It is not know if the adult eagles chased them from their natal territory. Hopefully the banded eaglets may be seen somewhere along the coast by other keen observers.
For the first time we have been able to watch our young eagles out of the nest area after fledging. Both eaglets have been seen on the river roost and soaring high over the wetlands. In the past, we have not been able to watch their progress or know if they have survived. We hope to see the young birds catching their own prey, or at least attempting to. Both eaglets have been seen flying in to the river roost to grab food delivered by their parents, begging loudly as they approach. In early January the eaglets were seen together at a favourite river roost on mangroves along the Parramatta River. S4 had a large fish, but we are unsure if it was fed by the adults.