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Eagle Conservation

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Verreaux’s Eagle in flight carrying nesting material Photograph by Jesse Walton

Although the origin of the name that graces our estate is lost in the mists of time, the survey beacon situated on the cliffs that rise up above the vineyards is labelled Eagles Nest. This could indicate that these crags once housed a breeding pair of Eagles. If this was so, it is most likely that they would have been a pair of Black Eagles, now more correctly known as Verreaux’s Eagles (aquila verreauxii).

National Park Photograph by Meidad Goren

Verreaux’s Eagles have nested on the Table Mountain Range since ancient times. In the mid ‘50s, there were at least four breeding pairs on the Peninsula, and the number and distribution of old, disused nest structures, which persist today on the more remote mountain crags, suggest that the population may have exceeded six pairs in recent history. The current situation is much less healthy. there is now only one settled pair of Verreaux’s Eagles in the Table Mountain National Park that maintains a nest on a cliff face some six kilometres from the our upper boundary.

Eagles’ Nest has committed to support the Western Cape Raptor Research Program in their endeavours to conserve this last remaining nest. The programme is part of the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology and has monitored the nest since 2003. The pair has successfully raised a fledgling each year during this period.

Other than monitoring the nest during the breeding season, the programme also performs important conservation activities such as tagging nestlings in order to understand their distribution after they leave the nest. There are also plans to establish a viewing platform at a suitable position, which will allow birdwatchers to view the nest from a suitable distance, without disturbing the eagles’ activities.

This will promote public awareness of eagle conservation, whilst hopefully re-directing misguided people from approaching the nest site inappropriately and disturbing the eagles’ activities.

Verreaux’s Eagle pair patrolling near their nest in the Table Mountain

Table Mountain National Park is currently undertaking the necessary environmental impact studies, and Eagles’ Nest is committed to funding its construction. Future plans are to establish a webcam that can be used to monitor the nest more frequently as the site is a stiff hour’s walk from the nearest parking site. Lucia Rodrigues at the Verreaux’s Eagle nest in the Table Mountain National Park, is in the process of measuring and marking the current nestling.

Photograph by Andrew Jenkins

This bird, which Lucia named ‘Canute’, was fitted with a plastic wing-tag coded BRO1 in August 2006, as a part of a study of dispersal and survival of young eagles in our area. Canute fledged successfully, but has not been seen since early 2007.

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Please keep a look out for her, and any other wing-tagged eagles, and report your sightings to Lucia (signet@webafrica.org.za, 083 325 8881).

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