Perigrine or Hobby? Speed of flight

To: Canberra birds <>
Subject: Perigrine or Hobby? Speed of flight
From: John Layton <>
Date: Sat, 2 Nov 2019 04:35:24 +0000

This is about neither but concerns a Wedge-tailed Eagle. I read the account years ago and it’s remained in the back country of my mind ever since buoyed by curiosity albeit tinged with some scepticism.


“One day a boundary rider came in and reported that eagles were playing up with lambing ewes in one of the paddocks. Ronnie immediately suggested that we have an eagle hunt. I had an old S. E. [British biplane World War I era] at the time which I’d bought just after the War; it had a top speed of 75 miles per hour; Ronnie took the controls; I climbed into the front cockpit with a 12 gauge gun, and we flew over to where my man had reported the eagles were bothering. When we arrived at the place we saw a big fellow get up on the far side of the paddock. We flew after it and it turned to meet us. It seemed to want to know what on earth we were. Then it flew along side, and seemed as interested in us as we were in it, for it kept turning its head and looking at the plane. The bus was flat out , doing its seventy five; the eagle kept level, and Ronnie and I stared at it hard, and he will bear me out – it never stirred a feather! This went on for two or three minutes. I shouted to Ronnie, “How the hell is he doing it?” And he shouted back, “ I’m damned if I know! Why not dong him anyhow?” So I cocked the gun, and was just about to have a dong at him when the brute changed its mind and shot ahead. He just shot ahead and left us standing and still never batted his wings. Ronnie shouted that the damned thing was just laughing at us, and he was going home; so we turned round and came back to the house.”


As told to Francis Ratcliffe by grazier Darcy Donkin of Springsure (1948)


Olsen, P. (2007) Spirit of the Wedge-Tailed Eagle THE ART OF HUMPHREY PRICE-JONES CSIRO Publishing



John Layton




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