RFI: All Photos Of Sea-eagles In The Sydney Region Wanted!

Subject: RFI: All Photos Of Sea-eagles In The Sydney Region Wanted!
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Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2010 4:41:48 +1000
White-bellied Sea-eagle Monitoring Project at Sydney Olympic Park

Project Overview:

In April 2009 Birds Australia Southern NSW & ACT (BASNA) in collaboration with 
Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA) and with technical expertise and finance 
from a number of volunteers placed a CCTV camera high in a tree overlooking a 
White-bellied Sea-eagle nest within Sydney Olympic Park. The video from the 
camera provided a detailed insight into the nest renovation and incubation 
activities of the eagles during May/June 2009. Unfortunately, this camera was 
soon occupied and "decommissioned" by ants who obviously found the warmth and 
security of the camera housing to their liking. A replacement camera was 
organized but because the eagles had already started their nesting activities 
it could not be installed in the original camera's position so was placed at 
some distance from the nest at ground level. This camera provided a limited but 
nevertheless interesting perspective into the nestling stage of the nesting, 
with an eaglet fledging in November 2009. We learned a great deal from the 
footage including details of male/female workloads in rebuilding the nest, the 
extent of pair-bonding during incubation and the parental investment and 
behaviour in raising the chick.

As there was a substantial gap in the middle of the period due to camera 
failure, and subsequently a limited view from then on, we endeavoured to 
improve the coverage in 2010. This year, after the necessary NPWS permissions 
and approvals, we have installed 3 separate CCTV cameras (suitably ant-proofed) 
with one of these being a high-definition (HD) camera. We believe it is one of 
the first times that a HD camera is being used in an ongoing raptor monitoring 
project anywhere in the world. Unlike some eagle-cams seen on the web, these 
cameras are not intrusively positioned directly above the nest but are 
positioned laterally away from the nest to give a wide angle of view with the 
HD camera, when zoomed, capable of providing a more detailed view into the nest 
than conventional nest-cams. One benefit that we have already seen is the 
ability to identify species of fish that are being brought to the nest. This 
project is designed to be the first to obtain a near complete record 
(continuous recording in daylight hours) of the behaviour of White-bellied 
Sea-eagles at their nest, running uninterrupted from May until November. The 
advantage of this system of monitoring is that it is relatively unobtrusive. 
There is no need for an observer to be present anywhere near the nest during 
the nesting period as all video footage is sent via cables back to the office 
and is recorded automatically onto portable computer hard drives. The video on 
the hard drives can then be taken away for later analysis.

Your Help Needed!

As part of the study it will be important to manually catalogue as much detail 
as possible of the eagles' activities away from the nest in and around Sydney 
Olympic Park and along Parramatta River. This information can only come from 
casual observation, in taking photos or in making notes of the eagles' 
activities. If anybody is interested in helping out this year in regard to 
supplying observations of the eagles away from the nest during this period, 
then please contact us directly.

All photos of sea-eagles in the Sydney area will be extremely useful in the 
study. We would be delighted to receive any images of sea-eagles within the 
immediate area and further afield. Photos taken by digital cameras would be 
preferred as they have the date/time of image capture recorded within the image 
file. All images annotated with the location that the photo was taken would be 
gratefully received. None of the collected images will be published or 
displayed as they will only be used in the study database.

Also of importance will be mapping the eagles' home range and territorial 
boundaries. To this end, it will be useful to obtain photographs of any 
sea-eagles seen in the greater Sydney region (within a 50km radius of Sydney 
Olympic Park). The extent and pattern of white streaking in the underside of 
the flight feathers (particularly on young birds), the presence/absence of 
white terminal bands on the under-wing primary coverts along with wear and 
damage to the outer flight feathers (later in the season) is a reliable 
identification feature of individuals. The Homebush eagles are likely to 
maintain a territory that extends the length of the Parramatta River but they 
may range a lot further than this; at present we do not know. Submitted 
photographs could then determine the eagles' range and also the ranges of the 
surrounding sea-eagle populations that occasionally come into the territory of 
the Homebush pair. Any additional information such as records of nesting and 
juvenile birds would also be gratefully received.

With thanks,

Jon Irvine (BASNA) 
Geoff Hutchinson (BASNA) 
Judy Harrington (SOPA/BASNA)

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