Jim Thomson | Sea Eagle, a magnificent raptor

TURNING POINT: The immature Sea Eagle turns to confront the raven in mid-air.

TURNING POINT: The immature Sea Eagle turns to confront the raven in mid-air.

This was an unexpected surprise. I had spent a good part of the day bird watching – without a great deal of success – and was on the way home and close to Maitland when I spotted a bird of prey being chased by what looked to be a raven.

I was out the car as quick as I could – at my age that’s hardly Usain Bolt-like, but nonetheless it was fast for me.

I managed to get of a burst of shots, it turned out that I had recorded an unusual image as the immature Sea Eagle had turned in that split second and went for the raven. 

It was all over in a few seconds, and I would not have got the shot if I had not been ready. There’s  a lesson there for budding photographers.

The Sea Eagle is found not only on the coast but can be found inland as well – often at wetlands far from the sea, especially along larger inland rivers and at freshwater swamps and lakes.

It is only a few years back that we had a pair nesting just north of Maitland, and they raised one chick.

A Sea Eagle diving for prey.

A Sea Eagle diving for prey.

It was very difficult to get close to them when feeding a chick, very similar to Wedge-tailed Eagles.

They are, in fact, Australia’s second largest raptor behind the Wedge-tailed Eagle.

The male is slightly smaller than the female, and they have a wingspan of up to two metres.

I recently spent three days just north of Bolwarra to get images of Sea Eagles at their nest.

Sea Eagles feed not only fish but will take turtles and sea snakes, rabbits, rodents and birds.

They have been seen chasing Ospreys with food in an effort to make them drop it.

DIFFERENCE OF OPINION: A Sea Eagle gets some unwanted attention from a Magpie.

DIFFERENCE OF OPINION: A Sea Eagle gets some unwanted attention from a Magpie.

Although it is similar in shape to the well-known Wedge-tailed Eagle, and almost as large, the Sea Eagle is readily distinguished by its contrasting crisp-white and ashy-grey plumage, which adds to its striking appearance as it soars effortlessly on broad wings.

The immature Sea Eagles take about two to three years before they have the full plumage of the adults.

They are truly a magnificent bird of prey.

The weather is now starting to warm up (although some mornings are pretty brisk to say the least) and hopefully we should see some activity with our birdlife in the next few weeks.

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