Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mr. Harpy Eagle

There is an adult Harpy Eagle in the picture below these lines. Can you find it? This picture is from eastern Venezuela, specifically from the forest of the Carbonera Viscaya close to the town of El Palmar, where I went in company of my good friend Rafael Cortes looking for birds... and what a bird we found!!!
Of course, we didn't find these Harpy Eagle's nest by ourselves... we were guided by probably the most knowledgeable man in the area in order to find these nests, Blas Chacare (Mr. Harpy Eagle), who works for a conservation project with these eagles (led by Dr. Alexander Blanco... this was the only link that I could find in the web about this project; notice that Blas himself is pictured in the article -in spanish-). They have identified more than 96 nests in the region, with five of them active by the moment we visited the place!
The place is more or less one and a half hour from El Palmar, through a dirt road passing mostly savannas and forest borders. We stopped at Blas' finca from where we entered the forest (part of his property), watching some birds in the way, including my life Screaming Piha, Paradise Jacamars, Yellow-green Grosbeaks, Black-necked Aracari, Marail Guans and even a Little Tinamou flushed from its nest (egg below).
We walked through the forest probably close to two hours, before reaching the base of the huge Ceiba tree where the nest was located, some 30 meters above our heads.
At first glance, we only saw the nest... but then Blas whistled some notes and suddenly, the massive female Harpy Eagle put its head out to inspect us. What an experience!!! The feeling of having that pair of penetrating eyes staring at you is simply overwhelming!
The female Harpy left the nest to have a better look of us from an exposed perch nearby, exactly where Blas predicted, allowing more photos! I have to admit that, in spite that the Harpy Eagle was not a life bird for none of us, it is still a VERY impressive sight, no matters how many times you have experienced it!
Blas then climbed a nearby tree to see better the chicks, which he estimates was only 21-days old... he even managed to get some pictures with his point-and-shoot camera. In the meanwhile, a second eagle appeared, the male Harpy Eagle!!! It was quite evident its lightly builded body in comparison with the huge female. Awesome, three eagles in a single day!!!
We left the place (reluctantly), only to realize that the nest was on a tree in the border of the forest... we were able to see the nest, both adults and even the chick from pasture lands, along with cattle! In the next cropped photo, notice the head of the chick under the left wing of his mom!
No doubt... the birds of the day were those three Harpy Eagles... a sight that will never resign of my memory!

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