As Allan continues, “It was a sudden surprise encounter that froze all the photographers. Most of us got very bad photos but we knew eventually that it probably was a juvenile Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) after looking at what photos we had. The element of surprised really had an effect on us.”
“The eagle then flew into a low-built nest of a Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus) and in a flash ate up either the chick or the egg.
“The parent kite was totally helpless. It circled around the shrub where the nest was, giving off very loud and continuous alarm calls but that did not stop the eagle. The eagle eventually it flew off, chased by the angry kite. The image above (top) shows it climbing into the air about 3 metres from the ground, flapping furiously while the kite gave pursuit.
“The morning was hot and the thermals had already began to rage. The eagle flew in circles whilst the kite followed (above bottom).
The eagle flew up to join a marsh harrier that was in the vicinity and eventually to join another large eagle high in the sky (above).”
There is disagreement on the identity of the eagle. Allan himself later concluded that it could not be a Steppe Eagle, which is a rare winter visitor/vagrant. On the other hand it could be another rare vagrant, the Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga). Or even a female Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus).
Many raptors are extremely difficult to identify, especially from long-range photographs. So any opinion from viewers would be appreciated.
Input and images by Allan Teo.