You might think that hanging out wet laundry to dry is an utterly mundane and boring task to be avoided if at all possible. Actually, it is probably your best chance to see some magnificent eagles navigating their territories as they soar from one thermal to the next.
|Two eagles being harassed by an Australian raven. Picture taken by Chris Clarke, near Toolern Vale 2011-04-30. Click here for full resolution picture.|
Last Sunday was a very good Autumn drying day, and as usual, I cranked up the Hills Hoist to capture the most sun, which means that I had to look up into the sky to peg things to the line... to see a pair of wedge-tailed eagles (Aquila audax) flapping along a hundred metres up, coming from the Gap Road area, looking for an elevator to Heaven. They found a small thermal over the Sandy Creek Road that helped them gain some altitude. They flapped around a bit more and found a better one over the more open ground of the Two Hills Estate that did all the heavy lifting work for them as they took advantage of the warm rising air to soar in circles and figures of eight.
One of the eagles drifted off to the north west towards the Ranges when it reached two or three hundred metres - where I lost it in the sun. The second eagle continued rising overhead in the thermal - entirely without flapping - until it was so high I could barely see it before also drifting off into the sun over the Ranges.
Actually, this is the third or fourth time I have seen eagles this year while hanging out the washing. Good drying days are also good days for our plague of rabbits to come out to bask in the sun, and for heating the ground to form the thermals that make life easy for eagles to hunt them.
I don't have a good camera for capturing events like this, so I have used some pictures from our sister website, Natureshare, to show what you might see on a good day for drying the washing.
Wedgetails seem to be quite social, as I often I see two eagles together, as I did Sunday, and earlier this year there were three together close enough to the ground that I could hear them having a conversation as they floated over.
While hanging out the washing, I have also seen eagles being harassed by crows as shown in the Natureshare picture above.
|Little eagle after being dive-bombed by an Australian raven. Picture by Jason Caruso from Tatura, near Shepparton 2013-03-23.|
According to Wikipedia, the magnificent Australian wedge-tailed eagle is amongst the largest eagles on the planet. Although not the heaviest species, wedge-tails hold the record for the longest body lengths (over 1 m - thanks to their unusually long tails) and wingspans (over 2.8 m). They are easily identified in flight by their conspicuous wing marking (shown very well in the top picture) and elongated diamond- or wedge-shaped tail as shown very clearly in the picture below.
|An adult wedge-tail in soaring flight. Photo by Chris Lindorff, west of Warracknabeal, 2012-07-27. Click here to look the eagle in the eye and click again.|
|This guy might be lurking to pounce on a rabbit. Picture by James Booth, between Whittlesea and Kinglake, 2013-07-30. Click here for full resolution view and click again.|
As you can see, hanging out the laundry can sometimes be a pretty exciting task if you keep your eyes oppen!