project news

Where eagles nest

News item submitted by Frontier
News item dated 25 Jun 2009


Frontier's marine research team on the Tanzanian Island of Mafia don't spend all their time with their heads down surveying the coral reefs and seagrass beds of the East African Coast. They've also been looking to the heavens, in search of birds big and small including some pretty special parents.

As part of the biodiversity surveys of the reefs on Mafia Island, the team carry out bird walks compiling records for the Tanzanian Bird Atlas, and contributing to the designation of the area as an Important Bird Area.

During one of these walks in July last year, the team were delighted to find that a previously redundant African fish eagle nest was being used. When a chick was sighted on the nest, “nest patrols” were carried out to observe the behaviour of the juvenile and the adult birds. Sadly, however, the juvenile eagle fell from its nest and died. It had probably been preparing to take its first flight.

Breeding season for the eagles is the dry season when water levels are low. African fish eagles are believed to pair for life and pairs usually keep two or more nests which they reuse frequently. With July fast approaching, the marine team once again have their eyes peeled on the eagle's nest and hope that this year, their fish-eating neighbours have more luck.

As their name implies, African fish eagles are only found in Africa. They feed extensively on fish but in some areas will happily tuck into a water bird or two. On Kenya's Lake Bogoria, for instance, the eagles even prey on flamingos.

Tanzania Marine Project