Grey-headed Fish Eagle. Dive to Survive.

Grey-headed Fish Eagles as the name suggests live on a diet of mainly fresh water fishes found at inland ponds, lakes and rivers. This family of Grey-headed Fish Eagles have been fishing at the Ulu Pandan Canal for over a decade and have adapted very well to the conditions there.

Cleaning crew at Ulu Pandan Canal where the fish eagles hunt, The Albizia trees arevon the opposite bank

They have become experts in diving for the fishes in the canal from the tall Albizia Trees by the side of the canal. This is a photo documentation of one of the many successful dives and catches.

It would find a prominent perch on a branch of the Albizia overhanging the canal and wait patiently, sometimes for hours for the fishes to break surface.
Dive! This morning, a pair of Otters were chasing the fishers just below where the eagle perched. One fish came up to the surface. This was the moment the fish eagle was waiting for. Talons ready and eyes focused.
The momentum of the dive carried the eagle into the water. Its nictitating membrane would have covered it eyes and it would not be able to see the fish. If its aim is accurate, its talons would have caught the fish.
Pushing its way out of the water with the fish in its talons needed great effort. The nictitating membrane is still covering its eyes.
Life off, just!
But not enough to pull clear off the surface.
It caught a big Keli catfish. Due to its weight, the fish eagle could not turn around and flew straight at me.
Its determination to keep the fish showing.
Finally it managed to turn around and head towards the other side of the canal
And landed on the side of the canal to take a breather.
To avoid ground predators it flew up to this low tree and started tearing the guts out of the catfish.
With the dead fish, it flew up to the highest branch from where it can check the surroundings for the presence of the House Crows.
With no signs of the House Crows around, it finally flew off with its catch to its nest at Toh Tuck forest. This catch will be enough to feed the family for the day.

Their survival will depend on the continued presence of the mostly alien fishes in this part of the canal. The family of Sooth-coated Otters here appear to be in competition but in reality, they play a symbiotic role in helping the fish eagles with their catches. Other times, their discarded half eaten fish serve as a easy meal for the fish eagles and Brahminy Kites as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s