Sunday, 26 June 2016
Although I'm currently away in Scotland gaining experience in Golden Eagle research, which will be an enormous help for my future eagle studies in Australia, I've been closely monitoring the movements of our two sat-tagged 'wedgies' Wallu and Kuyurnpa. As you would've read recently, Kuyu spent much of late 2015 and the early part of 2016 in the vicinity of Matuwa, wandering the lakes of the Carnegie area and frequently 'ducking over' (or, more accurately, 'eagling' over!!) to visit habitats close to her natal territory. In the past month, however, she has headed northward again, embarking for her other favourite haunt at Roy Hill, making one overnight stop to complete the ~350 km journey there on 3rd June.
Zooming in on the above map, you can see more detail of Kuyurnpa's recent movement in relation to the major landforms (the pale grey sections are rocky ironstone 'plateau's' with Porcupine Grass (Triodia sp.), and the red 'sandy' looking areas are lowlands, with the large reddish section to the west being the well-known Fortescue Marsh):
We can now glance back to the same map and look at our young girl's movements between March and June 2015:
These datapoints indicate Kuyurnpa recently revisited many of the same areas she had been to before, perhaps even using the same roost sites, places she has probably stored inside her internal 'black box'!
Now to Wallu...
Compared with this juvenile female, our adult male has continued his much more sedentary behaviour, but of late we have seen him leave his home range on a number of occasions, something which in the last 3 years has only been recorded once before. After spending the nights of 9th & 11th June a kilometre or so outside of his home range (southern- and western-most GPS fixes in the above **map), Wallu then travelled way to the north-east and spent the night of 10th July about 50 km away, before heading 'home' to roost the next day. Then, on 20th July, he moved away east and again spent the night 50 km away:
At this stage I cannot offer any explanation for these unusual movements - perhaps food is short at home, or there is competition for mates? Sometimes I wish I was there on board the PTT to actually SEE what was going on! The main thing is, Wallu is alive and well, and continuing to generate very interesting findings.
Thanks for tuning in everyone! I'll post more updates from arid Western Australia (via not-so-arid Scotland!) soon :)
**(Just to keep you up to scratch with things, the black polygons shown on the above map are the approximate 'boundaries' (I use that term very loosely) to other adult breeding territories, something I've been working on lately. The blue triangle in the fenced enclosure, where our late Gidjee lived, and the green line denotes the boundary between the Murchison and Gascoyne IBRA regions.)