Eyes on Nature

Life in the cooler months

25 Jul 2022

As the days get shorter and the cold sets in, we may imagine nature entering a period of rest and stillness. However, while there may be less activity for some - plant growth slows over winter, and many animals such as frogs take shelter and enter torpor to conserve energy – others are busier than ever.

Resident Sea-Eagles start a family

Sydney Olympic Park has had a pair of White-bellied Sea-Eagles nesting in Newington Nature Reserve woodland annually since 2008. These magnificent birds are the second largest raptor in Australia, with a wingspan of 1.8 to 2.2m; it’s no surprise that they nest in the Reserve, as they need large, old eucalyptus trees to perch in and to provide support for their very large nest – around 2.5m wide, 1.5m thick and 20m high! Our resident Sea-Eagles ‘Dad’ and ‘Lady’ began renovating their nest in late autumn, and have brought in over 500 branches or leaves by the beginning of winter.

They laid the first egg on June 8 and incubated it on and off; full incubation only began when the second egg arrived on June 12. The ‘delayed incubation’ strategy allows both eggs to hatch closer in time, so the younger sibling has a better chance at growing up without being outcompeted by its older, stronger sibling. While both parents took turns incubating, Lady did the bulk of it at night, while Dad supplied most of the food – mainly fish such as mullet and bream from Parramatta River.

After about 40 days of incubation, the first fluffy white Sea-Eaglet hatched on July 18, followed by its sibling on July 20. The parents are keeping them warm and well-fed.

You can watch live streaming of their life at the nest via EagleCAM on your device 24/7 – from the hatching of fluffy white chicks to young Sea-Eagles learning to fly. Alternatively, visit the EagleCAM Facebook page for regular updates.

Birds on the move

Have you noticed fewer birds, or different birds, around? Many birds, from robins, fantails, whistlers to honeyeaters, move to lower altitudes or fly northward in the cooler months, seeking food resources in warmer climes. Some travel interstate, while others fly to the northern hemisphere. An example is Silvereye, a tiny olive-green bird with a white ring of feathers around its eyes; it’s widespread in Australia with many populations distinguishable by plumage variations.

The species weighs 10g, and it’s hard to believe some Tasmanian Silvereyes will fly north through NSW to southern Queensland to join local resident populations. If you see a Silvereye, take note of its appearance to see if you’re looking at a local bird or its Tasmanian cousin!

 
Recently hatched Whitebellied SeaEaglet being fed EagleCAM

Red Wattlebird a honeyeater also migrates in search of winter food. Photo credit:  John Porter    

Recently hatched White-bellied Sea-Eaglet being fed © EagleCAM

Tiny Silvereyes can migrate across Bass Strait to the mainland © Nevil Lazarus Red Wattlebird, a honeyeater, also migrates in search of winter food ©John Porter
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