On 22 August 2012, Megan Murgatroyd of The Black Eagle Project gave a presentation at the Cape Union Mart Adventure Centre, Canal Walk. Right from the outset, it is clear that Megan has clearly seen significantly more of Africa than I have, and I am particularly envious of the time she has spent in the Cederberg.
The Black Eagle is now correctly known as Verreaux’s Eagle: Aquila verreauxii
Megan grew up in England, and spent her prac year for her studies in Conservational Biology in Namibia. Black Eagle Project started just over a year ago under the auspices of the Cape Leopard Trust.
The talk included much information with regards the diet, breeding habits, habitat, and history, and an outline of some of the questions Megan hopes to answer through her research.
The project is set up in Western Cape, and she has found around 20 pairs in the Cederberg: the eagles are in remote, mountainous areas, and are difficult to find. Megan explains that she starts her search by looking for steep contour lines on a 1:50 000 map: sometimes you can see the nest from kilometers away, and sometimes its more difficult and she must watch the eagle patiently through a telescope until it flies to its nest.
Naturally I was particularly interested in the technology she has employed: they have managed to fit one eagle with a 40g solar-powered tracking device which sports a tri-axial accelerometer. The GPS tracking provides high-resolution GPS at 3 second data intervals. They have also installed cameras at nest sites.
See also: http://verreaux.wordpress.com/