Predator Watch – Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle

Favourite Eagle ?

I have always thought the African Fish Eagle was my favourite, this changed thanks to an unforgettable experience. My wife and I got to spend time with 3 Verreaux’s (Black) Eagles out in the wild – all I can say is WOW!

Encounter

Upon arrival we had a mix of emotions as we know only too well that there is never a sure thing in wild photography. Our hopes of spotting them started fading after the first location revealed no eagles.

Enroute to the next location I realized just how excited I was as words almost failed me when I saw 2 Black Eagles soaring above the rocks. I quickly pointed them out to my wife and could not wait to park the car and head off – I felt like a kid on Christmas Day!  

After a short walk through the bush we were treated to one of the best birding experiences of my life – 3 Black Eagles soaring effortlessly on the thermals! It is not often that a person gets the opportunity to photograph a bird of prey from an elevated position- it was truly amazing to photograph the distinct feather patterns and colours!

The eagles would perch on the edge of the rocks before diving off and swooping below us only to bank and soar above us – it was mesmerizing!

The slightly overcast conditions made photography quite challenging but thankfully I managed to capture the few frames below:

My favourite of the morning as you can see the characteristic white “v” on it’s back.

Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle Facts:

  • The 6th largest eagle in the world measuring 75cm – 96cm from bill to tip of the tail.
  • Wingspan measures in at an impressive 1.8 – 2.3 metres (they are huge!)
  • Estimated territory is 10.9 square kilometres and flying capability of 157km/h.

Photography Tips:

  • 400mm Lens 
  • Camera body capable of 10 fps (frames per second)
  • AI Servo AF (Canon) or Continuous-Servo AF (Nikon)
  • Continuous Drive mode and not Single Shot
  • Shutter Speed of 1/1100 and above
  • Multiple AF (auto focus) points and not single/centre AF point
  • To photograph BIF (birds in flight) you will need to learn to lock focus and then track (pan) your camera with the flight of the bird
  • Class 10 Memory card – gives 10MB/s Write Speed and limited buffer (temporary storage space between image sensor and memory card)
  • Gimbal head mounted on a tripod – acts as support system (big wildlife lens’ are quite heavy) as well as providing fluid panning capabilities

Spending time with such amazing birds is truly a privilege – cannot wait to return!

Till next time…

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