A sea eagle has recorded unusual footage of WA’s remote Kimberley after stealing a video camera and taking it on a 100 kilometre journey. Aboriginal rangers had set up the motion-sensor camera at a gorge on the Margaret River in May, to try and capture images of fresh-water crocodiles.
Gooniyandi ranger Roneil Skeen says the camera disappeared not long afterwards. “Unexpectedly our camera went missing so we thought we had lost it because it fell into the water,” he said.
But a few weeks ago, they got a phone call to say a Parks and Wildlife ranger had found the small device at the Mary River, about 110 kilometres away. They have been able to extract three 30-second clips that reveal the culprit to be a thieving sea eagle.
The footage shows the juvenile eagle scooping up the recorder, and taking to the air. Later, it is deposited on the ground and the animal pecks at it.
Mr Skeen says he and the 14-strong ranger team were shocked to see the aerial journey play out in high-definition. “It was pretty amazing because it’s one of the first camera traps to ever get picked up,” he said.
“They’ve had camera traps moved [by animals] before, but not taken off, like a flying camera you know? “It was pretty cool so we were pretty shocked.”
The Gooniyandi Rangers, who are one of 14 ranger groups co-ordinated by the Kimberley Land Council, believe the bird was young. “We knew it was a juvenile eagle because the adult sea eagles, once they get their food or their prey, they usually take it right up into the sky and drop it,” he said.
“But this one was still learning because he just took it near the cliff-side and he never dropped [it], he just put it down and started picking at it. “An adult one would have flown it right up the top and yeah for sure it would have smashed that camera.”
The rangers say they will be bolting down their camera in the future.
This article was written by Erin Parke and Natalie Jones for ABC.net.au