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Wildlife Photographer Captures Shocking Moment Eagles Fly Off With Piglet

by : Julia Banim on : 08 Mar 2020 12:50
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Astonishing photographs have emerged from Australia that capture the moment a feral pig was carried off in the talons of a enormous eagle.

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75-year-old photographer Clarke Espie had been driving back to his campsite in Queensland’s Cromarty Wetlands when he heard a high-pitched shriek from high above him.

Instinct kicking in, Clarke grabbed his camera and was astonished to spot a helpless piglet squealing as it was carried though the air by a pair of large sea eagles.

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The two eagles carried the ill-fated piglet across a lake before settling down together to feast on its flesh.

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Clarke, who worked as a commercial diver and documentary-maker for 35 years, said:

I had been invited to capture the unique and diverse birdlife inhabiting these world class wetlands. Little did I imagine witnessing two massive sea eagles swooping low over my vehicle, one with a feral pig firmly gripped in its powerful talons.

Despite its powerful wings, the sea eagle struggled to gain altitude before landing its prey upon a small island within the wetlands, where together the eagles shared the prey.

I hurriedly snapped these images with a 500mm Telephoto lens as the sea eagles swept past. It was one of the most unusual sights I’ve seen.

I thought it must’ve been a fish at first but as soon as I focused, I could see it was a piglet. It must have weighed around 5kg. Definitely not something I’ve witnessed before.

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Clarke added that he was left ‘astounded’ by the one-of-a-kind encounter:

I’ve seen the imposing white-bellied sea eagle carnivore swoop in a shallow dive to snatch prey in its massive and powerful talons, taking fish, waterbirds, turtles, rabbits, flying foxes etc. before now, but this was something very rarely seen. I was astounded.

These white-bellied sea eagles can usually be observed perching high up in a tree or else soaring above waterways and adjacent land close to the Australian coast.

Interestingly, these regal birds form permanent pairs which go on to inhabit territories throughout the year. Their formidable wingspan can reach breadths of over seven foot.

Sea eagles primarily feed off aquatic animals, including fish, turtles and sea snakes. However, they can also dine on birds and mammals. A highly skilled hunter, the sea eagle can attack prey up to the size of a swan.

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Feral pigs are widely thought of as being pests in Queensland, known for spreading weeds, degrading soil and water, preying on native species and damaging crops and stock. It’s believed there could be up to 24 million feral pigs in Australia.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Animals, Australia, Clarke Espie, Eagles, flying, pigs, Queensland