Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax)
Australia is a big country. And the iconic Wedge-tailed Eagle reigns supreme in the skies.
After persecution by farmers and bounty hunters last century, this incredible eagle has shown great resilience. It’s always a pleasure to see the eagle circling overhead, perching watchful on lofty branches or taking advantage of road kill, which would otherwise be a waste of life. Usually solitary or paired, I once saw six eagles in a dead tree beside the road, clustered like carrion birds in an old Western.
I observed this pair while crossing the Hay Plain – the highway is a ribbon of bitumen flanked by saltbush, old fenceposts and barren waterholes. Zebra Finches and White-winged Fairy-wrens colonise low-lying scrub, keeping the air alive with twittering birdsong and whirred flight between cover. Black-shouldered Kites hover and glide in the warm summer breeze before alighting on the crosstrees of power poles.
As a heavy road train rumbled past, the eagles launched aloft. Wings beating hard, flight feathers ruffled and tails awry, the pair launched themselves lazily into the sky and rode the thermals to safer heights. Up close, they are large, sporting a wingspan over two metres. The righthand eagle has the lighter colouring of an immature bird.
- this painting was unusual – finished in reverse with the landscape unresolved, I was reluctant to pull focus from the eagles
- two years later, I travelled to Broken Hill and found the perfect “bare bones” landscape which I portrayed in sparse detail