A Changeable Hawk-Eagle meal

On a lunchtime break in December 2012, I decided to make a quick round to the former Bidadari Muslim cemetary, a prime birding area in Singapore. Unexpectedly, I was the lone person there. And for good reason. That day, the birds must have decided to take a break. Or perhaps they sense something else…

As I went along a more wooded area, and ready to leave the place, I saw movement of a large bird. Scanning the area and slowly pacing my steps, I chanced upon a raptor perched on a low branch and close by. Turned out to be a white-morph Changeable Hawk-Eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus). Now normally if the raptor sees a person nearby it will just take-off. But it stayed, so I slowly moved my camera and lens towards my eyes. Once focused on my viewfinder, I could see that it had something on it’s leg.

Changeable Hawk-Eagle

It scanned around, looking warily, but never made direct eye contact. I was sure it was aware of my presence and just awaiting for the moment to get away. I rattled a few shots quickly, and the noise from the shutter of my camera made it even more nervous. I decided to continue photographing nonetheless. One does not always get a chance to photograph a raptor with a prey. Once I was satisfied with the shots from the position, I wanted a different background, so I took a step…

Changeable Hawk Eagle

It then decided the that I have crossed the line and flew off for good, prey in tow. And that was the end of the encounter. No feeding shot after all.

Changeable Hawk-Eagle

So what was it that it was holding on to? A rat, crushed in the head by it’s powerful leg. A raptor in the city making a meal of an urbanized mammal, in a former cemetery that will soon be a fancy housing estate.

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