I am launching an attempt at writing something sensible about a Verreaux’s Eagle. None of the normal, though impressive, weight and wing length statistics. I need a new angle. A new pedestal where I can let one of the most beautiful and iconic birds of the Waterberg shine to its full glory!
Perched on a rocky ledge, near the area on Kaingo we call the Peninsula, we saw it. Or rather, the rock hyraxes saw it; their screams warning all around them of the impending danger from the sky.
Jet black, the V on its back. Aquiline. Deadly.
It is of little wonder that African tribes describe the Verreaux’s Eagle as the Royal messenger. It is Bond, James Bond of the sky, complete with a thousand-mile stare and suave but deadly talons waiting for unsuspecting prey. Riding on wings that may measure up to two metres, this is the Rock hyraxes’ number one predator.
You will find the Verreaux’s Eagle in Egypt on the trail of its prey. The highlands of the Great Rift Valley, the Maluti mountain range, Lebombo mountains and the Waterberg. In the City of Johannesburg, they nest in botanical gardens, eating small dogs and cats when prey becomes scarce.
Much to the vexation of their owners…
To attempt to describe their aerial acrobatics when fighting or mating will take too many adjectives. And it could never truly capture the moment of majestical flight; lazily floating on the air currents and then, potential prey spotted, it turns into a guided missile diving at great speed, its prey unaware of the impending danger.
The great poet Tennyson pretty much summed up the Verreaux’s Eagle in the following poem:
He clasps the Crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringe’d with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
As he watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt, he falls.