The African Fish Eagle – The Voice of Africa

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African Fish Eagle

The Fish Eagle is one of those birds that for me has the ability to quickly arouse memories of the amazing family holidays we used to take to game reserves in South Africa during my childhood. The bags were strapped to the roof racks on top of our little Toyota Corolla car, and the trunk was filled with all the food, books and other goodies we would need for our two week trip to the Kruger National Park. We usually went in winter because the summer heat can be overwhelming and so it was always freezing cold and dark when we left for our journey at 5 in the morning. The 14 hour or so drive was broken up with strategic ‘pee breaks’ and my mom would play endless car games with me and my younger sister to keep us from killing each other. We often arrived at the park just as the sun was beginning to set and after getting through one of the main gates would have to make a frantic dash to our camp where we would be spending the night. The camp sites close their gates just as its getting dark and I remember always having this irrational fear that if we didn’t get there in time we’d be locked out and would have to spend the night in the bush. This is obviously not the case but the park ranger do get a little irritated if you make them wait any longer before they can go for dinner.

Many of the camps we stayed at were situated on the banks of a river and so the beautiful haunting cry of the African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer) was something we’d hear on an almost daily basis. Anyone whose ever heard it call before or seen it in the wild will know what I mean. It’s call is so well known and clear that it is often referred to as ‘the voice of Africa’. I’ve embedded a video below so you can get a sense of what I mean. It wasn’t filmed by me, but rather the team at Africam who are well known for capturing amazing footage of African wildlife.

I wasn’t taking photos at this point but without knowing it was fostering an appreciation for the African bush that would remain ingrained within me for the rest of my life.

Shaun Walton - Fish Eagle


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