Aerial Combat: A Battle of the Talons

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We were photographing a tawny eagle in Hwange for a few minutes when it dropped to the ground and grabbed a large frog. We watched it carefully rip it open and consume most of it as a few yellow-billed kites tried to get in on some of the action. After some time it was just finishing the last bits when another dark brown eagle flew across with what I initially thought was a mongoose. As we watched it land in a nearby tree, our first eagle flew over and stole the prize away. It took us a bit of time to manoeuver around the back of the tree to discover that the "mongoose" was actually the head of a steenbok. The steenbok would most likely have been killed by a leopard or another predator before being scavenged by the eagle. We again watched as the first tawny stripped away at it, until it eventually lost its hold and dropped it. An amazing way to spend a few hours in a great place with fantastic birdlife!

Photographed by Dana Allen | Linkwasha Camp

Photography settings:

Nikon D5 Nikon 200-500mm

ISO 800 1/3000 @ f8

Dana’s advice for taking action shots:

“I usually shoot on aperture priority wide open, but in this case I stopped down to f8 to get a bit more depth-of-field with the kite in the background. It is also imperative to keep a high enough shutter speed to stop the action.”

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