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Venezuela - Harpy Eagle

Posted by Petr Slavik on

On the other side of the planet, in a country where waterfalls come from the sky, where lost worlds are surrounded by impenetrable forests and rivers are so wide that you can hardly see all the other shores, is where a mysterious creature can be found.

Like a shadow moving silently under the trees, he clenches his twelve centimeter long claws into an unsuspecting prey. Its name was given after the mythical monster of Greek mythology;  in the “Divine Comedy“, Dante Alighieri describes the beast:

"The broad wings, faces human shapes,

on foot joints, abdomen feathered

and for lamentation taking singing gifts "

My shoes are slipping on the waterlogged, muddy trail, and I have large beads of sweat flowing down my face. It's early in the morning. The forest floor is still dark but just above the trees I see the warm rays of the sun to caress the first awakened birds. We tread this narrow path every seventh day of our trip. When I finally climb to the observation post, near the Harpy nest, I am starting to feel tired from the previous weeks. The torrential rains and unrelenting heat of the sun have started taking their toll. I wrap up all the equipment with the first drops of tropical downpour and unpack again, it disappears as quickly as it appeared. The afternoon heat keeps me awake.

I am afraid of falling asleep and missing opportunities to photograph one of the most beautiful eagles in the world. To my luck I see Harpies through my telescope. They are hundreds of meters away in a distant tree. Some of them are clamoring for food while others are resting in the shade of the tree.

For a brief, blissful moment nature was willing to share some of its secrets with me. Nature can be pretty stingy, everyone who has ever worked with wild creatures in their natural environment has felt this one time or another.


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