Image of the Month June 2021: Martial Eagle

Photographer: Stratton Hatfield   Destination: Kenya

Imagine being a Martial Eagle for a day.

You would be among the largest, fiercest, and strongest avian predators on the planet, and given the gaze of the bird above, not much would get past you. You spend your time high in the air, riding the warm thermals rising over the wild savannas and remote woodlands of Sub-Saharan Africa. Using eyes nearly the size of human eyes yet stronger, you deftly spot reptiles, birds, and mammals and then to stoop down striking them with force, snagging and dragging your prey to a feeding spot. Then with furious focus, between bites you direct those golden eyes out, shooting spine-tingling dagger-like stares at anything foolish enough to take up airspace anywhere remotely nearby.

Your legs are strong. Your wings are long. With crisp dark spots and flecks on your snowy white belly, in places you are known as the “leopard of the air”. Often hares and mongooses are your quarry, but when determined or desperate you even take small to mid-sized cats, canids and ungulates too. And like so many big raptors you are persecuted for your hunting prowess. Having an eagle eye takes on a whole new meaning when you’re the Martial Eagle.

This shot was taken by Rockjumper leader Stratton Hatfield who knows a thing or two about these birds, as he’s pursuing a PhD at Wageningen University in the Netherlands studying Martial Eagle ecology in the Maasai Mara ecosystem of southern Kenya. One of the best places to see this astoundingly regal raptor, it is also one of the great wildlife concentration points on Earth. Happily, this is among the destinations where we are currently operating trips!

You can read about one recent trip here and we hope you’ll consider joining our friends at the American Birding Association for ABA Kenya in February. And between now and the end of May of 2022 we have 5 tours to Kenya & Tanzania: Birds & Big Game, one of which is sold out but the others each have 1 or 2 spots remaining.

Join us for the ultimate safari experience to perhaps the greatest combined birding and wildlife destination in existence.