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BRAZIL November 2008

Just before our departure we had heard from a recent visitor there that the female Harpy Eagle Harpia harpyja was once more visiting the traditional nest in the forest fragment at the Floresta Amazonica Hotel. Thus it was with great anticipation that we ventured to the viewing area for the next, just half-a-mile from our room at the hotel. Initially we had a tanalizing partial view of her as she sat mostly obscured by a big branch close to the nest. After she flew away we decided to wait for better looks, and boy are we glad that we did! Our fantastic guide Bradley Davis heard the the male approaching the area, and as we struggled to find a viewing spot for him up in an emergent tree, I chose to head back to the nest in the hope that the male's appearance would prompt the female to return... within moments of getting back at the nest viewing point, in she came!:

at first she perched on a branch above the nest:

but quickly she dropped down onto the nest and started making some adjustments to the sticks; Sheridan and Bradley soon arrived by my side to enjoy the show:

after a few minutes, Brad heard the male approaching, and suddenly he appeared on a branch above the nest:

He assessed the situation for a short while, then dropped down to the nest:

he worked into her good graces with some deft stick-arranging, then paused for a moment:

suddenly he was on her back, copulating! it was over in a blink, and I only managed to record the "dismount" for posterity:

some post-coital contemplation...:

Eventually we had to move on, leaving these two magnificent predators to their wooings; shaking our heads in disbelief at our good fortune, and finding it hard to think about looking at lesser creatures.