Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila Clanga)

General

A medium Sized / large majestic Aquila eagle with broad wings seen to be wintering in various areas in the south India between Oct-Nov to March. Separated from the resident ISE by  its bigger structure overall and its darker appearance overall. Juvenile GSE are instantly recognized by its big white  spots on the upper wing coverts.

Usually seen in pairs perched on trees next to the vicinity of a lake.

Greater Sp eagle_ wayanad

Identification

Rather dark brown in colour with a bulky appearance is most cases. Occasionally appear to be a little slender and that when the confusion with ISE appears.

In places like Bikaner, GSE can easily be confused with Steppe Eagles which are dark and thats when the round nostril of the GSE helps in separating it from the oval shaped nostril of Steppe or Tawny.

In flight, it appears darker than ISE with the coverts appearing much darker than the flight feathers.To add the 7 primary fingers is a good pointer( although this is not the only factor which needs to be considered when freezing on the ID). The head too appears a little protruding and a short tail as well should help in nailing this raptor on the field.

Behavior

An active hunter, seen perched in the middle of lakes constantly on the lookout for ducks,waterbirds etc. As soon as a GSE arrives and lands on a tree top or a telephone post, there is an instant commotion and confusion observed among all the other birds in the vicinity.

I have observed this regularly at Kaikondarahali Lake and Hoskote as well.

Locations Seen

Very well distributed during migratory season. I have had the privilege to  see  them in forests ( Tholpetty (KER)& ragihalli- BLR), lakes( kaikondarahalli, Hoskote (BLR), outskirts / highways ( BLR -MUM highway at various locations across Karnataka) & Bikaner (Desert). & LRK( GJ)

Also managed to see one vagrant from Malleshpalaya.

Distibution

Well distributed across Western part of India

Notable Observations

These magnificent raptors could sometimes look really massive in flight. In LRK I saw a GSE which was almost twice the size of a marsh harrier and initially made me believe it was not a GSE until confirmed reports.

clanga_ valley

Frequency of Sightings

Good during migratory season