The White-bellied Sea Eagle is a large bird of prey found in India, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia and Australia. It breeds and hunts near water as fish makes up the majority of its diet, although it also feeds on carrion and a wide variety of animals. Numbers have declined in southeastern Australia and it is ranked as 'threatened' in Victoria and 'vulnerable' in South Australia and Tasmania. Human disturbance to its habitat is the main threat, both from deforestation and human activity near nests. The White-bellied Sea Eagle is revered by indigenous people in many parts of Australia and is the subject of folk tales throughout the culture. The eagle I have drawn is a juvenile as indicated by the mottled flight and breast feathers. An adult's feathers would be pure white with black underwing flight feathers. Although juvenile, this eagle would be a proficient hunter, swift and deadly. I have shown him a split second before plucking a fish from the water, his talons spread out and his wings at full stretch. As this is a freeze-frame capture of an eye-wateringly rapid, fluid movement, I have brushed wet charcoal dust onto the paper to simulate the blurred action of a single moment in time. I have rendered his plumage in full detail with charcoal and graphite pencil including the stray droplets of water as his tail grazes the surface of the water in flight.
- Fiona Francois -
White-bellied Sea Eagle progress photos