Fishing Eagles Last winter after several years planning we took a trip to Peru. Whilst there we went up into the Andes and, after a decent walk, found ourselves way off the beaten track in the tiny valley of the Rio Rimac, high up in the mountains.
. At this remote spot we were surprised to see, from our position up on the valley side, a small hut and signs of activity on the valley floor. We went down to the rivers edge and shouted. . After a few minutes a man appeared coming up the valley, he introduced himself as Raoul. We were curious about what he was doing there so we sat down outside his hut and he explained. . He said that he was a trout farmer and that we had found his farm. He said he had to come this far up the river because lower down the water was too dirty for the fish. Here the temperature was perfect for the growing fish and he showed us how he had diverted part of the flow of the river through a series of pools stocked with everything from 2 inch babies at the bottom to half metre long monsters in the top pool.
. He explained that the water never became cold enough for the trout to breed in the river but the fertilised eggs, brought in from the United States, were released into the Rimac where the trout’s prodigious growth commenced.
. Raoul explained that, as in most trout farms, the fish in each pool were fed by hand with food pellets thrown from the side of the pool. The fish that caught the most food grew the fastest and were then caught and moved up the ladder to the larger pools. Fish that grew slower still moved up the ladder towards the larger pools but at a slower rate. The fish that grew the least were left at the bottom and ultimately, if they did not put on any weight, were fed to those at the top. While walking through the mountains it was quickly obvious who the top predator in the area was. Almost every valley had its resident eagle. They could be seen patrolling the length of the valley or roosting high up on the mountainside keeping a careful eye on their domain. . It occurred to us to ask Raoul if he lost many fish to the eagles, who must surely be aware of such a concentration of tasty snacks right under their beaks.
. Raoul laughed at that, he said that he did not. The pools were deep enough so that the trout, as soon as they spied the shape of an approaching eagle, could hide at the bottom, out of reach. “They are not stupid.” “But” he said, “There was one eagle that had caused him a problem”. When the farm had first been set up there was a lot of work to do and he had not been able to keep as close a watch on the ponds as he was able to do now.
. At first it was just a suspicion, then he began to keep a more careful note of the numbers and became convinced that something was taking his fish. It could be either a puma or the eagles but since there were no tracks he guessed that it must be an eagle. He hid in his hut and watched the river through the open window. It was not long before his patience was rewarded and he saw a large eagle land next to the pools. The eagle looked around and, seeing no one, proceeded to inspect the water, walking carefully around each pool, finally selecting the second pool from the top in which the trout were a good size but not big enough to pull him in.
. . Raoul was not concerned because the eagle had made no attempt to hide itself. He knew that his fish, having seen him, must all be safe at the bottom of the pool. Then the eagle turned around, presented his backside to the pool, and relieved himself into the water. The trout, who had indeed been lying in the bottom of the pool, rose with a surge to get what they had assumed to be food as it splashed into the pool.
. The eagle turned around casually and catching the first trout by its head, flung it over his shoulder then, with a hop, took it in his claws and was airborne.
. It all happened so fast that Raoul simply watched them go. That fish was a good meal, then the following day Raoul noticed the eagle again, once more patrolling the valley in search of food. Again he hid in his hut, but this time with a loaded rifle in his hand. The magnificent creature circled for a while then coming in low from behind Raoul’s hut, landed lightly next to the second pool from the top. As it turned to present its backside to the pool it was momentarily in profile and Raoul shot it through the neck. In the ultimate irony he fed the carcass to his fish., We all laughed but the story showed us, you can be too smart. Peter A Hunter Author-Breaking the Mould.
I would love to know more about your book. Do you have a website? Thanks. Michael
Created at 01/12/2009 - 15:02