A few years ago, I was invited to give a series of four short lectures, in quick succession, on birds of the Danube River. It was a tree planting event organised by a local NGO, the Supernatural, and groups of volunteers – both adults and kids – were visiting me by the bird tower. At first, everything went smoothly.

The second lecture is the same as the first, third… Have I already said this, or did I say that to the previous group? The fourth lecture, oh, what have I told you? I haven’t said that to the previous group? (It would have been way easier if I had envisioned four totally different lectures, one for each group.)

One mother from the last group asked me about White-tailed Eagles, surprised that there are eagles inside the city, she always thought they live only in the mountains (so did I when I started birding)… and how can she see one?

People rarely look up, I said, and if you see a flying plank, 2.5 m / 8.2 ft long, you’ve seen your first White-tailed Eagle. Also, pay attention to crows, they often mob eagles…

Why, she asked me?

Well, the eagle eats them.

Some time later, we are approaching the parking lot, I am turning the engine on… a movement above the Danube! I turn the engine off and scream at her: There! The eagle! There’s your eagle!

The eagle, a territorial adult, slowly loses height above the bank, its eyes locked onto a prey, goes down behind the scrubs and… rises with a fish in its talons!

And the mum from the fourth group has seen her first eagle.

Written by Dragan
Dragan Simic is obsessively passionate about two things – birding and travelling in search of birds, and that has taken him from his native Balkans to the far shores of Europe and the Mediterranean, southern Africa, India and Latin America. His 10,000 Birds blog posts were Highly Commended in the International Category of the 2015 BBC Wildlife Blogger Awards. Birder by passion and environmental scientist by education, he is an ecotourism consultant, a field researcher and a bird blogger who always thinks that birding must be better behind that next bend in the road, and that the best bird ever is – the next lifer. He tweets as @albicilla66