Mark writes: Brian photographed this Short-toed Eagle in Spain in September last year as it was planning to cross the Straits of Gibraltar towards Africa.
I thought it was a very striking image and loved the look in those big yellow eyes, and the angle that the tail was held. Look too at the underwing; that characteristic overall light colouration which helps nail the identification, although the shape of the broad wings and of the bird itself are pretty diagnostic (I like raptors that are easy to identify). The underwing always looks soft and fluffy to me, rather at odds with the bird’s piercing gaze.
Another handy identification feature is if the bird is carrying a snake; snakes form an important part of the diet and the bird is sometimes called a snake eagle . Whether a snake ever thinks that the underwing looks soft and fluffy is not known for once they get a view as good as this one there are few snake survivors.