Eagles lock claws in photo series documenting midair turf war
Mehrdad Abbasian was driving on the Bass Highway near Penguin in Tasmania's north-west on Saturday when his wife spotted a number of raptors flying above their car.
"I just stopped my car, grabbed my camera and had to chase them along the highway," Mr Abbasian said.
Mr Abbasian said there were two wedge-tailed eagles, a white-bellied sea eagle and two swamp harriers involved in the confrontation.
"One of the wedge-tails locked talons with the white-bellied sea eagle, and I saw the sea eagle fly away," he said.
"One of the swamp harriers waited until the sea eagle had gone and mobbed the wedge-tailed eagles."
The north-west local said he had his wife to thank for pointing the birds out.
"I was very excited. I was in the right place at the right time, it was meant to be," he said.
"It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so glad I had my camera gear with me."
Raptor turf wars as habitat goes
Nick Mooney from the BirdLife Australia Raptor Group said the photos appeared to show a dispute over the adult female white-bellied sea eagle and an adult male wedge-tailed eagle having the same nest site.
"The wedge-tail is essentially harassing the sea eagle, and the sea eagle is rolling over and defending itself by presenting its talons," Mr Mooney said.
"It can be very intense and quite dangerous for the birds."
Mr Mooney said aerial conflicts like the one withnessed by the Abbasians were becoming more common, particularly in areas where there has been significant development.
"As we are losing habitat and the birds are losing their nesting spots, they are both having to argue over the same places," he said.
"When there is plenty of habitat available for them, they space themselves out and they don't have these intense conflicts so often.
"Decades ago when I started this work, these disputes were very, very rare … now it is quite common."
Mr Mooney said it is important to protect the habitat for both species.
"We are increasingly seeing the nature of intense competition actually ends up reducing breeding," he said.