Photographer Clarke Espie photographed the moment a sea eagle picked up and took off with a young feral pig at the Cromarty Wetlands near Mt Elliot south of Townsville. Photo: Clarke Espie
Photographer Clarke Espie photographed the moment a sea eagle picked up and took off with a young feral pig at the Cromarty Wetlands near Mt Elliot south of Townsville. Photo: Clarke Espie

Amazing pictures of eagles hunting pig captured

A WILDLIFE photographer has proven pigs can fly ... when clasped in the talons of a massive white-bellied sea-eagle.

Buderim photographer Clarke Espie, 74, was recently invited to snap wildlife at the Cromarty Wetlands near Mount Elliot, south of Townsville, when he was lucky enough to capture the remarkable event.

Photographer Clarke Espie photographed the moment a sea eagle picked up and took off with a young feral pig at the Cromarty Wetlands near Mt Elliot south of Townsville. Photo: Clarke Espie
Photographer Clarke Espie photographed the moment a sea eagle picked up and took off with a young feral pig at the Cromarty Wetlands near Mt Elliot south of Townsville. Photo: Clarke Espie

"I was quite astounded. I quickly jumped in the back seat and grabbed a camera," he said. "I've heard they will pick up foxes and lambs but I mean it is quite feasible they will pick up a pig."

Mr Espie estimated the feral pig would have weighed up to 3kg and took all the predatory bird's might to carry to a nearby island.

"It was really pushing hard on its wings to keep elevated. It was on the boundary of being too big to carry," he said.

"They're huge wings on the sea eagle. You can almost feel the breeze of the wings.

"I've seen birds picking up fish, and I first thought it must have a fish."

Photographer Clarke Espie photographed the moment a sea eagle picked up and took off with a young feral pig at the Cromarty Wetlands near Mt Elliot south of Townsville. Photo: Clarke Espie
Photographer Clarke Espie photographed the moment a sea eagle picked up and took off with a young feral pig at the Cromarty Wetlands near Mt Elliot south of Townsville. Photo: Clarke Espie

The Australian Museum said white-bellied sea-eagles, which are common along coastal stretches of Australia, have a wingspan of up to 2m and can weigh up to 4.2kg.

The museum said it was a skilled hunter and could attack prey up to the size of a swan.

Mr Espie had never seen anything quite like this despite taking photos in some of the wildest regions, including Africa and the Northern Territory.

He said the eagle which snared the piglet shared its meal without any "competitiveness".

Mr Espie, a former underwater videographer, turned to digital photography about six years ago.

He said he would return to the Cromarty Wetlands when the rains fall to shoot the dancing brolgas.


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