HIGH SOCIETY Exhibition Sydney October New York November

Prey - exhibited 2014

Leila Jeffreys 'Prey' series was exhibited at Purdy Hicks London and Olsen Gallery Sydney. Each large scale photograph features a portrait of bird of prey

'Dexter' White bellied sea eagle

'Dexter' White bellied sea eagle


Photograph on archival fibre based cotton rag paper
112 x 89 cm, 44 x 35 inch (standard)

'Dexter' White bellied sea eagle 2014 ©Leila Jeffreys

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Dexter was a distinguished nine-year-old gentleman when I met him. He lives with Paul Mander from Broadwings on the Gold Coast, and had been given toPaul by someone who found him to be of “strong character” and consequently “difficult to handle”. Paul went to work with him and his deportment lessons paid off. Dexter was so impeccably groomed and his behaviour so amiable that I found it hard to believe he once had wild ways.

Sea-Eagles reside throughout South-East Asia, from India and Sri Lanka all the way to Australia. They breed and hunt only near water, with fish making up half their diet. Little is known about their complete breeding cycle, from building their impressive giant nests to fledging their young, but BirdLife Australia is working to solve the mystery.

Since 2009, BirdLife Australia volunteers have run EagleCAM, a live video and bird diary. It’s the best kind of reality TV – anyone can click on the remote feed to see what the eagles are doing. The stars are a pair of Parramatta River Sea-Eagles who can be followed through the highs and lows of life in the wetlands near Sydney Olympic Park. The couple have raised young for many years although last year they failed to breed which caused much concern. This year they laid two eggs; one little chick emerged while the other failed to hatch. The weather has been wild, and watching the high stakes drama unfold is mesmerising.

An extract from the Eagle Diary explains what the young family faces when it rains:


August 17: Today was a horrible wet day, with torrential rain for the whole morning. The female spent the whole morning sheltering the eaglet on the nest. She was very wet and bedraggled. When she did stand, we could see that the eaglet was very wet as well, though moving strongly, if a bit wobbly. The second egg is still not hatched. Several times a large blowfly sat on the egg – maybe bits of food on the egg? The male has brought in several items of food, which are lined up on the nest – another pigeon (which has been plucked), a couple of bream and the tail end of another fish. When the rain eased, the female left to dry out a bit and the male brooded the wet eaglet. The chick gradually dried out as the weather cleared and finally had a good feed in the afternoon.