In the Nagarahole National Park, in southern India, we looked about with unflagging intensity for tigers and leopards. Occasionally, the driver would brake and back up, and the forest guide would cry softly: "Serpent Eagle!" Most times, the bird stayed on its perch, being used to green safari cars in its habitat since a chick.
Neither did the lenses trained on it bother the bird. It turned its head left and right in jerky motions, not giving us a glance even. The Serpent-Eagle is mainly a diurnal hunter of snakes and lizards; its scaly legs hold well against venomous bites. Perhaps it was focused on food while we were before it. Sometimes, however, it did look down at us, its yellow-ringed eyes boring deep into our conscience: Why don't you go do your stuff and let us be?
In those moments, this species of eagle was no less majestic than a 500-lb tiger.
Sometimes we'd arrive almost in its face, and once even at eye-level. At those times, it flew away in an instant, not so much in fear, I suppose, as in irritation - leaving us with a brown, blurry, wide wingspan for a picture.