Feb 27 2010

Drama at the Inlet

Published by at 7:11 am under Bird Behavior

Kate St. John birding at Matanzas Inlet, Florida (photo by Chuck Tague)
You’d think I’d be sorry to be back in Pittsburgh (since last Tuesday night) but I learned that birding is not always a warm weather sport, even in a warm weather location like Florida. 

Here I am at Matanzas Inlet on February 19th.  Notice my coat, hat and gloves.  

I didn’t notice when Chuck Tague took this picture because I was so absorbed in a drama unfolding on the water.  The tide was going out and the fish were caught in the current.  This spawned a feeding frenzy of gulls and terns who dove to catch the fish while others chased to steal them.

As I watched, a royal tern caught a particularly beautiful long, thin, silver fish almost like an eel.  The laughing gulls chased the tern but he evaded them until a great black-backed gull tackled him and slammed him down on the water.  The gull sat on the tern, grabbed him by the back of the neck and pulled his head back until he could see the tern’s beak.  By then the tern had dropped the fish and there was nothing to steal.  Disappointed, the gull let the tern struggle free. 

What a bully!  I felt bad for the tern.  The gull didn’t win his dinner but he won my respect. 

(photo by Chuck Tague)

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