Saturday, January 20, 2018


 As icy as it was, I couldn't help but crawl around Cape Spear yesterday. I should have known when my car didn't stop when I applied the brakes in the parking lot. By inches I just missed taking out a post. After 10 minutes of navigating, I was able to get my car off the sheet of ice and park in the middle of the lot.
 Now that should have been lesson enough, but I forgot to change into my boots with the ice grips. What was I thinking? I slipped and slid all the way up to the lighthouse and back. Why? Well, there is just something quite amazing and remarkable about watching thousands of Eider move around the area. Below the cannon I was able to capture a couple of King Eider. The blustery conditions and churning waters made it difficult to identify them on the water, but the blurry images reveal they were there.
Then, there was this odd looking bird amidst them. I suppose it is an Eider, but it looks like it has a tuft. There is always something to try to figure out when observing sea birds.
 When I say thousands, I mean thousands! There were several huge flocks and smaller groups steadily flying both ways.
 This group gave a close fly-by and revealed one male King Eider. It can be seen in the lower left quarter of this image.
 Several Dovekie were in the area, popping in and out of the water. They tended to stay close to the Eider, perhaps for safety.
 This poor little Dovekie was not so smart or lucky. This Herring Gull lingered in the protected cove and waited until just the right moment to snag a little bird when it popped it.
 Eighteen Purple Sandpipers in the area must have gotten a fright from the snatch and zoomed out of the area. They did not return during the hour and a half I watched.
 The little Dovekie put up as good a fight as it could. It took the Herring Gull quite a while to lift off the water.
 As you can imagine the other gulls took note and wanted in on the action.
 All the time the Dovekie was struggling, and the gulls were swooping in hoping to snatch the catch.
 Finally, the Herring got airborne, but the competing forces were too much.
 Another gull, coloring looks like an Iceland, but it is too big. Could it be a Glaucous Gull? It tormented the Herring until the Dovekie fell back to the water.
 Quick on the draw, the attacking gull captured the prize. It appeared the Dovekie was still fighting.
 This large gull tried to get away with the little bird, too.
 However, it, too, struggled to get off the water. Must have been the fighting Dovekie making it so difficult.
 At last, the gull, now looking more like a Glaucous Gull, got off the water. I think it was too preoccupied with that process to notice what looks like an immature Black-backed Gull coming in fast.
 In a moment, the immature bird now had the Dovekie, but the larger white gull was not going to give up.
 An aerial battle for the Dovekie began.
 The large white gull would not give up. It stayed close and aggressive.
 The white gull came in from underneath and knocked the Dovekie out of the mouth of the immature gull.
The Dovekie dropped to the water as both gulls tried to catch it. The injured bird disappeared under the water. Neither gull had a meal, and I don't know if the Dovekie survived the full-on five minute battle.
It is moments like this of pure nature in motion that remove all reason regarding the dangerous icy conditions. Had I not risked the walk, I would have missed this amazing sight.

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