Sunday, April 17, 2016 Arctic Terns! Golden-plover! Eagle eats Goose!

Seward, Alaska

Quite a lot of excitement today!

First song in the morning was the WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW’s clear ‘O, Can-a-da, Can-a-da, Can-a-da!” close by in my yard, but hidden in the spruce boughs. RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, ROBINS, and VARIED THRUSHES added to the sweet spring chorus.

At the head of the bay, I heard a sharp “Chirp! Chirp!” and searched the sky in amazement. Sure enough, two ARCTIC TERNS zipped in tandem against the snowy mountain backdrop, glad to be back. It sure seems early!

I spotted a single FOS PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVER foraging through the emerging sedges in the wetland pond, his dramatic white shawl extended down his sides, separating the golden spangles on his back from his black front. It’s always a treat to see one of these beauties.

Five BALD EAGLES soared lazily overhead, spiraling around each other effortlessly. Suddenly, all the ducks on the pond erupted into the air in panic as an Eagle streaked across, right above the water. A CANADA GOOSE flew up and tried desperately to evade the predator, turning in a sharp circle. Undeterred, the Eagle followed and slammed into it, then both fell heavily into the water.

The Goose struggled mightily, but the Eagle held on with determination, wings flailing to maintain balance. Still holding the Goose underwater to drown it, the Eagle began awkwardly stroking to shore. It seemed like a long time, but it was only a few minutes from the strike to lunchtime.

Several of the soaring Eagles cruised in to watch from various perches, hoping for a piece of the action, but were not invited to share. One brave Eagle did land nearby and gradually walked up near the diner who was still ripping away and gobbling great chunks of meat.

Now I could tell the hunter was the larger female. The male, presumably her mate, did not ask for or receive any Goose, but seemed to be guarding her, carefully scanning the sky overhead. Eventually, they both flew off, taking the leftovers with them, with only a small pile of gray goose feathers like crumbs to mark the scene. Wow!

Later that evening, a FOS SHORT-EARED OWL silently wafted over the drab grasslands, much like an oversized moth, swooping and turning as it hunted voles.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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