In the spirit of Halloween, I am posting some frightful images of predator and prey. Some prey parts on the ground and grisly close-ups. Warning to parents of small children: You may not wish for them to see these "scary images". However, these images represent nature in the raw and even though I am posting it for Halloween, this happens every day out in nature. It's harsh but it is all about survival.
A frightful image of a Peregrine Falcon consuming an Eared Grebe. Eared Grebe is a small grebe, Podiceps nigricollis, measuring only 13 inches long with a wingspan of 16 inches.
Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus measures 16 inches long with a wingspan of 41 inches. The peregrin is the fastest member of the animal kingdom, clocking over 200 mph in its high dive stoops for prey.
An Eared Grebe swims in a nearby tide channel and appears to be holding food out to entice his lost friend to appear and claim the prize.
He appears to be searching and searching but no one shows... Soon he swims away.
As I walk further up the Pole Road trail off Rios Ave at San Elijo Lagoon, I spot the remnants of a shorebird. From the size of the wing and the feather pattern and color, this appears to have been a Long-billed Curlew.
A leg is strewn across the trail, I believe this to be a Grebe's leg.
A chewed up wing is also on the trail...
Towards the north end of the Pole Road trail, I find an American Coot but it hasn't been dismembered yet. Looks like some blood around the crown area.
If you were to suspect any bird other than a raptor that could kill grebes, clappers and coots, it might be this stealth hunter of the lagoon, the Great Blue Heron.
Many people have seen this amazing hunter kill a Grebe or a Rail and he is always a dangerous predator to any small creature that comes into his strike zone.
His wings really look "Blue" today in this light, making him look more menacing and dangerous. Right now, you can bet all the Clapper Rails are probably hiding in fear.
Except for this guy... He really acts like he is the top rail, wow, look at his proud strut!
He is one handsome Rail with an attitude! I spotted one the other day in this same area with leg bands on both leg, but too far away to read the numbers, so I am really eager to get good photos of their legs now. As I am shooting the Rails, I'm telling them to "show me your legs" lol... like they would understand a human saying blah, blah, blah! No bands on this guy's legs tells me he was born in the wild and not part of the breed and release program.
I spot a Killdeer calling out the alarm. They are the ever-present alarm system. They are constantly calling out the alarm for some reason or another, it could be raptors, dogs, coyotes or even people. Anything that they perceive as a threat and a shrill call breaks the tranquil atmosphere of the lagoon. They say it sounds like "KILL DEER" but their call just doesn't sound like it to me. What do you think it sounds like? Check this link out.
Talking about leg blings... this guy has a leg band that reads #126. I would love to know where and why he was banded. In addition to breeding programs, a bird might have a band because it was captured in the wild and banded for scientific study, tracking their movements for example. Here's an article by the USGS about bird banding.
Coming back on the trail where I left the Peregrine Falcon to finish his meal in peace, I find him with a full crop and half asleep.
LOL... I think he has gone into a "food coma". It has been another exciting morning walking the Pole Trail at Rios, "the wild side" of the lagoon. It's time for me to head for home.
Heading back towards the trailhead, I pass the pump house and find a surprise... A Clapper/Ridgway Rail acting like a dabbling duck!