Date: 2/23/18 5:04 pm
From: Steve Pink <pirangas...>
Subject: [Tweeters] Re: Drama at Dungeness Landing Park - Bald Eagle - Northern Pintail
Hi Blair,

Great photos and a good write-up.

Congratulations. I did wonder why you spent to much time playing with the camera?

Cheers, Steve

Steve Pink Edmonds, WA mailto: <pirangas...>

From: B B <birder4184...>
Sent: Friday, February 23, 2018 4:37 PM
To: <tweeters...>
Cc: Ann Marie; Steve Pink; David Poortinga '14
Subject: Drama at Dungeness Landing Park - Bald Eagle - Northern Pintail

Yesterday Ann Marie Wood, Steve Pink, David Poortinga and I birded in Jefferson and Clallam Counties. It was a beautiful day with bright sunshine, low temperatures and snow on the ground until mid-afternoon.

We successfully found the SPOTTED SANDPIPER at Shine Tidelands but despite a good tide, other good birds and diligent looking we were not able to locate the RED KNOT at Fort Flagler. Our consolation prizes there were several ICELAND (Thayer's) GULLS, a BLACK OYSTERCATCHER, and a HERRING GULL. On the way to Sequim we had the first of two TURKEY VULTURES - first of year for all of us. At Dungeness Landing Park the tide was out but we were able to find 20 MARBLED GODWITS and the continuing WILLET. Later we found the REDHEAD on a small pond on Simdars Road in Sequim.

The highlight of the day, however, was an exciting and dramatic hunt we witnessed at Dungeness Landing Park. Incredibly exciting!!:

The Bay had many ducks of several species. There was about to be one fewer. An adult Bald Eagle appeared on the scene – scattering the ducks from the water. It focused on a single one in the chaos chasing it as it tried to avoid being caught. It was a female Northern Pintail. Then a second adult Eagle joined the hunt and after a moment or so, one of the Eagles struck the Pintail knocking it to the water. The chase had been exciting to watch and it now got more exciting and dramatic. Pintails are dabbling ducks, not diving ducks. They can submerge but do so only briefly. They feed by tilting down and grabbing food below the surface with their long necks. I expect the Eagles knew this behavior both in selecting the target initially and also in the strategy they then employed for the kill.

In the water the Pintail would submerge briefly as the Eagles took turns diving at it from above. Each time the Pintail resurfaced, an eagle would dive at it again. This continued at least a dozen times. Finally the Pintail tired and remained on the surface just a bit longer. This time one of the Eagles grabbed it with its talons and flew off. After a few seconds as the Eagles swerved and cartwheeled together, the capturing Eagle dropped its prize and, still alive, the Pintail fell to the water. But it was not going to escape. Exhausted and probably in shock and injured, it was picked up quickly by one of the Eagles(we didn’t note if it was the original captor) and again carried it away.

This time the second Eagle flew off on its own while the victor flew to a nearby piling in the water. It called – perhaps proclaiming its conquest – and then began its meal. We were spellbound by the episode which took place maybe 100-150 yards away. For awhile it had appeared that the Pintail might escape – first the chase and then the capture. The Eagles were more adept fliers than I had expected and the tactics used to tire the non-diving duck were impressive. Predator and prey – one of nature’s basic laws. Eagles are often and rightfully seen as scavengers. This Eagle was a supreme hunter.

I was able to capture some of the action in photographs that can be seen at<>


Eagle Taking Northern Pintail

Bald Eagles taking a Female Northern Pintail at Dungeness Landing Park, February 22, 2018

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