An Aerial Attack

On this cool, breezy day on Longboat Key, we took our usual walk along the beach.  Unfortunately, there was little to observe during our two mile walk; small flocks of sanderlings and ruddy turnstones scoured the beach, a few ring-billed gulls and royal terns lounged on the sand and a squadron of brown pelicans braved the choppy Gulf.

Once we returned to our condo, however, the activity increased abruptly.  My attention was suddenly drawn toward Sarasota Bay as the cries of an osprey rose to a frenzy, a large fish clutched in his talons. The cause for his alarm was soon apparent as an adult bald eagle swooped in from the shore, chasing the osprey across the bay.  Near collisions followed and the smaller raptor eventually dropped his dinner, some fifty feet off our seawall.  The eagle made one last pass, snaring the fish and heading off to enjoy his meal.

While we like to think of our National Bird as a regal hunter, he is more often a scavenger or a thief, feasting on injured waterfowl, picking at the carcass of a deer or elk, finishing off salmon or seals killed by bears and, as we observed today, stealing fish from ospreys.  Then again, he is at the top of his food chain.