Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Caspian Tern struggles with Eel

Caspian Terns are the largest species of tern found in New Zealand and are conspicuous by their bright red beak. They are common residents of the lower Whakatane river and can be spectacular to watch as they perform vertical dives for small fish.

 The other day I was surprised to see one with an eel which was still very much alive and wriggling. The tern was having a hard time holding on to it and the eel kept getting loose and free falling.
The bird wasn't going to let its meal get away and employed some cunning acrobatics to reclaim its dinner.

 I didn't get to see the tern finally swallow the eel but I would suspect it won out in the end.
I have often watched shags trying to eat young eels and just when you think the bird has swallowed the eel it will wriggle back out again! Sometimes the bird takes ages before it finally gets it all the way down. They must taste good to be worth all that effort!

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