Nature’s Grim Reality – Eider Ducks and Blackback Gull
EIDER DUCKS – MALE AND FEMALE, Karl Rau, photographer.
This spring I’ve joined a facebook page “MAINE birds” https://www.facebook.com/groups/MAINEBirds/
March and April are bird migrating months in Maine, and the bird photographs on the above page, MAINE birds, are extraordinary, includes many birds familiar to me as well as some not previously known; some videos and some recordings of identified bird songs. MAINE birds has brought me much joy and pleasure this spring – thank you to the founder Robin and to all the contributors. Highly recommend “MAINE birds” to all.
I’ve had the privilege and good fortune to be a Mid-Coast Maine native, born here and spending the majority of my life here. It wasn’t until the mid 1980s, however, that I began to appreciate nature from a whole new perspective shown me by a friend who was a transplant from the Midwest. I began watching birds diligently through her example, my life enriched by the treasures revealed to me. We included my 10-year-old son in our nature walks, he and I both became proud owners of binoculars and bird books, and spent many hours being thrilled and adding to our knowledge stores. We even went bird watching in the winter as during that season ducks come south to Maine, where the water is warmer, from the arctic and Canada.
This particular day the 3 of us were enjoying a “whale watch” on a boat that was probably made over from a lobster boat. We came near a rocky island in time to watch a gripping drama unfold, one I’ve never forgotten. A group of female eiders were in the water with their ducklings – mother eiders do this with their babies, raise them in communal nurseries – and hovering over their heads was a huge blackbacked gull. In horror I observed the gull swoop down to capture one baby after another, gulping them down whole. The mother eiders were agitated and noisily flailing about helpless to rescue or intervene. In the boat the only sounds heard were waves slapping alongside and an occasional gasp as the passengers and crew watched transfixed, helpless but respecting Nature.
All too soon the drama was ended, and the boat slowly crept back out to sea leaving the mother eiders crying out in distress, and not many dry eyes aboard.
Nature is both beautiful and terrible, a mystery unfolding her secrets to those who only have to stand by and observe.
Great Black Backed Gull