The balance of life: Western Treatment Plant

I wrote of the Banjo’s Romance, last blog.
Then we were out to the Treatment Plant, EE, Mr An Onymous and I.

To see that poem played out.

On a day that started with a lighting strike about 100m away and “CRACK” of thunder that would indeed wake the dead, the overcast and wet weather offered us little reprise in our quest for Sea-eagle.

So we turned the way for home.

And just as the light was fading, a sparkling wingflash streaked across the river just to our left.  A falcon.  No, not any flacon.  A Peregrine Falcon. My first for the Treatment Plant.

It had downed a duck.

The Pink-eared Ducks spend most of the day lolling about in Lake Borrie, but then on evening, make the several hundred metre flight over the Little River and into one of the Walsh Lagoons just over the river.  A few minutes flight for a nimble duck.

For the Falcon, it was pretty easy pickings if you think about it.  Ducks- several hundred- in  a straight line, – tricky little dudes, fly over the reeds on the far side take a detour either left or right for a few hundred metres along the rivers edge, then pop over the far bank and plop in to the Lagoon.  The slow moving Whistling Kites and Swamp Harriers can’t match that speed.

But.

Dropping from above at speed over 100kph, the Peregrine probably doesn’t even raise a sweat.

But

The duck is a heavy creature and the Falcon can’t get it airborne and must work it on the ground.  Now, ordinarily, good luck would have put the prey down in a secluded spot. However in this case it was on the middle of the track we were travelling out along.

So the Falcon took to the air. And circled.  So much so that in the end, I decided to reverse the car back down the road, and see what would happen.  Too far back for photos, but what would the bird do?

And sure enough, after several scattered flights back and forth, and cleaning up an inquisitive Swamp Harrier along the way, the Falcon landed about 50m from the duck and decided what to do.  After several minutes, it flew down landed a few metres away, re-evaluated our presence, the chance of a meal, and hopped up to the duck and began to take off the feathers.

We left it in peace to finish its well earned meal.  On the far side of the river we spotted another set of sharp wings. A second Peregrine!   And the light was gone.

Enjoy.  Huge crops, but I wasn’t going to disturb the bird any more than I had already.

Swinging in to claim its kill.  The unfortunate Pink-eared Duck is in the foreground.
Swinging in to claim its kill. The unfortunate Pink-eared Duck is in the foreground.
Time to sit and contemplate the next move
Time to sit and contemplate the next move. A Swamp Harrier along the river in the top left.
Closer now and everything looks safe
Closer now and everything looks safe
Move onto the prey
Move onto the prey
Hopping the last few metres
Hopping the last few metres
It's mine!  And feathers begin to fly
It’s mine!
And feathers begin to fly
Feather removal.
Feather removal.
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