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White-tailed Eagle vs the Gannet

I've just got back from a fantastic trip to Scotland which included an, all-too-short, few days on the Isle of Mull. There were two main species I was hoping to photograph here - Otters and White-tailed Eagles (also known as Sea Eagles). The eagles have been reintroduced after going extinct in the early part of the 20th century and are now our largest bird of prey with a colossal wingspan of almost two and a half metres!


One evening I was sat on some rocks on the shore of Loch Na Keal waiting for an elusive otter to make an appearance. Whilst I was sat there my attention was drawn to a single Gannet that had flown into the loch and begun to fish far out across the water. It's an incredible sight if you haven't seen it - plunging themselves deep into the water where they can swim under the surface catching fish for up to 15 minutes before re-emerging (that's as long as a Bottlenose Dolphin!).


Gannet fishing in Loch Na Keal

After a while of this the Gannet sat on the surface eating it's well earned meal and I checked around for the Otter which was still reluctant to make an appearance. I looked back at the Gannet and out of nowhere a White-tailed Eagle had landed on it!


White-tailed Eagle landing on a Gannet.

At first I assumed it was trying to steal the Gannet's fish but then it soon became apparent that they were having some sort of tussle as they were both inter-twined out there for some time.

After several minutes I thought they must both be in trouble as there appeared to be less and less movement, becoming completely prone and mostly submerged for a very long time.


Another 10 minutes later I was feeling somewhat helpless and gutted, assuming they'd both died - there was little evidence of them visible on the water surface and they'd been laying still for some time.


But then I noticed the eagle began to show some movement when it began to move, and then flap its water covered wings into life and this magnificent beast of a bird somehow lumbered its huge body back out of the water.

White-tailed Eagle leaving the dead Gannet behind.

It then flew around the motionless Gannet a couple of times before heading back off in the direction of the trees to re-find it's roost somewhere in the distance.


White-tailed Eagle heading back home to roost

The eagle left the Gannet dead in the water behind. There was no attempt to eat the bird, this was done with no intention of that in mind - it simply killed the Gannet for fishing in its territory.


Nature is harsh, but totally, totally incredible too.





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