The Eagle and the Coot

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The Eagle and the Coot.
 
Warning: Some may find the normal cycle of life portrayed in these images bothersome. Especially if you like Coots.
 
I posted an image the other day of the Eagle carrying off a Coot. Here is the entire story and some more images. Cecil and I were scouting locations at the Space Coast Birding Festival in Florida for my class the next day. We had checked a few leads but were not satisfied with the locations. We went back to Black Point and worked the loop. Cecil noticed a Redhead Duck and we stopped to shoot it for several minutes. It began to rain a little and the wind really picked up so we started to drive the loop. We had gone about 200 yards and noticed the Coots gathered tight together. This meant they were in a defensive posture from something. We saw a couple away from the group start to “run” on the water and dive. It was then that we looked in front of my car and noticed the Bald Eagle fly no farther than 15 feet from my vehicle. We knew what he was after.
 
I pulled the car over and we set up in record time, never closing my door or hatch, it was still raining a little and very windy. The Eagle was hovering above the location the Coots had dove to hide. The Eagle watched from high, focused on one area. We figured that one or more Coots were still under water hiding. After the Eagle dove down a couple of times and rose back into the sky about 40 feet up, something was different about what he was hunting. Afterward we were able to determine one Coot had probably become entangled in the grass and died underwater. After 6 minutes, yes 6 minutes of seeing the Eagle hover about 100 feet or closer from us, it went to the water and reached down into the grass and came up with the Coot. When the Eagle flew off with the Coot to it’s nest he almost seemed to do a flyby within 30 feet of us. Maybe it was a way of rewarding us for getting rained on, or maybe it was the easiest way to take off with the Coot. Either way, it was really awesome. Probably the best birding day ever.
 
Tamron SP 150-600mm Di VC USD lens on a Nikon D-7200, Manual Mode, f8, ISO 3200, resulting in a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second, Sirui P424S carbon fiber monopod and L10 head, Peak Design strap, Lowepro photo backpack, processed in Lightroom CC.
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