As I was heading home after my three mile morning walk I stopped by Englewood Beach to see what birds might be there. To my complete shock and surprise there were NO BIRDS on the beach except one. Since there have generally been 50-100 sea birds on the beach I could only wonder what the explanation for this absence might be.
I walked as rapidly as I could in the soft sand towards the distant single bird on the beach. As I got nearer I could see that it was acting like a raptor that was feeding- a strange sight indeed. Once I was close enough to make an identification I could see immediately that it was an adult peregrine falcon! This is a predator on shorebirds which is very rarely seen on a public beach, so I was astounded.
The peregrine had killed an adult laughing gull, a bird about one half its body weight. Possibly the other birds on the beach observed this and flew away in a panic. This gorgeous bird calmly ate its large meal to the last morsel, all while people strolled past looking for shark’s teeth. It must have been quite hungry and even had some difficulty getting airborne when it was finished with its huge meal. You can see the enlarged crop in the throat which holds the recently eaten food.
Well you never know what you may see when you go for a walk so it is good that I had my trusty but ancient Canon point and shoot camera by my side. I am happy to see that this magnificent bird was willing to trust humans enough to make a kill and eat it right on a public beach. Indeed the apparent attraction of sea birds to the public beach (due possibly to the greater protection there from human and canine disturbance) and their resting in a flock provides a buffet for this falcon.