Mutual of Brigantine’s Wild Kingdom

Mutual of Brigantine's Wild Kingdom

Life ain’t always pretty. While we were driving around Forsythe NWR last weekend, we saw a lot of cool things, enjoyed some sun, smelled some god-awful stuff (“It smells like dead feet” I said, once; later I followed that up with “It smells like rancid toe cheese”. Disgusting, but you know exactly what I mean, don’t you?), and saw some interesting things. One of them was a bit of nature at work in the form of one of the preserves top garbage collectors – the gulls.

We caught this great black-backed gull playing with something in the water, and I quickly realized that it was a bird. Great black-backed gulls are large enough – and mean enough – that they can not only catch their own fish and molluscs, but they will prey on the chicks and even weakened adult shorebirds. And they’ll never turn down a good carrion snack if presented to them. So, we watched in fascination as this young gull dragged this blob around in the water, trying to get an angle to pick it apart and eat it. It eventually gave us a good enough look to figure out that it was a dead bird, one that had obviously been in the water for a while.

It took me a few more days and this message from bovinacowboy to make me realize that it was a clapper rail:

“Sadly I did see a large kill of Clapper Rails that I reported. Here’s the e-mail I rec’d from the biologist at the refuge:

Hi Bill,

Thank you for the information. We assessed the damage to the Wildlife Drive on Tuesday, May 13. Approximately 25 dead Clapper Rails (Rallus longirostris) were found dead along the north dike of the west pool. These birds are very vulnerable in a nor’easter.

Please call if you have further questions.

Thank you,
Kevin Holcomb
Wildlife Biologist

Having been pretty water-logged, it was pretty gooey and gross but the gulls are part of nature’s recycling system and this one spent quite a while trying to get a meal – at one point even trying to swallow the rail whole (unsuccessfully). I guess when viewing nature, you have to take the good, take the bad, and there you have – the facts of life. (sorry, couldn’t resist)

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One Response to “Mutual of Brigantine’s Wild Kingdom

  • i’ve been seeing a ton of cooper hawks in my parts lately. i’m waiting for another one of them to nail a mourning dove in my front yard again.

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