9 Kurilsk Lake; Sea-eagles’ Wintering

Kurilsk Lake; Sea-eagles’ Wintering

Posted on July 13, 2010 by team

While it is full summer and most of Russian, and not only Russian, cities having violent heat it seems like ripe time to carry ourselves, at least virtually, in cold winter and listen to a story about another phenomena of Kurilsk lake – Sea-eagles’ wintering. Usually at winter by the lakeside there are gathering more than 800 sea-eagles, which are listed in Red Book, to batten themselves with spawning fish.

But how can you watch over life of such cautious and watchful bird as sea-eagle in high winter? Of course, you should build a house of snow bricks at the lakeside where salmon spawning area is located!

As if in an old Russian village where morning begins with cock crow and geese gaggle, at Kurilsk lake morning begins with cackle of sea-eagles which, if it’s quiet around, can be heard over 100 miles away. It is much warmer in a snow-made igloo than outside, say nothing of the conveniences it has – a tea-pot standing on a portable gas stove and special self-made holes in walls used as little wardrobes.

Some fish are already shed the eggs and slowly dying. Spasmodicly, sometimes with their stomach upside down, they are floating around the shallow waters; those ones that were totally exhausted by spawning had been covered with death spots and rotting away. And these are the easiest catch of sea-eagles. Birds are clawing them and dragging onto the bloodstained snow. Sometimes weight of red salmon can amount up to 4 kilos, which makes half of the weight of a grown-up sea-eagle; moreover, fish can fight it back and pull a bird into water from time to time. But with help of their huge wings sea-eagles manage to cope with a fish and twitch it over onto snow. Yellow beak and mighty claws of sea-eagles are just made for carving of big salmons; this powerful device can even handle with fur of young seals, foxes and hares which most of times are also on the menu of the birds.

A sea-eagle scarcely can manage to eat a red salmon full, especially if it is a big fish. Right away magpies and ravens are on the way to try to filch a precious piece of fish flesh from the gory snow. Fellow sea-eagles trying to come closer as well, not on the straight but circling as if they are minding their own business. Owner of a fish is epileptically trying to safe its trophy and covering the meal with wings and tail but in a second or two several congeners at once accidentaly happened to be nearby are darting to the remains of what-a-few-seconds-ago-was-a-fish and cabbaging it.

On windy days, and they are not a rare thing lakeside, caught fish are shared among sea-eagles without a single row at all. Wind is so strong that birds can hardly stand their ground while hunting, and the same moment another bird which managed to cope with the wind faster than most of them is quarrying the fish. Alas, but the rightful getter is supposed to put up with its fate.


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9 Responses to “Kurilsk Lake; Sea-eagles’ Wintering”

  1. mukmika says:

    Great photography, nature at it’s raw best!

  2. Luis says:

    Second! And cold place.

  3. YJ says:

    If you want to know more about Siberian nature, check out a show called “Wild Russia” by National Geographic.

  4. DougW says:

    Great photos, funny looking eagles.
    I can has fish?

  5. Half-Breed says:

    I want that geese to gaggle my cock!

  6. JZ says:

    Wow, amazing birds!

  7. Aroha says:

    Amazing photos! What a power of wild life embodied in those predators. Thanks!

  8. Timhotep says:

    Amazin pictures! The huge black-and-white ones are Steller’s Sea Eagle, Haliaeetus pelagicus. It is one of the biggest birds of prey.

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