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Monday, April 23, 2012

Duck takeaway: Moment hungry seagull snatched two chicks from under parents' beaks

By Jane Bunce

It should have been a proud day for the two duck parents, as their 13 adorable young offspring took to the water for the first time.

But instead a momentary lapse of attention led to the brutally-fast loss of two of their youngsters.

In just an instant, captured on camera, the duck family became the victim of a hungry gull on a hunting mission.

Terror: The gull waits until the parents are distracted and then pounces on its next meal

The adult ducks had been leading their brood on their very first swim in a pond in Herbert Park, Dublin.

But then the adults became involved in an altercation with another duck, and flew off to chase it away.

Protective: The duck parents guard their remaining smaller family after the attack

The lesser black-blacked gull, which had been circling the pond, seized its chance.
It swooped down to the water and grabbed one of the young ducklings with its bill.

Swoop: The gull dives in while the ducklings are on the water

Onlookers watched, horrified, as the gull flew away to a safe place nearby and swallowed the baby duck whole.

Without their parents to protect them, the other ducks swam back towards the long grass in search of a hiding place.

Predator: The gull quickly pulls the duckling out of the water

But the gull was too quick - striking for a second time and making off with another hatchling.

When the adults finally returned, to a much smaller family, the gull flew away.

Caught: The bird flies away with its hapless victim, before swallowing it whole

The lesser black-backed gull, scientific name Larus fuscus, is common across the UK, Ireland and much of Europe.

It eats whatever it can find, from beetles, moths and bird eggs, to berries and grain and often follows fishing fleets to feed on discarded bycatch.

Stalk: The other ducklings sense the danger and run back into the long grass - but the gull has spotted them



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