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Photos show golden eagle nabbing duck

(Delta, British Columbia)  When word spread about a new eagle in town, bald eagle photographer Christian Sasse of nearby White Rock knew it presented a golden opportunity.

“I didn’t actually expect very much when I went out there this morning,” Sasse said Saturday evening during a telephone interview with Eagle Nova Films (see video below).

But he hung on to the hope that he would see—perhaps even get a chance to photograph—the rare golden eagle that recently arrived in Delta.

Sasse headed to 72nd Street and followed it to 36th Avenue; where he set-up his camera alongside the Kings Links by the Sea golf course, his lens aimed at two vertical branches atop a large tree.

That’s where he found the golden eagle perched.

“It’s just wonderful to have that area, because ducks love golf courses, of course.”

The golf course features a pond near the large tree.

“Yeah, the golden eagle figures that out, too. That, ‘That’s my dining area!” Sasse exclaimed.

Sasse watched as the golden eagle left the tree and cleverly disguised its intent.

“What he does is, first of all, he turns away from the ducks so that there is no suspicion.  Then he makes a huge turn and looks like a huge plane coming in. And then he dives like crazy, reminds me a bit of an osprey.”

It’s at this moment in recalling the hunt that the photographer’s voice begins to rise; his words now coming even faster as he explains that the rare raptor flew close to the ground, following the grassy landscape that steadily rises to the pond.

“And then that’s where the duck’s were sitting. You could really say ‘sitting ducks.’

“And then the ducks wake-up. And this golden eagle comes in, knows the wind exactly, very low over the water, at an incredible speed.”

Sasse says the young hunter came in like a rocket, nabbing its target just as the duck achieved lift-off.

He captured that moment in dramatic images; wherein the golden eagle’s talons would seem to have a firm grasp of the fresh prey.

But then, for some unknown reason, it all ended.

The golden eagle dropped the duck.

“It fell like a stone out of the sky,” Sasse remarked.

And rather than turn-around and go back after the duck, the young golden eagle simply flew to another nearby tree and perched.

Shooting with his Nikon D4s camera and an 800 millimeter lens, Sasse continued to follow the exploits of that golden eagle throughout much of the day.

He said it became quite apparent that bald eagles are “clumsy” hunters when compared to the golden eagle.

And he came away impressed that—despite being severely outnumbered by its smaller cousin (more than 700 bald eagles were recently counted in this area)—the juvenile golden eagle refused to surrender its perch to any contender.

“I was in constant awe.  I think in one hour, I’ve learned so much about golden eagles. It’s unbelievable because they’re so different to bald eagles.”

The video below features Saturday night’s interview with Christian Sasse. It includes his photographs *AND* his video of the golden eagle.


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5 Responses to Photos show golden eagle nabbing duck

  1. William Dove January 4, 2015 at 9:40 am #

    I believe the Bald in your photo sequence is at least a two year old rather than a juvenile.

    • Sassephoto January 4, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

      William, yes the amount of white feathers indicate 2 1/2 years. Many including myself still refer to them as juveniles.

  2. Tina Docharty January 4, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    Fantastic interview Mark with Christian Sasse!
    Your excellent questions about Christians day photographing the Golden Eagle were very informative, and I have learned so much, thanks for sharing , Well Done!

    • Mark Horner January 8, 2015 at 11:57 pm #

      Thank you very much, Tina. It was very exciting to hear Christian share his story. I’m glad I had the opportunity to help share it.

      Take care,
      Mark Horner

  3. Patti Pellegrin January 4, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

    I remember you telling me “patience patience patience” is your friend. It seems it worked out for you on Saturday. Thank you for sharing your video. I feel bad for the prey but I know they don’t have a grocery store like us. Looking forward to more videos and pictures.

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