Eagle versus Deer

This is pretty cool: a camera trap in Primorye, set to observe Amur (“Siberian”) tigers, caught a golden eagle in the act of killing a sika deer. Knowing of my interest, Jonathan, Tim Gallagher, and Annie Hocker all sent notice.

But I am grumpy about the text, especially two statements, “”rabbits—their regular prey—”

Not really; more like rabbits, hares, great blue herons, demoiselle cranes, bar- headed geese, Greek tortoises, pronghorn antelope, coyotes, domestic stock on occasion… whatever is available at the right place and time. And:

“The scientists underscore that golden eagles do not regularly attack deer”.

But they do. Also as I just stated, many other large and/ or hoofed animals.

John Byers’ brilliant pronghorn monograph considers them a major predator.

George Frison, the old archaeologist who wrote Survival by Hunting, a sometime inspiration to both Reid and Lib, ditto, and features a painting of them in his book doing that.

Danny McCarron, personal observation of golden taking down running antelope (wild, both) “like they do it every week!”

Tigner ranch here, who had 40 calves taken by one pair and allowed the Audubon Society (in the seventies, a less PC time, granted) to film it, before they trapped and relocated them.

EVERY EASTERN EUROPEAN EAGLER takes roe every year, like a gos on a hare, both at home and at Opocno (below).

Golden eagles are top- of- the- chain carnivorous dinosaurs. If they were bigger they would hunt us…

UPDATE: I was reminded that Darren and I both covered this along time ago.

Red Kite?

I can’t prove the bird morphed into an “eagle” in the hoax video below was a red kite (Milvus milvus) but I have seen a few in the wild and I think it was. A beautiful bird with remarkable buoyancy and power of flight, a common medieval street scavenger, a most challenging quarry hunted through the high clouds by Gyrs and Sakers (the Craigheads did some of the last of this in pre- Partition India in 1940 and documented it in film and writing), the bird became rare with modern sanitation and persecution, was reintroduced, and is now common again. I saw my first one from a train just north of Marseilles but they are everywhere now.

The other reason confirming my uneasiness with eagle ID (other than long the long narrow crooked wings with light patches and its quite forked but nevertheless kitelike tail (young are not forked)- is that the Francophone hoaxers said it was a “Royal Eagle”. Ain’t no such bird, but the filmmakers might have known that the kite in the film is known as the “Milan Royal”.


Kite images from the Net:

Lauren checks in…

Adventuring on; she will be going out to Kazakhstan to learn serious Kazakh soon, then to several other Stans. The Explorers Club has provided some funds but I may just have to run a bleg here…

(Need I say more about my friend, protegee who long since surpassed her elder, first female berkutchi, first American ditto, eagler, writer, Fulbright fellow…?)

A short quote:

” On June 6th I am flying to Kazakhstan to spend two months intensively learning Kazakh. Amazingly, incredibly, this was fully funded! Then in September, I will run away again to that region to fly eagles, run dogs, and really learn how to manage horses and camels (for the sake of *ahem* cultural anthropology). I’m rearing to go – its one of those places that, once you been, all you can think of is how to get back (as you know), but I’m also fairly anxious and the harsh realities of it weigh on me. It will be very cold (I have some permanent damage from my frostbite) hard, and lonely. Also, finances will be difficult. The Explorer’s Club gave me $2800 (!!) but no other money has come through as of yet. .. [re new pix] Some photos from the last little while. Man, there is so much to tell you. I included the lamb’s eye one – as eating such things was old hat for me, but it was quite the “party trick” for all the visitors!”

Lauren with her eagle in Mongolia a couple of years ago:

Recent pix:

With our late friend and guide Aralbai:

Sad Week

I just got word from Alan Gates that Aralbai has died at just 54.

(Photo by Cat)
He might have been “The Coolest Man in the World” and was a serious drinking companion, but many people from many countries from here to England to Japan (I may tell that tale later) appreciated him as a guide and mentor.

From the top: he and his son, ’98, by me; with his wife and Alan; with Lauren when she was 17 and years later in her Fulbright year; by Cat again (hoping she will post too), and releasing his eagle back to the wild, also by Lauren.

He was one of three friends or friend’s family members who died this week. More later.

Sad News

Alan Gates writes:

“I have sad news that Aralbai has been diagnosed with throat cancer, he refused the laser treatment he was offered at the UB hospital because he believed that those that had had this type of treatment, die quicker.

“He has deteriorated a lot from the time I last hunted with him, and at the age of 54 it is far too young.

“I know you, like me have spent a lot of time with Aralbai, so I thought you should know.”

I hunted (& ate sheep and drank vodka) with Aralbai the first time I went out to Mongolia in ’97.

He has since taken out many of my friends, from Cat (who got in a horse race with his son, no longer a little kid!) to, particularly, Lauren, both on her first trip at 17 to her later Fulbright year.

He is also “The Coolest Man in the World”.

I do not know if anything can be done for a brave friend but am asking Canat.

More photos by Cat below– first is the boy in the upper, ’97 one, all grown up… and here is Alan’s link to him at the Festival of Falconry.

A last one by Lauren, letting his eagle go free after years of hunting, the Kazakh way:

Some Replies–Eagles for Jim, “UFO Area” for Chas…

Below, Jim Cornelius wrote: “Caught an episode of Human Planet on Saturday, featuring a 16-year-old Kazakh making his first hunt with an eagle he had captured and trained. They had a camera mounted on the eagle. OH, MAN! I want to see an entire movie on this type of hunting in IMAX.”

Actually, a wonderful movie about a young eagle hunter’s journey from the smoky ger suburbs of Ulan Bataar to the wilds of Olgii already exists: Kiran Over Mongolia. Links will take you to where you can buy a copy; trailer here:

We know people on both ends of this production and can vouch for its integrity.

Chas was amused by our address post: “”UFO Area” is pretty special. I should ask our postmistress (it’s a one-person p.o.) if she has seen anything that good.”

Well, the Alamo UFO story involves gullible Anglos and a joke, but other gullible Anglos have come here from as far as Germany in search of flying saucers and cattle mutilations.

An old, very country cowboy named “Rink” used to work on a ranch near the Rez just north of here (“I been just three places; North Dakota, Viet Nam, and Socorro County.”) We were sitting in the Spur one night listening to a woman from Germany, a UFO conspiracy theorist, drink brandy as she made an amazing speech. First she described an alien structure she had found on a bare hilltop, made of fiberglass; she would not allow me to persuade her that it was a Game and Fish quail waterer. Then, warming to her subject, she argued that powerful groups were attempting to shut her down: “…the CIA targeted my son. He didn’t dare leave his bathroom for eight years. The final straw was when they killed my nine- year old Labrador– the Vatican sent a hit team for him…”

Rink leaned over to me and spoke quietly: “Steve, that lady is counterfeit. I don’t know what no Vatican is, but it didn’t send no hit team to kill her dog!”

Raptor conflict

Driving down a western Wyoming highway yesterday, Jim and I noticed four hawks (of two different species) that were tag-team harassing an immature golden eagle. I didn’t have a big lens, but did manage to capture a few images of the conflict. This is a Swainson’s hawk harassing the golden eagle.