herald

Tuesday 24 October 2017

gulp! seagull swallows baby rabbit whole

DINNER time on Skellig Michael as a black-backed seagull picked out a baby rabbit to feast upon.

The graphic scenes were captured on the world famous island by photographer Michael Kelly, who had been taking pictures of puffins nearby.

"I noticed the seagull approaching the rabbit," said Michael. "He just plucked the him up and swallowed him whole.

"When I showed the pictures to my wife, she started crying."

Bird expert Eric Dempsey described the extraordinary attack as "part of the natural world".

"It's simply predators at the top of a pecking order doing what they have done for thousands of years," he said.

"They will eat rats and mice if they can catch them; they will eat baby rabbits and they will eat young sea birds."

predators

Mr Dempsey added that this actually helps to keep rabbit populations in check.

"You may have heard the expression 'breeding like rabbits'. Rabbits produce hundreds of young in their lifetime and predators are what keeps the populations down.

"If you have a great black-backed gull living in an area that has a large population of rabbits, particularly young rabbits, it will of course take advantage of a food supply to feed its own chicks - that's what predators do."

Earlier this month senator Ned O'Sullivan called for a swift clamp down on seagulls after they allegedly tried to 
prey upon a woman's pet 
Chihuahua.

hnews@herald.ie

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