The Brave Mr. Fox
One Brave Fox steals the Eagle's dinner
Nemuro, in the northern island of Hokkaido in Japan is a port city that is famous for its bird population, attracting thousands of tourists, bird-watchers and photographers every year. In the winter months a peculiar phenomenon takes place on the frozen lake Furen in the area. Every morning, the local fishermen place a large mound of frozen fish in the middle of the lake. Very soon the skies are full of various birds, all attracted to the free meal below. The most prominent of these are two species of eagles - the Steller's eagle and the white-tailed eagle. The Steller's sea eagle is the heaviest of its kind and has a wing span of almost eight feet, making it perhaps the largest raptor in the world. The white-tailed eagle is only somewhat smaller.
There is no doubt that these eagles rule the skies and the frozen lake below. So when they are feeding, no other bird or animal dares approach the area. Sometimes the birds will fight each other for the tastiest morsels and these mid-air collisions and entanglements can be spectacular to witness, one eagle literally hanging from its talons that have become entwined with another.
Imagine then if a lowly animal like the Ezo Red Fox appears on the scene to try and steal some of that delicious fish! The fox is actually one of the Steller's Eagle's prey animals so it is even more shocking that this little fellow decides to take on the challenge.
Mr. Fox walks over the frozen lake, slowly approaching his target, a lone eagle.
Mr. Fox watches as the big Steller's Eagle intimidates a white-tail.
The eagle is busy eating and is 'mantling' where he spreads his wings over the fish protecting it from being snatched from above. Our brave Mr. Fox slowly creeps forward.
The eagle rears up with its massive eight-foot wingspan, threatening Mr. Fox
Presenting its talons, the big brute almost gets Mr. Fox who nimbly avoids being skewered.
In a rare show of defiance, Mr. Fox turns around and presents His fangs! The eagle is shocked and retreats.
His confidence up, Mr. Fox continues to threaten the big raptor who decides it may be wiser to avoid this showdown.
Mr. Fox then turns his attention to the white-tailed eagle who thus far had just been a spectator, waiting for his turn to grab the fish. The eagle is quite taken aback!
Mr. Fox, not content with his show of strength, presses home his advantage, chasing the Steller's eagle off the spot. The white-tail is still hopeful he has a chance.
Not quite so, buddy. Mr. Fox decides he wants a total rout and makes sure the white-tailed is out of the fight as well. He has finally won the day! What a victory it is for our little friend.
The above sequence of events has never been seen before in this area, according to the local fishermen who own a small restaurant on the premises that provides a good look out place for visitors. The Ezo Red Fox (a slightly larger variant of the common red fox) has never behaved in this manner before. I was fortunate to have this unique opportunity to observe this unprecedented behavior in the animal world.
Another tale from the wild side!