“The Black Shag (Phalacrocorax carbo, Maori name: Kawau-tua-whenua) is a native resident throughout New Zealand, but also occurs in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia (Lindsey & Morris, 2000). An example from Picton, South Island is pictured here (above).
“While exploring the Travis Wetlands (South Island) on 23rd December 2012, I was startled when a Black Shag suddenly rushed out from the waters onto the shore with an elongated prey in its beak (above). It had just captured a sizeable Long-finned Eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii, Maori name: Kaiwharuwharu) which was almost a metre long and furiously struggling to escape from the firm grasp of the shag.
“For almost five minutes, the shag wrestled with this writhing, slimy eel but eventually secured a head-hold and started to swallow. The swallowing process seemed quicker than anticipated and the shag soon returned to the waters for a sip to help the eel slide down more smoothly (above). This exciting wrestling match between predator and prey was also witnessed by Masked Lapwings (Vanellus miles) and Pied Stilts (Himantopus leucocephalus).”
Dr. Leong Tzi Ming
17th February 2013
Lindsey, T. & R. Morris, 2000. Field Guide to New Zealand Wildlife. Harper Collins Publishers (New Zealand) Limited, Auckland. 263 pp.