By Jamie Smith

This bird thought it had its meal all sewn up – until its needlefish prey managed to slip out of a sticky situation.

Photographer Keith Crowley was watching the great egret at the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island in Florida when it plunged into the water to grab a fish.

But the needlefish was not about to serve itself up on a plate and decided to fight back.

Pic by Keith Crowley/Caters News 

After wriggling free of the bird’s beak it grabbed into its neck, forcing the egret to panic and flap around in a desperate attempt to get free of its prey.

Keith, 57, owner of Lodge Trail Media, said: “This great egret managed to catch a needlefish in a shallow tidal pool, but the fish escaped the bird’s grasp.

“It managed to latch into the egret’s neck, so the bird started to flail and hop and flap to dislodge the fish.

“Eventually the fish let go and fell back into the water.

Pic by Keith Crowley/Caters News

“I found it representative of the life and death struggles both predators and prey go through on a daily basis in the wild.

“I also found it interesting as for a moment the tables were turned and the predator began acting like the prey, frantically attempting to escape another animal’s grasp.”