Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Merry Christmas to All!

 [May you be blessed. . .King Eider at Avalon this morning. The sea ducks came close to the seawall every 15-20 minutes for bouts of foraging as the tide fell. The King stayed down way longer than the other birds - and often came up with food. . . ]

[May you feast. . .Common Eider with a mouthful of blue mussels, adult and first year Surf Scoters behind. These sea ducks seem to be able to process shellfish incredibly rapidly - I watched the same individuals forage for multiple dives, then drift offshore for only 15-20 minutes before coming in and doing it again.. It's difficult to know how much food these birds were consuming, because they were probably swallowing most underwater. Birds that did come up with food inevitably had Blue Mussels, sometimes in clusters that they had to manipulate before swallowing. I'd ballpark a dozen or more mussels per feeding bout, based on the number of dives and on birds that came up with visible food. That's one tough gizzard and gut!]

[May you laugh. . . someone has asked me for a stuffed animal Surf Scoter for Christmas. . .this one is laughing with its mouth full. ]

[May you fly! Female Black Scoter pattering across the surface on take-off.]

Merry Christmas, all!