Caught in the Act!

Eider ducks stopping at East Point!

I can still remember watching David Attenborough’s Living Planet special (The Margins of Land Episode) and being amazed at the site of 1,000s of diving sea ducks plucking mussels from the benthos. I had not known birds could “fly” underwater and these particular sea ducks had striking coloration and markings – these were Common Eider Ducks.

Flash forward 20+ years and I had just recently moved to the east coast to tackle my PhD and was taking a walk around East Point and there it was, in all it’s black and white glory, a male Common Eider Duck! Immediately I remembered the Attenborough documentary and the scene of thousands of ducks swimming and diving – it’s funny how you only need a small visual cue to bring up distant memories…

Common Eiders, here on the east coast, spend the winter months between Canada and Virginia – so you can spot these guys around here fall thru spring as they wait for the weather to clear in their breeding grounds in the Arctic. The females are a mottled brown and the males are a sleek white and black – kinda like a high end sports car in my opinion.

Last week, while doing a bit of intertidal fieldwork, I spotted my first one of the season. Although they do not arrive here in thousands (I’ve only seen about a dozen at most at one time), I only need to see one to remind me of that large sense of wonder and amazement I felt as a little girl a long time ago.

Common Eider ducks – male (left) and female (right). Image from Wikipedia Commons

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