Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Ivory Gull - It's Official

It's never easy being the bearer of bad news, but it does seem to be official now. There has been no sightings of the Ivory Gull at Cape May today. Winds have persisted throughout the day and it may well be that many birds are just hunkered down somewhere, riding out the weather. Tomorrow should be telling...

Lunch time I popped into Lighthouse Pond and can confirm that three males and one female Eurasian Wigeon are still lurking amongst the mass of ducks currently feeding there. A female Lesser Scaup is with a small group of Ring-necked Ducks and there is at least nine species of duck to be enjoyed there. Somewhat annoyingly, the gathering is drawing the attention of an old adversary - Cooter! If you're a regular reader, you'll know that Cooter is a Great Black-backed Gull who has taken a liking to American Coots and has been witnessed killing and eating them on a number of occasions. Indeed, something about his (or her, it has to be said!) demeanour is picked up on by the ducks and the whole of Lighthouse Pond can clear of birds when Cooter makes a menacing low pass. Today, the ducks had to contend with an adult Bald Eagle too - it's tough out there!

Cooter on a sortie.

If you haven't dropped by to see the Eurasian Wigeons yet, they're getting a lot easier to identify now, as they molt through from juvenal plumage. Interestingly, the birds are molting at different rates and in slightly different sequences. Less interestingly, I have only managed reasonable pictures of one of them so this one will have to do for now! The male above has almost completed a head molt and clearly shows a ginger head and yellowish frontal blaze. The grey body feathers on the flanks are pretty obvious too. One other male currently has the flanks molted through much more obviously than this bird, but has less ginger on the head, while the third bird lags behind them both, but is getting there.

Another picture of the same male Eurasian Wigeon, showing the other side of the bird.

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