Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ducks Flying In

[At dawn, almost no ducks were in the ocean at the mouth of Towsend's Inlet in Avalon, but as the sun rose they began flying in. These are Common Eiders. Click to enlarge all photos.]

One of the male Harlequins and a couple Long-tailed Ducks comprised the sole occupants of the little ocean cove at the mouth of Townsend's Inlet north of the 8th Street Jetty at Avalon first thing this morning, but ducks poured in from offshore with the sun. Eventually, at least 2 male Harlequins, 107 (!) Common Eiders, 300 dark-winged scoters with about an even mix of Black and Surf, and about 75 Long-tailed Ducks congregated, actively feeding, courting, and flying back in to shore when the tide drifted them out. Numbers and species change here; these were counted/estimated at about 8:15 a.m. 5 White-winged Scoters flew south well offshore, and 15 Common Loons and 5 Red-throated Loons were present. An adult Peregrine, probably a male based on size, briefly harassed the usual Purple Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlin and Sanderlings.

[Surf Scoters at Avalon this morning. In many ducks, you will notice a sex ratio skewed towards males. Sex ratios are essentially equal at hatching, but females experience higher mortality, mainly because in ducks (except whistling-ducks), only females incubate eggs and tend the young, making them more vulnerable to predators.]

[This male Long-tailed Duck was one of the first ducks to fly in from offshore.]

[Female Long-tailed Duck.]

No comments: