Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Kleptoparasitic Ducks

[Female Gadwall relieving American Coot of food on Lily Lake yesterday. Click to enlarge all photos.]

Neither the Redhead nor the Eurasian Wigeon were on Lily Lake yesterday late afternoon (but with limited open water in Cape May, they had to be somewhere nearby, and were - see below). The beauty and antics of the ducks on Lily Lake were reason enough to linger. With pockets of open water limited, the dabblers seem to be confined to water where they cannot merely tip up to reach bottom for food. Instead they rely on diving ducks and especially American Coots to bring bottom matter, consisting of aquatic vegetation and detritus (perhaps occasionally containing living invertebrates) to the surface -where they promptly steal it! The American Wigeon and Gadwall were the worst offenders, with dozens of American Wigeon in particular piling in around any diving bird.

[We always pause for scope views of the humble Gadwall, for obvious reasons.]

[The Eurasian Wigeon, center back, and Redhead, right center, had migrated over to Lighthouse Pond yesterday afternoon. Lighthouse Pond is the one visible, not surprisingly, from Lighthouse Ave., on the left as you head for Cape May Point State Park. Also in the photo are Ring-necked Ducks, Gadwall and American Wigeon. All will be targets for study in CMBO's Winter Birding Sampler workshop this weekend (follow the link and scroll down to see all CMBO's 2010 workshops).]

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