Pop up ducks

IMG_1931.jpg

Discovered: the most buoyant substance on earth… eider ducklings!

IMG_1971

IMG_1972 (1).jpg

These tiny little fluff balls tackle the waves and waters of the alongshore North Atlantic with aplomb!

IMG_1998.jpg

The mothers (and aunties?) do all the duckling care, leading them and taking turns watching them in groups known as creches.

Mother Common Eiders lead their young to water, and often are accompanied by nonbreeding hens that participate in chick protection. Broods often come together to form “crèches” of a few to over 150 ducklings.

Drive-by coastal bird watching

IMG_9899

Owl watchers along Route 1A/ Ocean Blvd in Rye just north of Rye Harbor, yesterday in the late morning. On my way to walk the dog I pulled over, rolled down my window and snapped a few pics too.

IMG_9903

Snowy Owl on a rooftop, patiently (sleepily) enduring the paparazzi.

I read on the NH bird list later that there was also a snowy owl a very short distance away on the restroom roof in Rye Harbor State Park, aka Ragged Neck.

IMG_9910

In the neighboring marsh, the tide was high and a male Common Eider was close enough for a few decent photos.

IMG_9914.jpg

Very cool looking duck!

A colorful duck of the northern seacoasts, the Common Eider is the largest duck in the Northern Hemisphere. The male’s bright white, black, and green plumage contrasts markedly with the female’s camouflaging dull striped brown.

IMG_9915

Their food is “aquatic invertebrates, especially mollusks, crustaceans, and sea urchins.” They dive to the sea floor to take their prey.

IMG_9918

Also spotted fishing in the marsh, a Common Loon molting from winter to summer plumage. Sign of spring!

Yesterday was very warm for March in the New Hampshire Seacoast, with temps around 65, bright sun and a southwest wind. So good.

 

Thick-billed Murre and more at Hampton Harbor

murre1.jpg

A Thick-billed Murre at Hampton Harbor today.

Luckily a real birder who was watching birds a short distance away from me posted her checklist from the same time and location to eBird.org and that helped me figure out what kind of (unfamiliar, locally rare) bird it was.

pals.jpg

The murre was near a female Common Eider duck.

loon.jpg

There were Common Loons too.

mergansers.jpg

And those sharp little Red-breasted Mergansers.

murre2

Murres are alcids, in the same family as puffins and auks. They look more auk-like when they are out of the water: photo.

A common bird of the far northern oceans, the Thick-billed Murre is found in Arctic waters all across the globe. It remains up to the limits of pack ice in winter, using its wings to swim underwater to find its fish and invertebrate prey.

The temperatures here are supposed to plummet to near-Arctic ranges in the next few days, so our visiting murre will feel right at home.

Cool Facts: The Thick-billed Murre is one of the deepest underwater divers of all birds, regularly descending to depths of more than 100 m, and occasionally below 200 m. It can remain submerged for more than three minutes.