Thursday, February 03, 2011

Common Eiders in Gloucester Harbor

As I mentioned in my last post on the Superbowl of Birding, Jodrey State Fish Pier in Gloucester Harbor is an excellent birding location. I highly recommend a stop there if you happen to be in the Cape Ann area during the winter months. The fishing industry based in the harbor attracts numerous sea birds. Some fight for scraps left by the fishing boats and processing plants; others dive for fish and crustaceans in the waters of the harbor. Many of these birds swim very close to the pier, allowing for close study and photography. They come so close, in fact, that their presence was a distraction for me during the Superbowl of Birding.

One bird that I found especially distracting was the Common Eider. This species is not at all uncommon along the Atlantic coast in the winter. One can usually see hundreds of them at Barnegat Light, and there are other places to see them along the mid-Atlantic coast. However, it is uncommon to have such close views of their regal plumage.

The were a lot of eiders in the harbor, but they swam around in small groups of half a dozen or so.

Watching them at close range made it easy to watch them as they preened.

It also gave me the opportunity to see details like the white stripe down the middle of an adult male's crown, something I have not noticed previously.
I will leave you with a video that shows an adult male eider swimming through the harbor. Along the way it passes several other birds, including Great Black-backed Gulls fighting over a fish carcass and an adult Iceland Gull doing its long call. If the embedded video does not work for you, try watching it on Flickr or on YouTube.