Eiders in Menemsha Channel

by Lanny McDowell on January 10, 2010

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Martha’s Vineyard, her rocky shores and the rich marine ecology that surrounds her, is very attractive to Common Eiders looking to winter in a place that grows and gives up enough tonnage of food resources to keep the feathered thousands alive through the coldest months.  The patterns of major sea duck concentration have changed this winter, presumably  moving with the food resource.  There are almost always a smaller number of eiders that congregate near the jetties at Menemsha.  What they were doing when I was there yesterday is what they often do at sea, just in a more confined space: riding the current and feeding, then flying back to take another pass on the current.  They were riding on the incoming tide ripping south between the stone jetties, with the wind at their backs, to enter the broadening waters of the tidal pond.  On cue, on a whim or reacting to an ambulatory threat they pattered into flight north against the wind between the walls of rock  to settle on the sea just outside the harbor, eventually funneling back to repeat the circuit.

This show is there for anyone to watch. I was on the Aquinnah side, but next time I will go out on the Coast Guard dock at the harbor and observe from the comfort of my car.  I include here a few bird photos which I previously sent out to my regular email list.

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Birds are cool!  Lanny

These images and Avian Art fine art prints are available for purchase. Contact me or View my gallery.

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