[Tweeters] King Eider - A resounding YES
josh.n.glant at gmail.com
Sat Nov 21 17:37:05 PST 2015
After a short road trip during which I listened to Adele's new album, 25 (I like it a lot), we arrived at Ruston Way in Tacoma at about 11:35 AM. Immediately upon entering the parking lot from the south end, I spotted the queen eider floating regally on the water, 15 feet from shore. For the next hour, we watched her eat a crab buffet.
Every two minutes, she would dive into the water, then almost invariably reappear with a morsel of food in her mouth, most often a clawed crustacean. Ed Newbold, who stood and watched the eider beside me for much of the time, half-jokingly attempted to ID each crab that came up in the eider's bill. After about 15 minutes up close and personal, the eider would float out to about 30 yards and digest her meal for about 10 minutes, joining any other waterfowl that would happen to be out there, like a small group of 5 goldeneyes at one point.
After repeating this cycle twice, the queen eider stayed 50 yards away, and swam north towards the ferry landing, among 10 common goldeneyes, a red-breasted merganser and two horned grebes (there was talk of someone seeing a Clark's, but we didn't encounter any such grebe). The eider was still 50 yards offshore, halfway between the north end of the parking lot and the ferry landing, when we left at 12:46 PM.
Later, we checked the wigeon flock at the pond in Point Defiance Park to try our luck and find my FOS Eurasian Wigeon. Sure enough, we found one among the 200 wigeon a few minutes later: a male finishing up his molt into alternate plumage. There was also a male hybrid wigeon in the flock that I noted when we first arrived, and a brown feral domestic mallard that had a silver band on its leg (didn't try to read the band, sorry).
Good birding (and long live the Queen), Joshua Glant
Mercer Island, WA
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