Since they are so big, Common Eiders take a long time to get airborne and fly, like Cormorants and Swans. Yesterday, one immature Common Eider put on quite a show.
In late fall, Common Eiders appear as far South as the coast of New Jersey. Yesterday several dozens of them were swimming along the jetty at Barnegat Lighthouse. They are the largest ducks, weighing from 2.5 to almost 7 lbs (1.1 to 3 kg).
It is not breeding season yet, so the males are not showing their distinctive and handsome colors.
There was some kind of hunting going on and I often heard sounds of gunfire coming from the other side of the bay. An immature Common Eider was sitting on a rock right next to the jetty. It would not move even as I came very close to it. A fellow photographer said that it may have been wounded by a shotgun pellet, could not move, and would probably die eventually.
In the 19th century, hunting almost wiped out this species in the Atlantic. However, their population has rebounded and Common Eiders are not on the list of endangered species.
The weather forecast was for a warm and sunny Sunday, but the sun made its appearance for about half an hour at best, and the wind was blowing non-stop at the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park. I went there looking Harlequin ducks and snowy owls. The owls were nowhere to be seen and four Harlequin ducks were too far out on the ocean.
Only Common Eider ducks were in abundance as they now have migrated from their Artic breeding grounds to warmer (for them) climates. They were perhaps 100 ft away from the shore, and the following shot is as close as I could get with my lens. By the way, I did not know the name of these ducks before today, and I had to ask a birder who was observing the ducks at the same time.
Turning back from the ocean, I saw the following view of the lighthouse framed by beach grass and scraggly plants. The colors of the bleak sky, lighthouse, plants, and sand complement one another.