White winged scoters

In previous posts I’ve featured the orange-masked Surf Scoters (Melanitta perspicillata) that hang out in the winter near the beach and pier at White Rock, BC. While I was watching them last week, I noticed a few birds that looked a bit different and on closer inspection I realized that there were a half dozen White Winged Scoters (Melanitta deglandi) swimming nearby. While I was watching a pair of the white wings diving for clams, I noticed a considerable number of gulls floating in their immediate vicinity. At first I didn’t pay much attention, but after watching for a while I realized that these gulls were staying close in order to ambush the scoters once they surfaced with a clam. The second, third and fourth images show a female after she’s returned to the surface with a clam, and her efforts to get it down her throat and finally succeeding. The last image shows a gull immediately after it has pounced on that hard-working female scoter after she retrieved her next clam. She dived to escape the gull but the gull made off with the clam!

Click on images for larger view.




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