Whether sifting through sand, or scrambling over a rocky shore, it's about finding treasures in every day. 

Just Ducky

A flock of Barrow's Goldeneye ducks zooms past, the trilling whistle of their wings tracing their path, fading around the point of the island, and then you hear the swoosh! of them sliding onto the water's surface.

Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica)

They come to that shallow place to feed at low tide. They're wary, though, and keep a fair distance from humans.

Males are outfitted in formal black and white attire.

Male Barrow's Goldeneye

While females go for a softer look.

Barrow's Goldeneye female

Barrow's Goldeneye are a diving duck.

Barrow's Goldeneye female diving

Diving into cold saltwater to find crustaceans for lunch is part of how they make their living. This one was feeding on mussels that she pulled loose from the underside of a floating log. Watching her made me thankful that I can pull the refrigerator door open and warm food on the stove.

Barrow's Goldeneye female eating a mussel.

For a week there were four females that worked close to the boat. We came to call them "the girls." As the tide came in their foraging grounds were deeper and deeper, so the girls would paddle out near the piling where our boat was moored. Two logs have been tied to the piling for years, growing a nice crop of barnacles and mussels. The drakes stayed just out of camera range. The photo of the male above doesn't count. It was a foggy morning and he didn't expect me to be up that early.

The girls would paddle away if I stepped out on deck, but it was okay if I quietly opened a portlight to watch them. Well, sometimes they shot me a look.

They would feed for awhile, then preen. Grooming sometimes involves neck contortions for beak-in-wingpit feather adjustments. Then they have to shake it all out.

Sometimes more gracefully than others.

And off they all went on Barrow's Goldeneye business.

It's okay. They'll be back when the tide goes out.

Happy Foraging!

Alaska Beachcomber