Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pigeon Guillemots, Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, WA

A BAZAAR OF RED-FOOTED PIGEON GUILLEMOTS

The famous sand spit, the world's longest, at Dungeness National Willife Refuge, WA; 8/4/2012.
 
A Pigeon Guillemot with a meal of a crayfish, Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, WA; 8/4/2012. 
While spotting Bald Eagles from the high ridge above the coastline of the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge (Top), I noticed some tiny dark spots in the water just off the shore in the bay. I was too far away for my 150-500mm Sigma Lens to pick up what the spots were and I couldn't tell if they were moving or if the wave action passing over some black mud clumps made it look like they were moving. So I climbed down from the ridge and hikes along the shore until I reached the location. There was lots of mud clumps, but sure enough weaving in and out of some of the mud clumps were two Pigeon Guillemots, unmistakable with their bright red feet paddling in the water. Both were successful hunters, as they propelled themselves closer to where I was standing on the beach, I could see that one of them had a red crayfish in its bill (Above), and when the other had a either a short eel or a long fish in its bill (Below).
 
Two Pigeon Guillemots with their prized catches, Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, WA; 8/4/2012.
Pigeon Guillemots are medium-sized seabirds with black body and large white wing patches interrupted by black bars. Their bills are black, pointed, and long, good for catching its prey. Their bright red legs and feet can be easily seen even while under the water's surface. Pigeon Guiilemots feed on crustaceans, mollusks and marine worms as evidenced by my photos.
Another Pigeon Guiilemot coming in for a landing, Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, WA; 8/4/2012.
Word must have gone out about the good hunting, because within minutes of finding the two additional Pigeon Guillemots flew in and joined them. I was lucky to try to capture their landing maneuvers in a series of photos (Above and Below)...
The same Pigeon Guillemot bearing its red feet, ready for splash down...

... one hop and ...
 
... and splashdown, creating two small wakes, one on either side...
 
After the 3rd Guillemot landed, a 4th also appeared and came in for a landing ...
 
Ready for splash down...


... walking on water ...

... and then there were four... "Hey, where's our dinner?"
Pigeon Guillemots feed along the coasts of the Pacific Ocean, in summer stretching from Southern California to Northern Alaska, but in the Winter months concentrating their territory mostly along the Canadian British Columbia coast and across southern Alaska and throughout the Aleutian Islands.
 


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