We had seen Common Mergansers already at Stanley Bridge and as we drove toward Cavendish, there were ducks in some open water by the oyster farm. “More mergansers,” I said as my husband as he parked the car.
The gate of the Oyster Company was open. We approached the building, hoping someone was there so we could ask permission to look around. We discovered later the workers were on the opposite side of the bridge on and under the ice.
The ducks were in the water behind the building. We stealthily made our way along but they swam away of course.
These weren’t mergansers but I couldn’t identify them. They swam around as we took photos and later flew off.
Checking the photos, I was surprised to see the ducks were Barrow’s Goldeneyes. These birds are considered “at risk” in eastern Canada. It is estimated that 400 individuals winter in the Maritimes. We saw about 25 of them.
The males are black and white, a black head with a crescent white shape behind the beak. The unique white markings on both sides of the back are indicative of this bird.
The females are less distinctive, with a brown head and gray body.
They made a whistling sound as they flew away.
It was a thrill to observe them.