Large Flocks of Waterfowl Feeding Furiously in East Harbor Lagoon this Winter

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Date: January 10, 2007

Speak to: John Portnoy, Park Ecologist, (508) 487-3262 x107

Make contact with: Robert Cook, Biologist, (508) 487-3262 x106

Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management and Cape Cod National Seashore workers report flocks of hundreds of sea and bay ducks, of at least 13 species, on East Harbor lagoon this wintertime. Little quantities of some waterfowl, like black ducks, buffleheads and crimson-breasted mergansers, have wintered on this back again-barrier embayment for numerous many years, but the modern maximize in species range and flock dimensions, a most likely consequence of current tidal restoration, is a new and interesting progress. For illustration, the modern Stellwagen Xmas Bird Depend features East Harbor in the rely location birders tallied 70 Black Ducks, 6 Mallards, 9 Redhead Ducks, 125 Higher Scaup, 4 Lesser Scaup, 150 White-winged Scoter, 6 Surf Scoters, 20 Popular Goldeneyes, 100 Buffleheads, 75 Typical Mergansers, 20 Purple-Breasted Mergansers, 7 Hooded Mergansers, and 45 Ruddy Ducks “feeding furiously” in the lagoon. A number of of these species have under no circumstances right before been recorded on East Harbor, specifically the sea ducks like scoters, and hardly ever in these kinds of abundance.

Significantly, many of these birds dive to the base to feed on smaller shellfish and other bottom-dwelling (benthic) animals. Their energetic feeding on the lagoon this wintertime implies that the diverse benthic group that reestablished above the earlier 4 yrs of tidal restoration proceeds to thrive regardless of an algae bloom, clear oxygen depletion, and delicate-shell clam die-off last summertime.

Winter use of the lagoon by massive rafts of diving ducks marks a different action in the restoration of this authentic 700-furthermore-acre embayment and salt-marsh technique, which until finally 1868 related to Cape Cod Bay by means of a 1000-foot broad inlet. Partial tidal restoration carried out by the Town of Truro and the Seashore commencing in 2002 has resulted in a rapid boost in salinity and the return of maritime plant and animal communities lacking from East Harbor since the technique was diked off from Cape Cod Bay. Since 2002, regular monitoring has documented the reestablishment of submerged aquatic vegetation (mostly widgeon grass, an important habitat for fish and crustaceans, and an crucial winter season food items for highly prized black ducks), finfish, shellfish, crustaceans and marine worms.

Now that the sea ducks have, following probably a 140-calendar year hiatus, “rediscovered” East Harbor, they ought to come to be a normal winter aspect. Superintendent Price tag notes, “Again it is the maritime animals that are reminding us that so-referred to as ‘Pilgrim Lake’ is a lot more correctly a coastal lagoon, with the possible to recover quite a few of its native features that we now easily recognize and highly worth.”

For normal info on the East Harbor Restoration Job, contact Ecologist John Portnoy (508-487-3262 ext. 107). For concerns precisely on the waterfowl, contact Wildlife Biologist Bob Cook (508-487-3262 ext. 106).

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