Last week, spider webs decorated most of the mountain hemlocks in this muskeg meadow. Today, the webs are gone. The little dog and I move down to the cove formed by Outer Point and spot a large raft of mallard ducks bumping up against the shore. An even larger number of surf scoters have formed a long, thick line on the other side of the Shaman Island spit.
When not being chased off by hunters, ducks and scoters winter in these protected waters. They spend their summers feeding in the rich seas along Southeast Island’s coast. A recent storm must have convinced them to return to our protected bays.
Aki is more interested in the beach sparrows and one bossy squirrel than the waterfowl. Too bad for her. Scoters, who sound like the Three Stooges in full retreat, act like members of a well-trained synchronized swim team. While I watch, they transform the thick line I first spotted into an elongated oval and parade past until reaching a ball of baitfish. Then, the birds in the forward section dive in unison, followed by the group behind them. The first to dive pop up at the back of the raft. Each subsequent line snaps into the water. In minutes the original leaders are back in the front of the oval.
Why do the silly sounding and looking scoters fish in such an efficient and generous manner? What destroyed the spider webs? I could ask an expert or search for the answers online. But, I am not an educator or game manager so there is no reason to rinse out the magic.