Where are the diving ducks? Everywhere!

Ducks rafting in the North Sailing Basin, observed on December 2 2001. There are over 200 birds in this raft.

The North Sailing Basin is not unique for duck habitat. A large series of rafts totalling well over four hundred birds was observed and photographed on December 3 2001, along the north shore of the Albany Neck.

Similar conditions can be found in the lee of Brooks Island, in the Emeryville Crescent, and in the South Sailing Basin.

Here are about 80 of the several hundred ducks observed in the South Sailing Basin on December 4 2001.

The South Sailing Basin is also home to two large year-round community sailing programs and is a popular launch spot for windsurfers and kayaks. There are two boat hoists and three docks, and a dry storage facility for larger boats.

The important point here is that relatively intense non-motorized boating activity seems to have minimal negative impact on the winter habitat value of this body of water.

Loss of vital diving duck habitat has often been cited as a reason to oppose non-motorized boating in the North Sailing Basin. Significant loss of habitat due to this kind of activity, however, does not appear to be likely for at least three reasons: 1) the rafting habitat is distributed throughout the waters of the Eastshore State Park, and not concentrated in the North Sailing Basin. 2) The South Sailing Basin remains a popular rafting habitat despite the presence of boating facilities, and 3) boating use patterns, especially in winter, involve a small portion of time and use a small portion of the available water, leaving most of the habitat totally undisturbed most of the time.

More ducks sheltering behind the southeast corner of the Albany Bulb, photographed on December 10 2001.