|Two Fridays back, Yang and I happened to be on the North Shore, so we stayed overnight in order to make an early visit to Halibut Point State Park. We’d been meaning to get there since November, after hearing about all the cool water fowl hanging out there. Unfortunately, the opportunity hadn’t come up before this. So, after our breakfast of bagels and cream cheese (yum!), we headed out to the state park. We were not disappointed. In the quarry, we spotted a Scaup, Black Ducks, and Mallards. When we headed for the ocean, we got an even bigger treat. Here you see me peering out at the ocean’s wonderland – or wonderwater- of ducks. Isn’t that point beautiful?
At first, we saw only a couple of pairs of Harlequin Ducks, looking absolutely adorable. All the FB bird groups to which I belonged extolled the plenitude of Harlequins out here. So, we were happy to spot this couple chilling along.
Mrs. Harley seems to be finding a snack while her husband looks on.
Neat as this sighting was, things got MUCH better. Looking all around and out to sea, we saw flocks of Harlequins diving, chilling, and looking good. There were so many that we couldn’t always get them all in one picture. I would say we saw several flocks ranging from 9-15 Harlequins. And that’s not counting the friendly-neighbor Long-tail Ducks who joined the party. Counting the ducks was never easy, because, all of a sudden, the whole kit and kaboodle would take a dive on a hunt for food. So, Yang had to time his shots carefully to catch them. I guess it’s true that these ducks love rough waters, because that’s exactly what they got here and in the other place we saw them, Sachuest Point, RI. This was the biggest contingent of Harleys that I had seen. Though the ducks are hard to pick out in these pictures, if you just click on them you will get a better look.
Then we saw this Loon way off above the group of Harlequins. It’s the white figure in the upper left corner.
Wouldn’t you know, we also saw plenty of flocks of Scoters.
Here’s a closeup of a female Scoter. I believe these are all Black Scoters.
When we moved onto the harbor at Rockport, Yang also got a shot of a male Eider Duck. Usually we see big flocks of these guys, especially at Cape Cod (check out this older blog). Today, we saw this guy all by his lonesome.
Then, finally, what should we espy on the other side of the point in the harbor in Rockport? We thought we it was a brown female eider – except, Yang said that once the critter dived he could see her walking under water. Huh? Then “she” came up.
Yup, a seal! So I hope this critter can be a “seal” of approval for today’s blog.
Category Archives: American Black Duck
Late Winter Birds, Far and Near
Adventures with Waterfowl at Silver Sands Beach
A Visit to the Connecticut Shore
In the midst of all that God-awful rain last week, we had a day full of sun and warmth on Tuesday. So we hopped in our car and headed for the Connecticut shoreline and some of our old haunts! First, we stopped at Bill’s seafood for our annual (and more often if we can!) fix of lobster rolls! Mmm, Bill’s has the best, with a handy helping of crisp and hearty french fries and cole slaw with a nice tang. You can see Yang enjoys his repast!
As usual, we sat on the deck, which is next to a river and salt marsh flowing to the sea. We especially love to do that because you always see loads of seabirds there. This time, we could espy teenage ospreys in their platform next out in the marsh, while wild cries overhead alerted us to their hunting parents flying overhead. We couldn’t take pictures because the platform was too far out, but we’d remembered to bring binoculars. so, we got a good look at the young osprey.
We also had the pleasure of seeing some less fierce feathered critters. We got a few pictures of some American Black Ducks, as you can see here.
There was also a mamma Mallard with her three babies scooting around. It was cute to watch her leisurely paddling while her kiddos worked those webbed feet furiously to keep up! Someone commented that this must be her second clutch, since they were so little so late in the season.
After Bill’s, it was off to Old Lyme to visit Joan Bennett at the Pleasant View Cemetery. there used to be a riding academy and horse-boarding farm across the street, so I used to think that Joan, who was a rider, would have found that view pleasant, indeed. Today, the grass wasn’t too bad in the cemetery, and it was filled with butterflies. I saw a Monarch, the Black Swallow Tail in this picture (thanks to Charmaine Kinton for the i.d.) and a beautiful bright yellow butterfly (no, not a Tiger Swallow Tail). I know Joan loved yellow and butterflies are symbols of the soul. Do you think she was saying “hi” to me? I also noticed that there was a sign for a house for sale on the street. should we all chip and buy it so that we visit our friend more easily – and keep the grass trimmed? I also noticed that Joan had a cousin, Patricia Morrison (not the actress), who died very young. Does anyone know the story there?
Anyway, we checked ourselves for ticks before we got in the car – we were in Lyme- then went off to Rocky Neck State Park. This park is a wonderful place to hit the beach or take hikes along trails. Once more, we saw several nesting platforms for ospreys with young ospreys in them. There was one that had a nest not as thick as the others, so we thought it was unfinished or abandoned. We found out later we were wrong. Once again, thank God for binoculars! We also saw many Cattle Egrets and Great Egrets, as well as a Kildeer! Yang even managed to get this shot of a Green Heron! So, in case you’re still wondering, what was the deal with the underdeveloped platform nest? Well, we were checking it out with the binoculars when a red-tailed hawk came sailing in. The hawk kept looking at something in the nest that we couldn’t see, but we suspect it was his/her family. Thanks to the binoculars, we got a great closeup of the bird’s enormous eyes, powerful hooked beak, and beautiful feather patterns. A formidable creature, indeed!
Finally, we moved on to the beach and then up to the huge, field stone pavilion that had been built in the 1930s as a WPA project. The building was one of the reasons Yang had wanted to come here. He’d been reading the draft of my third novel, Always Play the Dark Horse, and its description of the setting whetted his appetite to return to one of our favorite places to go walking. The pavilion is a long building with beautiful hard wood floors inside. Couldn’t you just picture a big band playing there, and people dancing on a summer’s eve with a tangy salt breeze cooling off all those hot cats and kittens? It turns out you can rent it for $3,750 for a gathering of under 200 people. A larger number is less expensive. Any one want to GoFund a swing night there – and I mean swing dancing!
There are also some beautiful views of the ocean from the pavilion.
Then we closed out the day with dinner at The Main Street Grille in Niantic – well, not exactly. We also went for a 30 minute walk on the boardwalk in town as well. No wonder I was limping on Wednesday and Thursday. Nevertheless, I was recovered enough to jitterbug, cha-cha, rhumba, and fox trot to Dan Gabel and the Abletones at Moseley on the Charles on Friday. Good bless heating pads and Advil!