Yang and I went to the beach last week when we had some warm weather– in New England, in winter, you can call 40 degrees warm. It started out as a trip to Tea with Tracey in Connecticut for tea (obviously), but since the day was so sunny and “warm,” Yang suggested that after tea, we head to nearby Silver Sands Beach to see what birds might be visiting. I think he felt bad for me because we were the only people at Plum Island the week before who didn’t see a Snow Owl. Anyway, once we got there, we were NOT disappointed, with a special guest star appearing that neither of us had ever seen before!
As we approached where the waves broke on the shore, we were delighted to see Herring Gulls mixing and mingling with Brant Geese. The gulls I’d seen many times before. However, I’d only seen Brants twice previously. They were not afraid of us and let Yang take lots of photographs. Here are some neat ones we saw of them along the shore.
When the Brants took to the water, they proceeded in well-ordered convoy fashion. You’d almost think they were heading to Britain with Lend-Lease weaponry, on the watch for Nazi U-Boats.
Maybe they had air support from the Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls. I think some gulls might even have been acting as the Armed Guard.
Over here is another guy just chillin’ on a rock. Maybe he felt he’d be chillin’ too much, literally, if he joined his pals in the ocean. What do you think?
Then, there was this lonesome stranger. Yang and I spotted a white dot in the ocean. We almost dismissed it as yet another Hooded Merganser, but Yang had second thoughts and trained his binoculars on this guy. Well, what do you know? A duck that neither of us had ever seen before. He was a study in art decco black and white, with a whitish Presley pompadour swept and puffed up off his forehead. His yellow eyes contrasted with a black pupil. Even his pink beak had symmetric black patches on either side! Then, when he dived, there was that long, slim tail flipping up.
What could he be? A Harlequin Duck? A funky Woodduck? A pintail of some kind? My guess was an Oldsquaw – and darned if a peek in my Peterson’s and a look on-line didn’t prove me right. Now, some people don’t like the term “squaw” in his name, feeling it’s offensive. So, considering that yellowish white pompadour, could we rename him an OldElvis? Too soon?
Anyway, like our new friend, I’m going to take a dive and say, “so long!”