Category Archives: Oldsquaw Duck

Out of the Fog: Long-Tailed Ducks!

We had planned last week to take a trip to Gooseberry Neck Beach on that Wednesday, since the day was supposed to be relatively warm (40s).  We didn’t plan on a fog that could make Londoners get lost.  Undaunted, we started out, first heading for Shastea in Providence for lunch.  Our hopes rose, as the fog seemed to dissipate into just a cloudy day once we got there.  So, would Gooseberry Beach be equally clear?  Nope!

The closer we drove to the ocean, the deeper the grey nothingness became.  We couldn’t even see the ocean! Nevertheless, when we pulled up at the beginning of the causeway to park, I had hopes that we might be able to see some critters swimming close to shore.  Bingo!

I got so excited, seeing this guy swimming around, taking a dive or two.  It was almost a year to the day that I’d seen my first Longtail last year at Silver Sands Beach in Ct.  Now, here was my second sighting.  Then, as my eyes adjusted to the fog, I realized that Mr. Longtail wasn’t alone.  Mrs. Longtail was also on hand in the rough and crashing seas, and she was definitely no slouch when it came to hunting. Yang took this cool picture of her arching up to dive deep for some seafood take out – which she’d be taking out herself.  You’ll have to forgive the fogginess of some of these pictures.  As I said, it was a pea souper!  I don’t know how the ducks were able to see each other!

I apologize for the fogginess of the photos – it was foggy.  If you click on the photos to enlarge them, they are clearer.

I wonder what she said to provoke THIS reaction?

Could anything be more exciting?  Yes!  as Yang and I walked  along the causeway, we came across more and more Longtails!  These guys were riding the roughest of seas.  It was fascinating to watch them crest some of those  rough swells. All told, we finally saw about three flocks of Longtailed ducks, males and females.  There must have been thirty ducks riding the rough waves, diving for food, chilling in the fog! Again, I apologize for the, literal, fogginess of the photos.  However, if you click on the picture, the enlarged version is reasonably clear.

I thought these two little ladies looked rather sweet.

 

 

 

 

I think this guy is starring in the duck version of I Had Two Wives.

 

Speaking of the moving image, how about Yang’s film clip of a diving Longtail?

 

And that’s the end of my duck tail!

 

 

Adventures with Waterfowl at Silver Sands Beach

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.

We also saw some old favorites, American Black Ducks.  Here are two in conference.

 

 

 

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!”