January and February have become a tradition for us to go bird watching for ducks, geese, and other aquatic birds. This year has been an exceptionally good one for such adventures. We always head to the Cape and the Shining Sea Trail around my birthday for one of our biggest forays. This year we were not disappointed. Once more, we saw a large flock of Eider Ducks rafting on the rough January seas. The weather was so cold one of my knees started to seize up! Nevertheless, we saw a large flock that included the brown females, mature males startling in their contrast of black and white feathers, and the juvenile males that tended to a gradual graying into white in a less striking contrast. Did you ever notice that Eiders have a beak reminiscent of Bob Hope’s ski-slope schnozz – no disrespect to Eiders.
Swimming separately in the same bay were other interesting aquatic birds. Here are a pair of Common Golden Eyes. I thought they were Ring-Necked Ducks at first; but, no, they are Golden Eyes. Anyway, they were fun to watch surfing the waves, diving for lunch, and popping up goodness knows where. We also had the good fortune to catch sight of a Horned Grebe. I can’t remember the last time I saw one. He also was a little charmer with his unexpected dives and equally surprising reappearances. I hope these guys caught some snacks – pace to the Atlantic fish.
We scooted over to a pond in Falmouth and got a gander (sorry, couldn’t resist) at some Canada Geese, Hooded Mergansers, and a Swan. Here’s a group shot.
Here’s a flotilla of Hooded Mergansers. Just click on the photo to get a clearer view.
Our next adventure was at the Charles River in Needham Heights, where we saw not only Mallards but the Common Merganser. This guy was so beautiful, with his green/black head and contrasting pure white chest and underside. Also on display were more Hooded Mergansers. I love to watch these guys. Where the other ducks and geese serenely loiter across the waters, these guys surge along like mini speed boats, white crests proclaiming their presence!
Third stop: Rocky Neck, Ct. Here we saw quite a few interesting water birds. Once again, the proud and speedy little Hooded Mergansers powered their way across the marsh water. We also saw several other types of birds as well. There were Gadwall Ducks, Blue Herons, gulls and even a Common Loon. The Loon was not in this same marsh, but in the ocean, in a cove by the jetty. Many of these critters were pointed out to us by two lovely people who were also birding fans. Thanks to their kind advice! Check out some of the images below.
A closeup of the Hooded Merganser.
Who you lookin’ at?
A different type of Loon. The Sharon Bird on her migratory peregrinations in search of feathered friends at the beach. Note the winter plumage.
Before the summer is over, I wanted to post some of my other favorite images from the summer adventures Yang and I had along the New England rail trails. In June, we did a rail trail in Falmouth, on the Cape. As always, we saw some of our favorite birds there. We sighted many rabbits and chipmunks, and at one point a fox dashed across the trail far ahead of us. Per usual, the Catbirds wouldn’t hold still long enough to be photographed.
So, here are some of the lovely birds we could photograph. In one little bay, we found this swan family: Mummy and Daddy and several young cygnets. Interestingly enough, one of the kids had already turned white!
We also managed to photograph this gorgeous Osprey. Look at those eyes! They’re enormous. No wonder no prey escapes this guy or gal. There are several spots along the trail that have osprey nests on poles and platforms erected by the good folks on the Cape. There is even one platform in the bay near the docks in Woods Hole. As your ship pulls in or out, you can see the family chilling in the nest.
We caught this swan swimming forward to greet us in a different marsh along the trail. I think he’s saying, “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille” in this shot
This display is always fun to see along the trail. I think it’s neat that the people who live next to the trail here have such a fun and creative bent with all these nostalgic items.
This whole rail trail is wonderful to travel, and we usually take the ferry from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard to walk around there and enjoy the beautiful houses, especially the Victorian camp cottages. Sorry, no pictures. I feel intrusive taking those shots. What a great – and exhausting way to spend the day!