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.
Two days before Christmas, the temperatures soared to the high forties, almost fifties, in Massachusetts, and the sun came out. So, Yang and I hopped in the car, determined to take advantage of the improved weather to go a-strolling in Boston. We parked in the the South End and headed for Beacon Hill. Along the way, we discovered a new street with some wonderful old buildings.
They weren’t Brownstones but brick and wood. Lovely, at least on the outside, rows of attached buildings. We were particularly taken by the carved heads that adorned the outside walls. Several of the house on the opposite side of the street had a woman’s head over the lintel. Well, not an ACTUAL woman’s head. Only a carved one. These houses, on our side of the street had the carved heads of an Elizabethan, even Shakespearean guy and an eighteenth-century head. Voltaire?
We had a lovely walk through the Beacon Hill section where we enjoyed the beautiful holiday decorations of greenery in the bleak (well, not so bleak today) mid-winter. Yang took a picture of this courtyard, done up nicely. It is also notable because, in the past, it was decorated as a Halloween extravaganza for Beacon Hill’s celebration of that holiday. Dinner was at Tatte, on Charles Street. I love walking down Charles Street in the holidays, with it’s neat shops and cafes, all decorated in greenery and old-fashioned Christmas imagery.
Lastly, as the sun had just set, we crossed the Boston Common to get to the Downtown Crossing and take a subway back to our car. Yang took some wonderful pictures of the skyscrapers and Christmas lights in the trees glowing against the falling night and the fading sun.
So long, after four hours of walking – ouch those knees! It’s home to a heating pad and Bengay for me – but it was well worth it!