After a quiet few weeks, 2012 drew to a close on a positive note. On December 28, an otherwise uneventful spin through Hammonasset on my way to exchange a Christmas gift, proved productive when I spotted a male Long-tailed Duck in the salt ponds near the Nature Center. After taking a few record shots, I sat down near the edge of the pond and waited to see if the duck would get any closer. The duck took flight when the gulls and Black Ducks it was among flew off, but returned to the same pool. It was actively diving and feeding in the shallow pond, and gradually worked its way from the center to the eastern edge of the pond where I was sitting. I ended up spending several hours there, as the bird worked its way back and forth, coming very close to me, and a few others who stopped to take pictures, several times. My favorite pictures came when it stopped feeding and started preening, lifting its namesake tail out of the water.
On the 30th, I walked several areas through the day old snow, looking for a wintry picture, but nothing really struck me. The last day of the year, I took my favorite early morning loop from Niantic through Lyme and Old Lyme. Pretty quiet, again, until I stopped along the Connecticut River in Old Lyme where a pair of Bald Eagles were sharing a fish at the edge of the ice. It looked like some kind of courtship ritual. A nice way to head into a Big Year.