WEEK 1 - LOONS, LESSONS AND ...

January 08, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

So the New Years Day sprint has shifted to a marathon, and the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. Carolina Wrens (2), and WB Nuthatches arrived on cue at my feeders early the next morning and Red-tailed Hawks have been omnipresent after their one day absence.  In Lyme, a drumming Pileated Woodpecker stayed out of view long enough that it would have to wait for another day and Pine Grosbeaks in were reported in Simsbury one day after I had been there for a job. So far I have not gone back, hoping they stick around a while so I have another reason to get up there.

I stopped at Hole-in-the-Wall beach in Niantic on my way home one afternoon, and grabbed my binoculars for a quick check of the bay. As I scanned the flat water, a Razorbill surfaced a few feet from the breakwater, right in front of me. Of course, I left my camera in the car! It dove and resurfaced again close by, so the next dive I raced back to my car to grab my gear. Returning, I checked to see if anything was on the surface, sprinted toward the breakwater and froze, crouched behind the rocks. This technique has drawn some odd looks from beach walkers, but it's a good way to approach diving waterfowl. I try to time the length of the dive, run closer and freeze behind a rock or in a low position before they resurface. I waited for the Razorbill ... nothing. I turned around, to the west and saw that the bird had moved all the way down the beach and out toward McCook's Point. I sat there depressed, watching the Razorbill move farther away with each dive, knowing I had broken a cardinal rule. Always be prepared, if you are looking for something without a camera, without a card in the camera, or in any state of unreadiness, that's when you'll find it.

I turned back around and noticed a Common Loon working its way along the rocky shore towards me. After a few minutes, it surfaced right in front of me, right were the Razorbill had been, and posed calmly for a few pictures. A small consolation.

As the loon moved past, I turned back toward the Razorbill and saw that it was still by the point. Buoyed by the loon, I decided to walk out there and see if I could at least get a few record shots. I reached the bluff, overlooking the spot I last saw the bird, but it had moved out, away from the rocks. I took a few distant backlit shots and scanned the bay with my bins, spotting another Razorbill out by Wigwam Rock. I decided to walk down to McCook's Beach, to the west and see if the closer bird would swim by. After working my way to the rocks at the end of the beach, I saw it surface close to shore, through a notch in the rocks. Another dive and it appeared before me ....

 before raising it's wings and taking flight under the water, again,

... then continued west toward Crescent Beach.

 

A few days later, more Razorbills, this time three at Stonington Point in the late afternoon.  Also present there were four Common Eider, a male, two females and an immature. Farther out, near Sandy Point, was a flock of Surf Scoters and two Long-tailed Ducks that appeared to be in CT waters, but close to the RI line.

Then on to Barn Island as the sun went down, but time enough to see two Great Egrets along with several Great Blue Herons. As I drove home in the twilight, I saw a bird fly from the edge of a field into a tree and jerked my car off the road. It was Long-eared Owl, one of my favorite birds, awakened and preparing for the evening hunt. I took a few high ISO shots from my car and watched as it scanned the field before gliding off on a low flight. Even though the picture is not great, I felt lucky, not only to see one (it's been a few years since I have), but to see it active and on the prowl was a first for me

Current total - 80.


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