It has been a cloudy and wet holiday week but we got out on a mostly sunny morning between Christmas and New Year’s Day and were treated to some nice sightings. The morning started off with a Snowy Owl resting on a dune near the beach, just napping and enjoying the sun.
We saw three more raptors before we left the area, two Northern Harriers and a Merlin. One of the Harriers was a “Gray Ghost”, the lighter colored male which is not a common sight.
The Merlin flew across the road in front of us as we were leaving and landed in a tree close to the road. It posed for pictures before flying off.
While in the beach area, we went to a boat launch to see if there were any interesting ducks. There was a Harbor Seal across the creek from the ramp who, like the owl, was enjoying the sun.
There weren’t many ducks on the water but I did get some pictures of a Common Goldeneye that was being pursued by a Herring Gull, something I had never witnessed before. I have seen gulls dive on ducks in the water, chase each other and even an Osprey, but never a duck in flight. This photo is the only one I got that had both birds.
A pirate is always after something and this pirate was after the small fish that the duck had caught.
The Goldeneye is a fast flyer and managed to keep his prize as “Captain Kidd” flew off to raid elsewhere.
We then checked out the ocean from the Parker River refuge where we met several birdwatcher and photographer friends, as well as some families that brought the kids out for some exercise. We hoped to see Razorbills but no luck. There were lots of Red-throated Loons and Long-tailed Ducks though. This photo captured both.
One of the Red-throated Loons moved closer to shore while diving for its lunch.
There was also a Horned Grebe that came in close. Like the loon, it is in non-breeding plumage and isn’t as colorful as it will be in the spring. But the bright red eye stands out.
We chatted with our birdwatching friends as we were leaving. We learned that we had missed the Rough-legged Hawk and Bald Eagle that they spotted earlier in the morning. We now have some targets for our next trip. As if we needed any incentive to do another outing soon!