Sunday, January 13, 2013

Coastal field trip

This morning, my New Year's resolution of "live more, sleep less" was severely tested as my little duck-quack alarm went off at 7:30, but I knew I had potential lifers to see! Birders have reported a King Eider, Harlequin Ducks, Lapland Longspurs, Purple Sandpipers and more down at various South Portland locations like Dyer Point on Cape Elizabeth and the Cape Elizabeth Middle School. We went to Dyer Point once before before with Baby G and got Great Cormorant and Northern Gannet back in October.

So I pulled myself out of bed and checked my camera (battery charged, memory card in!), packed my bins, grabbed a little notepad, layered on the wool sweater and coat, and off I went. Part-way there, I noticed the Birding 'Baru was almost on EMPTY; no problem, I thought; I'll gas up somewhere in Portland....

So I'm on Beach Road, headed down the cape, and I see a gas station so I pull over.




I was able to scrounge around in my car and come up with about two bucks; this would have to take me the rest of the way down the point and all the way back to Brunswick. Ay carramba.

Long story short: only one stop was in the cards for me, Dyer Point. I'd have to try for the LALOs another time. I didn't want to get stranded too far from home and make AB drive all the way to SoPo to rescue me; I figured I could make it to Brunswick and have her meet me at the Cumby Farms for gasoline.

So -- sigh -- it's always something.

Still -- birds were seen!

Harlequin Ducks, Lifer #372!!!! They have to be one of the cutest ducks out there; they stayed close together in a little raft, and when one would dive, the rest would go under like synchronized swimmers. Then, when one would pop up, the rest would pop up right after, in rapid succession. It was the coolest thing; I stayed and watched them for a couple of hours, especially because all the eiders turned out to be Commons, no King. Darnit.

One crazy bird out there: an American Pipit! One of the other birders got great photos; I only caught a glance of him. Hadn't seen one of those since my first trip to the Rio Grande Valley! Remember?

The Common Eiders were in high breeding plumage, though -- impressive with their lime-green on the backs of their heads and their pinkish breasts.
I didn't get great photos of them; I was too pumped about the Harlequins.

So I hung around, checking every eider for the big orange nose, but no go. After two and a half hours, I figured I'd better start my precarious gas-shy journey back home.


Rabbits' Guy said...

Gut wrenching drive but the Harlequins are worht it!

dguzman said...


Dan L. said...

What a great post and very cool photos of the Harlequin Ducks. I've yet to add this species to my life list, but it's nice to see you were able to find them in New England.

Happy birding,
Dan Levenson

dAwN said...

Ha ha! Well at least you got out there..and a lifer to boot! Great resolution!

dguzman said...

Dan -- welcome to the bloggy! I can't wait to check out your blog.

Dawn--Considering the bad weather and fog, that was the best photo I got. But it was awesome. They're great little ducks!

Larry said...

Congratulations on number 372! That's quite a list. You've been busy since starting this blog!