I was toying with using for the subject line something like "Duckage
Delight". It sure was delightful in that regard, as was the weather. Being
not a good enough birder to get out there in the cold and wind, today was
finally the one for me to go to Jones Inlet and try for much needed King
The first stop, though, was Point Lookout. Coming out from the parking lot
at what is now the middle jetty (of 5), there was a large raft of ducks.
It's the ocean, so eiders, right? No. Scoters? No. They were Scaup. It's
open salt water, then, so they're Greater Scaup, right? No. They were nearly
all Lesser Scaup. From the inlet to the fourth jetty, something in the
neighborhood of 1500. Also, a number of Bufflehead and even a Common
Goldeneye rounded out the strange group of ocean birds. Of course, this is
due to the extended cold spell freezing them out of where they were. But
still a strange sight. Other ducks at Point Lookout were Common Eider, Surf
Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, and Red-breasted Merganser. And then there's that
one that you go to Point Lookout for - Harlequin Duck. There are 7 of them
continuing, today ranging from the inlet jetty to the second jetty. Also, 2
Bonaparte's Gulls were between the third and fourth jetties. For the younger
birders, Jones Inlet used to host hundreds in the winter. Now - something
that needs to reported?
At Jones Beach, the first stop was the boat basin to look for photo ops on
the calm water. Nothing doing there, as ice kept things out of range. I was
told of the near adult male King Eider being seen yesterday along the
channel heading to the fisherman's parking lot. Not there today, though.
Nothing but a few mergansers close in. But looking out toward the Loop
Parkway bridge, there was a huge raft of ducks. More scaup, maybe up to
4000. These were too far out for me to positively identify, but everything
that I saw today suggests mainly Lesser.
So at this point, the long walk to the West End jetty was a necessity. And
it was well worth it. I went out to the end of the jetty and sat down to be
as inconspicuous as possible. And then the ducks started coming in. it
didn't take long until the young male King Eider was in sight. Then the near
adult. Then two females. 4 King Eiders among the dozens of Common Eiders.
Also present were a smattering of Surf, Black, and White-winged Scoters. And
of course, more of that prototypical sea duck - Lesser Scaup. And while I
didn't realize it at the time, my pictures revealed a few Greater Scaup
here, as well. Throw in a couple of Black Ducks that dropped in, Long-tails
flying by, and some Buffleheads keeping to themselves on the east side of
the jetty, quite an assemblage of duckage.
Another highlight was a Red-necked Grebe that swam in toward the jetty from
the east, providing a few nice pictures. I think that at this point, my
camera said to me "this is fun". And should I mention the cooperative Purple
For now, I've posted just one picture of the older male King Eider. It can
be seen at http://stevewalternature.com/
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