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 Eider pictures.
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 Sandpipers? For now, I've posted just one picture of the older male King Eider. It can be seen at http://stevewalternature.com/ Steve Walter Bayside, NY -- NYSbirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsWELCOME.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsRULES.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://email@example.com/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/NYSBirds-L 3) http://birding.aba.org/maillist/NY01 Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --