BEAUTIFUL WILDLIFE CURRENTLY AT EASTERN POINT, BRACE COVE, AND NILES POND – GREAT BLUE HERON, HARBOR SEALS, AMERICAN COOTS, BONAPARTE’S GULLS, RUDDY DUCKS, RING-NECKED DUCKS, LARK SPARROW AND WILL THE RECENTLY DEPARTED SWANS RETURN?

The past week Eastern Point has seen a wonderful influx of wildlife, in addition to the beautiful creatures already wintering over and migrating through.

On Tuesday before Thanksgiving, a great raft of Ring-necked Ducks joined the flock of Buffleheads and Mallards at Niles Pond. Five chunky American Coots have been there for over a week, and two female Ruddy Ducks have been spotted.

American Coot

Fifteen Harbor Seals were sunning and basking on the rocks at Brace Cove on Wednesday, along with several Bonaparte’s Gulls that were diving and foraging in the waves. The increasingly less timid Lark Sparrow is still here, too.

Lark Sparrow

Great Blue Heron agitating the Ring-necked Ducks

The most enigmatic of Great Blue Herons criss crosses the pond a dozen times a day but, unlike last year’s fall migrating GBH, who allowed for a closer glimpse, this heron is super people shy. He has been here for about a week and was present again today.

This morning I watched the four beautiful Mute Swans depart over Brace Rock, in a southerly direction. Will they return? Mute Swans migrate from body of water to body of water within a region. Perhaps they will return, or they could possibly have flown to a nearby location–further exploring our Island.

The four had not returned to Niles Pond by day’s end. If any of our readers sees a group of four Mute Swans, please write and let us know. Thank you so much!

 

Leaving Niles Pond this morning and flying over Brace Cove.

 

CANVASBACK DUCK IN GLOUCESTER!

This first weekend of 2016 was an exciting one for our lovers of all things avian. Niles Pond especially was teeming with beautiful diving ducks, most notably the Canvasback Duck. Several Ring-necked Ducks were spotted as were a trio of the elegantly understated dabbling Gadwalls. American Coots and Buffleheads have been at Niles now for more than a month; the Buffleheads are especially abundant.

Canvasback Duck Niles Pond Gloucester Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2016Too far in the middle of the pond for my wimpy 200mm lens, at least you can see for identification purposes the Canvasback Duck and the Ring-necked Duck

Gadwall Niles Pond Gloucester massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2016Gadwalls 

American Coot Niles Gloucester Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2016American Coot

Mr. Swan Niles Pond ©Kim Smith 2016Mr. Swan!

Ring-necked Duck Gloucester Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2016

Ring-necked Duck and Canvasback Duck

Canvasback Range Map

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Silly Old Coot

When I was a child, my siblings and I oftentimes called one another nonsensical names– “old coot” and “silly old coot” are two insults we frequently relied upon. I am not sure from where we picked up these idioms, but I am positive we did not know a coot is a charming water bird.

As I was leaving Eastern Point Saturday afternoon, I nearly ran over two coots that were in the road adjacent to Niles Pond. There was a crowd of birders positioned along the water’s edge with binoculars and cameras equipped with stupendously enormous telephoto lenses. Quickly parking, I grabbed the video camera, with no time to set-up the tripod. For the most part the birds stayed in the middle of the pond, however several times the coots swam closer to shore, with cover provided by the tall grasses. Coots have a sprightly way of paddling, sort of a bobbing swim, and I thought the jaunty melody of this Beethoven symphony mirrored their movements. Featuring, in order of appearance, Ruddy Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, American Coot, female Ring-necked Duck, and female Mallard.

Total length 2 minutes and 20 seconds.

Reader Judy writes:  Astute birders shoot cute coots scoot – woot!