Tuesday, December 27, 2011


 [This Bald Eagle learned something: don't go cruising offshore in a west wind gale. "Boxing Day," i.e. the day after Christmas, this bird came pumping in over the waves at Stone Harbor, first sighted all of a half mile offshore, and settled (collapsed?) on reaching the beach after flying into the teeth of a December cold front gale. There it stood, being sandblasted, for a good ten minutes before resuming flight inland. Who knows how many miles it got offshore before it thought better of its travels?]

'Tis a reflective time of year, a time to share, to learn, to teach, to be taught. When I started this blog last spring, I somehow imagined I'd share what I've learned of birds and the identification of birds and such, and it seems I've strayed to more of a storyteller. So here are a few learnings, and I'll try to stick to the program in the future. . . sometimes ;>) .

My good friend Tony Leukering left me a message that "the" Great Cormorant still resides at Lake Champlain in the Villas, and dated his message "Boxing Day," which I knew meant the day after Christmas but didn't know that "Boxing Day is traditionally a day following Christmas when wealthy people in the United Kingdom would give a box containing a gift to their servants.Today, Boxing Day is better known as a bank or public holiday that occurs on December 26, or the first or second weekday after Christmas Day, depending on national or regional laws. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and some other Commonwealth nations." (Thanks, Wikipedia.)

Saw a fine young Great Cormorant facing a gale at Townsend's Inlet yesterday, see below.

[Distant, dull light all day today, and yet we can see one of these is a Ring-billed  and the other a Herring Gull. How? Which bird is 'on stilts?' The Herring, on the right. Besides being smaller and more compact and rounded, Ring-billeds have proportionately shorter legs than Herring Gulls. Flick your eyes back and forth between the legs of these two birds, photographed at Two Mile Beach today. Most birders struggle to tell these two apart at a glance. Just have to change your way of looking - skip leg color and bill pattern.]

[Common Loon vs. Red-throated Loon seems tough to new birders (including me), but they are fundamentally different, including in head shape. Common Loons, like this one, almost always look like someone rapped them on the head with a beer bottle, and they've grown a lump on the noggin - I mean forecrown. RTLO shows a smoother head contour. Avalon yesterday]

 [Tail too short for an accipiter, breast too streaked for a Red-tailed. . . Red-shouldered Hawk at the Beanery Christmas Day.]

[Great Cormorant alluded to above, on a piling in Townsend's Inlet Christmas Day. I see more Great Cormorants than Double-cresteds in winter in Cape May.]

[Just 'cause it's pretty, and well-(re)-named - Long-tailed Duck, formerly Oldsquaw, at Avalon yesterday. Burrow into the seawall there, and wait, and good things will come.]


  1. Great shot of the Oldsq...er, Long-tailed Duck. Very few of our California Long-taileds look that snazzy.

  2. I still prefer "oldsquaw". Great bird.

  3. I still prefer "oldsquaw". great bird.