Icy but Beautiful

At the (then) thermal nadir of the season sixteen thermally challenged troopers (as it turned out), attracted as moths to light to the instructive birding of Eric Hynes, joined him January 15 after navigating to The Nubble through Arctic smoke and sea fog at subzero temperatures. We flapped arms and rolled up collars while checking out the usual marine suspects around the light for a while, before Eric began to institute his program for keeping us thawed.

Such a benign beginning: we thought his plan stopped at wind-breaks and automobile heaters with quick stops at sheltered feeders just inside The Nubble and an exposed but brief gull-check on Long Sands Beach. Thence to the beach at Stage Neck and its slightly broken-in walk through 10 inches of snow. Eric charged up the hill (less broken in) where only one of us fell into the snow, and we did, after all, see a robin.

That was warmup for the walk around the point at Seapoint Beach (where another of us fell) and a final tour through the same kind of paths at Fort Foster. In all, we saw 40 species (under-reported by Eric as 39 on the listserve, because during a pit stop after Seapoint Beach he missed the pair of mallards inside Gerrish Island).

The high points have to have been the White-winged crossbills performing at the feeders at 94 Nubble Road and four or five American Pipits at Seapoint Beach, as well as the immature Cooper’s Hawk, first spotted by Marie Jordan in a window of an old house on an island in Portsmouth Harbor and patiently confirmed by several views thereafter. A rewarding day with a week’s worth of exercise to keep us warm while looking at birds in the glorious surroundings of a glistening bright day on Maine’s southern coast.

The species list:

  1. Harlequin Duck
  2. Common Eider
  3. White-winged Scoter
  4. Black Scoter
  5. Long- tailed Duck
  6. Surf Scoter
  7. Bufflehead
  8. American Black Duck
  9. Red-breasted Merganser
  10. Common Goldeneye
  11. Horned Grebe
  12. Red-necked Grebe
  13. Common Loon
  14. Great Cormorant
  15. Herring Gull
  16. Great Black-backed Gull
  17. Black Guillemot
  18. Purple Sandpiper
  19. Song Sparrow
  20. White-winged Crosbills (9)
  21. Carolina Wren
  22. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  23. Black-capped Chickadee
  24. House Finch
  25. Ring-billed Gull
  26. Cedar Waxwing
  27. American Robin
  28. Northern Mockingbird
  29. Northern Cardinal
  30. House Sparrow
  31. American Pipit
  32. European Starling
  33. Blue Jay
  34. American Crow
  35. Mallard
  36. Cooper’s Hawk (imm)
  37. Brown Creeper
  38. Rock Pigeon
  39. Mourning Dove
  40. American Goldfinch

About Harlequin

Harlequin is a pseudonym for content not attributed to a specific author. It echoes the name of the YCAS newsletter, The Harlequin. Watch for Harlequin Ducks along the rocky portions of the York County coast in winter. ¶ The avatar is by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, who sketched and painted the species during the Harriman Alaska Expedition. ¶ "When we got before the glacier, I saw my first pair of harlequins... the glass showed them plainly to be a ♂ + ♀ histrionicus." — L.A. Fuertes, June 7, 1899
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