Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Seaducks and Rockpipers

In celebration of the end of another great year at the Avalon Seawatch, here are a few photos from yesterday. Remember, today is the last day of the Seawatch, so get out there and see some great birds (2 Razorbills passed yesterday!).
Some of the big stars of the Jersey jetties right now are the Long-tailed Ducks. These gaudy seaducks can be found in many places along the coast and are actively displaying and calling right along shore, providing great views.

Male Long-tailed Ducks are fantastic! Between the crazy contrasting plumage, vivid eye and bill colors, long tail sprigs, and bizarre "ow---OWuh-ow" calls that they give commonly both on the wintering and breeding grounds, these are truly stunning birds.

Long-tailed Ducks are by no means the only birds displaying along the coast right now. Black Scoters are singing too - listen for an eerie whistled call along the shore, or just look for a goofy-looking scoter in advertising posture.

Purple Sandpipers are also present on rocky jetties on the coast right now (along with Sanderlings, Ruddy Turnstones, and Dunlin) - I had the great opportunity to watch and photograph these high Arctic breeders in great light yesterday at Avalon, and managed to see quite a bit of lovely purple sheen on the scapulars and mantle feathers, something I am only rarely able to appreciate in the field.

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