When I stepped out this morning, the weatherman had gotten it right again. There was a strong West wind with temps in the 40s,and I realized Thomas Point would be in the lee, so I went there after checking out a spot along Thomas Point Road where some Canvasbacks were resting. I managed a few good shots at the point, then headed to the grocery store for all the stuff I forgot yesterday. Afterward, I made a stop at Quiet Waters, where the West wind was working against me.
These Canvasbacks flew overhead near Thomas Point.
I’ve often overlooked the Bufflehead hen, who’s not as striking as her mate.
This Common Goldeneye stayed unusually close to shore.
There always seems to be a few Lesser Scaup around.
Here’s a good luck at a Long Tailed Duck.
This Common Goldeneye is a hen, and I haven’t seen many.
The early morning looked quite unpromising:gray, cloudy and threatening rain. I managed a few chores, and when I looked again it was much more promising, so I headed out to Thomas Point. I found a couple of interesting ducks, but the waves were high and birds were scarce, so I headed over to quiet Waters, where I found a flock of Red Breasted Mergansers and a few small birds.
The lighting could be better, but this Lesser Scaup shows up well.
I saw these Hooded Mergansers from a distance, and they flew away when I tried to get closer.
The White Breasted Nuthatch is a noisy bird, so I heard this little guy long before he landed right above my head.
I was excited to find a flock of Red Breasted Mergansers in a cove, and I followed them for quite a while. It was interesting to see them travel with their heads underwater as they searched for food.They appeared to be catching small fish.
Well, I couldn’t ask for better weather, but you have to wonder about sunny and 60 degrees at the end of January.
I started the day at Jonas Green Park, which was sparsely populated, then headed to Greenbury Point, where I found a few ducks and a distant Bald Eagle. On the way home, I stopped in to see Theresa Dearborn, on Thomas Point Road, who had showed me some old photos of ducks gathered around Thomas Point 40 years ago (Approx.), and she graciously allowed me to scan them and post them here.
Mrs. Dearborn took these images about 40 years ago, when the gathering of waterfowl was much greater than it is today.
This is a Lesser Scaup, and I confess the lighting intrigued me more than the bird.
This mixed group of Scaup and Buffleheads seemed to be enjoying the weather.
Follow the leader?
My books suggest that Long Tailed Ducks seldom mix with other birds.
A lot of Bluebirds were around, in small flocks.
The Black Duck is about as plain as a duck can get.
I often find Ruddy Ducks at the Possum Point marina.
It’s not hard to find a Canada Goose at this time of year.
I’ve often seen Osprey perched in these tall towers, but this Bald Eagle is a first.
This Downy Woodpecker flew into the scene when I was looking at the Bluebirds.
The day looked very promising, with a bright sky and temps in the high 30s when I traveled to Thomas Point.
The Mergansers were still hanging out, along with Scaups and Buflleheads. After an hour or so, I decided to head for Quiet Waters, when I noticed a flock of Swans and Canvasbacks behind a private residence on Thomas Point Road. I saw a guy getting his paper, and he was kind enough to give me permission to use his back yard for a few minutes to get some photos, and it wwent well.
Thank you, John and Theresa!
Cornell: “Along with Wood Ducks and other cavity-nesting ducks, Hooded Mergansers often lay their eggs in other females’ nests. This is called “brood parasitism” and is similar to the practice of Brown-headed Cowbirds, except that the ducks only lay eggs in nests of their own species. Female Hooded Mergansers can lay up to about 13 eggs in a clutch, but nests have been found with up to 44 eggs in them.
The ducks at Thomas Point move with the current, and they often fly short distances, presumably to return to the best feeding spot, like this Bufflehead.
The resident Cardinal is still seeking to do battle with his rival in my mirror.
There’s almost always a Lesser Scaup hen close to shore.
I observed this Long Tailed Duck and his mate for several minutes, and I was struck by the fact that they seemed to dive in near unison.
The drake is tipping up prior to diving, and you can see the swirl behind him where the hen just dove.
The Tundra Swan is all grace and beauty.
This Canvasback hen was hanging out with a mixed flock of waterfowl.
I was lucky to notice this Horned Grebe at the edge of the flock.
The weatherman kept changing his mind, so I was surprised to see a shining Sun and decent temps this morning. I headed back to Thomas Point, with plans for a longer day, but I had to cut it short for domestic chores.
I still call myself a novice at this birding and photography business, but I’m starting to learn what a difference decent light makes.
In the past, I’ve seem Hooded Mergansers in pairs or singly, so it’s a treat to see small flocks.
The male Hooded Merganser is much more striking, but the female has her own beauty.
Better light would have helped, but these Lesser Scaup still look pretty good.
This Long Tailed Duck was foraging in the shallows, and I nearly walked right by her.
It was 18 degrees when I looked out the door this morning, but there was no wind and the Sun was shining, so I decided to give it a try.
The icy roads slowed me a bit, but it was worth the trip, as there was a small flock of Hooded Mergansers near the point, and several other ducks foraging in the damn cold water. It’s amazing to see these little guys slip under the surface, remain there for a minute or so, then re-emerge, just as dry as when they submerged. Mother Nature knows a trick or two.
I then headed to Quiet Waters, which wasn’t as productive, but I got a couple of pictures.
Everyone loves the look of a Hooded Merganser.
I’m not sure if I startled these Lesser Scaup or they just took off on their own.
It’s not unusual to see large ships at anchor right off the point.
This pair of Hooded Mergansers was at Quiet Waters.
This (Hen) Long Tailed Duck stayed close to shore.
I often see gulls, like this Herring Gull mixed in with the ducks.
The drake didn’t come in very close, but you can see how the Long Tailed Duck got his name.
There were a few Common Goldeneyes mixed in with the other birds.
This is the third time I’ve photographed this Cardinal inspecting my mirror.
A favorite local spot. Take rte 648 n after crossing the USNA bridge, keep right at the intersection with Greenbury Point road and 648 N. Go past the golf course and the brigade sports complex and you’ll see the Nature Center on the right. Park there, or take the 45 degree left to get to Possum Point. Access seems to be unrestricted except for fishing, and licenses are occasionally checked. You may run into a USNA security officer, and they are usually quite polite. I usually start at Possum Point, where ospreys, cormorants and gulls are abundant in the Spring and Summer. Since this was written Possum Point has been closed, and I don’t know why. Edit: It’s now open again. 11/15/17. You can still access the boat ramp area.There are several Osprey nesting platforms close to shore. Warblers, orioles, waxwings, hawks can be found as well. Check the boat ramp area for herons, kingfishers and ducks. There is a tree farm at the beginning of the right hand (East) path that is very productive of passerines, especially bluebirds, warblers, kinglets and vireos in season. Tower cable road and Helix road are productive as well. There are two paths behind the Nature Center as well, and they are worth exploring. Look for deer and foxes any place you go. Summer months call for insect repellent.
Looking North from Possum Point.
Sunrise at Possum Point.
Bay Bridge viewed from Possum Point.
This nest is at Possum Point.
When you see the staked trees, you know you’re in the tree farm. Deer often graze here, especially in the morning.
You’ll find several similar signs posted near the trails.
Temps were in the 20’s once again this morning, but the wind was low to none-existent. I went early to Thomas Point, where very few ducks were in close, then set out to Quiet Waters, which was somewhat better. I’d like to find a larger congregation of waterbirds, but I’ll settle for what’s close to home until it’s warmer.
This small flock of Buffleheads was feeding right off the point.
This Cardinal can’t seem to resist the mirror on my truck.
Lesser Scaup are much less fearful of the camera than other ducks.
Red Breasted Mergansers are still present at Quiet Waters, but they remain far from shore.
The Red Bellied Woodpecker announces his presence loudly.
This Bluebird was drinking at the edge of the cove.
The sky was cloudy with fog at dawn, but it was rapidly clearing by 8:00, and I went to Thomas Point to see if the ducks had returned in any numbers. They hadn’t. A couple of Swans flew over, and a few Scaup and Bufflehead were rafted, but it didn’t look promising.
I went to nearby Quiet Waters and did much better.
Tundra Swans are large, beautiful birds.
It’s fun to try catching these ducks in flight.
I saw this Red Breasted Merganser at a distance, and when I walked up for a closer shot, he had disappeared.
This Bufflehead hen was travelling with her mate and a raft of Lesser Scaup.
A large flock of Robins was foraging on the water’s edge.
I’ve been taking a regular route through the woods at Quiet Waters in order to see more ducks. I saw this Hooded Merganser and his mates at a distance, and was able to get closer by walking an extra quarter mile.
Takeoff is best described as, “Explosive.”
When these Hooded Mergansers weren’t actively feeding, they were grooming.
This Great Blue Heron flew into the scene as I was photographing the Mergansers.
Many years ago I used to fish at the Kent Narrows pier, but this is the first time I’ve been specifically for birding. In truth, there weren’t many birds, but the place has possibilities and I’ll go back before the Winter’s over.
This Long Tailed Duck and his mate were at the fishermen’s pier.
The current in the Narrows is quite fast. and the ducks would often fly short distances to re-position themselves.
Several Double Crested Cormorants flew over.
This Black Backed Seagull was just hanging out.
Several American Coots were feeding near the pilings.