Monday, February 14, 2011

75 Bohemians

Yesterday we went on a pre-Valentine's Day outing -- first to Seapoint Beach in Kittery, Maine (more on that below), then on to Freeport and our favorite outlet store Patagonia. We don't shop much, but we scoot up there once every few years to catch good deals on Patagonia clothing. It lasts forever and some of it is made from recycled plastic or organic cotton. Before leaving town we had lunch at the Azure Cafe on Main Street - highly recommended.

Anyway, just before we got in our car to head home, I noticed a bunch of birds in a nearby tree. Even with my naked eye I could tell they were waxwings -- with their upright stance, brownish crest, and their high-pitched notes. As I lifted the binoculars I noticed something a bit different. This was a flock of 75 Bohemian waxwings, a somewhat uncommon winter visitor from the north. Bohemians are slightly bigger than the more common cedar waxwings. They also have beautiful rufous undertail coverts (feathers); these feathers are white in cedar waxwings. Both waxwing species have yellow-tipped tail feathers. Bohemians also have a colorful white and yellow edging in their wing feathers.

Today I checked the NH Bird Listserve and perhaps by chance my friend Scott had 54 Bohemian waxwings in his yard on Saturday. He's a fabulous photographer (and naturalist);  see his great photos of these birds on Flickr. While there, also notice Scott's photos of flying squirrels in a bird house. He's got many more great photos of other wildlife on his site -- spend some time there.

As I mentioned, we stopped at Seapoint Beach in Kittery on the way north. I've mentioned before that winter is the best time to visit a beach. Sounds crazy, but there are few people, good parking, and cool birds to view off-shore. Also, the few people that do visit bring their dogs and Kodi has a fabulous time. He ran along the beach with two small dogs. I am certain they were laughing as they chased each other.

Meanwhile, I glanced out into the ocean to look at the sea ducks. The water was a little rough and the birds a bit far off. Nevertheless, we got nice views of a common loon, bufflehead, red-breasted merganser, common eider, black duck, surf scoter, and common goldeneyes. By the time we left no one else was on the beach. That does not happen in summer. I noticed that Tom and Atticus are thinking the same thing -- spending a week on the Outer Cape Cod beach. The coast is cold and stark in winter, but as Tom says, something draws you to it.

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