I repeated last year's New Year's Day outing today by heading up to Gloucester and Rockport in search of Harlequin Ducks.
It was in the mid 20s, and I didn't think it would be too bad out there, but the wind picked up and the chill picked up, and it felt pretty darn cold as the day went on. I must say that I love my flannel-lined pants, though, and my legs have not been cold on hikes since I got them. Really the only problem I had today was cold hands, teary eyes and a runny nose.
My first stop was at the public beach in Rockport, where a family with two young children was feeding the ducks. There were a lot of mallards there and some gulls mixed in, fighting over the handouts. Look at all those shiny green heads!
My next stop was at the Old Granite Pier in Rockport.
Red-Breasted Merganser (female)
My next stop was the public footpath at what I think is called Andrew's Point. There were Harlequin Duck flocks visible in the distance both to the left and right of where I parked. Ice from water flowing down the rocky shore blocked my path eventually to the left, without getting close enough for photos. I headed back and the ducks that had been off to the right had moved closer, so with a little climbing I was able to get them in sight. I also saw a good-sized flock of shorebirds flying in unison down the right shore, but was unable to identify them because of the distance.
Next I returned to downtown Rockport and took my obligatory photos of Motif #1, walked out to the end of Bearskin Neck and then stopped at the Red Skiff for clam chowder and a fried Haddock sandwich to warm up.
Every bird counts in the new year, even the homely Rock Pigeon.
After lunch, I walked very briefly at Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, which is very popular with dog walkers in the winter. A large flock of Canada Geese and many gulls were present. There were some shorebirds too, but it was too wet to get to where they were and I was not quite as motivated as earlier in the day.
Good Harbor Beach
I planned one more stop, if it wasn't closed, and that was at Eastern Point Wildlife Sanctuary. On the road in, I came upon this Wild Turkey literally pecking a passing car. I think they were afraid of running it over, and I ended up squeezing past them since they didn't seem to be able to drive around the turkey. (When I drove by, the turkey was on the other side of the car.)
teeny tiny Boston from Eastern Point
Eastern Point Lighthouse
I don't know if you've ever walked on a breakwall before, but it's not that easy. The granite is uneven and it has gaps between the blocks. You really have to watch where you are putting your feet. If you make a mistake, it's a long way down!
Not a bad start to the new birding year!