Sunday, December 21, 2014

River Otters!

This morning I showed my husband what a photographer I follow on Facebook had found yesterday during his Christmas Bird Count ~~ river otters!  He had taken several beautiful photographs of them.  I wished we had had something exciting like that on our CBC outing!  My husband asked where the photographer had seen them, and the answer was Pennsylvania.  I assured him that river otters were in Massachusetts, as well, but that I had never seen one.

A few minutes later, I went out to do some checking of my Southboro birding spots.   Sudbury Reservoir Trail along Parkerville Road turned out to be such a fun stop!  First, there was a pair of Hooded Mergansers quite close to shore.  I parked and got out to snap their picture, and they quickly swam off to a safer spot in the middle of the water.  I've always loved this species!

Hooded Merganser (female)

Hooded Merganser (male)

Besides a large flock of Canada geese on the playing fields, I didn't see much else in the way of waterfowl at first glance.  Suddenly, though, I spotted some very drab ducks sitting low on the water.  Four ruddy ducks (one male and three females)!  I had not yet seen one in 2014, so this was a good sighting for me!  I was thrilled to get some nice close looks.  Much of the time they had their heads tucked into their feathers, resting as they floated near shore.

While I was watching the ducks, out of the corner of my eye, I saw some animal movement on top of the ice in the distance.  Whatever it was (and there were two), they were struggling to move across the surface of the ice.  I had to get closer and investigate!

As I moved down the trail, I came across Blue Jays, Song Sparrows, Dark-Eyed Juncos, Northern Cardinals, and White Throated Sparrows.

Blue Jay

Then, I heard a strange noise, and right at the shore, I was thrilled to find the mystery mammals again, a pair of River Otters!  They were breaking through the thin ice with their heads and curiously watching me.  I loved seeing them!  So exciting!  They were cautious and began swimming across the water, diving under the water over and over as they went.


I couldn't believe the irony of finding these critters within an hour of talking to my husband about them!  He couldn't believe it either!

I saw that the Ruddy Ducks had floated closer to the road, so I walked back in that direction to see if I could get some closer photographs.

In breeding season, the male Ruddy Duck's bill turns a beautiful light blue.  I would love to see that some day!


In the afternoon, I drove over to Foss Reservoir on Route 9 to get a closer look at several flocks of ducks I had seen when we drove home from lunch.  There were nearly 40 Hooded Mergansers, 13 Ruddy Ducks, several gulls, and several Canada Geese.  Then I stopped at Lake Chauncy, where I saw a large flock of Common Mergansers with a few gulls mixed in and a couple of Mute Swans.

Hooded Mergansers

Ruddy Ducks

Common Mergansers w/ a few Gulls

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