Thursday, January 2, 2014

Afternoon Birding and Photography at Gooseberry, Westport Massachusetts

Pair of Surf Scoters
After I had finished the beach ramble at Allens Pond, Bob Gagnon and myself went to Gooseberry hopefully to photograph the snowy owl but also any other subject that we could find. The causeway gate to Gooseberry was closed. We were not sure if this was because of the holiday and no one from the state came to open it or was it closed in preparation for the upcoming storm. Bob and I got out our cameras and slowly walked up the causeway where in the waters on the east side of the causeway there were a number of ducks present, Common Eiders, Buffleheads and and a pair of Surf Scoters. The Surf Scoters were close enough to give us a great look at their markings, especially the beautiful face and bill of the male surf scoter and the big white patch on back of its head. There are also a number of Common Loons swimming along with a Horned Grebe. We also met a number of photographers and birders who had been searching the island for the snowy owls and did not find them.
Horned Grebe

The tide was extremely low due to the new moon. This allowed us to walk out to areas that were normally under the water and photographs some of the seaweed and shells that were just waiting for the tide to return. There were some interesting abstracts in the sand due to the runoff of the water and a number of the boulders had sea ice on top of them. Flocks of shorebirds wheeling around and flying back and forth. I checked the skies looking for a raptor that may put them up but did not see any.
Sand Abstract
Rockweed attached to rock awaiting the return of the ocean

Slipper Shells

Sand pool with seaweed and crustatceans


Speaking of raptors, a Cooper's Hawk came down the middle of the island and flew toward the mainland. Right around sunset, a Northern Harrier came back from the mainland and flew down to the tip of the island where it was foraging for food. I had met another gentleman who was looking for and hoping for owls and we watched till after sunset hoping that a short-eared owl or snowy owl would appear flying around looking for food. Again no luck.
Cooper's Hawk
The clouds and sunset were interesting and the waves is starting to pick up on the west side of the island probably from the approaching storm.
SUn Hidden behind clouds with Phragmites blowing in the wind

Although we struck out on owls, any day out in our natural world around us photographing and observing is better than a day at work.

By the way, these pictures are some that people should obtained if they join me on January 12 for the workshop photographing Gooseberry and Allens Pond. You can sign up at http://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/program-catalog#program:sanctuary=25:program_code=30995