Monday, November 21, 2011

Waterfowl on Plum Island

My trip to Plum Island last Saturday was somewhat marred by a cold wind, sweeping down the beach and swirling up clouds of fine sand, which kept me from walking to Sandy Point, or anywhere else on the beach. In addition I had arrived at  low tide, as high tide occurred too early for me, around 5 AM, and again 12 hours later in the afternoon.

Sanderlings and Dunlins were down on the beach close to the water's edge too far for my camera and lens to get a good shot. I asked a birder with a scope whether he had seen any Red Knots "No, just Sanderlings and Dunlins'' and pointing to a boat not far off shore:,"some scoters there", but since the men in the boat were hunters, I suspect those ducks scattered about the boat were most likely decoys. 

The sheltered ponds and marshes behind the dunes were fairly calm. 

American Coot 

Green-winged Teal

Northern Pintails

Male Gadwall above, female below

The majority of ducks that I saw were American Wigeons, also call "Baldpate" for obvious reasons, or "Poacher" because, not being strong divers, they pilfer plants and roots dragged up from the bottom by other ducks. They have strong beaks which allows them also to graze on dry land like geese. 

Male Wigeon

Three males and one female Wigeon

Male Wigeon

A pair of male and female Wigeons

American  Wigeon summer and winter distribution  (Birds of North America)

I had a quick lunch in my car while watching two American Crows and a Ring-billed Gull squabble over food.

November days are short and before you know it the afternoon light is waning. Time to drive home. A five hour round trip and $50 in gas, was it worth it? I wished I could have timed my visit for high tide, and maybe a little less wind would have been nice. But I got two lifers that made it worth it: the Wigeon and a Barnacle Goose (see previous post)

Cheers! Good Birding.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Thanks for your visit and come by again!

Please leave a comment.


  1. Beautiful shots!
    Wish I could see those beautiful ducks here.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. What a great variety of waterfowl! Congrats on the two lifers! Love your photos!

  3. Wonderful birds to see... and I love the new look of your blog ..
    Enjoy your Thanksgiving...

  4. An interesting series of birds - even if the tide and the wind were not good. Do the Sanderlings and Dunlins stay all year even in the cold weather? We see Sanderling down here in our summer but not Dunlins.

  5. The ducks are great, there are usually lots of ducks to see this time of year. The Amer. Wigeons are my favorite. Great bird, Happy Birding! I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving.

  6. Love the wigeons Hilke. Judging by the map Michigan does not seem a priority destination for them unfortunately. Thank you for sharing yours!
    50 dollars is a lot of money these days to spend on a outing. I certainly try to get the most bang for my birding buck too. Think though, about those hunters you photographed and imagine the price per pound they're paying for duck meat splattered with bird shot. Maybe 30 to 50 dollars a pound if they reach their limit with all expenses figured in? $25 a piece for two lifers seems like a good deal in comparison!

  7. Hilke, while you were out birding, I was home resting. If you drove 495 you practically drove right past my house! Glad you got the lifers. Hopefully I can make it back there soon! Sorry it was so cold and windy for you! Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. Always worth it to see such great birds.
    Especially with a couple of lifers too. :-)

  9. Thank you all for your kind comments!
    Mick, Sanderlings are late migrants to Central and South America. There are still counts in the 100's along the coast here.
    Springman, I hadn't thought of it that way :-) I remember, when living in Iowa, having to pick bird shot out of pheasants, no fun!
    Kathie, maybe I can pick you up the next time I go, but probably not before spring.
    Happy Thanksgiving!!

  10. Lovely captures of the water birds! Congratulations on the lifers!

  11. I think it is always worth it to capture such birds! Great job and Have a great Thanksgiving!

  12. so many great shots. You must be able to come rather close to them.

  13. That's reality again, those waterfowl are exciting.

  14. Congrats on the lifers Hilke! You saw some great birds even if you had to travel a long distance. Beautiful shots of the Wigeon and the gull waiting for the Crows for a bite to eat is priceless!

  15. Hi Hilke

    That was a nice collection of ducks.

    All the best this Thanksgiving.


  16. The male & female gadwall`s feathers are so striking in their colors,I just want to stare & stare,beautiful birds,I don`t see many shore birds here.Thank-you for sharing,hope you had a happy turkey day,phyllis

  17. That's a long way but I'm glad you got these shots for us. The birds are beautiful! I'd love to such shots in the future!

  18. Hi Hilke~I am trying to catch up after a crazy month. I love walking Sandy point..but not so much in the wind. Looks like you saw a good amount of birds anyway. Take care and Happy Birding!

  19. Thank you for sharing your trip -- it was worth it to me, if that makes you feel any better ;>)...gotta' hate it when the tides don't cooperate. Funny about "poachers" -- I've never heard that before.

  20. Living on a pond, I love the waterfowl and saw my first teals last fall...regarding the hawks in my friend was a rehabber and she taught me that I have to respect that everything needs to I work on that in myself...I try as I lost her last summer...


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