pair of Common Scoters
..........so came a few flocks of Common Eiders………
……..and a few Harlequin ducks.
The Owl was firmly perched on the thin edge of the fletching on the arrow of weathervane now tarnished green from age and patina. The arrow was pointing south, perhaps an ironic symbol of the Snowy Owls sporadic winter irruption to
The Owl must have just flown in, most likely seeking refuge from being chased by the Crows. (Ironically again-It was reported later that a Snowy Owl was seen at 6:30 am perched atop the
As Jen and I watched this beautiful Owl now bathed in the warm ambient post dawn colors, we shared this glorious sighting with many “morning walkers” whose curiosity naturally got the best of them. Wondering why at 7:00 am on a Sunday morning I was taking pictures of the top of the Lighthouse and why Jen was excitedly commenting about the top of the Lighthouse while looking through our scope would prompt a bit of curiosity! With a big smile on my face, I just pointed to the top of the cupola and asked them if they had ever seen a Snowy Owl? No one ever had, and offered our scope to all of them, and they were thrilled! This was the first Snowy Owl that they had ever seen, and they really enjoyed seeing the bird, and like me especially appreciated the bird perched atop the Lighthouse cupola shown here in these digi-scoped images.
After a half an hour, the Owl began to relax. It regained a healthy stature tucking its wings up naturally and effortlessly, its posture strong, and its eyes relaxed and aware!
Jen and I watched the bird for another half hour, and then decided to leave, continuing onward to
I took a couple of shots, and my camera quit…..what a time for that to happen! I didn’t realize that I had taken so many images that morning, my flash card was full. Just as changed the card, the bird took off from the post. I managed to turn my camera on just in time as the Owl flew across the yard heading for the small restroom buildings…….
…….and landed on top of one of them!
I walked back around the Point to my truck which was parked “ironically” along the split rail fence nearby to the small buildings. I hoped that the Owl would still be there when I got back and also that Jen saw the Owl. When I reached my truck, Jen was watching the Owl and had seen it fly in and commented to me how large that bird really was! I took a few more pictures of this breathtaking Owl, and then we said our good-byes. The Owl looked quite peaceful on the peak of the roof with its eyes closed possibly enjoying a brief nap.
What was my profound moment of realization? - (A few years ago, I wanted to do a painting of a Snowy Owl, and made many thumbnail sketches, but I couldn’t decide on a theme. I pictured the Owl in many subject/habitat compositions, finally envisioning the Owl perched on a railing of a Lighthouse being my favorite. After many attempts, I shelved the painting; I just couldn’t grasp the design. Funny how fate can run full circle and often in reverse. This is one of those creative times for an artist when inspiration follows a concept, rather than the other way around),
When I was back at my truck, a very pleasant man approached me and asked me what the bird was. I told him, and a big smile came across his face. We introduced ourselves, and he began to tell me a wonderful story of his father Carl a lighthouse keeper who was stationed at Beavertail. His name was Richard Chellis , and better yet, he was born in the Lighthouse and he still lives nearby and takes his morning walk around the Park. Mr. Chellis is a wonderful story teller and he fascinated Jen and me with his story of his childhood living in the Lighthouse. He is also a docent of the
As we were leaving the Park, we decided to drive around again, to take a few more peeks at the Owl; who knows when we would have this wonderful opportunity again! As we drove back into the entrance road, we saw the Owl, unfortunately this time it was being chased again by the Crows. It flew across the West Passage heading for the shores of Narragansett in the area of the “clumps”. We lost sight of it, but reflected on this great experience!
When we reached the exit to
On our way to the Cape, we made a few other stops in
Along the causeway entrance to the entrance of Sachuest Point NWR were the usual Common and Red-throated Loons and small flock of Buffleheads which because of the high tide were just a few yards off shore.
Other than a few Surf Scoters off
With only an hour and a half remaining in the day and since our initial plans had changed, we decided to stay in
The bird was indeed the Harlequin Duck; a first year drake. It was keeping company with a pair of Mallards, and all three were swimming out and away from the jetty by the time I arrived. The three birds swam towards the beach and then mingled with a few Gulls (no Black-headed) and a small flock of Brant. I asked a birder that was there if they had seen the Black-headed Gull and he told me that they hadn’t seen it yet, in fact that is why they were there. I took a few pictures of the distant Harlequin duck.
After taking a few images, again my camera shut down! I know that it was a fresh card in my camera having changed it at Beavertail; it must have been the battery. The flashing battery icon appeared in my camera so I started back to the truck to replace the battery. Jen and I had planned to stay at this beach until sundown hoping that the bird would return to the small outpouring to spend the night.
I was standing in the opened back door of the truck in the process of changing the battery, when Jen said to me, there is a smaller Gull flying around the Beach where I was just standing. My first thought was “you’re kidding me” as I turned around to look at the Gull. I recognized its silhouette; it was the Black-headed Gull! It was now leaving the beach and flying west. I closed the battery door of my camera, turned it on, and managed only one distant shot as the bird was leaving heading towards the Kennedy Compound where I lost sight of it! Note to self: keep a spare battery in my pocket instead of in my camera bag!!
Figuring that the Gull might be going to the Osterville beaches; Craigville or Dowses, Jen and I decide to see if we could find it. Since the sun was going down, and we still had a little bit of time, we started for
In the spirit of the day’s events with this Gull, we decided to leave and head back to
We were happy with this sighting, although not the best views, we both had good looks at the bird. Since we going to pass by Keyes Beach on the way back to the Hotel, we would stop and watch the sun go down at Keyes Beach…..and besides, maybe the Gull would be there waiting for us! The Gull wasn’t there, but the Harlequin returned while we were standing there, coming with fifteen yards of us.
As we were watching the sun go down, small flocks of Brant flew in to the beach silhouetted against the gorgeous yellows and oranges of the setting sun similar to the way our day began at Beavertail with Scoters!
The Harlequin eventually meandered around the jetty and swam towards the other jetty farther down the beach to the west. The afternoon worked out good actually. We finally saw the Black-headed Gull and had the Harlequin as well. A great end to an “almost” perfect day, less one new wheel bearing!
Sunday morning, November 27- For Jen and I there is no better location on the Cape to start a day winter birding than MacMillans Pier in
Rather than writing a complete report, I wanted to show this day with images and the highlights:
We arrived in Provincetown, just as the sun announced the new day, but first, we stopped to admire Provincetown’s Christmas Tree…….something we look forward to every year! The concept is perfect…..what could be better in a fishing town than a Christmas Tree made from Lobster Traps?! :^)
Dawn over the Harbor…….
Red-necked Grebes. The bird in the lower image is "foot waggling" a common activity with Grebes and Loons.
two hen White-winged Scoters
The first Razorbills of the morning appear.......
Red-necked Grebe with two Razorbills
a few digi-scoped shots
A hen Harlequin Duck flys by.....
The bird dove and as we were looking for it, it “popped-up” right in the decoys below us. Before Jen and I realized what had happened the Murre slowly swam away from the decoys and I managed two quick shots. Bill seemed amused by it!
Four of the Alcid decoys I carved and were used: (top to bottom)- Dovekie, Thick-billed Murre, Razorbill and Common Murre. These decoys were carved and painted in the style of , and influenced by Elmer Crowell (see Gannet decoy below).
I decided it might be a good time to drive over to
The light fog paints an eerie portrait depicting the reality of life on the sea. Eva Silva one of the women of
Saying our good-byes to
…fishing around them…….
……and just flying around.
There were two first year Gannets fishing in the inner Harbor very close to the boat ramp.
This carved Gannet “mantle carving” is from Jen’s collection. I wanted to photograph it at
In the harbor were also both Common and Red-throated Loons and Double-crested Cormorants.
As we left the
The weekend started with a Snowy Owl at Beavertail Point, ended with a Snow Goose in
Here are the highlights from the trip: