From Shona Aitken at Wolf Hollow…
When someone mentions visitors to the islands, most of us immediately think of crowds of people streaming off the ferries in the middle of summer. But there are also wild creatures that are only here part time. Ospreys, Turkey Vultures, swallows and many hummingbirds and warblers spend the summer here raising their youngsters, then head south in fall. Just when they’re leaving, birds such as loons, grebes and many types of ducks are arriving from their summer breeding grounds further north.
Last week at South Beach, I saw a huge flock of birds out on the water. They were mostly Surf Scoters (black ducks with big, goofy, orange and white beaks) and Horned Grebes (slender birds with long necks and pointed beaks). As I watched, they began to dive for food. One by one they disappeared till there were no birds in sight, then, a few moments later, they all bobbed back to the surface. When something disturbed them, they took off and I heard the whistling of the Scoters’ wings as they flew low across the water.
Winter may be a quieter time for human visitors, but it is a busy time for water birds. In the next few weeks, look and listen for Trumpeter Swans arriving on ponds and lakes, try to spot little black and white Bufflehead ducks, and see how many loons you can count out on the bay.