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Beach Buffleheads

Sunday, February 10, 2013

It's rare to have buffleheads close to the beach. 

I went straight from the cooperative sanderling to a pair of buffleheads. The drake, unbelievably clean-cut in black, white, cobalt violet and viridian. Oh, let me run  my hands over your satin head, please. If I can't do that, I would love to take your picture.

You may. But I would like to have my wife in the next one. I am married, you know. Even though your offer is enticing.

Oh beautiful buffleheads, diving for mussels and clams, picking them off the rocks below, grinding them in your gizzards. Thank you for swimming in close.

They bob like toys on the gentle waves, disappearing from view and bobbing up again, and dive in synchrony.

The waves lap at my boots as I strain to get closer, but they drift out to sea. Time's up.

A drift of ruddy turnstones shuffles onto the rocks. Having kept one for several weeks until it recovered from a bacterial infection, I adore turnstones. 
They're busy, friendly little birds. I used to hide his chicken gizzard bits under large stones. Gave him something to do, I did. He used to put his shoulder to the bigger ones. Oof! and he'd turn them over.

 One stops to preen.

 His orange feet, a study in weight distribution.

We find a live whelk on the beach and decide to leave him until the tide comes back in. He's got water. He might know exactly where he is and wish to stay there. Whelk wishes. Respect them. 

Finally, two purple sandpipers fly in. Our quest bird, speaking strictly for the others. I was perfectly happy with the turnstones, the sanderling and the whelk. And the buffleheads.

But oh, he's beautiful, with a sateen sheen that, if you use your imagination, might have some violet in it.

Back home, Phoebe cuddles Chet

and the snow settles on lawn chairs.

and I miss them, but I am so happy to be on a sunny beach in Georgia. 


I have always wondered why a purple sandpiper is called purple. I guess I'll just have to see one close enough on a sunny day. I didn't realize until recently that there was that beautiful purple sheen on Buffleheads. I guess that is because they are always so far away when I have seen them on the Missouri River in Montana. I am so glad you were able to capture that purple sheen.

Kathy in Delray Beach

Posted by Anonymous February 10, 2013 at 5:04 AM

I love Bufflehead Ducks! I haven't seen them at the beach just some ponds near the house. It's hard to imagine such a small duck in the waves of the ocean.

I think we should have evolved to migrate. Then we could be with the breeding birds each summer and with the wintering birds each winter and enjoy beaches when I think they are at their best - in winter after storms have brought in treasures.

This morning you reminded me just how much I miss the beach.

I have a few awesome out of focus shots of a male bufflehead that I shot at St. Marks NWR while trying out my new camera for the first time.

Arrghhh. It and two hens were 20 feet away and I flubbed it.

Beautiful ducks though.

Those kids who splash in the sea even in winter water must be really wishing they were along with you!

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