Birding Nantucket at New Year's

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List of bird species on this Nantucket-at-New-Year's page.

I have placed on this page photos of 82 avian species I cumulatively photographed on Nantucket, or the ferry between Nantucket and Hyannis, over nine 21st Century New Year's weekends. There are typically 115-130 species reported each Christmas Count, so I have a low batting average. But then, I'm not a birder, just an interested bystander. New Year's 2012, in a 3-night stay, I got photos of five species that were new to my Nantucket collection: Carolina Wren, Belted Kingfisher, Red-necked Grebe, Red-throated Loon, and snowy egret, out of fifty species altogether. --EWC 1/9/12

Birds photographed Dec. 30, 2011-Jan. 2, 2012

Black-legged Kittiwake, Black-headed Gull, Northern Gannet,
Common Galinule (formerly Moorhen), Gray Catbird, and Carolina Wren

There are more pictures taken this weekend below, not only of birds but also of people.

Birds photographed Dec. 31, 2010-Jan. 3, 2011

Seen from the ferry:

Razorbills, a Long-tailed Duck, a Double-crested Cormorant,
a Common Loon, a Surf Scoter, and a pair of Black Scoters in synchronised flight.

Seen from the land:

We had 29 Canvasbacks at Hummock Pond.
Lark Sparrow, Herring Gull with a scallop, Common Goldeneye, Downy Woodpecker.

There are more pictures taken this weekend below, not only of birds but also of people.

Birds photographed Dec. 31, 2009-Jan. 2, 2010

Predicted high winds on Sunday Jan. 3, 2010 led us to return to the mainland a day early, on the noon ferry on Saturday. Since we had two boat trips in daylight, it's no surprise that Scoters offered the most photo ops. On the island the weather was overcast, but wind and rain mostly only threatened. We chased the Tundra Swan in vain. I'm the only one who didn't need it, having photographed it on Nantucket in '00 and '04 . Every time we passed the Duck Factory a Lesser Back-backed Gull was standing sentinal. Red-breasted Merganser and Common Eiders were readily available as well. That white patch at the back of Surf Scoters heads can blend with the sky, giving their heads a peculiar-seeming shape.

There are more pictures taken this weekend below, not only of birds but also of people.

Birds photographed Dec. 28, 2007-Dec. 31, 2007

Predicted high winds on New Year's Day 2008 led us to return to the mainland a day early, on Dec. 31, 2007. Nevertheless I did add four species to my photographed-on-a-New-Years-Nantucket-trip list this year: common redpoll, evening grossbeak, red-breasted nuthatch and sharp-shinned hawk. I hung around the town piers for a few hours photographing ducks, loons and gulls, taking a particular interest this year in red-breasted mergansers. Here's one taking_off. Here's another female in flight. And here's one landing. This male subscribes to a "look before you dive" philosophy.

The take-off and landing pictures were made with my Bushnell binocular camera. It takes inferior pictures, but one can capture the moment while enjoying a proper look at the bird.
There are more pictures taken this weekend, not only of birds but also of people, below

Birds photographed Dec. 29, 2006-Jan. 1, 2007

This year there were a few common loons near the public piers every time I was there. The most coveted bird on the island was the moorhen because it's rare in Massachusetts. This sighting was Dec. 31 in Miacomet near the horse corral (Thanks to Brian Harris and his father for the tip). Herman, Oakes and Glenn had already gotten it on Nantucket New Year's Day '06, but it was nice to see it again and know where to start looking on New Year's Day '07. This year was memorable for a gannet show more than a mile offshore. An estimated 15,000 gannets were diving, but one needed a scope to watch them. I don't have a digiscope camera, but the occasional individual flew by in range of my Canon Powershot S2 IS 5.0 megapixel digital camera. There are more views of these species and others, and people, below.

After looking through the scope at Harlequin ducks on Nantucket, I lamented never having gotten close enough to a Harlequin to photograph it, so Herman took me to Rockport the Saturday after New Year's where I got satisfying looks at Harlequins.

Birds photographed Dec. 30, 2005-Jan. 2, 2006

Before the ferry had even pulled out of Hyannis, Herman called me out on the deck to see the Thick-billed Murre. December 31, while Herman, Glenn, and Oakes were doing the Christmas Count, I took a two and a half hour round trip walk starting from town, and was only able to get within photographic range of water at one point, due to private property. I photographed the Bufflehead pair there. The Mute Swan was a year bird New Year's day, which I spent with the birders as they picked up some of the 134 species that had been reported at the countdown at the UMass fieldhouse New Year's Eve. There are more photos of birds and birders below.

Birds photographed Dec. 31, 2004-Jan. 2, 2005

The birders enjoyed looking at the Common pintail and Northern shoveler (There are more views of these and other ducks below), and they were glad to get a good look at this Glaucous gull as well; A Yellow-rumped warbler (more below), on the other hand, is so common the birders take less of an interest. The abundant Herring Gull is a year bird on New Year's day, but little noted other days. The Red-bellied woodpecker , and the Yellow-bellied sapsucker were fun to watch while waiting in vain for a rare dove to show up at a feeder. (There are other shots of the sapsucker and woodpecker below)

Birds photographed Jan. 1, 2004-Jan. 4, 2004

It was unusual to see Black-headed Gull , so I documented the sightings further below; The Song Sparrow and the Coot are not unusual; "Kute" is a Coot "movie" in .mov format.
The House Finch, Northern Cardinal , and the Blue Jay were at Edith Andrews' feeder where we picked up 9 species.

Leaving the island January 4 on the 5:45pm boat, Herman and Oakes each had 87 species on his 2004 list, and Glenn had 92. There were 130 species reported Jan. 3 at the Nantucket Christmas Count countdown. Glenn, Herman, Oakes, Carol, and William's territory, Quaise, contributed 59 species, one of them, Northern Shoveler, an "only," (a species seen by no other team). On the count day no one saw the Moorhen, which Glenn, with Herman and Oakes, had discovered Jan. 2. On January 4 many people saw the Moorhen, including the Sunday morning Nantucket Bird Walk group. While still standing on the bridge from which they had just seen the Moorhen, the Tundra Swan flew over that group, Ara told me.

Birds photographed Dec. 29, 2001-Jan. 1, 2002

Pair of Common eiders up up and away ; (See below for Eiders not in flight.);
Cedar waxwing
Sanderling , Low Beach, 1/1/02
Snow bunting at Low Beach ;(See below for more.);

About 124 species were reported at the Nantucket Christmas Count Countdown Dec. 30, 2001. On New Year's Day 2002 Glenn personally got 79 species on the island.


2012 New Year's Trip:

Oakes's poem about how Glenn lost his Manfretto tripod and nearly lost his Swarovski spotting scope.

Glenn, Herman , Oakes, Pat, Cathy and Eva's shadow at Codfish Park Beach
Pat, Herman, and Oakes at Long Pond
Oakes, Glenn, and Herman in Edie's yard at Miacomet.

2011 New Year's Trip:

Low Beach
Glenn. Linda, and Herman hoping the barn owl would come out of its box.
Herman, Linda, and Glenn waiting for the Dickcissel to come to Trish's feeder.
Glenn and Linda watching the two white geese--Ross's and Snow.
Herman on the top deck Jan 3, 2011.

2010 New Year's Trip:

Glenn, Oakes, and Herman <93k> (left to right)
Same trio <87k>
Herman birding from the bow.<53k>
Herman birding from the deck.<54k>
Eva <74k> photographing a window display.
Another reflection <94k> of Eva in her full-body yellow rain outfit.

2008 (We were actually off the island by 2008, but close enough):

Herman, Oakes, and Glenn <81k>
Herman, Glenn, Patty <68k>


gull_watching <74k> at low beach.
Herman <50k> at the point where, due to cliff erosion, the public footpath from Sconset ends. We scoped Harlequin ducks and other species from here.
Herman, Frank Gallo, Glenn <36k> returning on the noon boat Jan. 1 because of the rain.
White-winged scoter <39k> escaping from the ferry.
The Roberts House Inn <41k> Where Eva and Herman stayed. It had a computer in the breakfast room where we logged onto, which linked to the Nantucket weather page, which helped us decide which boat to take back.
Ara's dog <21k>, Hunter


Why is this man so happy? He's just identified a second winter California Gull, and now he's sharing it. This bird had been reported in Miacomet by Brian Harris. Glenn re-found it. Oakes thought Edie Ray should be told. Eva called Edie on Herman's cell. A year ago there was a first winter California Gull on Nantucket, and Dick Veit saw a California Gull there in the summer of 2005.
Looking at <86k> Redpolls
Looking at <50k> Ring-necked Ducks, Redheads, Canvasbacks, Scaup, etc.
Low Beach<54k>
Looking for <56k> the Barrow's Goldeneye from Codfish Park.
Herman <41k> helped this interested backyard birder identify the birds of Nantucket Sound.
Enjoying the ferry ride<45k>
Ida Giriunas, Oakes Spalding, Steve Merrick, and Glenn d'Entremont


Herman, Glenn, & Oakes
Herman <16k> spent the 2.25 hour ferry ride from Hyannis to Nantucket New Year's morning on deck.
Herman, Oakes, and Glenn <67k> marched way down Low Beach in a quest to find the reported one or two Little Gulls amongst the 3000 Bonaparte's Gulls.
Steve Moore and Barbara Volke <46k>
Herman and Eva and Steve and Barbara stayed at Ara's house.<74k>


Herman and Oakes at Brandt Point

Oakes and Dana <33k> birding Brandt Point Jan 1, 2002
Our B & B sent us to the Jared Coffin House for breakfast <36k>;
Our room at Chestnut House <38k>
UMass Field Station before the Countdown. <25k> Glenn d'Entremont compiling his team's Christmas Count numbers while Herman and Oakes concentrate more on the eating.

More Birdshots (and Other Wildlife):


directory of pics taken in 2012, most of which are hyperlinked below
Red-throated Loon getting airborn; I had many Red-throated Loon photo ops this year.
Red-necked Grebe; in profile; Another shot of the same individual.
Pied-billed Grebes
Double-crested Cormorant
Juvenile Snowy Egret
American Wigeon
Surf Scoters surfing.
Common Eider on land.
female Bufflehead in flight.
It was a big year for Coots.
Black-headed Gull
Bonaparte's Gulls. The top one is first winter, the bottom one is an adult, in non-breeding plumage.
Two Herring Gulls going after the same scallop shell.
Belted Kingfisher


directory of pics taken in 2011, most of which are hyperlinked below
Pied-billed Grebe
Great Cormorant
Ross's Goose and Snow Goose; The smaller white goose is the Ross's Goose.
Lesser Scaup and Mute Swan
Common Goldeneye in flight
Long-tailed Duck; a flight of Long-tailed Ducks
Common Eider; Female Eider coming in for a landing
White-winged Scoter swimming; flying.
Surf Scoter trio; two male Surf Scoters; surfing Surf Scoters; Ducks in a row
Black-headed Gull
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Red-winged Blackbird
Cardinal, Chickadee, and Goldfinch; Female Cardinal
Harbor Seals


directory of pics taken in 2010, most of which are hyperlinked below
Common Loon and female Bufflehead
Eurasian Wigeon on the left. I apologize for the poor quality pic, but it's the only one of a Eurasian Wigeon I ever took on Nantucket.
male Common Eider; rear view; Eider pair flying.
Seal and first winter Eider, both swimming.
Long-tailed Ducks (aka Old Squaw), taken with my Bushnell binocular camera (Occasionally it produces an OK pic).
Long-tailed Duck pair in flight, from the side; from the top.
symmetric Scoter resized and compressed from 1335 kbytes to 78 kbytes but not cropped or otherwise edited in any way.
5 Scoters, one of them a moment removed from sitting on the water. At least 3 are surf scoters.
Scoters achieving liftoff.; two more..
Surf Scoter touching down (based on the next frame, where he's sitting on the water).
Many groups of Black Scoters flew by the ferry in a gathering storm 1/2/2010. There were some surf scoters in this mixed flock; Here are 60 scoters photographed on the 12/31/2009 Hyannis->Nantucket crossing.
Bufflehead a moment before a dive.
Red-breasted Merganser flying, taken with my Bushnell binocular camera.
Two Red-breasted Merganser females
Red-tailed Hawk flying. (I think.) I have yet to get a good red-tail pic from Nantucket.
21 Rock Pigeons on a gable near a widows's walk with a Christmas tree. These happen to be the only Rock Pigeons I've ever photographed on Nantucket.


directory of pics taken in 2008, a select few of which are hyperlinked below
Glenn said it was unusual to see a yellow-bellied sapsucker on a feeder. Here's that bird in flight.
surf scoter pair
Cooper's Hawk


Moorhen and duck <13k>; Another angle <11k>; The moorhen pic showcased above.
gannet flying <4k>; gliding <9k>; wing up <9k>; The gannet pic showcased above.
Common loon <59k> looking at me; Another loon <15k>; Loon <2k> flying right; Bobbing <19k>; The common loon showcased above.
Ruddy turnstones <40k> on the rocks from the ferry coming into Nantucket harbor.
Sanderling <51k> at low beach.
4 White-winged scoters <11k> flying left; another <5k>
5 surf scoters <12k> flying left; surf scoters <15k> taking off.
black scoter <3k> flying left.
buffleheads <10k>
Wigeon, mute swan, and mallards <33k>. It's the only picture I took where the green in the Wigeon shows up. I had hoped that the ducks were black ducks, which were in that group of 200 birds on Miacomet that day, because I have no pics of black ducks, and I could have swelled my photographed-species list. But Herman says they are mallards.
Gadwall <3k>
Seven red-breasted mergs <44k>; Red-breasted merg <2k> from below.
Common goldeneye <5k>. I've never gotten a good look at a common goldeneye.
Lesser scaup <3k>. Same excuse.
Pied-billed grebe <4k> I've never gotten a good look on Nantucket. I've gotten great looks in Florida
The perennial Black-headed gull <44k> of Consue Springs. But on New Year's day, of all days, it was a no-show. Bummer!
Glaucous gull <87k> with 3 other species, for size comparison; Alone <11k>; All of us did see the Glaucous gull on New Year's. I found it independently. I did not go out with the birders that rainy New Year's morning, but the weather cleared enough for me to take a walk, where I encountered, recognized and photographed the Glaucous gull. I looked forward to leading Herman to the spot but he had already seen it. Same individual. There had only been one reported on the count.
I think this may be an Iceland gull <42k>
Bonaparte's gull <18k> with tail feathers fanned.
Gulls at low beach <91k>; Flying <83k> The one in the lower left corner is a first winter Bonaparte's. Could the one in the upper right corner be a Little gull? There were a couple of Little gulls in the flock.
female Cardinal <25k>
Blue jay <44k> landing on Edith's feeder; Blue jay and Cardinal <23k>
Savannah sparrow <21k>; Two more <14k> near the cranberry bog.
seal <37k>


The 2nd winter California Gull is on the left; The California Gull is second from the right; Cal is the smaller gull swimming in the center; Cal alone.
Common goldeneyes Actually there was one Barrow's Goldeneye in this group. I take the birders word for that. They were scoping the birds.
Waxwings. There was a Bohemian waxwing amongst them. All the birders in my party, and other parties (what with cell phones), got it. I only got a ton of pics of Cedar waxwings.
Flicker; Flicker pair
Yellow-rumped warbler; Another; Still another. We found ourselves in a flock of scores of yellow-rumps; Shots taken New Year's '05;
That's a female Shoveler in the lower right.
Canada geese We failed to get the flock of Canada geese and one Snow goose on the golf course, though.
Great blue heron; Another
Hooded mergansers; a female; Hooded mergs are noticably smaller than Mallards
Common eider walking; swimming; flying
Long-tailed duck flying.
Scaup; More
Ring-necked ducks
Black scoters
Surf scoters
Coopers hawk in sight of Edie's feeder. Glenn and Herman saw him fly in. But besides that, Glenn said the square head was indicative of Cooper's hawk.
Red-tailed hawk way across a cranberry bog. The little knob in the crown of the tree above the hawk and slightly left is a flicker. Glenn could see that. I knew it was a bird because it fluttered. I asked Herman what all that white was at the base of the hawk. Herman thought it was prey.
House finch
female Downy woodpecker
Female Cardinal
Lesser black-backed gull; Another
Great black-backed gull; first winter
A black-headed gull is still hanging out with the ducks, but no longer at Consue Springs.
Coot. The Moorhen was said to be either in front of Edie's or down Miacomet among the coots. We finally got it in front of Edie's but it disappeared before I could aim my camera. Epilogue: I finally snapped it almost a year later, on Dec. 31, 2006.
male House sparrow, non-breeding plumage.
Blue jay
Black-capped chickadee, the Massachusetts state bird
Seals at Low Beach.


Common Loon<6k> in Nantucket Sound
Common pintail <101k> near Pilgrim Road.
Two pairs of American wigeons <21k> on Miacommet Pond; female <6k>.
Northern shoveler <7k> walking on a frozen pond. I wish I had gotten a .mov of a duck occasionally slipping and sliding.
Greater scaup <13k>
Common eider pair<16k>; Common eider group<13k>, photographed from the ferry. Herman likes these photos because they show the wash of green on the drakes' necks.
White-winged scoters <23k> flying...and swimming <7k>
Surf scoter <7k> flying.
Black scoters <8k> flying. We saw all 3 scoter species from the ferry deck enroute to Nantucket.
Red-breasted mergansers <27k> flying. These too were photographed from the ferry. female r.b. merg <3k> (Not a great photo, but I did not see it any better than this in real life.)
Cooper's Hawk <23k> watching a feeder. No wonder that White-winged dove stayed away.
Northern harrier <7k>
Great black-backed gull<30k>
Lesser black-backed gull and Iceland gull<27k>
Herring gull<50k> flying
Black-headed gull<53k> showing a little leg. Two of them are hanging out at Consue Springs again this winter.
Bonapartes gull<63k> also flashing some red leg while swimming.
Herring gull and 4 Bonaparte's gulls <29k> at Low Beach.
Mourning dove <19k>; Another run-of-the-mill modo <13k> at the feeder where a rare-for-Massachusetts White-winged dove had been apearing. The good news is Herman got the White-winged dove Jan. 9 when he went over to Nantucket again for the California gull, which he also got.
Red-bellied woodpecker <6k>, side view
Yellow-bellied sapsucker <10k>, back view
Downy woodpecker <12k>, back view
White-breasted nuthatch <8k>
Northern mockingbird <20k>
American robin <11k> ; Two more <8k>
Yellow-rumped warbler <12k>, front view; Side view of another individual <11k>; butter butt <5k>; The one showcased above; Yellow-rump pictures taken New Year's 06.
Seals <59k> on the jetty.


There were two black-headed gulls <26k> at Consue Springs, one of them immature;
Black-headed gull in company of mallard ducks and a herring gull <27k> ;
The immature, front view, swimming; <23k> Fanning a wing; <21k>
Side view of the immature black-headed gull swimming; <13k>; For a look at one of these one year later, see above.
Tundra Swan <4k> near Smith's Point in 2004.
A Tundra swan photographed New Year's Day 2000 in Miacomet with my old Sony Mavica.
Return to 2010
This gray catbird <33k> was eating berries at Lily Pond; A surprising number (13 or so according to the Christmas Count) wintered on Nantucket.
Northern mockingbirds <26k> also like winterberries; From a distance this one looks like a white ornament.
This Merlin <27k> appears to be eating a starling <6k>; Here's another Merlin <18k> teed up at dusk; "Movie" of the eating merlin in .rm format.
Long-tailed ducks (aka Oldsquaw) <14k> flying in to their night roost. The number of ducks in the flight is in the 6 digits, so this is less than 1/5000 of the total streaming by for hours. My attempt to photograph them later streaming across the sunset unfortunately failed. They look like an insect swarm to the naked eye, and sound like Spring Peepers. For pictures of these ducks swimming, see below.
Harbor seals <45k>


Lesser black-backed gull <24k>. Low Beach, New Year's Day 2002.
Iceland gull (Kumlien's)<10k>. Low Beach, New Year's Day 2002;
Oldsquaw <14k> Low Beach, New Year's Day 2002; more <13k>; For oldsquaw streaming by in flight, see above
2 male and 1 female Common eider <20k> photographed from the ferry deck; more <18k>; Female eider at Low Beach <6k>
Black-legged kittiwake <7k> photographed from the deck of the ferry.
snow bunting profile <13k>



Absolsutely <18k>
Harry's tow <57k> Low Beach and Ara's car in background.
Privete <39k>


Duck crossing, Consue Springs <20k>

Through Plate Glass on Main Street:

Mozart ornament <15k>
Partridge and pear ornament <16k>
Store window <88k> on Main Street: Antique lighthouse models by Paul G.Busse of Applied Imagination.

Some elements on this page were incorporated into a photomontage that served as the cover of our 2002 Christmas card.
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