Saturday, November 2, 2013

Port Huron King Eider - 02 Nov 2013

Tom Hince reported a female King Eider earlier this week at the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, MI.  A number of birders got out to see the bird, which was frequenting the mouth of the St. Clair River.  Since the weather was supposed to be crappy today, I opted to drive up there instead of looking for the Mountain Bluebird female reported in Monroe Co. by Karl Overman.

True to forecasts it rained the entire time I was in the car.  Arriving at the Blue Water Bridge at first light I could only sit in the car and wait for the rain to subside.  Very little was occurring at / under the bridge, so I drove toward Lighthouse Park.  A stop at the foot of Riverside St. put me into a huge flock of Bonaparte's Gulls foraging next to the Coast Guard piers.  I allowed the rain to come into the car through the open window so I could scan the flock for an errant Little Gull or possible Black-legged Kittiwake.  Neither bird(s) were seen.

I then drove over to the park and walked down to the beach in the rain.  The lake was choppy and a good number of ducks were moving: Long-tailed Ducks, White-winged Scoters and Surf Scoters, and the first Common Mergansers and Bufflehead. Numerous Double-crested Cormorants were also present.  As I set up the scope I was joined by Kevin Thomas and Paul Poronto, and shortly thereafter by Patrick Jakel and Tom Gass.  Matthew Hack would join us while later.

Paul was the first to relocate the female King Eider out near the Canadien side of the lake.  It was obviously lighter than the surrounding White-winged and Surf Scoters, so it was relatively easy to confirm ID.  It has more-or-less a golden brown hue with light colored cheeks at the base of the bill, which contrasts w/ the dark head and cheeks of a Common Eider.  Views were lousy, and I could only manage a couple of stills from a video I tried to take at 75X on the scope eyepiece and 30mm on the Nikon V1.

A couple of Common Loons passed by close enough for positive ID, and although we looked hard, could not locate any Black Scoters (sorry Patrick).  The Long-tailed Ducks were moving quite a bit, but none of the waterfowl were moving anywhere close enough for decent photos.  The rain finally stopped, but lighting remained relatively poor. It was time to head back home.


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