Birds of the Western Slope August 24, 2016
By Evelyn Horn
Published Thursday, August 25, 2016 9:35 am
Photo by Marie Reed Harlequin Duck
I was writing about my shorebird trip to the state of Washington, but Linda Croft's Century Plant came into bloom ... spectacular! So now I'm resuming the Washington trip.
Martha and Bernice want to go shopping in this coastal town on the Olympic peninsula. I don't. So they'll go and I'll stay here at the pier. (I think they're happy to have some time without me around!) Their car pulls away. Other cars go by, but I tune them out and there are few to no people.
I deeply breathe the salt laden air. Now there's just the ocean and me.
But there is no time to waste, for our days here are numbered. We'll spend tonight at Bernice's choice of motels here on the Olympic peninsula. Tomorrow is packing day and then we're bound back to Colorado.
I set up the spotting scope on the pier . . . the breeze is up. There are birds on the water and above the water. Watch
. . . there's one with a dark spot on the light colored bill . . . a surf scoter? Maybe.
Now I see some other "ducks" farther out on the water. Now they're gone!
And the waves are much bigger than I realized. Watch with my binoculars. There's a duck! Oh, my! It's fantastic! Riding the waves upright like a cork! It was dark blue, no, more like navy blue, with white stripes on the body. What is it? Quick and check the paper clips in my copy of Sibley's Guide. Now my duck's here . . . gone. Here's a picture in the guide . . . a Harlequin Duck!
White slashes on the neck and before the rufous belly, another white slash on the face and down the neck.
What a find! This duck was on my "must see but I doubt I'll be that lucky" list. It's scientific name is Histrionicus histrionicus, likening it to the harlequins or people who dressed up as clowns. The name fits!
I hear the car and Martha and Bernice have returned. My sea-time is over. Memories!