Tuesday, June 13, 2006


O.K. I'll admit something a little embarrassing.

These birds are uncommon around these parts. Once I figured that out I always went past that section of bird books quickly and on to something I could find locally. As I skimmed past those pages my brain always read the name as "Scooters".

As in, something that might scoot across the surface of the waves.

One day, as I was listening to a new podcast on birds called 'Ray Brown's Talkin' Birds' from Massachusetts, I heard someone actually say the name out loud. They had some BLACK SCOTERS out in the bay.

Ah. SCOT-ers. Alright then...

Not too long before that I had a twitcher moment when several Black Scoters were reported over in the Clearwater area. Just so happened to be Christmas coming up and I was going to be over there to visit the parents. I found those Scoters the next day but they were so far away that all I ended up with were some shadowy specs of birds which were only ID'd due to shading of the grays and blacks which is typical of winter plumage.

I figured that was the end of my Scoter encounters. However, the Washington trip provided a trifecta of Scoters.

Finally got a better view of the Black Scoters out on the Dungeness Spit hike. Nice view of the male and female resting in between dives.

Black Scoters

Early on in the trip, we took a boat ride with my wife's uncle out in the waters around Bainbridge Island. Once we were out of calm water and skirting the choppier waves in Puget Sound there were several black birds dropping in fairly close. We slowed for a look and there we had our first confirmed Surf Scoters. I had thought I spied some from the ferry the day before.

Surf Scoters

What I noticed from a distance on that first view was the bright white spot on the back of the neck of such a black bird.

Surf Scoters

The final Scoter on the list was found out at Grey's Harbor.

White-winged Scoters

Every now and then they would stop and flap to show those large white marks on the wings. Mostly they would dive and surface in various spots in the waves. The approaching storm and strong, cold winds didn't provide me with much time of good light. I see a theme on this trip.

White-winged Scoters

This year there have been reports of Scoters over at the Cape and surrounding waters of the Indian River. Could signal a large amount of them here this Winter? Hope so.

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