Sunday 23 December 2012

Pleasure Bay, Boston, Dec 2012

It was a bit of a disappointment to wake up this morning and find that the world had not ended. After toasting the approach of the End of Days with a mixture of red wine and margaritas, I was hoping not to have to face the consequences.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, "Conquest", "War", "Famine" and "Death" did not ride last night, but “Hangover”, the fifth member of the band who left before they became famous, was thundering through my head. Rain and wind drove me back into the hotel on my first two attempts and it looked as if the rest of the day would be washed out. Then a sixth horseman rode out. This manifestation of ruin terrorised those who had put off their festive preparations just in case the doom-sayers had been right. "Panic-purchase" was abroad. Eventually, the afternoon brightened. Being unable to cope with the shopping madness, I managed to get out to Boston’s City Point with just an hour of daylight left.

A lagoon, known as Pleasure Bay, has been enclosed by a sea wall with two openings to allow the tide to flow in and out. Ring-billed Gulls were seen at the water’s edge on a strip of sandy beach on the western side at Google Earth ref; 42°20'8.54" N71° 1'23.73"W.

I took an anti-clockwise walk along the sea wall. The water in the lagoon was smooth and would have made good viewing with the sun over my shoulder in the late afternoon, but the flat water also attracted wind surfers and kite surfers who kept the birds away. A few Herring Gulls flew by, but most of the interest was found outside the sea wall.

Red-breasted Mergansers, Buffleheads and Horned Grebes dived in the rougher water of the bay. Greater numbers were seen as I progressed along and crossed the first of the inlets. The sun had dipped low in the sky now and the wind was beginning to bite, though the temperature was still very mild. Small flocks of birds were flying past, mostly heading in a southerly direction.

I reached the fortifications at the north-west corner and moved down onto a small jetty looking across the water to Logan International Airport. A Red-throated Loon was close to the shore here, but my main interest was in looking for a Snowy Owl that is occasionally seen on the airfield during the winter. I quickly realised that it would take better light and a scope to confidently identify a Snowy Owl from this range. It is over 800 meters to the closest point on the airport and 1200 to the jetty that supports the landing lights. A white object at the far end of the lights jetty looked promising, but could just as easily have been a plastic bag. It still beat lying in bed feeling sorry for my poor aching head and wishing that the world would get on with it and end.

A Herring Gull was trying to crack a mollusc, but was having very little success. It had mastered the concept and would carry the shell aloft and drop it onto the rocks below. The rocks however, were well spaced apart and mostly the shell fell, undamaged onto the sand.

Birds seen; 13

Brant 8, American Black Duck 4, Common Eider 35, Bufflehead 8, Common Golden-eye 2, Red-breasted Merganser 35, Red-throated Loon 1, Horned Grebe 2, Ring-billed Gull 15, American Herring Gull 25, Great Black-backed Gull 15, European Starling 6, House Sparrow 4.

Bus number 9, to City Point runs every 10 – 15 minutes from the Copley area of Boston to the beach at Pleasure Bay.

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1 comment:

  1. Wonderful photos! Boston sounds great and a Snowy owl sighting is even better. Cool shot of the Eiders in flight! Merry Christmas!