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January 14, 2017 – Barrow’s Goldeneye

Barrow’s GoldeneyeThe Barrow’s Goldeneye has been a bit of a nemesis for us. The Common Golden is a ubiquitous winter duck in Maine . . . we see them everywhere (including from our living room window). A couple times during the last two years we saw a Barrow’s at a distance with a spotting scope, always mixed in with a bunch of Commons. All birders know the feeing . . . you’re pretty sure you know what you saw . . . but you can’t really shake the possibility you only saw what you wanted to see.

To be fair, they are not easy to tell apart . . . the Common Goldeneye has an oval white spot on the side of his head . . . while the Barrow’s Goldeneye has a teardropped shaped spot. The former has a greenish head and the later a purplish head. At a distance, the color distance is useless as they both look black.

Today’s adventure took us to Ocean Point in East Boothbay, Maine on a beautiful sunny day (18 degrees). We immediately saw a huge Common Loon and a pair of Mallards made a beeline toward us (something tells me that somebodys been feeding them . . . lol). As we drove around the point we saw a Black Guillemot (in winter plumage) . . . and then we saw the raft of Goldeneyes.

Out came the binoculars, then the spotting scope as we desperately looked for the teardrop. Ingrid saw him first: “he’s over on the left; no he just went under; no he’s back up!!!”. Our photos were taken directly into the sun . . . so the color and focus is terrible . . . but we got him (for sure this time!!!).

Our last notable bird of the day was a Horned Grebe, again in winter plumage.

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