Working a holiday on Monday, I took a few extra minutes for lunch and headed down to Veterans Park, which is a short distance from where I work in Norwalk. I often have good luck there this time of year with ducks and loons. I certainly didn’t leave disappointed this time.
The highlight turned out to be a horned grebe, which I spotted completely by accident. A sizable flock of scaup caught my attention. The flock had drifted all the way to the north end of an inlet of Norwalk Harbor. I knew it was only a matter of time until they had to drift south again so I took cover behind some tall grasses near the shore. I sat down on a rock at a position where I could point my camera through a small opening in the grass _ and I waited.
Waiting for birds to do what you think they should do is often a fruitless exercise, but this time it actually worked out. A pedestrian on the street near the north end of that inlet gave the scaup just enough incentive to drift back to the south. Eventually they reached that opening in the grass and I fired away with the camera. The birds were a bit farther than I would have liked, but close enough that I got some OK, but not great, shots.
Then, as the last straglers were crossing that opening in the grass through which I was shooting, the horned grebe popped up literally a few feet from the shore right in that opening. I had one chance to refocus and grab a shot. I was so focused on the scaup I didn’t even notice the grebe until it practically bit me in the nose. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a horned grebe before, so I was happy for the opportunity to see one so close _ even for the split second it was.
The grebe continued to hug the shoreline of the inlet until it disappeared into the larger harbor.
The sightings didn’t end there. I saw at least half a dozen red-throated loons, a few red-breasted mergansers, and even a few long-tailed ducks that far up into the harbor. Strangely, no hooded mergansers. That’s usually a given.
As I walked back into my office building after lunch, I noticed a red-throated loon on the Norwalk River near the docked boats. Another one for the my “work list.”