Black Scoter

While you may not think that sticking around Ogunquit during the colder months may be the brightest idea, many of us relish this time when cars are no longer stuck in the usual traffic jams on Shore Road and RT 1 polluting our fresh sea air; when the thousands are not eroding the Marginal Way or leaving debris on our white sand beach.

And winter brings sights few see who are not here now; some of these are the different sea ducks as we talked about in our last blog. Here are a couple of others that are strangers in the summer.

If you walk the Marginal Way in the winter, you may hear a shrill whistling and wonder where the devil that might be coming from. Just take a look seaward and you will probably spot a large float of black ducks – these are probably our black scoters that spend their summers not on Ogunquit beach, but in Labrador, northern Nova Scotia, southern Hudson’s Bay and northern Alaska, but their winters in the offshore waters along our coast, nabbing crustaceans and mollusks. Their whistle is unmistakable – are they whistling at the girls?

Our favorites, though, are the Harlequins, named after the French classic clowns since they are multi-colored – brown, black and white.

These seem the most playful, often seen in the white water wash around our rocky shore. They spend summers on Baffin Island, Greenland, Iceland, and through eastern Quebec, Labrador, and northern Newfoundland. Harlequins are known to walk underwater in streams against the current looking to snack on black fly larvae. They may be our heroes!

These are just a few of our winter ducks – great to see even if you are amateurs as we are – and part of our winter here.