Old Squaws on Super Bowl Sunday

Sunday was a perfect day for a late afternoon walk. There was no wind, unlike most of the past two weeks, and the temperature was in the high 40s. Somehow, after a leisurely Sunday brunch and a few chores, we didn’t leave the house until 4:30.

My daughter and I set out for one of our favorite strolls, along the shore of  the Long Island Sound in Huntington. We were hoping to find some Old Squaw ducks hanging out close to shore. They are my daughter’s favorite and she hasn’t seen any yet this year.  She loves the way they constantly squawk, like chickens in a hen house. In the bird book we use one of their identifying characteristics is how vocal they are. She also loves their common name: Old Squaw. Some people refer to them as Long-tailed ducks.

Eureka! We spotted them almost immediately…a few dozen.  And they were squawking away! My daughter was thrilled, so we stood and watched them through our binoculars for about fifteen minutes. Mixed amongst them were a few Buffleheads, Mergansers and lots of sea gulls.

We continued our walk along the Lloyd Neck Causeway, a narrow stretch of land, which is being reconstructed and repaved since a destructive storm that removed part of the walkway last year. We were literally walking on a 1/2 mile road that connects our community to a nearby community over a vast wetland.  I am sure it will be entirely gone within the next 10 years at the rate the seas are rising.  Something else will have to be built to connect the two communities since there is nothing but wetlands on one side of the road and the LI Sound on the other.

Next we came upon another group of Old Squaw, but there was a type of duck we had never before seen mixed in with this group. We did our best to memorize its features and when we got home we checked the bird book and learned that they were Scaup, another common sea bird in these parts. The sun was setting; it was getting colder. Time to leave.

Not bad to see four species of ducks in a half hour of walking. There were no other people outdoors besides us.  Then we suddenly realized: It was Super Bowl Sunday. While most of America was watching the Super Bowl,  we were outside quietly enjoying watching our own halftime show…ducks bobbing in the rough seas of winter.

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