A chilly start turned into a very pleasant and comfortable outing as the sun was shining, and it wasn't until the end of the walk that the wind began to pick up. Heat shimmer over the water was our only issue, along with quite a bit of particularly slick ice!
Open water was too far at Wharton Point, but we did have 29 CANADA GEESE loafing nearshore, with a large group of roosting gulls. About 50 HERRING and 30 RING-BILLED GULLS was my estimate, but they were directly in the sun glare. 8 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS were the only diving ducks close enough to be enjoyed.
The Mere Point Boat Launch was our primary destination. Unfortunately, the massive raft of ducks was just too far to really sort through. However, it was still an impressive sight as the tight raft was so dense and long that it looked like an island! My guestimate of 800-1000 total ducks was roughly broken down into 60-80% LESSER/GREATER SCAUP and 20-40% SURF and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS. We waited a while hoping they would get closer, which they slowly did, but never close enough to really be able to sort out.
We did have great looks at a single RED-THROATED LOON, however, along with a couple of COMMON LOONS. 10 COMMON EIDER were nearby, and a hen HOODED MERGANSER buzzed by. A few White-winged Scoters and a single Surf Scoter were close enough to see well. A NORTHERN CARDINAL and a WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH sang, while 7 AMERICAN ROBINS fly through the parking lot. BLUE JAYS were conspicuous throughout the morning.
While we had fewer ducks at Simpson's Point, the looks were much better. We had distant COMMON GOLDENEYES and BUFFLEHEADS at our two previous stops, but here we enjoyed great views of about 50 and 100, respectively. All of which were stirred up by a hunting BALD EAGLE. In addition to many of the expected roadside landbirds throughout our drive, we had another low eagle, more jays, and the occasional DARK-EYED JUNCO.