It's a female King Eider, apparently rare in these parts, and she's stayed close to the same spot on the south end of the channel for several weeks now. My first look was through a magnificent scope offered up by an experienced birder a couple weeks back. The birds were rising and falling fast on the channel swells, and I just wasn't sure I had the right bird.
I've researched Eiders in general and examined my own hundreds of pictures very closly, but haven't been sure enough to tell myself "that's it!". Until yesterday.
More pictures of her were posted on Flickr by Melissa and Wade here, taken last weekend. So, I was more determined than ever that I was finally going to see this bird, this weekend. This has been the winter that wasn't, until yesterday. It was about 25 degrees around 2PM, and the wind was out of the North at about 25 MPH, gusting higher.
There were quite a few ducks in the channel, mostly Long-tailed, though it was rolling like a coaster with breaking whitecaps.
I don't have a scope yet, so I'm looking for this bird using a combination of my Nikon 10x50 binoculars, Canon XTi Rebel with a Sigma 70-300mm lens, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 with the equivalent of 36-432mm zoom, and a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10, 21x zoom. I know, sell one of them and buy a scope.
With the binoculars, looking in the reported location, I found what I knew to be the Eider. It was bigger than the other birds, lighter brown than a female Mallard, and the head profile was right. I don't use this photo as any ID proof, only proof to me where I saw her.
I'm satisfied. Unless I can get a closer, clearer picture. I'll keep looking and trying.
Here's a picture of a female King Eider for reference:
Next up: a Loon. I'm pretty sure I saw one or two a couple weeks ago, standing up in the bay off Greig Street. But not sure enough to be satisfied. I need a picture.