Saturday, January 2, 2010

Coastal storm

There's a low pressure system spinning in the Atlantic today. It's sending a light, fine snow into coastal Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. There was a stiff wind in our face--and stinging snowflakes--when we walked toward the mouth of the Merrimack River at Newburyport, Mass, this morning. The Atlantic was stirred up, and visibility was low. The wide expanse of grasses, sand and driftwood was empty except for a couple other hearty walkers.

We drove inland toward the marshy Joppa Flats refuge, where about three dozen mallards were huddled on the ice. We continued to a lookout point along the south side of the river closer to the center of Newburyport. About a dozen buffleheads dove between ice floes as they moved east on the river. Then a common loon surfaced nearby before swimming and diving in the direction of the ocean. Other birds seen included a northern harrier and great black-backed gull. Lots more snow expected today in bucolic New England!

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