Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Histrionics

.Yesterday I wrote about having discovered a Harlequin Duck on the Farmington River, a rare inland record. You can read the story here: http://quodlibet-sarah.blogspot.com/2010/01/down-by-riverside.html

It is extremely unusual to find one of these colorful birds inland in winter, when one would expect to see them only in ocean waters. Read more about the Harlequin Duck, and see range maps, here:

http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/466/articles/introduction

As I related yesterday, within a few minutes of finding the bird, I was able to get the word out to the Connecticut birding community (thanks to D!). You can see how the story unfolded in the online discussion list:

http://lists.ctbirding.org/pipermail/ctbirds_lists.ctbirding.org/Week-of-Mon-20100111/thread.html

There’s some interesting discussion in the postings about the possibility that the bird might have been an escape from a captive population, but the expert opinion, bolstered by my observation that the bird was not banded, was that it was indeed a wild bird.

The bird also made top billing in the daily report of special or rare birds sighted in the state:

http://lists.ctbirding.org/pipermail/ctdailyreport_lists.ctbirding.org/2010-January/001051.html

I drove through the area several times yesterday and today, and it was interesting to see the many cars and birders who had traveled from all over Connecticut to see the bird. I saw a Massachusetts license plate, and I know of at least one person who came all the way from New York.

I received a number of nice messages from birders in the region, plus this interesting note from a Maine naturalist who is collecting information about the Harlequin Duck: “Even here in Maine which is the center of the eastern wintering population there are only about 8 inland records. Most of these were like your bird, on the ice-free section of a large river in winter.”

Greg Hanisek, a naturalist who blogs for the Waterbury Republican-American, said that "They’re quite uncommon in Connecticut, even in their favored winter habitat. Finding one inland was completely unexpected." You can read his write-up here:

http://blogs.rep-am.com/nature/2010/01/14/from-the-ocean-to-a-river/

At Greg's blog you can see a photo of the Farmington bird, swimming with a pair of nifty Hooded Mergansers. Many more photos of the Farmington bird, plus shots of the spiffy Ring-Necked Ducks that were also in the area, may be seen at the online gallery of Connecticut birder Don Morgan (in the gallery list at the left side of his site, click on "Harlequin Duck - Farmington"):

http://www.photoshop.com/user/mntncougar

Don also posted his thoughts on the bird's probable age:
http://lists.ctbirding.org/pipermail/ctbirds_lists.ctbirding.org/Week-of-Mon-20100111/017274.html

Nick Bonomo posted a photo of this "exceptional inland find" on his blog, Shorebirder:
http://shorebirder.blogspot.com/2010/01/vesper-harlequin-inland-king-eider.html

All this interest and additional information reinforced the general consensus that given the unusual inland location at this time of year, this is a really special bird.

And I guess plenty of people stopped by here at Quodlibet, too, so that was fun. By the way, all the bird-related posts at this blog are indexed under one or more of these headings:

Birding (about the activity of birding)
http://quodlibet-sarah.blogspot.com/search/label/Birding

Birds in Literature and Art
http://quodlibet-sarah.blogspot.com/search/label/Birds%20in%20Literature%20and%20Art

Birds in Migration
http://quodlibet-sarah.blogspot.com/search/label/Birds%20in%20Migration

Birds in My Backyard http://quodlibet-sarah.blogspot.com/search/label/Birds%20in%20my%20Backyard

Birds Out and About [my "patch" around town, outside my backyard]
http://quodlibet-sarah.blogspot.com/search/label/Birds%20Out%20and%20About

The Harlequin Duck made quite an impression in my visual memory; I actually dreamt about it last night.

By the way, if you’re wondering about the title of this post (“Histrionics”), you’ll find the answer at the end of yesterday’s post:
http://quodlibet-sarah.blogspot.com/2010/01/down-by-riverside.html

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