Thursday 7 May 2015

GARGANEY GIFT in St. John's, Newfoundland

Sometimes you just feel it in your bones that there is a certain rare bird out there waiting to be seen. As I drove to Lundrigan's Marsh in east St. John's I was thinking about the May 2009 Garganey that turned up at Quidi Vidi Lake then spent the next few days hiding out in Lundrigan's Marsh. That bird showed up during very strong west winds. Yesterday there had been strong west winds.  Garganeys are a European/Asian species.  It is thought the the good many records from the interior of North America in spring are birds that wintered in North America arriving via the Alaska.  It is also possible this long distant migrant could have crossed the Atlantic during migration from Europe to Africa last fall. Maybe... well you can speculate until the cows come home. Garganey like the Ruff has a difficult to explain pattern of occurrence in Newfoundland and North America. Unlike the Icelandic vagrants, the Garganey (and Ruff) does not need NE winds to carry it here. For the record, Garganey is fairly rare in Iceland.

This morning when my scope landed on a silvery gray duck with a broad icy white stripe sweeping back over a mauve coloured head it was as if this Garganey was supposed to be there.  It was the fifth record of Garganey for Newfoundland. All of them being spring drakes between the dates of 30 April and about 20 May. The bird was present all day and viewed by all who went for a look. It was a few hundred metres away from the viewing platform. There was no way to get closer to the bird as the marsh is surrounded by fenced off industrial land.  Photo opts were very poor due to distances and shimmer in the air.

Garganey at Lundrigan's Marsh, St. John's, Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland 7 May 2015

Garganey with mixed flock of duck after being flushed out of vegetation by an eagle. Also in picture is one of two suspect hybrid Common x North American Green-winged Teal and a pair of scarce in Newfoundland Northern Shovelers.  

Garganey was strikingly silvery-white when flying with the teal and other ducks.

The Garganey foraged almost continuously and often out of sight among the vegetation.

The Garganey at Quidi Vidi Lake on 15 May 2009 was exceptionally cooperative for a couple of hours after arrival before finding out about Lundrigan's Marsh just over the hill.

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