Saturday Sandra and I went off to a site on Lake Champlain on the New York – Vermont border, Chimney Point to be exact, in search of a Common Pochard. The site was full of ducks, perhaps 600 Common Mergansers and Common Goldeneyes plus hundreds of Greater Scaup, a few lessers and the duck of unknown origin. We didn’t see it on the first look, the birds were distant and active and we had the added distraction of 12 Bald Eagles out on the frozen part of the lake. In the afternoon the light and conditions improved and we had acceptable views of the drake Common Pochard. In between searches we had lunch locally and I later got food poisoning which meant that have just I spent the best part of two days at Hawkesbury Hospital, isn’t Dilaudid, which is a morphine derivative, excellent when you been having stomach spasms for the past 10 hours. I can’t be sure the source of the malady was the lunch but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the Weetabix I had for breakfast nor the compulsory KitKat enjoyed en-route.
The Common Pochard was very popular and produced quite a twitch with crews from as far away as Ohio and Idaho. Unfortunately there is now discussion regarding the bird’s provenance, it is said to have a ring of some description about its person. If it is a metal ring that does not necessarily damn the record, obviously something saying ‘if found, please return’ is a bit of a give-away. I suppose I’ll have to wait until North American Birds reports it as good or bad, still it was interesting to see and, if it is deemed acceptable, tinged with irony as I found it’s congener, the Redhead, in the UK – the first record of the species for Britain and Ireland. There was also a Tufted Duck around but we didn’t see it, didn’t need it for New York State anyway.
I didn’t manage to photograph anything on the trip but below is a photo of a drake Common Pochard that I took earlier, as they say. Squint at it for the full effect of viewing a distant bird on a choppy lake at 350m or so.