If all of my years of birding have taught me anything, it is don’t go for a rarity that shows well on a week day in iffy weather but will almost certainly not be there at the weekend when it is predicted to be ‘shorts’ weather. The Violet-Green Swallow at Ottawa was just such a bird, a two day job although, to be fair, the bird did have the decency to cross the Ottawa River and grace Quebec during its stay, a Province first. I can’t remember how many times I’ve been caught out by the ‘gone at the weekend’ adage in the past, a pair of territorial Slender-billed Gulls in Norfolk (England) spring readily to mind. This time however I called it right, we didn’t go off to Ottawa Saturday and were therefore not a part of the disappointed mass looking in vain.
Last thing last night I checked the Oiseaux Rares du Quebec site and well, well, a male Garganey (Sarcelle d’eté) and only 40 minutes away at Mirabel. We went and we saw (eventually) and I added Garganey (of unknown origin!) to my North American list, no waiting for the national records committee to accept it, on it goes. It was unusual to get lucky with a Quebec bird; I think I am at only about a 40% success rate in twitching things although my self-found rate makes up for it a bit. Perhaps I should drag Sandra off to Tadoussac for another assault on Purple Sandpiper!
In terms of a rarity the Garganey was pretty good although a long-stayer a few years ago would have been most local people’s tick – we were otherwise disposed at the time. Today’s twitch had about 20 people at its peak, imagine if a Nearctic duck of similar rarity in the UK showed up, 2500 minimum I would of thought although hang on, it was a duck and all ducks are escapes right? I wonder how many UK birders have inked in the recent Falcated Duck, was it any wilder than the one four of Notts’ finest saw many years ago at Lound but that I don’t tick, I doubt it.
Thanks to Sébastien for the shout and apologies to your girlfriend for not understanding her when she drove around to tell us you had seen it, my bad. Below a shot of the record variety.