Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck in Jefferson County

So after helping others get year-birds all weekend, I figured I was due for a potential year-bird for myself.  When I saw a report of a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck pop up on Sunday afternoon I got excited for a second before I saw where it was .... right up on the St. Lawrence River in Jefferson County, at least 6 hours drive each-way from the City.

I knew that I couldn't go on Monday in any case so I decided to wait and see if the bird was seen that day before I committed to the drive.  I monitored the list-serves all day on Monday but saw no reports.  In the end, I broke down in the evening and called Gerry Smith (a local birder) who confirmed that the bird was sticking but that it wasn't always easy to see.

So at 4:15am on Tuesday, I jumped in the car and drove the 6 hours up to Clayton, New York (the last exit before the Canadian Border and closer to Kingston, Ontario than any significant population center in New York).

When I arrived at the site I checked the marina and then did a thorough search of all the docks and hidden corners in the inlet, but came up empty.  Gerry had told me I might have to wait the bird out so I headed back to the car to find a spot to settle in for a long wait.  As I came back through the marina, a guy in overalls came out of the marina buildings and asked if I was "looking for the duck" (I though he was going to tell me to move my car).  A quick chat and he'd given me a couple of other places to look so I got back in the car and headed out to a spot where I could scan the nearby shore of the St. Lawrence River.  Within seconds, I spotted a group of loafing mallards on the shore across the inlet and there, sitting among them, was the Whistling-Duck (NYS 2012 #330).

Black-belled Whistling-Duck
Spent a half hour with the duck and took a few photos then headed South, stopping briefly at Dog Hill Road where I once again did not see a Gray Partridge.  Ran South for the next 7 hours and got home at around 7pm in time for dinner.  Long day ...

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