Sunday, June 12, 2016

Second Chances

Another attempt at the Garganey in Western New York

Well after promising that I wasn't going to do another drive to Western New York after two 10-hour round trip dips (!) of course the Garganey at Montezuma stuck around and was seen Tuesday, Wednesday, but not on Thursday.  I'd been chatting with Corey Finger who wanted to go try for the bird on Saturday and finally, and against my better judgement, agreed that if the bird was seen on Friday, we would do the drive again on Saturday in hopes of un-dipping this bird.

Sure enough, the bird was seen in Friday, and after reassuring Corey that there was no rush to leave early as the bird was only ever seen in the afternoons we left Manhattan at 6am Saturday morning and pushed across New Jersey, Pennsylvania and up into Western New York, again.  All the way, I kept telling myself that, if I didn't see this bird, I was never chasing a bird in Western New York ever again, but at around 8:30am we got word that the bird was being seen.  Sounded promising.

By the time we got to Montezuma NWR at around 11:15am though, the people who'd seen the bird earlier had all left, and the bird was no-where to be seen!  Not again!

Nothing to do but try though, so we set up to scope and spent the next three hours carefully scanning the area where the bird had been seen earlier that morning.  Slowly the number of birders built up as more people joined the vigil, so that by 2:30pm there were maybe 25 or so birders spread out along the road.  The bird however refused to show, and losing heart, Corey and others decided to make a side trip to look for the local Prothonotary Warblers while I opted to stay and keep scanning.

Just as the Warbler crew started to drive away, I got a glimpse of pink and white, a tiny, but promising hint of the right colors, hidden behind some cattails at great distance at the other side of a body of open water.  With the car leaving, I opted to shout out, and folks quickly gathered, only for a Wood Duck to emerge from behind the cattails.  Duh!  How could I possibly have done that?  I shouted "Never Mind, My Bad" and people dispersed and got back into the car .... and then the GARGANEY (279) emerged from cover just behind the Wood Duck!

I think this is what they call a "record shot" but it is a Garganey
Photo: Corey Finger, used with permission.
What followed was a mad scramble and I juggled getting taller people looks through my scope, and running to other people, who were not on the bird, and focussing their scopes on the spot.  Shai Mitra took charge of giving directions, but the bird was distant, partially hidden in the cattails and drifted in and out of view.  After a manic five minutes though we were able to get everyone on the bird which slowly drifted out into the open, giving the whole crew distant but clear scope views.  Talk about an adrenaline rush ...

So that felt good!  And even if the drive back to Manhattan was very, very long, we were both still happy that we came for the bird.  I'm sure there'll be debates about the provenance of this bird (like any rare duck) but date and location seem good and video I've seen of the bird doesn't seem to show bands (rings) or any odd plumage wear, etc.  Not sure you can ever be 100% sure with any bird that is kept in collections, but for me I decided to add this bird to my ABA and New York State lists unless someone coms up with a good reason not to.

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