Okay, Garganey Ducks are supposed to be in Southern Europe or Australia right now, on their way north from Australia. I heard this morning through the rare bird alert that one had shown up at the Ethan Allen Homestead in Burlington, Vermont, about ten minutes from my high school. The minute the bell rang at the end of the day, obviously, I charged over there, unfortunately only with my pair of old, beat up binoculars that live in my car for just such emergencies, and my little camera.
I followed the directions along a muddy path, over two brooks, and to a flooded cornfield where there were four other birders standing in the edge of the woods, scanning the pool with spotting scopes. There were about two dozen ducks on the pool, but no Garganey. It had been seen last evening and again this morning, but it was scared off with all the other ducks by some idiot who called himself a photographer who went charging out across the field to get a photo and hence ruined the chances for anyone else who might come later to see a life bird. DON'T get me started on the ethics of birding.
Anyway, I had a nice chat with a man from Maine who'd driven all night, some folks from Burlington who'd been there all day, a couple from New York who had been there at noon, been so disappointed not the find the duck that they'd gone into Burlington and bought a new car to raise their spirits (yes, I'm really serious) and had now come back with their new wheels. We were all hoping that the Garganey would be among the ducks that were slowly dropping down in groups of three to five to spend the night. We would chat until more ducks dropped in, then silence would fall as we scanned the newcomers, then we would chat again. And then, after an hour and fifteen minutes, one of the guys with a scope hissed, "The Garganey's here!"
And we got VERY excited.
Unfortunately, my old binoculars weren't up to the job, but the folks with scopes made sure all of us without scopes got a good look. And so I got a life list bird today that's so rare it's not even in any of my bird books and has only been seen once before in Vermont, back in 1988.
And I know for darn sure my scope and good camera are going to school with me tomorrow!
The flooded cornfield with no magnification
The best zoom my little camera could do. I can't even tell if the Garganey is in this bunch or not. But this is what I was looking at all afternoon.
For a link to Wikipedia's article and photos of Garganey Ducks click HERE
Did I mention he was absolutely gorgeous?