Wednesday 28 December 2011

Hey look, its a Smew

Last night when checking my email on my phone, a message popped up from Glenn Coady. I could only read part of the message's title, which read: "Miracle on Brock Street: ". Knowing that when Glenn posts its usually a rare bird, I clicked on the message and was shocked to read that a Smew had been found by Jim Robinson at Whitby harbour!!! Since Smew was my most wanted Ontario bird, I tried to find out a way I could finagle my schedule to see it today.

After an appointment I couldn't cancel, I picked up Brett Fried and Erika Hentsch and we booked it down to the harbour. I had Christmas dinner at 3, and I didn't pick up Brett and Erika til 11:30, so it was going to be close! If anyone knows me I don't like to miss a meal let alone a Christmas feast.

Fortunately when we arrived a hoard of birders already had their scopes set up on this bird, potentially Ontario's 3rd accepted record of this Eurasian species of duck. When we first arrived, this is how far away the bird was. It's between the raft of ducks and the Mute Swans:

waterfowl at Whitby harbour (Smew is in there!)

A Snowy Owl was conspicuous on the breakwall as well.

Snowy Owl - Whitby harbour

Eventually, the 1st winter male Smew took off and flew right at us. It ended up landing in the water not far off from where we were all standing, so everyone ended up with great looks at this bird.

Smew - Whitby harbour

Most wanted Ontario bird: Check! Now we just need an adult male to show up.

Smew - Whitby harbour

Thanks to Jim Robinson  for finding the bird and to Glenn Coady and Jean Iron for providing regular updates throughout the day. Brett, Erika and I had to leave after about 10 minutes, we raced back home (except for moments of heavy traffic) and I ran in the door just as everyone was sitting down for Christmas dinner! Perfect.

Some more shots...

Smew - Whitby harbour

Smew - Whitby harbour

Check out Jean's photos.

If only this bird hangs around for a while! Not only would it be great to have more extended views to study the bird, but it would also be a good way to kick off the big year.

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