Friday, 9 March 2012

A Wild Smew Chase, part 2

A quick post from today.

Yesterday, a different Smew was found at Long Point - this time an adult male, found by Ron Ridout. No one else saw it that evening, however the Guelph crew (Reuven, Mark, Dave, Matt and I) headed down for first light. Apparently we missed it by a few minutes, or it flew right by us, as Stu Mackenzie saw it fly out of the bay around the same time we were scanning it! Very frustrating. We eventually met up with Barb Charlton and Ken Burrell and spent the rest of the day scanning every inch of the inner bay, probably looking at every duck about 10 times. We didn't see it, but had a few other highlights:

High count of 12 Little Gulls off the causeway
Many Sandhill Cranes
All the expected ducks, including a Blue-winged Teal at BSC headquarters (my earliest ever by 2 weeks!)
A very early Eastern Phoebe (my earliest by almost 2 weeks)
Lots of other early birds - blackbirds, flicker, Killdeer, E. Meadowlark, etc
15,000 Redhead

I added three new year birds (Sandhill Crane, Blue-winged Teal, and Eastern Phoebe) so the day wasn't entirely lost. Plus it was great seeing the thousands of waterfowl. Tonight I am leaving for Kingston and I will try for the Varied Thrush in Ottawa (yes, try #3) first thing. I'll need all the help I can get.


  1. When you plug Redhead into eBird a " rare " sign
    comes up and they want a description. I have seen Redheads on Burlington Bay all winter, and
    when I lived in Windsor 20,000 in January on
    open water at the Detroit River/Lake St Clair.
    Ebird needs to get its s#@t together.

  2. Hey Josh,

    Just wondering what evidence there is that the Whitby Smew is different than the LP one? That's pretty amazing that 2 individuals were seen in one winter!

    Keep trying for that Smew. It will show up eventually :)

  3. The second sighting (March) at Whitby was also a bird in male breeding plumage ( ), which corresponds well with the initial sighting in December of the male in eclipse plumage. Check out this post with NY state duck breeder:

  4. Alvan and Stuart,

    I think the question should be "what evidence is there that the Whitby Smew is the same as the Long Point one?". Smew is obviously a rare bird, but there are so many hundreds of thousands of ducks out there that for one to be seen in Whitby in December, then in an entirely different Great Lake in March seems unlikely to me, at least. It's entirely possible, if they are both wild birds, that whatever weather phenomena brought one Smew to the Great Lakes could have brought 2 or more.
    I think unless there is strong evidence that the 2 birds are one and the same, it is best to consider them two separate records. It will be interesting to see what the OBRC does with them.