Thanks for posting excellent Larry's images. Given the distance involved, that's a terrific set! I couldn't find a date on the images and wondered if those were taken on Jan 1st rather than Jan 2nd? My digi-scoped images from yesterday morning (when I briefly met you and Ian) are not even close to that sort of quality. Would it possible to clarify when Larry took the shots?
James P. Smith
--- On Thu, 1/3/13, Ronald Payne <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
From: Ronald Payne <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: [VTBIRD] Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, and many observers. Champlain Bridge.
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Thursday, January 3, 2013, 8:30 AM
If you would like some nice visuals to go along with Ian's rather poetic words, Larry Master gave permission to share pictures he took of the Pochard yesterday:
On Thu, 3 Jan 2013 05:18:39 -0500, "Ian A. Worley" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Yesterday from the crack of dawn through the afternoon birders assembled
> at the north end of the Champlain Bridge in hopes of viewing a Common Pochard, a Tufted Duck, and other lake birds. Very early arrivals had reasonably good viewing, although the formation of lake ice had pushed the large mixed flock a couple of thousand feet farther from shore than the previous day. All the rarities of the day before were present and accounted for.
> However, as a pre-frontal trough and cold front approached, viewing conditions deteriorated rapidly, so many of us fought distance, snow, mist, wind and cold to search monochromatic birds all milling about ... in hopes of locating life birds and other rarities. Tucked under the bridge approach ramp for shelter, birders' spirits were high and anticipatory, with calls of "Anyone on the bird yet?" and occasional shouts of "It's up!" and "Quick, quick-- look in my scope!" Frozen fingers and toes were forgotten with every viewing of a bird only once previously reported from the 48 states and only once in Canada. (San Bernadino County, California in February 1989, Saint-Barthelemy, Quebec in May 2008)
> Newly arriving birders told of blizzard conditions over the last few miles of travel to the bridge from the east .... from vigorous lake effect snows and drifting snows. After a while, all viewers each slowly realized that there were no sources of hot drinks or food nearby, and were it not for a construction site Port-a-potty ......
> Then, shortly after noon there was an exclamation "Blue sky to the north!" The post-cold front, dry arctic air brought clearing skies, and waves to the open waters. The thin snow-covered ice formed the night before began to break up in the wave surges. Colors could now be seen in the birds, who were approaching ever closer to our viewing site with the waning ice. An lo, now viewers could search for the colorful head of the Common Pochard and be delighted in the handsomeness of the bird so incomprehensibly rare in our part of the world.
> No total count of birders was taken, but a total count for the day must have been in the range of 30-40. Also, 3-4 of the workers constructing an expanded fishing access below the bridge stopped by for looks, as did a few other curious individuals. There were many scopes.
> With all the excitement in searching, searching, searching for the rarities, the milling mixtures of species, the windy cold, and the trying viewing conditions no dedicated, careful counts of the most numerous species were made. Ron Payne and I, who have counted the masses of birds in this part of the lake the last few weeks, and the day previous, made estimates of numbers. The list of species we submitted to eBird from this day at the site can be found at:
> Presuming that the below zero temperatures and calm winds of tonight created even more ice than the night before, it is possible that the ice margin will be an even greater distance from the bridge. In typical years, the next public viewing location is at DAR State Park. The park is not open for vehicles, but a couple of cars can be parked at the gated entrance. Walk straight toward the lake from the gate. The best viewing is by a large stone picnic shelter. Slightly to its north there is also a trail down to the water.
> Good luck to all who seek the birds today. And good birding to everyone this new year.