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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:
https://plus.google.com/photos/112372647343297818289/albums/5829050524084151633?authkey=CKT3w_rgm-iXCQ

  --
Ron Payne
Middlebury, VT

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:
>
> http://ebird.org/ebird/vt/view/checklist/email?subID=S12471029
>
> 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. 
>
> Ian
>
>