Escape from New York
On New Year's Day, Ian Worley and Ron Payne discovered a COMMON POCHARD on the Vermont side of southern Lake Champlain, later ID'd by Jeremiah Trimble thanks to the wonder of digital photography.
I made the trip north on Sunday January 6th with Phil Rusch and Greg Hanisek. After a few hours of searching by several dozen birders, the duck was relocated on the NY side. We arrived to very nice views of the bird sleeping, every now and then picking its head up for a quick look before re-tucking. Tick! Everyone on site was thrilled, and many birders had already departed feeling very content with their views of this mega rarity.
Not so fast.
Birders down the line from us noticed a band on the bird's right leg as it began to dive and take short flights. A rumor had been spreading during the morning's search that the bird was banded, based on the previous days' observations. We had hoped this was untrue. Chris Wood was able to get some really nice photos clearly showing a metal band on its right leg. I could not help but laugh; something about dozens of birders from far and wide assembled to view...a pet.
Research into the matter has revealed that a drake Common Pochard, reportedly with an identical metal band on its right leg, was lost from an aviary in New York state. Nail in the coffin.
Despite the bad news the road trip was a lot of fun. Great company, got to catch up with some old acquaintances, and the waterfowl show was simply stellar. Throw in a few Rough-legged Hawks and some bear sausage for breakfast and you have a winning day.