Monday, March 12, 2012

The fabulous hunt for the stupendous Fulvous Whistling Duck - Chambly, Quebec, November 22, 2011

Chambly Basin
Canada Geese Branta Canadensis
Dan, my birding partner since age six
This picture sums up my Korean birding experience
Welcome to birding in Canada!
Canada Goose Branta Canadensis
Snow Geese Chen caerulescens (one with a broken wing?)
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Hooded Merganser Lophodytes cucullates (Two males with varying degrees of crest erection)
Fulvous Whistling Duck Dendrocygna bicolor
Fulvous and friends
  It looks like I missed another epic birding trip due to a prior commitment this past weekend. I only missed out on a spectacular Siberian Crane and hundreds of thousands of Baikal Teal at Saemangeum, on Korea's west coast. Ouch. Ah well, at least that leaves me with some great stuff to see next time!
  I went birding here on Geoje yesterday, and things are still extremely quiet, with no sign of spring migrants yet, and the gulls and ducks of winter still present in force. I did get quite a bit of habitat recon done though, so hopefully I'll have found a good selection of key birding spots by the time spring hits.
  In lieu of any real recent bird news from Korea, here's a little Montreal twitch from back in November - interesting to contrast the birding scenes in Canada (get in line!) and Korea (go out and find something new and awesome!). Here's what I wrote at the time:

  Dan and I headed out east to search for some rare birds that were recently spotted in a reservoir there. A European Greylag Goose, clearly lost or attention-starved, was bringing in twitchy birders from all around Canada and America to the Chambly Basin for the better part of a week, but it was nowhere to be found today. We did spot a distant Great Cormorant (my old friend from Korea), uncommon this far inland.
  The real money bird was the Fulvous Whistling Duck, extremely rare this far north. We found it northeast of Chambly, in Otterburn Park. Here’s where it got surreal. We trudged into a frozen swamp to get a better view, and spotted it on a log, its head down, napping. I was staring through the viewfinder of The Beast for about 15 minutes, waiting for it raise its selfish beak, arms quivering. A rumbling train got its little fulvous head to pop up for a couple of seconds, and I got the picture. When I looked around, I was fairly shocked to find that we were no longer alone in the swamp. We were surrounded by a phalanx of about 15 birders crouched behind an imposing array of optics and fancy shoulder harnesses. What the? I kind of wondered why they didn’t have anything better to do on a Tuesday afternoon, but then I realized that they were me, sort of. That kind of bird paparazzi crew feels strange to me – I pretty much had an entire sub-tropical Korean island to myself for 2.5 years, scooting around on old-school Tintin birdventures, all fancy-free and alone. 
  After we got a good look, we headed back to the parking lot, and as soon as we got there, the noisy mob flushed the Fulvous and Mallards it was rolling with, and they flew a few hundred feet over, right in front of where we were standing. Click. We watched the birder crew shoulder their tripods and slog back towards us, and The Duck. Wacky. Oh, we saw a Bald Eagle, and I kept calling it a ‘Wild Eagle, American Eagle, 100%’, in a manic Sopranos voice. I guess were tired, because we found this way too funny, and we laughed like foolish ninnies.


  1. Lovely photos. Thanks for sharing, and greetings from Montreal.

  2. Hey, thanks Wren! How's the weather in good old 514? I dig your blog. Here's another blog written by a Montrealer wandering around Korea: