Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Smew in Whitby Harbour

Talk about twitching. When this Smew was reported to Ontbirds on Boxing Day I could hardly sit still through the next day-and-a-half of family togetherness as I kept calculating when I could make the 90 minute trip to Whitby Harbour for this Palearctic mega-rarity!


Fortunately, on the morning of Dec. 28 Hannah & I were among the first to arrive and witness this amazing first-year male bird just feet away from the railing.

Smew is designated by the ABA as a Code-3 bird, meaning that it is rare but recorded annually in the ABA area, although most of those records come from Alaska. Within the Province of Ontario, Smew is the equivalent of a Code-5 accidental with only two previously accepted records. Smew are sometimes included in private waterfowl collections so there will no doubt be questions concerning the provenance of this particular individual. It will be interesting to see whether the OBRC accepts this as a naturally occurring bird. Fingers crossed!

And the afterword is that the bird went missing and was not present the next day, or since. Whew!

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