Monday, June 02, 2008

Another Tick--but only just!

I received an email from Bill Wakefield on Sunday morning, saying that Tim Reid had reported a Pink-eared Duck on "Lake Chook" at Gretna (I assume the name is an unofficial birder name!). Unable to check it out on the weekend due to family commitments, today (Monday) I opted for an early morning start. Well, in my eastern shore suburb, it was bright and sunny, so I set off with high hopes of seeing said bird. But....the whole of the Derwent Valley was in thick fog. Being a supreme optimist, you have to be to photograph birds, I kept going, telling myself the weather at Gretna would be clear. Wrong!
The stretch of water concerned, is a large farm dam, opposite the Gretna village hall. At the moment, being one of the few stretches of water still extant, due to low rainfall, it holds good numbers of waterfowl. Arriving, my heart sank, visibility was extremely poor, with a thick mist over the entire area that, in the very still conditions, was unlikely to lift for some hours. I pulled off to the side of the road and scanned the area. Numbers of teal, shoveler, black duck, coot, Hoary-headed Grebe, and Black Swan, but no pink-eared. There was obviously many other birds further down the dam, but in the conditions they were just ghostly blobs. At the risk of scaring everything, I got out of the car and walked down to the fence, hoping that would enable me to 'see' a little further down the dam. Little stirred, except a solitary Black-fronted Plover calling--I think they were having trouble seeing me! I scanned again, just being able to make out 4 Hardheads on a small islet, mid water. I was fast coming to the conclusion that this really was a waste of time, but thought I'd have one last scan. Voila! The unmistakable outline of a Pink-eared Duck, about a hundred metres away! Must get a record shot, just to prove I did see it--top left. (Yes, I know it doesn't look foggy, but that's entirely down to digital imaging, for which I'm truly grateful).
Pink-eared Duck are considered a rare vagrant in Tasmania, and Bill tells me that this is only the 8th record for the state. From memory, most of the records have come from the far NW of Tasmania. It's also my first sighting of this species in Tasmania, and I've been around a long time! My thanks to Bill and Tim.


Anonymous said...

Aaahhh! And we are out of the state! Never mind, so far I've picked up four 'lifers' this trip, witht the chance of a couple more tomorrow. MAybe the Pink-eared Duck will hang around until we get back??

BirdingTas said...

Hi John,
If it stays dry it will probably stay put. But's just started to rain! Take heart John, it's only "mizzling", and we'll need a lot more to make much difference. Enjoy your holiday.