John and I decided to chase the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck that was first reported on Ontbirds on Tuesday evening, so taking advantage of the cooling trend (the predicted humidex for the day was a chilly 38º C, bbbrrrrrrrrr), we hit the road at 8:45 a.m. Our final destination was the outskirts of the small village of Milford (SE of Picton) where a bird surveyor made this exciting discovery in a pond that usually only sees Mallards, Kildeer, and cattle. It's also the first record of one in Prince Edward County!
So what's the big deal? First of all, this fellow shouldn't be here, not that we're complaining, this was even a Lifer for JOHN! The most northerly he (the bird, that is, and not John) is usually found is in southern Texas and Mexico, so once again I'm left scratching my head as to how he could show up here. I suggested to John that perhaps he should hook up with the American White Pelican that's been at Second Marsh in Oshawa for the past few weeks to see if they can get a special discount rate on a flight back home to where they belong!
So here's our male Black-Bellied Whistling-Duck, upon our arrival he flew out onto the water uttering a few whistles, and I feared we were going to miss him as some of my field guides warned that this species could be skittish:
But what a charmer he turned out to be, with his bright red bill, grey head, white eye ring, black belly, pink legs, and a pinch of duckweed tossed in for colour contrast, what's not to love??
He snoozed in the heat for a bit at the water's edge with his Mallard buddies:
He occasionally had to deal with some itches with those pretty pink feet:
Here are some better views of his black belly, they were formerly known as Black-bellied Tree Ducks:
Only John was fortunate enough to catch a brief glimpse of his bold white upperwing-stripe when we first arrived, but this wing action below is all I saw, sadly. Too hot to move, I suppose!
Contary to what we had expected, this duck seemed quite at ease with our presence as well as traffic, not that we were all that close to him. The only time he became wary was when Kildeer were nattering away nearby, as well as when the cattle approached the ponds to refresh themselves:
So it was a great trip today, thanks again to John for driving, our reward for the journey was a Lifer for both of us, whoohooo!
I suspect Milford will be a busy place this coming week-end as other birders no doubt will make the trek to seek out this wayward fellow.