Thursday, December 30, 2010

Finding the Harlequin

A few days ago, I checked the Pennsylvania Birding Listserv and saw that a Harlequin Duck had been reported from northern Northampton County. After a day or two, birders began posting photos of this beautiful male Harlequin Duck which represented the first documented record for the county. Today, my dad and I traveled to the Delaware River near the Belvidere bridge in order to see this duck.

Harlequin Duck
The beautiful, unique pattern and dark color of the Harlequin Duck distinguished it from the Common Goldeneyes

When we arrived at the location, we saw the bird down the river with a small group of Common Goldeneyes. We thought that a spot down the road would have a better vantage point, so we headed back the car. As we were about to leave, we ran into local birder Dave DeReamus who was also looking for the duck (although he had already seen it the day before). We talked with Dave for a while and decided to try the New Jersey side, since the Harlequin had been hanging out primarily on that side of the river.

We drove across the bridge and walked down the railroad bed until we got a clearing where we spotted the group of ducks. As we watched and photographed the rare bird, the group flew off. We walked back to the car, which was also the direction that ducks flew. When we got to where the ducks were, we were able to take several photographs before the birds swam towards the middle of the river.

The Harlequin Duck with a group of Common Goldeneyes

This beautiful bird was a lifer for my dad and only the second that I had ever seen (the first was during the World Series of Birding).

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