Monday, November 16, 2015

The Low Spark Of The Hybrid Duck

Half-breed, that's all I ever heard
Half-breed, how I learned to hate the word
Half-breed, they're no good they warned
Record committees were against me since the day I was born

 Well a Cinnamon Teal showed up at Montezuma NWR. Woohoo I thought, a potential NYS bird! But then like a herd of horses, the nay sayers showed up. Seems like clockwork that if a rare duck shows up, it will be labeled an escapee or a hybrid. What is it about hybrids? Sure you technically can't count it as a this or a that, but its not like they don't exist at all. Why aren't they both, or two halves? And what ever happened to the aphorism: “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck..”

Well we all know that ducks are quite amorous, and from whence we get the phrase: “hey baby, once you go quack, you never go back”. So are we ever seeing pure birds or are they back-crosses etc? And once these birds step out of this line, does that tend to make them 'wander' in more literal ways?

Cinna-blue Teal?
One thing is for sure, while the experts were using their scopes to have a monkey trial debating the origin of the species, some of us decided it may be better to have gone and seen the bird while it was there and let the chirps fall where they may.

Having lived in Boston and made numerous trips back and forth to visit family here in New York, this distance was on par and not that onerous. In fact, for my money the western section of route 17, soon to be I-86 is quite picturesque, and a pleasure to cruise. So when other birders inquired if I was going to have a look, taking the trip became that much easier.

We waited a sufficient amount of time to hear various origins comments, and to see if the bird was being site faithful. With that confirmed, we decided it was better to see it than wait and risk missing it. Bob Prothonotary and Earic Miller joined me on this trip.

We got a reasonably early start; departing at 5am. Unencumbered by traffic, we arrived before 10am and to a few birders on site with the bird queued up for us. Beautiful bird, But a wee bit skulky, spending its time in the far back corner and feeding behind vegetation. We all got decent looks, but after 20 minutes all the birds in Larue pond were scared by something and flew away. Talk about good timing! I hate YSHBH5MA.

We birded the wildlife drive, and saw an impressive assortment of quackidillians. (And yes we skipped over the shorebirds because.. well, they're shorebirds. ) So many varieties were represented, it looked pathetically difficult to try to relocate the teal since it seemed to like to hide in the vegetation. I did however impress a bit by locating a Eurasian Wigeon in the teeming masses.

With a good scanning of the main pool completed, we headed off to Knox- Marsellus marsh where 60+ Sandhill Cranes had been seen recently. Having dipped on this bird on numerous visits, it was quite a pleasure to see at least 30+ of them and not have to try that hard. Also on site were Snow Geese and Tundra Swans. 

After a while, we decided to give Larue another shot. We were not disappointed! Not only had the teal returned but is was now much closer. I took several shots, but the distance, overcast and ..? made the pictures suck.

We capped the day with a pint of Guinness at a descent restaurant that Bob goes to in Weedsport when he’s up that way. The food was good, the day was good. The bird was good; even if it was a hybrid.

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