[CT Birds] Harlequin Duck present 2/22 8am

Roy Harvey rmharvey at snet.net
Mon Feb 22 09:07:41 EST 2010

Passing this good news along.

 From SH Johnston, Farmington
2/22/10 Mill Lane, Farmington - 1 HARLEQUIN DUCK (drake) continues in the mill pond below the Grist Mill Restaurant at 8:15 am.
LATE REPORT: 2/19/10 - Farmington Meadows - 1 PEREGRINE FALCON chasing rock doves while 1 BALD EAGLE put 700+ Canada Geese to flight - an amazing spectacle!

Reports of the Harlequin Duck's death have been greatly exaggerated! I stopped by the Grist Mill this morning to see if the Harlequin was there, and yes, he looks just fine paddling about as usual with the domestic geese and semi-wild Mallards. Since I first spotted the bird on Jan 12, I've observed three cycles of rising and falling water in the river: when the water is very high, the duck leaves to find more turbulent water, and may be absent for some days. When the water falls, and the falls re-emerge and the area becomes turbulent, the duck returns. Naturally.

The reports (from non-birders) that the duck had been taken by an eagle, just never sounded right, especially since the "death" was reported at a time of high water. I noticed that the speculation that the bird MIGHT have been taken by an eagle soon became a "fact" that the duck HAD been taken, and pretty soon there was the added information that it had been awfully gruesome. I was also surprised that the people at the grist mill, who supposedly had been watching the duck for weeks prior to the Jan 12 sighting, had not noticed the clear relationship between the water level and the duck's movements. In fact, in a post to CT Birds, one person who had talked to the restaurant people said that they were hoping the duck would return when the water rose - exactly the opposite of what really happens.

Let's hope that when the time is right, the duck will leave for good and find his way back to his breeding grounds in the north. Though it's been great to see it in Farmington, I hope that next year he migrates to coastal waters where he belongs.

Roy Harvey
Beacon Falls, CT

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