Anyway, this quincentennial post is a doozy, or at least the subject is.
Word hit the Ohio Birds Listserv around 9:30 this morning that a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck had been found at Pipe Creek Wildlife Area in Sandusky, along the shores of Lake Erie and in the shadows of Cedar Point amusement park. Shortly thereafter, I received direct confirmation when the discoverer, Larry Richardson, phoned with the news live from the spot.
Larry deserves major props for this find, which is Ohio's second record. Not only was he out and about in the extreme heat, but Larry was working a somewhat sparsely birded site that requires a fair bit of walking to access. After he found the bird, he quickly got word out and the grapevine was abuzz within no time. Excellent work, Larry!
Well, I was in my office, which is one of the pitfalls of having a job. I am not a major lister when it comes to birds, but finds like this drive me mad as I am slightly fanatical in regards to my Ohio list. It's really the only formal bird list that I maintain. When word comes of an Ohio bird that I haven't seen in the state, the fever takes hold. So, it was another dip into the vacation hours, and off I went along with Bernie Master.
One of the impoundments at Pipe Creek, an excellent birding locale. That island off yonder was the focus of the numerous visitors today.
This odd duck is on the upswing, at least in the northern reaches of its range. There have been numerous records in the Midwest and along the east coast in recent years, and Ohio's first record came in 2004. I suspect we'll have other records before long. Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks nest in cavities, and take readily to manmade boxes. People are putting out ever-increasing numbers of boxes, and this factor along with an increase in favorable habitat are two factors that are probably helping the ducks to increase. Thus, we have more ducks to wander and turn up in strange places like northern Ohio.
I'm sure glad that I did. And for those of you that are interested in such things, the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck was number 363 on my Ohio list.