Archive | November 17, 2013

Rare Bird Alert: King Eider in Ottawa

King Eider

King Eider

On the morning of Wednesday, November 14th, three female King Eiders were discovered at Andrew Haydon Park. This is a rare bird in Ottawa; the last one seen here was in 1993! My email inbox and Facebook feed were full of reports of the three eiders all morning long, until they flew south and a fourth one was discovered at the end of Scrivens Street later that morning. The last I heard of the eider, she was sleeping on the water at the east end of Andrew Haydon Park at dusk. Chances were good that she would still be there in the morning.

That night I dreamed of going to the river to look for her. And when I woke up earlier than usual, I decided I would take a quick look before I had to go to work. It was just getting light when I left at 6:40 am, and as soon as I arrived I started scanning the flocks of geese at the east end of the park. There were lots of other birds on the river, including some Common Goldeneye, scaup and a Surf Scoter, but I saw nothing that looked like the bird I’d seen in the photographs. Then I spotted another birder, Aaron, scanning the water from the middle of the shoreline. We met up to compare notes. Like me, he only had limited time to look for the bird before work and hadn’t found her. Just as I was about to tell him I had to leave, I spotted a lone duck with a distinctly sloping profile swimming away from the shore. I took a quick look through my scope and confirmed that it was the female King Eider – a lifer for me!

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