After fantastic views of the ELEGANT TERN in Buffalo (and Ontario), I headed over to spend the weekend with Kathi. The drive along the 402 was marked by strong north winds so once across the Blue Water bridge I stopped in at the end of Riverview for a quick look at the gulls and the coast guard station. I was surprised to see another birder there, who quickly introduced himself as Ken Mettie. Once he told me about a HARLEQUIN DUCK he had just seen and photographed at Marysville I was on my way. He gave me some quick and excellent directions and I was soon at Marysville River Park.
As soon as I pulled my naked eye detected a single small dark duck that looked to have the right jizz. The binocs soon revealed a female/imm HARLEQUIN DUCK swimming just a hundred yards south of the parking lot! I grabbed the 500 mm and knocked off a few hand held frames which hopefully can be improved on if the bird sticks around for the winter.

If you are looking for this bird it was seen on the Michigan side of the St. Clair River, along River Road. The park was just south of the intersection of Huron and River in Marysville. On the Ontario side of the river this is opposite the Shell gas station just north of a small creek north of Guthrie Park and the town of Corunna.


ELEGANT TERN - border fun with a rare bird

I'm not much of a 'chaser'. This fall though three great Canada birds have prompted me to get back in the game. The first was the BROWN BOOBY at Fort Erie. After several tense hours of no show that stunning seabird gave me 502. Then Brandon Holden found an equally improbable SNOWY PLOVER at the tip of Pelee in early November. I was one of the lucky few who managed to get there in the nick of time, for #503. Then on Wednesday an ELEGANT TERN was found tantalizingly close once again to the Ontario border in Buffalo, NY. Paul Pratt and I deliberated heading down on Thursday but damn work commitments made that a no go. Despite predicted horrible weather we opted to head down to Niagara Falls that night and try early Friday morning for yet another crazy bird. After reading the posts from Ontario and New York we decided it made the best sense to head over to NY where we could likely get better views and also better follow the bird if it did make it into Ontario.

When we arrived at the north end of Squaw Island, there was literally a blizzard of bonies in the harbour. Walking out to the pier, we soon found several Common Terns and then Paul spotted the ELEGANT TERN! Amazingly there was no one else present, though we could see about six or so birders on the Ontario side scoping the bird. We were only about 50 yards from the tern and able to get stunning views over the next few hours as it fed off the end of the dock and in the harbor.

Here is a pic of the ELEGANT TERN with Bonaparte's Gulls. It spent a lot of time resting on the end of the pier with bonies.

The ELEGANT TERN would take off periodically and spend some time feeding in the harbour and off the very end of the pier - diving so close it would disappear over the edge of the pier. We had superb views and studies of the bird as it fed like this. 

The Ontario border was very close to where the tern fed and on a couple of occasions early in the morning it swung west a hundred yards into what was likely Canadian waters. However we continued to wait hoping we could get a definitive view of the bird in Canada  which would leave no doubt. While we waited a nice adult basic LITTLE GULL put on a great show in the harbor.

Alan Wormington joined us after about an hour and each time the gulls flushed we would watch with great interest to see where the tern would take off. It always seemed to head back into the harbour almost immediately. After we had been there for about two hours the tern started once more to feed actively. This time though it made ONE long pass to the west, where it DEFINITELY reached CANADA!!!! After this the drizzle picked up and we headed back to Canada for a well deserved celebration breakfast at Coras!

 Above is the 'Canada bound' ELEGANT TERN!