11 March 2015

A To-do about a TUDU

Finally after a month of near misses I saw the Tufted Duck on Cayuga Lake.  This TUDU doesn't have an impressive tuft but he was sleek with that jet black back and white-flanked side.  He was also very busy chasing Scuap for a hand-out.  I watched him successfully steal two meals in just a few minutes time.  Luckily for me, this lifer chase wasn't a very long one and though I did have to work for it, the prize was only sweeter.

Tufted Duck on Cayuga Lake, New York

Tufted Ducks are rare Eurasian visitors but Cayuga Lake has a habit of getting one or two every winter.  The first one reported was in a large raft of ducks off of Hog's Hole near downtown Ithaca.  I searched a couple of times there but the flock was huge and without a scope I felt a little like I was searching for a needle in the haystack.  This time around the location was only slightly farther away at the Ithaca Yacht Club and merely a short walk down to the water's edge.  I was with the Cayuga Bird Club field trip and for the first 5 minutes we couldn't find it.  I wandered out to the edge of the point and found it for the whole group.  We were all on it moments later and spent the next 20 minutes watching it feed and chase and then we moved on as birders do to the next bird.  I'll give more details soon (in the Friday update) about the bird trip.  

When I finally succumbed to the cold, I gave the Tufted Duck one last glance with my glass and said goodbyes.  It's always nice to see a lifer and it was even better shared with a large group of like-minded individuals celebrating the rarities of life.  Good luck TUDU - may you find your way safely when spring comes.

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