News rolled in late this evening that a drake COMMON SHELDUCK had been photographed in Renews earlier today! This duck, which ranges across much of Europe and Asia, is a mega-rarity in North America, and no doubt any Newfoundland birder who can slip away from whatever responsibilities they might have tomorrow will be out looking for it.
In fact, Common Shelduck has never “officially” been recorded in North America! Although there have been a number of good candidates in the past decade or so, a shadow of uncertainty has always fell over these reports since this classy-looking duck is regularly kept in captivity and the provenance of all individuals spotted in the “wild” is always questioned. However, there is little doubt that this particular bird is wild and will likely mark the first “accepted” record for the ABA region. All the factors line up:
– In fact, there is a large & growing breeding population of Common Shelduck in Iceland – and that may indeed be closer than any captive birds!
– The timing is perfect, since Common Shelducks should be migrating to Iceland right now. They typically begin arriving there in late March, with the first one this year having been reported on March 12.
– The weather has been right, with strong E/NE winds prevailing the past few days — just what we need for Icelandic migrants to be directed our way. And Renews, on the far east coast of Newfoundland, is the perfect location for one to stop in.
There is one previous record for the province – an individual that was found and photographed in St. John’s on November 17, 2009. Unfortunately it flew off a few minutes later and was never relocated. (NOTE – As discussed above, this record has never been officially considered or recognized by the ABA, although many birders such as myself feel quite strongly that it was most likely a wild bird that strayed during fall migration from breeding grounds in Iceland.)