'It's fantastic': Rare Asian duck splashes down in Victoria
Published Thursday, November 19, 2020 5:50PM PST Last Updated Friday, November 20, 2020 9:41AM PST
A common pochard duck is seen at Summit Park in Victoria. The rare bird is believed to be the first recorded common pochard sighting in B.C., and perhaps even all of Canada, say bird watchers: (CTV News)
VICTORIA -- Bird watchers are flocking to a hotspot on lower Vancouver Island to get a glimpse of a rare duck.
The 'common pochard' duck was discovered by local birder Jody Wells last weekend while out taking photos around the Summit Park reservoir in Victoria.
The duck, native to Asia and Europe, migrates this time of year to the eastern coast of Asia, to areas like Japan.
This is the first recorded sighting of a common pochard in B.C., and possibly in Canada, says Ann Nightingale with the Rocky Point Bird Observatory.
This is only the second time the avid bird watcher has seen a common pochard. Last year, she saw one in Japan.
“A rare bird can turn up anywhere. You know, here we are, in what’s kind of an industrial setting, and we’ve got one of the most exciting birds that we’ve had in British Columbia in 2020.”
The adult male has a long dark bill with a grey band, a red head and neck, a black breast, red eyes and a grey back.
Since word got out, bird enthusiasts have been showing up to get a glimpse and snap pictures.
The rare water fowl is drawing lots of interest from all over, says Nightingale.
“If there were not COVID restrictions, I would not be surprised if you were seeing hundreds of people coming to see this bird rather than dozens of people coming to see the bird,” said Nightingale.
She says that with an event like this, there would be bird watchers coming in from all parts of Canada, Washington state, California and even as far away as Florida; but travel restrictions will prevent that from happening this time.
“This is a rare occurrence anywhere in North America, south of Alaska, and there are birders who try to have the highest number of birds they can see in North America,” said Nightingale. “So, unless they’ve gone to Alaska to see this bird, there’s a lot of people that would be here.”
On the same day the common pochard was discovered at Summit Park, a different Asian duck was sighted in the Duncan area, a 'tufted duck.'
Nightingale says rare bird sightings are becoming more common, but adds that the cause may also be due to an increase in bird watchers and wildlife photographers.
“You can have a rare bird in your backyard, or it might be just down the street, and so I encourage people to get out, go for a walk and pay attention to the birds,” she said.
Nightingale hopes the common pochard will get more people interested in bird watching and, in turn, care more about them.
“I just think it’s great that so many people have come out to see this bird. It’s fantastic and I hope the bird stays around awhile and lots more people will get to enjoy it,” she said.