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Off-course duck from Europe or Asia is first of its kind to reach B.C.

Last Updated Nov 20, 2020 at 2:12 pm EST

VICTORIA — An unusual duck is fluttering the hearts of birdwatchers on southern Vancouver Island after flying far off course during its migration between Europe or Asia and the waterways of Southeast Asia or Japan.

Ann Nightingale, director of the Rocky Point Bird Observatory, says the duck, known as a common pochard, was likely pushed by bad weather and ended up at the Summit Park reservoir in Victoria last week.

She says the pochard is anything but common in Canada and may have been spotted once in Quebec in 2008, but the sighting was never officially confirmed because that duck could have been an escaped exotic pet.

Nightingale says birdwatcher Jody Wells snapped the first photo of the large red-headed, silver-backed duck in the Victoria reservoir, thinking it was another infrequent visitor known as a redhead, but the splash of blue on the pochard’s swooping black bill gave it away.

She says the reservoir is similar to the duck’s intended destination and she expects it will remain in the area for the winter before trying to find its flock next spring.

In the meantime, Nightingale says local birdwatchers are enjoying the show while bird lovers from across North America are cursing COVID-19 travel restrictions that keep them from taking in the rare sight. 

“This bird is definitely one that is causing a lot of people south of the border a lot of angst because they can’t come to see it,” Nightingale says in an interview.

“They’ll be keeping their fingers crossed for it to survive, too, until the restrictions are lifted.”  

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2020.

The Canadian Press