A what? A Ruff! Here in Newfoundland? Here it is, and it is not the first time.
On August 26th Catherine Barrett made a short detour on her way home from work. When she arrived at the shoreline of Fourth Pond, there stood a different bird. She knew it was special but wasn't quite sure what it was. A quick call and look by an expert birder made the ID in no time - a juvenile male Ruff.
The calls started and the posting was made. Very soon after, several birders made the worthwhile trip to Fourth Pond. It is a good thing, too, because those who didn't go that evening didn't get to see this great bird. By the next morning it was gone.
This is a young Ruff that is way off course. However, it didn't look tired from its journey. In fact, it was bright and alert, not fazed by onlookers. It came out of the water and walked on shore providing great looks.
The "Winging It" article by Ken Knowles appearing in The Telegram this last weekend gave a great overview of this bird. For those that haven't read it, it may be available through the paper's online site. It is worth checking out.
The brief sighting of this Eurasian bird illustrates many important points: 1) Never underestimate the kinds of birds that come to this North Atlantic island; 2) keep on checking all of the familiar locations even though 99.9% of the time, there is nothing there; 3) confirm the ID as soon as possible; 4) go as soon as a rare bird is sighted; and 5) get the word out quickly.
If Catherine had not found this bird, it would have never been seen, shared or documented. It was a great find and was a special sighting for those who managed to see it on its brief stay. I never imagined that I would ever see this bird.