This week I made my usual trip out to the Gilbert Water Ranch. I had decided beforehand that I would spend some time with the waterfowl – this meant I would not need to lug my gear around, I could find my spot and wait for the birds to float past… or so I thought!
As I sat in my hidey-hole I was aware of foot traffic on the path behind me and as the sun broke it was obvious that the ducks had heard the movements too. They had swam out of range of my lens and did not look like they were coming back anytime soon. So, I decided to move to another pond. When I stood up I could see 5 or 6 photographers along the bank – this was the cause of the disturbance. As I headed off I was approached by a rather flustered gentleman who asked me “Is Michael still here? Where’s Michael?”. I told him that I didn’t know who he was looking for, but there was a group of photographers further down the path that may be able to help him. He headed off in their direction and I continued on my way. After a few minutes another group of people bustled past. I could hear snatches of their conversatiion “Hope we find Michael”, “We may need to split up to find him” etc etc. My mind was working in overdrive at this point and I arrived at the conclusion that someone must be lost – I kept thinking of a kid face-down in a pond, so I followed the crowd in case a search was being organised. As we walked I got chatting to a man who dropped a field guide and I asked him “Who is Michael?” – He replied that I had misheard, not Michael but Baikal – a Teal that flies between Korea and Siberia. It has never been seen in Arizona before and people were coming in from all over the country to see it – as it turns out there were some international ‘twitchers’ on the scene too!
So here is Michael the Baikal – a lost Teal, not a lost child. Not the greatest photograph, but definitely useful for ID.
Following this memorable event I decided that I would leave the bank and wander around the other ponds to see what was around. Here is a selection of the rest of the morning: