OK! This is a bit bizarre, but this week a Willow Ptarmigan turned up on the grounds of Darlington Nuclear Plant here in Bowmanville. These are birds of the Arctic tundra so this one is definitely out of its normal range. Apparently what happened was that one of the Darlington staff noticed a strange bird on one of the gravel storage areas, took a photo somehow and looked it up in a bird book. He then notified the Biodiversity Officer for the site and she consulted with some birders and eventually came to the decision that this was a Willow Ptarmigan as opposed to a Rock Ptarmigan. Either one would be way out of their range! Apparently there was quite an irruption of these birds into central Quebec this past winter so this was probably an offshoot of this irruption! After the posting about this bird was made on ONTBIRDS someone reported that they had probably seen one at the Carden Alvar earlier this year but hadn't believed themselves! The only other southern Ontario record was one from Whitby Ont. from May of 1897, 114 years ago following another winter irruption of these birds.
Having found this bird and learning the magnitude of the sighting, the staff at the Darlington Plant organized an event to allow the birding public a chance to access the area and see the bird. We all assembled at the Darlington Info Center at 8:45AM and after a pre job brief, we boarded school buses and took a ten minute ride down to the storage area.
The assembled crowd of birders in the Info Center. Some came from as far away as Missouri!!
Boarding the school bus for the trip down to the nuclear sites storage area.
After three trips by the bus, everyone was down at the area and the bird was pushed out into view by three OPG "birddogs". It took some pushing and the lead birddog almost had to push it out with his feet, but eventually it walked out into the open and gave all 150 or so birders an excellent view!
These photos are not the greatest, as I don't have an SLR with a six mile long lens but they give you the general idea!
Kudos to the staff at OPG for going way above and beyond, and providing this opportunity for the birding public!! Many corporations would not have even thought about this, let alone have gone to the trouble to organize, and provide this opportunity, at a highly secure facility such as a Nuclear Power Plant. Congrats to OPG and their staff at Darlington!