Friday, 24 January 2014

Masked Duck Laurie

Masked Duck Laurie

We know very little about the Masked Duck population here in Barbados.  This shy bird seems to appear and disappear without warning in a small number of local swamps.  Where does it go?  Does it migrate to and from another country?  If it does migrate, from which country does this beautiful bird originate?
Laurie could have given us some insight into these questions.  “Who is Laurie?” you may ask.  Laurie is a female Masked Duck which was rescued from sure death, and turned over to Dr. John Webster, host of the television program Breakfast with the Birds.  Dr. Webster invited me to have a close up look and to assist with recording its return to the wild with video and stills.
On seeing Laurie, the first thing I noticed was her size.  I had previously viewed, and photographed these ducks in the wild; however I never appreciated how small these ducks really were.
With this elusive bird in hand, we tried to have it tagged, but were unable to locate the correct tag for its size.  We also would have benefited from tracking this bird via Satellite, but alas, none of the two options were available.  The information gathered however, was timely, especially for Dr. Webster, who was in the process of preparing a program on the Masked Duck.
Sunday January 19, 2014 was the day of Laurie’s release.  As she took to the water at The Hope Pond, she paused a little, as if to say thank you and good bye, before swimming off to enjoy her freedom.
I returned to the pond on January 21 to see if she was still there, but true to their nature, Laurie, our Masked Duck was gone.  Where did she go?  Did she migrate off island?  If so, to where?  Questions we may never have answered, but could have had, with Laurie the Masked Duck.

Below are photographs of Laurie
  
You can also click this link to view a short video produced for Breakfast with the Birds with Dr. John Webster, featuring the return of Laurie the Masked Duck to the wild.