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WHAT'S UP, DUCK? Rare bird makes Irish appearance.

Byline: By LYNNE KELLEHER

THE not-so-lucky duck Buffy has ended up in wintry Ireland when she should be sunning herself in South America.

The young female bufflehead has caused a stir in bird-watching circles after surviving getting blown thousands of miles off course and landing in a west-of-Ireland lake.

The stunned duck is only the second of her species to arrive on Irish shores, according to one of the country's leading bird experts.

The fierce storms battering Ireland for most of the winter have blown hundreds of birds off course and across the Atlantic.

The lone bufflehead - a type of North American duck - was on her way from Canada to South America when a storm carried her to Ireland.

Gusts of wind also propelled unusually large numbers of the American ring-necked ducks and a species of small sea bird called Leach's petrel over here.

Ornithologist Eric Dempsey said bird watchers were amazed to see all the displaced ducks arriving this winter.

He said: ''The bufflehead was spotted in Lough Atedaun near Corrifin in Clare.

''Displaced ducks are here in unprecedented numbers."

The co-author of The Complete Guide to Ireland's Birds said the lone bird would probably stay on this side of the Atlantic.

He said: ''We are keeping a close watch on the bufflehead. It turned up at the beginning of January following one of the big storms.

''What do birds on the wrong side of the Atlantic do? They will probably stay here.

''They mightn't even know they are on the wrong side. It's such a big effort to cross back to the Atlantic. They'll stay on the wrong side looking for mates.

''The bufflehead is on its own so it probably won't find a mate. It will probably move with other ducks.

''The other species of displaced ducks will try to find a mate and may breed here."
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 4, 2007
Words:310
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