Countable Birds?

I had some errands to run yesterday. I needed to pick up some seed for Mr. Neil's house and I needed some seed to take onto Showcase Minnesota with me. I went to Cardinal Corner in Newport and decided to take a quick trip over to Point Douglas Park to see if I could find a Barrow's goldeneye. Two had been reported in that area mixed in with some large flocks of common goldeneye, bouncing between the Minnesota and the Wisconsin side of the river. Barrow's is an unusual bird for Minnesota and you can see some great comparisons of the two species over at Bill Schmoker's site.

There were oodles of common goldeneye and some trumpeter swans. Note the swan above on the left that is leaning forward? It was trying to break up some of the ice to get through to the other side. It was interest to watch the swan rock back and forth and push its way through.

There were some other species mixed in with the common goldeneye, including redheads and a canvasback (and the ever present Canada geese). I wasn't really seeing anything that looked like a Barrow's goldeneye. Local birder Tom Bell said that you watch for a black thumb mark on the side of the bird. I wasn't really trying that hard either. I don't know, we seem to have Barrow's goldeneye reported every year in Minnesota, but it's not a bird that I try for very hard. So, I just decided to focus on some digiscoping and see what kinds of shots I could get. It was warm(ish) day in the 30s, there was sun and I was just happy to be out on a day when we have only eight hours of daylight.

When I was going through my images on iPhoto I noticed this photo. There is a merganser, but check out the duck in the top center of the photo. Here's a zoom in:

There's a thumb! It's a Barrow's goldeneye! I haven't seen one before and I don't know if I'll count this one. I didn't realize I was seeing it while I was there but found I had it when I came home. However, if this was a bird I didn't know but was trying to id and needed to take the image home to consult some field guides, I would. If you see a bird out in the wild but didn't know it was there, can you count it? I shall ponder this...