Saturday, January 14, 2017

River Run II

It was a toss-up as to where to go today, but I headed upriver.  It was a good choice as conditions for viewing birds along the river was perfect.  There was no wind (for a change!) making the waters calm, and it was overcast which always seems better for viewing things on the river.  Not the best day for photography, but viewing was excellent in any case.

Sombra Mallards

At Port Lambton, I noticed a large number of gulls, including at least two Glaucous.  In fact, there were hundreds of gulls all along up to Cathcart Park north of Sombra.

At Sombra, there were rafts of ducks to look through, but most were Redhead of course.  I did note some Ring-necked among them.  Canvasback finally arrived in numbers on the river late this week as well.  I did not have the patience to scope through all of them!

A group of Tundra Swans was at the foot of Fawn Island, but there did not seem to be as many Mute Swans as usual.
At least one White-winged Scoter was in my view at Sombra, but others were reported.



Farther upriver, I saw the wintering Common Loon just south of Seager Park.  It is always nice to see one on the river in January.  There is usually one around.

A Red-throated would be better. Many years ago I did find one, coincidentally, at Seager Park!

Redhead rafts were all along the river, but I did not see much variety.  Some Greater Scaup were mixed in.

At Mooretown, a Double-crested Cormorant was swimming in the river.  Perhaps it is the one that hangs out at Shell, Corunna.  It was quite distant when I first saw it, but while looking at other things, it flew right in front of me at point blank range.  The camera was not ready!

There were not a lot of gulls off Guthrie Park this morning, but there was a good number of Common Goldeneye and Bufflehead north of Stag Island.

At Sarnia Bay, there was a good number and variety of gulls and ducks.  They all got up three times when I was there, so it was constantly changing.  Each time there was a different mix.  There were at least four species of gulls here plus a hybrid.
A splendid Great Black-backed X Herring adult came in at the last minute.  Some call it a "Great Lakes Gull".

A few Ring-billed Gulls, uncommon in winter on the river, were on the ice.

At the mouth of Lake Huron, Long-tailed Ducks were the dominant species (besides distant Redhead) numbering several hundred.  White-winged Scoters were out there as well.

Distant raft of Redhead!

The Snow Goose was still at Blackwell Trails Park.  It and the other geese must have had a hard week again as they were sleeping just like last week!

Mallard X Black hybrid

After picking up some sunflower seed in town, I headed south and tried again for the Northern Shrike on Ladysmith Line.  Any other time I have been here (including last winter), I never saw a shrike, but today luck was with me.

I headed back out to the river at Courtright and looked at some more ducks and gulls.  Nothing different this time.  The loon was still in place near Seager Park.

Near Wallaceburg, about 50 Tundra Swans were in a corn field which seemed odd for the time of year.  Checking other eBird lists, quite a few were around today in the SW part of the province.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

River Run-St. Clair River January 8

I made a somewhat thorough look at the St. Clair River this morning all the way to Lake Huron. Plus a pond in Sarnia!
I started by looking at the Chenal Ecarte at the north end of Walpole Island.  The Northern Pintails and American Coots were still in place.  They are difficult at times to see as they swim in and out of the phragmites.
There was not a lot of waterfowl to count if one was doing a waterfowl survey, but gulls were the main attraction.
The bright early morning sun plus a strong west wind made viewing difficult.  Most of the gulls were way out first thing and towards the US side.
I did see an Iceland (1st cycle) at Courtright and some Glaucous at Corunna before moving on to Sarnia.
Long-tailed Ducks are in good numbers along the river.  They never used to be, but in the last few years they are common-place.

A good number of ducks, especially Common Mergansers were in Sarnia Bay.
Some ducks were in the harbour as well.  The NE corner is a good spot for puddle ducks.  We have seen Wood Duck here during winter.

At the lakewatch spot at the mouth of Lake Huron (not mouth of St. Clair River as some wrongly say!) there was quite a bit of ice.  However, there were several hundred Long-tailed Ducks riding the current. A few gulls were on the ice.

Glaucous Gull in flight

Off Canatara Park and the yacht club was a good raft of Redhead - 4000+.

Some Greater Scaup were mixed in, but it was 99 % Redhead of several thousand.  I could not see all of them from the lakewatch spot.

While in Sarnia, I got a message about a Snow Goose at Blackwell Trails Park (east-end Sarnia).  I headed over there and the goose was readily visible.  However, it was sound asleep!  It was very cold and windy there and even Anne Goulden braved the elements to see the goose!

There were lots of Canada Geese here as well as Mallards. I also noticed a presumed Mallard X Black.

I went for a walk at Perch Creek and came across a little owl.

I also saw a big owl which is probably what the crows were mobbing. The Great Horned took off though.

I went back to Guthrie Park as the lighting was better and the gulls were closer.  At the Shell dock I spotted a Double-crested Cormorant.  It seems one is here every winter!

The gulls were quite active and I picked out at least 6 Glaucous and one Iceland.

The Iceland seemed rather peculiar as it was very white with a bi-coloured bill.  Some Kumlien's can look like this though.  The first cycle glaucoides, very rare for Ontario, can look similar from what I read and is sometimes indistinguishable from Kumlien's at first glance.

This may look somewhat like a Glaucous but it was Iceland sized and head-shaped.

I cannot remember is this was the same gull or not (!):

In any case, this small white-winged gull stood out.