Sunday, February 08, 2009

Winter Birding at Humber Bay Park and Colonel Sam Smith Park, Toronto, ON

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Winter Birding at the North Shore of
Lake Ontario, from Humber Bay Park
to Colonel Sam Smith Park, Toronto

February 8, 2009

It was a delightful day to be out and about. The temperature was 0 degrees C when we left home at 09:05h and the sun was already breaking through. As we drove into Toronto the cloud dissipated even more and it turned out to be a fine mid-winter day, perfect for birding.

Humber Bay Park

This location is always good for birding at any time of the year and is easily reached in less than a half hour from Toronto International Airport. It consists of two arms jutting out into Lake Ontario, called appropriately Humber Bay Park East and Humber Bay Park West, but it is really part of the same spit of land.
Immediately upon arrival we noted a great deal of activity on the water and were delighted to observe a pair of Hooded Mergansers close in to shore. There are many handsome waterfowl in the world, but surely this species must rank in the top echelon. There was also a dozen or so Redheads in addition to the Greater Scaup, Bufflehead and Common Goldeneye one might expect to encounter. Further out on Lake Ontario there were great rafts of ducks including hundreds of Long-tailed Ducks, a single male Common Merganser and several pairs of Red-breasted Mergansers. There were numerous Mute and Trumpeter Swans and at Humber Bay Park West two American Herring Gulls, eight American Black Ducks and a single Gadwall, in addition to the other species already seen at Humber Bay Park East. Ring-billed Gulls were everywhere - in the sky, on the water, on the land.

Colonel Sam Smith Park

Over the years many rarities have been located at this site and today was no exception. We had great looks at a first year male King Eider, albeit a little farther out than we would have liked. All of the bay ducks were feeding actively on what I assume are Zebra mussels and the eider was certainly claiming its share of the bounty. Many other ducks and gulls were present, but the second highlight of the day, just before leaving to head for home was a juvenile/female Snowy Owl perched on one of the docks at the marina. This cooperative bird stayed there for the twenty to thirty minutes we were there and was still in the same position when we left.

Total species

Canada Goose Abundant

Mute Swan Common
Trumpeter Swan 12
Gadwall 1
American Black Duck 8
Mallard Abundant
Redhead 12
Greater Scaup Abundant
King Eider 1
Long-tailed Duck Abundant
Bufflehead Common
Common Goldeneye Common
Hooded Merganser 2
Common Merganser 1
Red-breasted Merganser 10
Red-tailed Hawk 2
Ring-billed Gull Abundant
American Herring Gull 2
Common Pigeon Common
Snowy Owl 1
Downy Woodpecker 2
American Crow c 25
European Starling Common
House Sparrow c 25
Common Redpoll c 25
Pine Siskin 3
American Goldfinch c 10
David M. Gascoigne,
David M. Gascoigne,

I'm a life long birder. My interests are birds, nature, reading, books, outdoors, travel, food and wine.

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We acknowledge that the land on which we are situated are the lands traditionally used by the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Neutral People. We also acknowledge the enduring presence and deep traditional knowledge, laws, and philosophies of the Indigenous Peoples with whom we share this land today. We are all treaty people with a responsibility to honour all our relations.