Saturday, 29 November 2014

Roundup of the Past Two Days

Toronto, ON
27/28 November 2014

     The days were grey for the most part as I scoured the various bays and coves along the shore. The image of downtown Toronto across the lake was seldom out of view.

     I was looking for duck species that might have arrived since my last forays along the lake, species such as Canvasback Aythya valisineria and the three species of Scoter, but none were to be found. There were several rafts of ducks far out from shore and without the benefit of a scope at the time I could not identify them. Even had I had my scope with me the ducks were far out and identification might still have been impossible, but scoters are likely at this time of the year. 
     You may recall that I recently located a Canada Goose Branta canadensis wearing a green neck tag and I found yet another. It is hardly surprising, perhaps, since they were almost certainly marked in the same natal region and probably journeyed south together. I am still awaiting news as to where these birds originated.

     As I look at this neck collar I must admit to being a little repulsed by it. It looks ugly and would seem to impede the bird's ability to preen. I watched it feeding and it appeared not to hinder this activity in any way. 

Note added on 3 December: I have been notified that this bird is a female and was banded in Ottawa, ON by Christopher Sharp on 11 April 2012.

     American Robin Turdus migratorius is primarily migratory, and most have now departed, but there are always some birds that exploit micro climates and abundant berry crops, and spend the winter in our area. So long as they are able to find food they seem to withstand the cold temperatures without difficulty.

     Most Trumpeter Swans Olor buccinator one sees have large yellow wing tags, so it was particularly pleasing to see this individual sans adornment.

     American Herring Gulls Larus smithsonianus are now well established along the shore of the lake and I think I saw them at every location I checked.

     I am always particularly sad when I see an injured bird that I am unable to help. The only thing one can hope for under such circumstances is a speedy end for the suffering bird. This American Black Duck Anas rubripes appeared to have a severely broken leg and could neither walk nor swim. 

     No doubt it is entirely fanciful on my part, but at one point several Ring-billed Gulls Larus delawarensis appeared to encircle it in some kind of protective fashion. None of them showed any aggression to a defenceless bird as might perhaps have been expected.

     Ring-billed Gulls were common, of course, loafing both on land and on the water.

     Long-tailed Ducks Clangula hyemalis have colonized Lake Ontario for the winter and will be an almost guaranteed sighting any time one visits the shore. There were several little groups close inshore and their chattering was a delight to the ears. How handsome is this male!

     Red-breasted Mergansers Mergus serrator are also very common and easy to find. In fact yesterday all three species of merganser were not difficult to spot.

     Now it remains to see what surprises await on the next visit.


  1. Hello David,
    Beautiful series of photos.
    The Canada Goose with neckband, I find really bad.
    It is also much too tight, I think.
    A very good weekend.
    Greetings from the Netherlands, Irma

  2. Hello David,
    An interesting and saddening post, especially about this injured duck. I am quite surprise too see that the gulls, known to be very aggressive even towards whales, did nothing to feast on it.
    The Long-tailed Duck is a real beauty, not a chance for me to see it even at Le Teich!!
    Your American robin is exquisite, a magnificent picture :)
    Keep well and enjoy your weekend!

  3. Beautiful photos David.
    Goose with the ring around the neck I feel very sorry for the beast.
    Greetings Tinie

  4. I really enjoyed this post, David; although I was sad to read about the injured duck. This is my first visit to your blog, and I will be back because I love birds. May I recommend my friend Noushka's blog: She lives in the south of France, and she takes incredible photos of birds. If you love birds you might enjoy her blog. Have a good one!

  5. I have mixed feelings about ringing/banding of birds, David, and sometimes get the feeling that, to some adherents, it is almost a 'trophy sport'. I've nothing against 'trophy sports', unless something/someone suffers as a result of them, and I'm not comfortable about the effect of ringing/banding on birds. I do appreciate, however, that (sometimes) it can result in useful information being gleaned.
    HOWEVER!, I feel totally and unreservedly uncomfortable about that band round the neck of the Canada Goose. To me it's an abomination, and shows a total disrespect of the birds welfare.

    It's always sad to find an injured bird and it's difficult to know what to do when one does. I guess that, sometimes, interference can be more stressful to the bird than leaving it alone to its fate. We just do what seems to be best at the time, depending on the extent and type of its injury.

    What a gorgeous bird your American Robin is!

    Best wishes - - - Richard

    1. The thing I also wonder about, Richard, is the need to track Canada Geese. They are abundant everywhere.And your comments about the lack of respect for the bird are entirely appropriate. For some banders I think their activity has become a kind of sport unto itself.

  6. Greetings from Dubai! Really enjoyed going through your blog. Great captures and like the others I too was sad for the Goose with the ring around the neck. Have a great week ahead! Will be back soon...


  7. Hello from Poland :)
    Beautiful view of the Toronto and wonderful images of birds :)

  8. I do not think it is comfortable duck in the collar on the neck. Beautiful pictures of the remaining free birds. Regards.

  9. If I ever get to see more than a single winter Long-tailed Duck I'll listen out for their chatter David. I have to agree about neck collars. At least a ring (band) on the leg gives the photographer a sporting chance.