Monday, 17 November 2014

Waterfowl and Other Water Birds Part 3

Lake Ontario
Toronto, ON
13/14 November 2014

     This is the final installment of a couple of days visiting the lake to revel in the spectacle of the build up of ducks and other species. There are still several species to be expected that I did not see yet, but these three reports will give you an idea of the sheer variety of birds the Great Lakes hold in the winter.
     Greater Scaup Aythya marila arrive in huge numbers and at times rafts of this species alone number in the thousand. Fortunately many of them are quite close to the shore during the daylight hours so photographing them is relatively easy.

     American Wigeon Anas americana are usually present too, although not often in high numbers and careful scanning is often required to turn up this attractive species.

     This duck was often known by the common name Baldpate, referring to the line down the centre of the head which looked to some like a man's bald head.

     Mute Swans Cygnus olor rule the waterfront and no one messes with them. They are present year round and seem to handle the winter with aplomb.

     Ring-billed Gulls Larus delawrensis are omnipresent and seem to fare well whatever the weather brings. They gather food from the water themselves, steal from other species and benefit from people who bring food down to the lake. 

     Horned Grebes Podiceps auritus are unlikely to spend the winter here but this singleton was sighted among the Greater Scaup.

     Redhead Aythya americana is quite common, but they seem not to have arrived in numbers yet. I could only spot a few and they were fairly far out.

     As usual, there were large numbers of Canada Geese Branta canadensis both in the water and feeding on the grass, including the individual seen below with the large neck band. I have reported this sighting to the appropriate authorities and as soon as I am notified as to its origin I will add that information to this post.

Note added on 3 December: I have been notified that this bird is a female and was banded on 23 May 2013 by Christopher Sharp in Ottawa, ON.

     This concludes the series on the birds of Lake Ontario. It is by no means inclusive of all of the species one might expect, but I believe it gives a good idea of the rich diversity found here to those unfamiliar with our area.
     We are a northern people, winter is a fact of life here, (we received 2-3 cm of snow overnight) so the only thing to do is to get out and enjoy it.


  1. Great post again David,
    To me the star duck here is the American wigeon, fairly different from ours but such a beauty!
    I feel sorry for the Canada goose, this tagging is must be such a nuisance for the bird, they can't preen properly...
    I hope you are enjoying good weather, here we have depression after depression!
    We hope to give you some positive news before the end of the year...
    Hugs to you and Miriam, keep well!

  2. The Canada Goose is so horrible, what a blatant use of ringing. I think that it should be banned.

  3. An interesting series. Is that early for snow or do you usually have some in November?

    1. We usually get snow in November but often it doesn't stick. It is supposed to be several degrees above freezing by the weekend.

  4. Stunning post David,please send some over to Cornwall.

  5. I've seen that before on geese. Not sure what that means either. Your Greater Scaups are awesome. Here we have the Lesser as Greater would be rare!

  6. You have so many different waterfowl seen David. Beautiful ducks, geese and swans, goose with its neck ring, I think actually pathetic though.