Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Spring, Scaup and Scoter

North Shore of Lake Ontario
10 March 2015

     Yesterday, when temperatures rose to around 7°, it was a perfect day to check out the receding ice on the lake and to check which ducks are populating the areas of open water which are rapidly opening up.
     Not only was there an interesting array of waterfowl, I saw my first American Robin Turdus migratorius and every male Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis within earshot was in full voice.
     The most numerous duck species was Greater Scaup Aytha marila and although they were mostly random members of a large flock numerous pairs had clearly established their bonds and were consistently swimming together. This handsome male and female never strayed far from each other.

     Red-breasted Mergansers Mergus serrator were present also and this male appears due for a trip to the hairdresser!

     As might be expected Ring-billed Gulls were everywhere one looked and this group was gulping down food brought by some kind-hearted human friend.

     This lone individual seemed to be content to watch the frenzy from on high.

     Humber Bay Park in the west end of Toronto has become a very reliable location to find Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos  and I first saw two birds and a little later a singleton, but it may, of course, have been one of the two birds I saw originally.

     Common Goldeneyes Buchepala clangula are well advanced in their entertaining courtship routine, but those so engaged were too far out for photographs; however, this male was a little closer.

     The star of the show perhaps was this male White-winged Scoter Melanitta fusca with its truly bizarre bill. It was diving repeatedly and came up with a mussel every single time; the bill seems well suited to handling the shell and the mussel is swallowed whole.

     All in all it was a very pleasant few hours in mild temperatures with the promise of more to come.


  1. We have the very same duck species here in south Hokkaido although White Winged (Stenjegers) Scoters are scarce in my area and usually well offshore...................(

  2. Lovely Ducks, the Scoters are one of my favourites.

  3. Beautiful ducks and other birds David, nice pictures you have of it.
    Greetings Tinie

  4. David....extraordinary birds!!!
    Beautiful...all in their own right.

    Fabulous images.

  5. Excellent series of images .. I congratulate ...

  6. Some seriously nice pics there Mr G. How on earth can you get even within striking distance of a Scaup?

    Close up a scoter definitely looks a little weird but wonderful.

    I'm pleased to hear that both the weather and your Spring sightings are warming up.

  7. Lovely captures of the birds. The scoter is very interesting.

  8. Such a beatiful ducks!
    Mergus serrator is amazing, with his "punk" style ;)

  9. Beautiful pictures, David. The White-winged Scoter I've never seen, not even a picture.
    Gr Jan W

  10. Hello David,
    Very nice shots.
    Your first two shots are really great with the different between male and female. So wonderful.

    Kind regards,

  11. Hi David,
    Your pictures are quite remarkable especially this White-winged Scoter with its special beak!
    I also find the merganser and its hippy look quite irresistible!
    I hope spring brings you many lovely species to observe and photograph!
    Much love to you and Miriam :)

  12. Hello David, What a special Duck that last one. A duck I never heard of before. It is nice via the Blogs around the world to learn about different species.
    Good the ice is melting and tempertures are rising. Spring at last :-)

  13. Wonderful shots. Wish you a nice weekend.

  14. How nice to see you even in a Red-breasted Merganser on your blog. I also had placed further and I had them still nowhere to be someone or seen her blog. Now see there with you. Really great. also you scoter I find fantastic to see. A wonderful blog full of beautiful birds.