22 January 2017
It was a bit of a spur of the moment decision for Miriam and me to go down to Lake Ontario to check out its bird life. As we left it was a little foggy, and the farther we drove the foggier it got, and at some point we could not have been faulted had we turned around and returned home. But we hung in and were glad that we did, for although the weather was far from perfect, with not a ray of sunshine the whole day, we had a very enjoyable day of birding.
It was impossible to photograph most species due to the poor light, especially small passerines, so this post relies heavily on waterbirds of one kind or another.
Our first stop was at the DesJardins Canal in Dundas, ON where we were surprised to see four Double-crested Cormorants Phalacrocorax auritus. Given that cormorants do not have waterproof feathers and have to dry them after each feeding session underwater, a day with air so heavily moisture-laden must present difficulties for this species.
Gulls, of course, have no such problems and there were many Ring-billed Gulls Larus delawarensis and several American Herring Gulls Larus smithsonianus, impervious to the gloom and murk of this unseasonably warm January. The following individual maintained its position as we walked by permitting a fairly decent picture under the circumstances.
We left the DesJardins Canal and made for LaSalle Park and Marina, our principal destination for the day, where a wide variety of species is pretty much assured. Upon arrival, we stayed in the car for a while to eat our lunch, and a large raft of Greater Scaup Aytha marila swam into the small boat launch area in front of us. To capture some of our pictures we merely had to put the car window down.
|Greater Scaup - male|
American Black Duck Anas rubipres can usually be located at LaSalle and true to form we observed several of them.
Many Redheads Aytha americana were present but far offshore, but these two Canvasbacks Athya valsineria were snoozing close to shore.
The only Common Merganser Mergus merganser we saw was this female.
The surprise of the day, and a singular delight to be sure, was to spot a Great Northern Loon Gavia immer, quite far off and enveloped in mist and spray, but identifiable by its distinctive shape and posture, and by the characteristic fashion in which it launches into its dive.
By now, Miriam was eagerly looking forward to a hot coffee so we drove into Burlington to get one. Right across from the Tim Horton's Restaurant where we got our coffee a stretch of the Waterfront Trail goes through town and we parked and explored a little. This was a new location for us and we were very happy that we decided to check it out.
The first thing to greet us was a large raft of Ruddy Ducks Oxyura jamaicensis , numbering at least a hundred birds.
A few Surf Scoters Melanitta perspicillata were diving for food among the far more numerous White-winged Scoters.
We had not seen a Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis at all at LaSalle and were very happy to have many close at hand in the water close to the trail. In a family of birds noted for stunning plumage, this species is surely one of the most attractive, and to hear a group of them chattering to each other is magical indeed.
Our parking ticket was about to expire and we left for home feeling well satisfied with an excellent day of birding. I guess the moral of the story is "Never let the weather put you off!"