Monday, 23 January 2017

A Foggy, Foggy Day

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

Greater Scaup - female
     They were feeding on the endless supply of Zebra Mussels Dreissena polymorpha and were joined by a few Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula who wasted no time in joining in the feast.

Common Goldeneye - male
Common Goldeneye - female

     White-winged Scoters Melanitta fusca were also present but tended to stay out in the bay.

     It was interesting to say the least to see the incredible amount of work the American Beavers Castor canadensis had been doing. Many of the trees that still remain along the shore have now been encased in a metal mesh to prevent further loss.

     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!"


  1. Didn't realize beavers were so destructive, never before have I seen photos of their behavior.

  2. Bonjour cher ami,

    La météo nous réserve parfois des surprises mais il faut faire avec !
    Je suis heureuse de découvrir toutes vos belles photos malgré le mauvais temps. Toutes ces espèces sont magnifiques.
    En ce qui concerne les castors ! Wouahou !!...

    Gros bisous 🌺

  3. Beautiful images David, they are splendid.

  4. Hello. Foggy day but the photos are stunning.

  5. Some great photos here despite the fog and many birds I do not know. Wow those beavers have been busy,they could come here and help us with the firewood :-) Keep warrm Diane

  6. Nice set of pics.. Regards from Madrid..

  7. Hi David

    Beautiful photos of various ducks and birds.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  8. Again, very similar birdlife here but of course we don't have any beavers.........

  9. Amazing array of ducks!!
    I envy you!!
    Indeed, when the light is so poor taking photos becomes quite an achievement, the slightest movement of the subject and the pics are out of focus!
    Nonetheless, you managed quite a great post with very interesting birds that I have never seen.
    Warm hugs to share with Miriam :)

  10. It seems that you're having similar weather to us, David. We woke up to a frost and dense fog this morning. However it's starting to brighten up now - just my luck that I have other commitments this afternoon!

    Your day out certainly paid off, with some great sightings. I was quite surprised at the girth of tree a beaver was able to tackle - are they ever victims of their own efforts? I've seen plenty of evidence of destruction and hurt being caused by the tree-felling work of inept humans!

    Love to you both - - Richard

    1. They tackle some really big trees, Richard, and yes they sometimes get in the way of trees they fell and are killed - infrequently, however.

  11. Oh, what a great day of birding! Terrific captures.

  12. Hi Both, it seems you are suffering with the same problem as us, poor light and fog, however you still had a wonderful day out with some really good images, another super post, all the best. Regards John

  13. Buen reportaje David, con muchas especies que estamos viendo este invierno en el norte de España. Un fuerte abrazo amigo mio.

  14. Foggy day, but your photos are absolutely amazing! I am very impressed. Greetings from Poland :).

  15. Good stuff Davoid. Your wildfowl certainly are a bright spot on a foggy day. that last Long-tailed Duck is a real delight. We had a similar day today - sunny at first then misty and then it brightened up again. Most frustrating. As to Purps. They occur in very small numbers in south Morecambe Bay - 2s or 3s most winters in one or two regular spots - Morecambe and Fleetwood, usually with large numbers of Turnstones. It does require a special effort from me to go and year tick them but as I'm not a lister, I rarely make the journey.

  16. Hello David,
    Beautiful series of photographs of the different species of birds.
    Nice to see the work of the beaver.
    Best regards, Irma

  17. Hi David,
    it can be seen neit to your pictures it was so foggy.
    I like your foot's even very beautiful and therefore nob with so many different birds. Long-tailed duck is really great to see. The black sea duck is all nice to meet. Very many of these birds are not with us, but the merganser. Wonderful to see.
    Kind regards, Helma

  18. Still, you have nice pictures even though it was foggy David.
    Nice weekend, Tinie greetings

  19. Great set of birds! One day I am going to be able to spend some time bird in your neck of the woods! One day!

    Sorry about slow reply - I have been in New Zealand and blogging has taken a bit of a back seat.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  20. This is a great post David,I think you both did really well,the light is always a problem for me,but you worked through it,with great results,stunning bird collection.
    A big well done.

  21. Even on a foggy day your photos are a joy David.

  22. Well for a foggy day your photo's are still lovely to see.
    Perhaps the weather is catching? We've had foggy days too this week

    Roll on Spring ...

    Wishing you a good new week ahead.

    All the best Jan

  23. Aren't those ducks cute... Thank you for the excellent photos!

    And thank you for your delightful comments.