Monday, 16 January 2017

Grand River, Cambridge, ON

14 January 2017

     There are generally sections of the Grand River that remain ice free and Miriam and I decided to check out a stretch in Cambridge which is usually productive for waterfowl.

     We were not disappointed as there were concentrations of various species, with Canada Geese Branta canadensis and Mallards Anas platyrynchos being the most numerous, as might be expected. We stationed ourselves on the Blair Bridge and enjoyed a very pleasant half hour watching the antics of the ducks below us.
     Surprisingly Common Goldeneyes Bucephala clangula were already exhibiting vigorous courtship behaviour, with the males seemingly in a high state of excitement.

     As we were watching their antics a sub-adult Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus cruised overhead, no doubt on the lookout for an injured duck. Not finding a suitable target it quickly moved on.

      Male Buffleheads Bucephala albeola and male Common Goldeneyes seemed to be hanging out together in a kind of bachelor club.

     Several Common Mergansers Mergus merganser were present, generally in pairs, and small groups comprising several pairs, but this male seemed content to forage alone.

     It was joined by some male Buffleheads, perhaps attracted by the merganser's success at feeding.

     Finally, a few females decided to join the males, including a female Common Merganser.

     As we left the Common Goldeneyes renewed their courtship behaviour with vigour, it taking priority over feeding at least for the moment.

     This pair bonding behaviour seems to be taking place early, but it nevertheless presages spring - and that is a delightful notion to contemplate!


  1. Absolutely stunning photos David, I love the Goldeneye, precious.

  2. Nice waterfowlspecies, all very diferents I can see in my country

  3. Well we have the Goldeneyes but not the Buffleheads I'm sorry to say............

  4. Buffleheads are great little ducks, but then so are the others. It's great that you have some unfrozen sections for them.

  5. Bet those birds have cold feet!!! Too chilly for me. Love the eagle as well as the other photos. Cheers Diane

  6. Hello. Great photos. A lot of birds come into the molten swim.

  7. Interesting to see their behaviour - lovely photos.

  8. Goldeneye are wonderful ducks - and strange bit true I saw a Canada Goose this week!

    Cheers - Stewart M - (temporarily in) New Zealand

  9. Hi David, looks as if you had another cold but good outing. Goldeneye are such a delightful bird, love when they splash the water up with the feet when in courtship mode. Regards John

  10. Standing on bridge over water in those temperatures for half an hour - bbbrrrrrrr!!! At least the results transformed the activity from 'foolhardy' to 'rewarding' ;-} , but I'm shivering just looking at those images.

    Take good care, and don't forget to get warm between excursions - - - Richard

  11. Wonderful staircase on the water! It is a charming place with birds. I greet and welcome each other.

  12. Hi David. It may be mid January but here too many species have responded to the small increase in daylight hours with Mistle Thrush, Great Tit, Coal Tit and other in small but noticeable bursts of song. Our male Goldeneyes are similalrly engaged in trying to attract the opposite sex. It looks as though you also have a surfeit of males asw we do, a rather mystifying occurence when they outnumber females by about eight to one. All the more nystifying when both sexes should have left their northern waters in about equal numbers? I must read up more on this phenonenon.