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!