Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Tuesday Rambles with David - Lake Ontario Waterfowl

06 February 2018

     Franc and Carol are still in Arizona, but other than that, for the first time in a few weeks the remaining six of our regular Tuesday group were all available for our outing. 
     This is the peak time of the year for large numbers of waterfowl wintering on Lake Ontario, so we decided to visit the Hamilton area where there are large concentrations of a wide range of species, and several good vantage points to permit excellent viewing.
     As might be expected in early February the shore of the lake was characterized by numerous ice formations.


       There was an abundance of ducks on the water but they were unusually far out and not anywhere near close enough for decent photographs. We may not have gotten pictures, but we certainly enjoyed the opportunity to observe so many species, especially the diving ducks that inhabit the lake only during the coldest months of the year, having a rich food resource in the form of Zebra Mussels (Dreissena polymorpha), the scourge of the Great Lakes.
     Francine and Jim arrived a little ahead of the rest of us and Francine was able to capture a couple of Long-tailed Ducks (Clangula hyemalis).




     As we moved along the lake we stopped at various spots to scan the water and were rewarded with a sighting of two Great Black-backed Gulls (Larus marinus), alas far, far out resting on the surface, and beyond the reach of our cameras.
     We eventually wound up at LaSalle Park and Marina in Burlington where, as might be expected, most species were much closer to shore, well within photographic range.
     There were many Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) and a few males were seen already starting their courtship displays.



     I can't think of anywhere that beats LaSalle for close up views of Greater Scaup (Aythya marila). Many birders, especially novices, have a difficult time differentiating Great Scaup from the very similar Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) so any chance for detailed inspection is welcomed.

Greater Scaup - male

Greater Scaup - female
   The signature species at LaSalle is the Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) and even though we have literally hundreds of pictures of this magnificent bird it is hard to resist taking more.





     Many young birds were present and it appears that it was a productive year for Trumpeter Swan.


     As you can see the ladies of our merry band of birders enjoyed being with these swans.


     I guess they forgot to read the memo about this being a serious ornithological venture and they just opted for frivolity and sheer enjoyment!
     Under most conditions when encountering Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) it is the largest bird around, but when seen alongside a Trumpeter Swan it doesn't seem so big anymore.



     Canada Goose is much maligned by people who resent their droppings, despite the fact that it is us who have encouraged them to abandon their normal migratory patterns by providing veritable smorgasbords of food for them (a golf course must be a high class restaurant for a Canada Goose), but I always enjoy this handsome, intelligent species.


     Surely the most underrated duck of all is Mallard (Anas platyrynchos). I don't know whether familiarity breeds contempt in this case, but it sure breeds indifference. If this species were rare we would all be enthralled by its sheer beauty.



     A flock of Redheads (Aythya americana) is far more likely to draw our attention.



     And a male Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) will throw us into raptures (especially Francine).


     We saw a few Red-breasted Mergansers (Mergus serrator) but as best I can remember they were all females.


     A pair of Gadwall ( Anas strepera) looked positively dignified in their muted garb; fittingly it seemed, they kept to themselves.


     We saw many scoters of all three species found on Lake Ontario, but these birds never did come in close and this single photograph of a female Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata) was all that Miriam was able to get.


     We went for a walk along the woodland trail.


     The walk was very productive with delightful species such as Brown Creeper (Certhia americana), Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) and Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus). Mary found all three of these birds and was our Hawkeye Spotter of the day. If she keeps this up it may be Tuesday Meanders with Mary instead of Tuesday Rambles with David!
     A very large nest of paper wasp (Polistinae sp.) attracted the attention of a Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus), leading me to wonder whether there were any vestiges of larval protein to be gleaned.





     As always it was a great walk filled with birds, laughter, friendship of the best kind, and we are all looking forward to the next adventure together.  

All species: Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Trumpeter Swan, Wood Duck, Gadwall, Mallard, American Black Duck, Canvasback, Redhead, Greater Scaup, Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Black Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Ring-billed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, American Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, American Kestrel, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Carolina Wren, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, House Sparrow, Red Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, American Tree Sparrow, Northern Cardinal.   Total: 40

57 comments:

  1. Hari Om
    Again, I fight the envy! I am with you in favour of the mallard - especially if there is just the right light against those feathers! YAM xx

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  2. Hi David, you all did see so many nice species! Wow! A part of the waterfowl is he same here but Woodducks ,Trumpeter swan and Hooded merganser are species we can only dream of to find in the wild. It seemes to me you all had a lovely day, great to have a 'hawkeye' lady as a companion and also having fun together makes it a great day. It's impressive to see the ice-sculptures, a very nice photo. The photo's of the greater scaup is lovely and so is the wood duck, the rEdahead and the Mallard. You are right about what you said about this species, in Holland it's the same but I also think they're wonderful to see, with their heads changing from green to purple.

    A nice walk to join :-)

    Marianne

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    1. Well, Marianne, you will just have to make a visit to Canada so that we can show you many new species!

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    2. I know, I know... Just have to make a visit.
      Well, lets keep on dreaming :-)

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  3. Looks like we missed another great Tuesday morning walk. We are looking forward to joing you all again on February 20th. The ducks are all simply so beautiful in their own unique way. It's a never ending feast for the eyes!
    Missing you all, Franc & Carol

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    1. Well we miss you and Franc, Carol, and it will be wonderful for all of us to have you back again.

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  4. Hi David,

    Again, beautiful photos. The Mergus serrator is really wonderful.

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  5. Extraordinario reportaje David, me ha gustado mucho sobre todo el macho de Clangula hyemalis, un ave muy bella que por mi área se ha visto muy pocas veces, es una absoluta rareza. Un fuerte abrazo desde España.

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  6. Hello, wonderful but cold outing. The ducks and swans are gorgeous. The Trumpeter would be on my list to see. Wishing you a happy day!

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  7. Hello David!
    Great series of pictures!
    Wow!So many spieses of ducks!
    My favorite is the Wood Duck!
    Beautiful and colorful bird!
    Have a lovely day!
    Dimi...

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  8. Hi David,
    Looks as if you and your group had another very productive visit out, like you I have yet to see the Goldeneye males throwing the water into the air over their heads in the courtship displays. I like wise agree as to the Mallard, they are such a beautiful and underrated duck.
    The Wood Duck is such a stunning bird and you certainly appear to have a good amount of Trumpeter Swans.
    Super post, all the best to you both. John

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  9. Once again a joy to visit and see such a wide variety of sightings. We have several Canada Geese taking residence in the croft behind the house. They seem to like sharing the field with the sheep.

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  10. I "long" to see a long-tailed duck. That would be a new bird for me! Beautiful photos of the ducks and all their intricate feather patterns and colors.

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    1. Waterfowl the world over are incredibly beautiful, Cynthia. It’s not hard to understand why the landed gentry of times past maintained waterfowl collections to impress their friends.

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  11. Those ducks and swans are beautiful. Love the photo of the merry people with their binoculars!

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  12. Muchas gracias David por compartir tan maravilloso paseo y tan maravillosas fotos. Buen día y muchos besos.

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  13. Oh boy, look at that wonderful snow and ice (not). Your dedication in venturing forth in such conditions is a source of great admiration to softies like me. It helps that you have a bevy of beauties to help you through the day and I'm certain that the ducks appreciated your being there David. There was no mention of coffee and croissants to help you through such hardship but I'm sure you found time.

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    1. We did take a thermos of coffee, Miriam’s blueberry muffins and Judy made cranberry/orange bread, so we did okay. The problem with the coffee is that it stimulates the need for a washroom break, fine for the guys for whom an obliging tree is generally close at hand, but a problem for the ladies, especially when the temperature is minus ten and the wind blowing. A bare ass in the gully doesn’t seem too inviting!

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  14. Fantastic collection of water birds David.

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  15. Another lovely walk, I think fun and frivolity is the way to go :) I love seeing the water birds, some of them are such characters!

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  16. Hello David!:) Yes, I enjoyed the photo of the girls enjoying their day's birding adventure. Lovely photos of all the wonderful birds you encounter on your Tuesday Ramble. I'm just amazed that you saw 40 different species, but I'm glad you included the Mallards, they are very beautiful ducks.

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  17. The Wood Duck is spectacular ! I like my ducks gaudy !

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  18. Hi David. Your group visit was a resounding success, and you're showing us the evidence. My own recent visit (with a 'group' of one) on behalf of the BWWC to the coast on the Moray Firth in Scotland was, in comparison, an abject failure. I was expecting Long-tailed Duck at least and failed to find one!

    You asked in your reply to my comment on your previous post if I covered any new ground. I was only there for 4 nights which, on essence, meant I spent 4 days travelling and just three there! I did try visiting a couple of new locations in areas that I have previously visited (Cairngorm, and Strathdearn), but turned back on both occasions due to very strong winds and the onset of heavy snow - not the best conditions to be up on mountains or high in the hills on one's own! I'll explain more fully in a blog post soon!

    With love to you both - - - Richard

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  19. I have not seen so many water birds once. They are wonderful and I am delighted with everyone. Regards.

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  20. Looks like a really productive day out. I love the Wood duck and the Trumpeter swans are stunning. Our little birds attack any hornet nests still around in winter and must eat all the grubs as the nest generally end up on the ground in pieces. I hope it is a good sign they there will be fewer hornets the following year! Cheers Diane

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  21. I just love the way the ducks snuggle back into their own feathers. No wonder bed covers and pillows are made out of feathers and down.

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  22. So many different species of duck and they are so pretty! Very fruitful outing for your group!

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  23. Those black backed gulls are amazing. I love all the bird photos though. Birds are simply amazing with their great variety and beautiful characteristics. So many different kinds for us to enjoy in person or in photo. It looks like you had a wonderful outing.

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  24. Nic selection of wildfowl there David...........

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  25. I'm a mallard fan - and enjoy frivolity above binoculars.
    This post makes me think about the difference between walking alone and walking together. I don't like company when I have a camera and can't take much seriously when in company (except for politics.)

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  26. Hello David, beautiful photos, I love the Redheads,
    Have a lovely weekend,
    Ida

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  27. Some beautiful birds to see.. and I heartily agree with your observations regarding the Mallard.. one of my fave birds..their colour and markings are... remarkable!!

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  28. Hellow there, I'm you newest follower.
    Your photos are amazing!

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  29. Everyone is having a good time, the captured photo shows it.
    I do like to see white swans, the look gorgeous.

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  30. Oh my goodness I'd be so delighted too if I were to see all of these wonderful ducks and the other birds as well ... what an amazing day (as all of your group's expeditions seem to be). I agree with you about the mallard and I always take pictures when we see them.

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    1. Well, Sallie, I am sure that you are tired of wip8ng the sweat from your brow down there in Florida so you will no doubt rush right up here to join next week’s walk!

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  31. How beautiful!.. A lot of birds.. :-)))
    All the best!

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  32. Hello David,
    I do enjoy ducks so much, and here you show species I never get to photograph!
    Fortunately they are not as tagged as the swans...!!!! ;-)
    Imagine a world with every single bird with a tag.... I would throw my equiment away! LOL!

    Here is my comment to your reaction on my first African post:
    Hahaha!!! Thanks David, I knew you would react to that one! LOL!!!
    Your comments are always a delight and bring me to smile!
    I had a ball indeed, considering there were not too many people, I was treated as a princess in Baringo! You bet I will go back next year but first, Kalahari and Okango are waiting for me in April!
    Much love to share with Miriam :)

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    1. I agree that the tags are not pretty, Noushka, but this species was extirpated in the Province of Ontario, and has been brought back due to an intensive breeding programme, primarily at Wye Marsh near Midland, and these birds still need to be monitored. The population is steadily rising and I hope that soon wild birds will establish breeding territories in other locations where they will not be tagged. In fact, even now, I do see a few birds without their yellow "stickers"as a child described them!

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    2. Great that makes sense! Thanks for your answer, David :)

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  33. Beautiful birds and a magnificent lake.
    Your February looks like our March or April. Happy birding!

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  34. Excellent pictures! What a variety of ducks !

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  35. Lovely pictures of waterbirds!

    I just want to thank you for your nice comments on my blog. I´m trying to get people to understand that feeding the birds with bread is bad for the birds. An old habbit which doesn´t change so easily.

    /Gunilla

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  36. You have me drooling over your long-tailed duck...I've made a few trips to view them and dipped so I fell a certain amount of "why not me" going on...LoL...A very nice walk by every measure.

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  37. Every body is very happy :)
    All these northern and cold anatidae are very beautiful. I hope to see them all someday.

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  38. It was nice to see different types of ducks. Enjoyed seeing all your photos:)

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  39. Wow, a lot of winter birds!
    Lovely to see the photos of them. Also enchanted with the coast line ice.

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  40. Impressive the quantity and variety of aquatic birds in that very cold environment, most of the waterfowls very different from those of my latiudes. What I did not like is seeing these numbered swans, it may be useful but it is not pleasant to look at, they look like the marks that the cows carry in their ears.
    Saludos

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    1. Your opinion is shared by others, Hernán.

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  41. Hello, David -- thank you for coming over to The Marmelade Gypsy. You left such a nice comment on my Valentine's Day post, I was smiling big and still am.

    I'm so impressed by your beautiful bird photos. As cold as it is in Michigan, it looks colder there! I saw my first merganser up in northern Michigan over the summer and I loved it so, so I was really excited to see such wonderful photos here.

    I love your beautiful country and we are hoping to get to the Waterloo region this spring to do a little bit of family history digging. Who knows? Perhaps you will have a walk when we are there!

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  42. Hi Jennie: If you make it to this area be sure to let me know ahead of time so that we can organize a few delights for you!

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  43. I loved looking at these duck pics, David. I think it is interesting that because a bird is common, like a mallard duck, people don't value it so much. They are extraordinary with their emerald green heads. It looks very cold, but the humans and ducks look acclimatized and happy and don't seem to mind.

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    1. It’s true. I think we were all equipped to handle the weather.

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  44. In all my years, decades of birding, I've seen ONE wood duck at such a distance, no good picture.

    Extraordinary images!!

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  45. Thank you for your correct ID of my Gadwell. This is an awesome series of waterfowl. Beautiful shots! Looks like a great place for a walk, but I would prefer waiting for the spring temps. :)

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  46. Hello David, wonderful to see you all having such a good time spotting so much different waterbirds. Most of these birds we get to see over here as well. But that Wood Duck is a total different story. Amzing those colours.
    Warm regards,
    Roos

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  47. Hi David,
    You are lucky be able to see so many different kinds of birds. Just like Marianne said a lot of them can be seen in the Netherlands as well. The mallards for instance are very common in the parks with us. I like to see the variety, and amongst them a number or really beautiful species, like the merganser and woodduck.
    Greetings, Kees

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