Wednesday, December 29, 2010

St. Clair River Birds

Early winter (late December on) is a good time to bird along the St. Clair River.  The diver ducks move in, and in some winters so do the gulls.  The gulls have been the story so far.  Since early December, numbers have been growing, but vary from day to day.  Late last week, there were lots from Port Lambton to north of Sombra.  Up to seven species have been seen.  Then there is the Black-legged Kittiwake at Sarnia found by Alf Rider yesterday.  One can only hope for a Ross's Gull!  An Ivory Gull will do, but we had one of those in 1995 (found by yours truly).

The best spot today was at the head of Stag Island north of Corunna.  There were hundreds of gulls there plus hundreds of ducks to look at also.  I saw perhaps ten Glaucous Gulls and one Iceland.  Most just ride the ice flows downriver, so you can sit in one spot with your scope and watch them go by.

The kittiwake at Sarnia Bay was a lonely gull as it swam with Redheads.  It was far enough away that a scope was required, and certainly too far for photography.
Not a lot of ducks have come into the river yet this winter.  Most are Redhead with some Canvasback, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, both scaup, a few Ring-necked and very few Mergansers.  The Hooded Mergansers have outnumbered the other merganser types.  Usually Common Mergansers are numerous on the river in winter, but there is hardly one to be found so far.  In fact I saw none today, and only one Red-breasted.

Common Goldeneye are rather scarce as well.
There are lots of Mallards and a few Black.  A Wood Duck (male) was at Cathcart Park yesterday and a Northern Pintail (male) has been there as well. Usually a few Gadwall are along the shorelines, but I have not seen any this winter yet.
Lots of Canada Geese are out there, but usually along the Michigan shoreline.  No cacklers yet either!  You might see one per winter on the river.
I guess the Brant from early December did not stay.

Birding the St. Clair River in winter is always interesting!

ship photo for Paul C.

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