Sunday, January 13, 2013

St. Clair River Rambles

Most of the day was spent on the St. Clair River.  Yesterday's post on Ontbirds got the local birders dusting off their binoculars.  Many, especially from Sarnia, were active in  searching for the Harlequin Duck and the Trumpeter Swan.  Even the afternoon shift was in full swing! (Hi RPC!), lol.  Birders came from Kingsville, Leamington, Erie Beach and who knows where.
A Harlequin Duck, especially an immaculate male, is always an attraction.  A Trumpeter Swan in these parts, hiding amongst Tundra Swans is another draw.  It was difficult to find at times, especially when it often looked like this.....

Many years ago Trumpeter Swans were hard to find in Ontario, but with re-introductions and breeding programs, they are seen more often.  Most are along the Lake Ontario shorelines especially in winter, sporting those yellow wing tags.
West Humber, February 2009

Today, the Harlequin Duck was a no-show.  With all the birders, including myself, searching the entire river where accessible, one has to wonder where it went. I have no doubt it is still out there though.

With the mild weather so far for the most part, ducks have been at a minimum on the river.  However, Long-tailed Ducks have been plentiful from Courtright north.  Last week a waterfowl survey at Sarnia estimated 1400!  Probably a record high count for the area.  They certainly have increased their presence in the last few years, as in my early years of birding the river the Long-tailed (then called Oldsquaw) was virtually never seen.

Scoters have been scarce, but they usually are here.  I did come up with two White-winged Scoters in the Fawn Island area after diligent searching.  Myself, along with Mike Bouman scrutinized the area after a report of a Western Grebe.  I have no details at this time, but our 2+ hour search failed to turn it up.  There is a bit of the back side of Fawn Island we cannot see, but I believe the grebe was not there during our time.  I have not known this species to be on the river before, except at Sarnia.

One raft of Redhead has been in the Courtright area.

Today, Cathcart Park was non-productive.  Rather unusual.  The bulk of the swans had moved to the north end of Sombra Bay first thing, and then moved a bit south.  That is where the Trumpeter Swan was today.  Yesterday I neglected to mention that I actually heard its horn!

Today in my travels, I noticed a large number of American Kestrels.
(another gloomy day!)

Yesterday I forgot to mention I saw another Merlin, south of Tilbury.


  1. Blake, what a gorgeous duck that Harlequin is. I wanted to go today, but I'm a little under the weather. Maybe it flew south to Windsor? Keep us posted.-DM

  2. Warning , you never know where the afternoon shift may show up !!!!!

    NO LLB's even if there on a road trip

  3. I think the Harlequin will stay on the river for a while.
    No LLB's allowed.

  4. I'll get a rental car , won't dress in camo , NO body will notice me , maybe the bird will show up then