Monday, February 4, 2013

St. Clair River and Birding


Continuing on the subject of gulls and other birds on the St. Clair River, this gull (below) was at LGS yesterday morning.  Photo is by Mike Bouman, but I did see this ugly bird first thing in the morning. Not your typical-looking young gull at this time of year.

It is not every year that we get lots of gulls on the big river. If I dare to say, this has been the best year that I can remember for numbers and variety of gulls.  Every day is different depending on conditions and where concentration points are.
Yesterday did not reveal the biggest number of gulls I have seen, but certainly the most Glaucous!  It must be some sort of a record for the river if not southern Ontario.  It is a record for my records anyway.
Preening Glaucous

I only wish there was a very small all-white gull with black legs!  It could still happen yet.....

I have no reports from the river today, but there was quite a bit of activity off Port Lambton at first light this morning.  The pull-off at Port Lambton is a good vantage point and I check it almost every day. I have never had anything super rare there in winter, but I recall a Red-necked Grebe once and a flyby of a Harlequin Duck.

No food here!

There are certain points along the river that are excellent for birds.  The first is Fawn Island south of Sombra.  Sometimes the gravel dock area is good, but the north end of the island has been a hotspot in the past.  This year it has been mediocre there.  I have seen Harlequin there, and many years ago a hybrid Hooded Merganser X Common Goldeneye came back each winter.

Sombra ferry dock area can be good as well.  Harlequin has shown up there too.This year two Trumpeter Swans were first observed there on December 29.  By the way, I think there are more than two on the river this winter!

Cathcart Park has always been a hangout for ducks and gulls.  Often puddle ducks such as American Wigeon, Gadwall, Northern Pintail and even Wood Duck can show up here in winter.

The area off which is now called OCF has always been good at its outfall.  It was here the Ivory Gull hung out for three days in 1995, although I first found it a couple of km upriver at Seager Park.

The outfall at Lambton Generating Station (LGS) is another hotspot, and this year it has been phenomenal.  We have had a number of gulls here including two or three hybrids this winter.

Farther upriver at Guthrie Park north of Stag Island is another place to check.  The outflow of Talfourd Creek at the Shell Refinery is warm and ducks and gulls are attracted.  The head of Stag Island tends to attract lots of ducks too.
Yesterday was quite busy here.  
The area off the First Nations Reserve just north of Shell was where the most Glaucous Gulls were yesterday.  It was unbelievable!  Some ice floes contained six or seven Glaucous at a time.

Only a few Iceland (Kumlien's) Gulls have been on the river this winter.  In the past I have seen good candidates for glaucoides as well.

Not an Iceland Gull!


  1. Blake, the Ivory Gull is in Arizona!!!