Saturday, March 15, 2014

Crackers to Quackers

Most of us have almost gone crackers from this winter weather, but yesterday and today were milder and viewing some quackers (ducks) along the St. Clair River was in order.  There are thousands of ducks close along the shorelines affording good opportunities for viewing.  A large number is Canvasback.

Hoardes of Long-tailed Ducks are still on the river, but these are usually mid-river ducks that float downstream, then fly back and repeat the process.  I did see one Long-tailed in distress on ice near the shore today.

Today I went along the entire river, stopping at various points.  Some spots are still inaccessible due to piled up snow, but things are getting better.  I found there was not much in the Sarnia area though.  This American Wigeon at Port Lambton was working the ice floes. Perhaps it is one of the ones I had on Thursday at the McKeough Outlet.

I was finally able to park in one of my favourite parks, Seager Park, for the first time this winter.  Two Horned Grebes flew by then drifted downriver.  One was almost in breeding plumage, while the other was just losing winter plumage. Record shots only! No Red-necked Grebes today, but likely some are out there.

I stopped at the Talfourd Creek bridge at Guthrie Park and noted one American Coot in the creek.  There were several dead Canvasbacks here. In fact, most of the carcasses I saw today were Canvasback.

A Common Scene

Canvasback on Log

There was also a dead swan and some mergansers here.

Back at Seager Park, a couple of Herring Gulls stopped by to investigate a Canvasback.

Gulls are still very scarce on the river this year.

While I  headed towards home at Port Lambton, a Turkey Vulture came across the river. (FOY migrant)

For mid March, the number of ducks on the St. Clair River was good.  Usually by this time, they start dispersing, but with lots of ice still on the lakes, they are using the river. No doubt many are too weak to migrate anyway, as I noted countless ducks today in obvious weakened condition.

Redhead and Canvasback on Ice

Mallard on Ice

As a final note, I would like to mention that Allen Woodliffe has started a blog called Nature Nuggets.  Allen is always out and about and will have some excellent information to share, especially in the Rondeau area.  Here is a link (or check the sidebar on this blog)

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