Monday, February 22, 2016

St. Clair River Duck Detail

Yesterday, February 21, I was interested in the checking out the St. Clair River.  Since there are good numbers of ducks at present, it was worth a try.

The bulk of the ducks (mainly Redhead) seemed to be in the Sombra area yesterday.  It varies considerably from day to day so you never know what you will find.

This year has been a bit different.  Earlier we saw very few ducks, but recently decent numbers are present, but most are Redhead.  Aside from Redhead, Canvasback are not in high numbers.  Scaup are very scarce and Ring-necked almost absent.  Scaup are never in huge numbers on the river, but it is difficult to find any this year.

There are always some Ring-necked (sometimes upwards of 40-50 in a good year), but try and find one now!
Common Mergansers are in fairly good numbers this winter, and the odd Red-breasted can be found.

Hooded Mergansers are most reliably found at the Shell Corunna dock.

Common Goldeneye, along with Bufflehead are most common at the head of Stag Island near Corunna.  They are in good numbers this year.
Long-tailed Ducks can vary in numbers, and they are fewer this year.  Two years ago we had record numbers, with over 35,000 in the Sarnia area.

Another puddle duck besides Mallard or Black includes Gadwall.  I saw a few yesterday, but some of those could have been in response the mild weather a while back. Some do attempt to winter on the river though.

The odd Northern Pintail or American Wigeon can be seen on the river during some winters.

Back to yesterday, I found that there were few ducks off Guthrie Park yesterday. Last week it was the hotspot!

After checking Sarnia, I returned downriver and found some more ducks.  At Cathcart Park, a Northern Pintail and Wood Duck were on the ice.  They were not there earlier.

The Wood Duck could possibly be the same male that was at Guthrie Park the previous week.  Nice to see in any case.

At Sombra and area, there were even more ducks than earlier in the morning.  I found a White-winged Scoter at the head of Fawn Island--the first one since late December.  Scoters are rare on the river, but this year they are quite scarce everywhere.

It is always fun to sort through big rafts of ducks in hopes of finding something of interest.  This year most of the rafts are almost 100% Redhead!


Once in a while a Harlequin Duck may be found.  One can hope for a King Eider, but I have never heard of an eider being seen on the main part of the river south of Sarnia/Port Huron.

Then of course the rarer ones such as Barrow's Goldeneye and Tufted Duck.  We do have a Barrow's at Corunna/Marysville currently (or at least last week).  Been over 20 years for a Tufted...


  1. Nice post. I look forward to seeing some of those ducks come spring when they start heading further north. After seeing nothing much other than mallards and geese around here, it will be great when spring migrants start moving through. Feel free to send a harlequin towards Perth county if you ever have one to spare :)

    1. Thanks Jonathan. Maybe London can send you one Harlequin--they have three on the Thames right now! We usually get at least one on the river each winter. Unfortunately the one we did have at Sombra decided to die.