Sunday was the day I picked to check out the St. Clair River for waterfowl and any other notable avian creature. It was a mistake! With the very strange (mild) weather the last few days, we have experienced dense fog in the mornings and evenings. Late Friday was quite bad as I drove up to Sombra after work. It was clear enough though, that one could see lots of ducks on the river and some large rafts.
This time of year is peak time to observe waterfowl on the St Clair River and I spend quite a bit of time on weekends looking around.
Saturday night was quite clear, but by morning the fog had rolled in. I went out anyway thinking that after some time the fog would lift enough to look for waterfowl. It often does.
Some rafts of ducks were close enough to the shoreline that one could make them out. I ended up going all the way to Sarnia, but the fog intensified. It was even worse on the way back!
Recently, it was obvious that there were more scaup and Ring-necked Ducks on the river. They make things interesting as one sorts through the rafts.
I had visions of finding a Tufted Duck (lol!). The last one spent part of the winter at Sombra 1994 and was easily picked out in the rafts of ducks.
As I left the river, the fog was almost non-existent inland! Looking for "landbirds" recently has been boring!
With the exceptionally mild weather, more waterfowl has appeared locally. Species such as Tundra Swans, puddles ducks such as Northern Pintail and geese such as Greater White-fronted and Ross's have been reported in the last few days in numbers unusual for this time of year.
Some may call this an early spring migration in response to the mild weather. Back around New Year's 2009, there was an influx of puddle ducks and geese that Alan Wormington termed "spring migration". Perhaps this has happened in the past, but in 2009 it was quite noteworthy.
At the time, I was writing the winter report for North American Birds (NAB) and this phenomena was worthy of special attention (SA) in the report.
The 2009 influx included Northern Pintail and Greater White-fronted Geese, but also Snow Goose, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal and Ring-necked Duck.
Yesterday, January 22, Ross's Geese were reported at Sarnia and St. Clair NWA. A significant number of Snow Geese were near St. Clair NWA as well. Other ducks appeared at Erieau, where they had not been previously.
Our winters sure have changed since I was young. I have spent a lot time along the St. Clair River all of my life. Rarely do we see a "real" winter anymore!