Monday, February 20, 2017

Goderich Birding and More River Ducks

Sunday, I got away from the usual weekend haunts and headed north as far as Goderich.  It was a nice day for a drive.  I stopped by Naftel's Creek CA south of the village.  It is a neat little place I always stop for a break when I am in that area.  Some decent breeding birds can be seen here in season, but it is a nice place to walk through during winter as well.  It was rather quiet on this visit though!

Ice was packed along the shoreline at Goderich with very few open spots.  The Maitland River was open though and held quite a few ducks, mostly Mallards.

A good place to walk is across the old railway bridge at the north part of the village. You get a fabulous view of the harbour and river.

Once across, there is a trail through the woods on the slope on the west side which leads out to the marina area.  I found a number of birds here yesterday.
Sun was in the wrong direction for taking photos to the south, as I looked at the two Algoma ships in winter layup.  The Algorail and Algosteel are on their last legs and will likely be retired this year.



Near home, I swung out to the St. Clair River and checked out Cathcart Park where there was a load of waterfowl.  Lighting conditions were excellent.  The eight Cackling Geese were still present among a good variety of ducks.

The Harlequin Duck has not been seen since early Saturday morning, but one gets the feeling it could still be nearby.
Regarding the hybrid Redhead X Ring-necked, it was still around.  To add to the confusion, Mike Bouman found a second one in the same raft!  It is quite similar, but has some subtle differences.

With all the spring migrant waterfowl showing up along Lake Erie, I was tempted to head down that way today.  However, conditions were far too good to pass up along the St. Clair River today!  The skies were clear and the river was as calm as glass first thing this morning.

Many Ring-billed Gulls have arrived with this warm weather, while many of the Herring Gulls have departed.  Ducks have thinned out and moved to the lakes, but still lots are to be seen.

This has been an excellent winter for White-winged Scoters in many areas.  Today, I saw the most I have ever seen on the river, including a count of 49 off Courtright alone.

I also picked out one male Black Scoter there.  Riding an ice floe was one of the Lesser Black-backed Gulls off Courtright.  There is a public dock which is good for setting up a scope and checking out the river.  This spot used to be the dock for the rail ferry that crossed the river at one point in time.

There was little to be seen farther upriver, so I headed back down river.  Mike Bouman sent a note that one of the hybrids was off Cundick Park, so I checked that out.  Sure enough, hybrid #1 was with a raft of mostly Redhead.  They were sleeping most of the time though!

In this raft was a female Black Scoter, that blended in well with the female Redheads.

I noticed that more scaup were on the river today as well.

After an hour there, it was time to head home as the sun was high.

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