Sunday, April 8, 2018

Birding Lake Ontario Shoreline

Saturday morning I was up early to head towards Toronto.  This weekend (Sunday) was the annual meeting of the Ontario Bird Records Committee (OBRC).  When I was on the committee before, I always went up a day ahead of time to look around.  I do not get to that locale often.  Seems I used to in the distant past though!
Skies were clear most of the weekend, but the unseasonably cold weather continued.  In fact, I heard comments that we are on our third winter for this year!

My first stop was J. J. Plaus Park in Port Credit. 

This small park at the mouth of the Credit River is often a good spot in winter to see waterfowl and waterbirds.  I also recall Yellow-rumped Warblers here in winter a number of years ago.  
This day, there was not much around but I did a see a few Red-necked Grebes in the distance.
Many years ago, a pair of Great Cormorants were hanging around here.  This is one species I went to chase!  The two were perched on the bow of the old laker when I saw them.

It is also a spot I like to view the old lake ship Ridgetown that has been in place since the early 1970's.  It is looking a little worse for the wear!  I would imagine the steel is getting rather thin.
This ship was one of four sister ships built in 1905.  Originally named William E. Corey, it sailed for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company (later United States Steel).  In the 1960's it was sold Canadian to Upper Lakes Shipping and named the Ridgetown (for the village in Chatham-Kent).  The latter name is long since worn off, but the original name can actually be seen peaking through on the bow.

I then moved east to Colonel Sam Smith Park at the end of Kipling Road in Toronto.  This is a very popular birding stop for many.  

Here, a large number of Red-necked Grebes can be seen.  They littered the place.
This area is no doubt the largest staging area for this species in Ontario.

I estimated over 200 of them in my visit.  Last week, David Pryor et al. estimated around 2000!

While there, the Red-necked Grebes were quite vocal and many were paired up and displaying.  Others were singletons.

A good variety of ducks was around during my visit.

After a quick lunch, I headed back west to J. C. Saddington Park, on the west side of the Credit River.  It is a popular spot to view the lake for waterbirds.

I sat on the rocks for a while looking at waterfowl.  I then started walking west and stopped to scan again, and noticed something intriguing.  A Western Grebe!  I was not even carrying a scope (too lazy!), but this bird was just close enough to be seen well.  Very distinctive.
On this trip, I did not bother to bring the big camera, so I just had the Canon G16 for record shots.

first view

This is the second "self-found" Western Grebe for me in Ontario.  I found one off Pinery Provincial Park in 18 November 2006 which is an odd story in itself.

The Port Credit bird is interesting, as one shows up in this area almost every year at this time.  In fact, a couple of the birders present predicted one would show up this very weekend!  Quite possibly, it is the same returning bird (just like a dove at Rondeau!).

I put out the word on Ontbirds.  I stuck around, and soon many birders started arriving.  Included was David Pryor who was sick in bed when he got the word!
I stayed quite a while helping birders spot the grebe.  The Western Grebe moved around quite a bit and even went right up to the Ridgetown and into the mouth of the Credit River.

The was a good raft of White-winged Scoters present as well (up to about 60), and a couple of Surf Scoters.  A Common Loon or two was also seen.

After two hours there, I was chilled to the bone, and left to find a motel for the night and get some supper.

I did not do any birding today, but the trip into Toronto and to the ROM went well.