Great Egret

Great Egret

Friday, 21 March 2014

Waterfowl Galore!

The sunshine, above freezing temperatures and southerly winds are all combining to bring lots of waterfowl to southern Ontario. All of the photos in this post were taken today.

We started off the day heading to the area a bit south of Blenheim, hoping to find a reported Greater White-fronted Goose, but were unsuccessful. Other birders also struck out. However there are a few domesticated geese residing near where this one was reported. Perhaps we were on a wild, er, domestic goose chase (thanks, Blake :-). But being that close to Erieau prompted us to continue in that direction to see what might have arrived since the last visit.

The flooded fields immediately north of McGeachy Pond continued to have a good number and diversity of waterfowl, with hundreds of Tundra Swans arriving shortly after we did.

The area between McGeachy Pond and neighbouring houses were flooded due to the recent snow melt, which is perfect for waterfowl and Killdeer, and at a good range for viewing from the roadside.

In spite of the myriad wind turbines operating in the vicinity, the swans and other waterfowl seemed to have no trouble navigating safely through the area. Of course it is broad daylight. I wonder how they fare when flying at night?

While we were viewing from this area, American Robins were flying by. They have been increasing in numbers steadily throughout southern Ontario over the past week, but I had yet to photograph a spring arrival until this one today. Several meadowlarks, recent arrivals as well, were working along the grassy road side, but I was unable to get any photos of them.

The waterfowl came and went steadily, some heading in a general northerly direction and presumably moving up towards Lake St. Clair. Other groups headed back out towards Rondeau Bay, so we continued to the Erieau pier area where the bay is more visible. The harbour area where the fishing tugs normally moor is the best location to view the bay. With the slowly receding ice, the number of waterbirds continues to increase. With the open water near the harbour, as well as large patches beginning to show in various places on Rondeau Bay, it is difficult to estimate the number of ducks. The majority are Redhead, Canvasback and both scaup species, with a smaller number of the other regular diving duck species mixed in. Puddle ducks were comparatively few at least from this vantage point. However it would be safe to say that there were easily 20,000 individuals of these various duck species scattered across the bay.

The next image shows a few ducks fairly close by, but note the white on the ice in the distant is part of the huge number of Tundra Swans in the area. This is looking north from Erieau towards the head of the bay.

Just in the vicinity of Erieau and Rondeau Bay alone, there are likely at least 12,000 swans.

The next image is looking east across to the southern edge of the Rondeau Bay/marsh area where some open water is appearing, and there were at least a couple of thousand swans here, some of which were tucked behind the south beach and not visible from here. Hundreds more birds were constantly in the air and arriving steadily. An adult Bald Eagle was noted flying over the park, but did not seem to disturb the swans.

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