Great Egret

Great Egret

Friday, 3 February 2017

Bald Eagle nesting and winter waterfowl

Now that it is a little more winter like rather than the tease of spring we had not that long ago, I thought it was time to check on some of the wintering waterfowl hanging out in an accessible place. For me, one of the better spots is Erieau, where the vehicle can be used as a blind and birds more or less carry on with their struggle to survive.

With the ice on the lake entirely gone, and even with Rondeau Bay quite open, many of the birds are a little farther away than I would like. But some swam by on occasion.

Bufflehead weren't numerous, but there were a few. Sometimes called 'Butterballs', they are one of the smaller ducks, and not often hunted due to their small size.
This female Greater Scaup is in fresh plumage. One can tell because the whitish feathers at the 'ears' are not showing, as that typically appears after the feathers are a bit more worn. There were a few males a ways off, but this one seems to hang around close to the channel and harbour area.
Greater Scaup
There were several female Redhead close to the harbour, but the brighter coloured males were well out.
The male Harlequin Duck was playing in the surf again. Seeing it is a hit and miss proposition. Even when it is there, it seems to spend more time under water than on the water, and one never knows where it will pop up so you have to be fast to get a good look, and even faster (and luckier) to get an identifiable photo.

A small number of American Coot are hanging on.
Normally they would feed at the water's edge and pick things up without diving. However there is comparatively little sustenance of that sort these days, so they do dive under, bringing up bits of aquatic vegetation. Their dive is anything but graceful, is closer to a belly-flop at times.

Gulls seem to be almost non-existent in January, but there are a few starting to show up. Actually there were several hundred of them a couple of days ago...mostly Herring Gulls out along the edge of the ice, but a few Ring-billed Gulls like the ones shown below were hanging around the harbour. Anytime a duck came up with a fish, the Ring-bills were ready to pounce....usually unsuccessfully, fortunately for the duck. This first photo shows an adult Ring-bill in pretty good breeding plumage.
This next photo is of a Ring-bill which is still showing some grayish speckles on its upper chest and around the head, indicating its plumage development isn't quite as far along as the bird in the previous photo.

While in the Erieau-Shrewsbury area, I stopped to check a raptor nest along the south end of Fargo Road. I had heard that a couple of Bald Eagles were seen there recently, and sure enough, two of them were there. The one bird on the left is working away at something at the bottom of the nest bowl.
The nest is on private property, but quite visible from the road with a decent pair of binoculars. The property owner is a friend of our family, and he phoned me to let me know about this. He is quite pleased to have a pair of eagles nesting in his woodlot, of course.

Afternoon lighting is the best time for viewing, especially on a sunny day. It is interesting to note that in 2016 this nest appeared, and a couple of eagles were there. But as the season progressed, the eagles went elsewhere, and the nest was taken over by a pair of Red-tailed Hawks. Only time will tell if they decide to stay for the complete nesting season in 2017!


  1. Interesting the way they're trading off that nest site.

    1. Hi will be interesting to see how this season unfolds.

  2. Our daughter was through Delta, B.C. on the weekend, and reports literally hundreds of eagles. They've been amazed since moving out west.

    1. Yes, if you like Bald Eagles, the west coast is the place to be!