[Ontbirds] Winter Is Icumen In; King Eider and other waterfowl off the Toronto waterfront

Graydon graydon at marost.ca
Mon Dec 1 20:05:29 EST 2014


Most of the expected early winter ducks have returned to the Toronto
waterfront.

Interesting --

KING EIDER
TRUMPETER SWAN
RUDDY DUCK
WHITE-WINGED SCOTER

Discursive -- 

Started at Corner Pond in High Park; vehicle access would be Spring Road
and Parkside parking lot, but I'd recommend getting off the 501 Queen
Streetcar at the Parkside stop.  (And walking up to cross Parkside at
the lights.  Parkside's rather suicidal otherwise.)

Only the High Park resident redtails were present at Corner Pond; two
entirely white rock pigeons shot across the space, which makes me wonder
if there have been some symbolic dove-of-peace releases going on.  (And
also if the resident redtails are eager to diversify their diets away
from chipmunk.)

The south-west corner of Grenadier Pond (over by the martin house) had
an American Coot, Bufflehead, and Hooded Merganser; one pair, one
female, and four males, all busily displaying to the unattached female.

Proceeded south on Ellis to the shore of Lake Ontario at Sir Casimir
Gzowski Park.  (This is all on foot.  It's a nice walk with nice paths.)

Here we have mute swans, the obligatory mallards, some returned
long-tailed ducks, a few red-breasted mergansers diving busily, many
many ring-billed gulls, many herring gulls (a surprising proportion of
herring gulls for the Toronto waterfront; somewhere between a quarter
and a third of the total gulls) but no "interesting" gulls noted.  Also
three trumpeter swans, two with wing tags, hauled out on the beach and
preening thoroughly.  (In that "applying spackle with the bill" way
swans have when they're really trying to re-arrange their breast
feathers.)

The immature King Eider was easily visible from the Martin Goodman Trail
bridge over the Humber, complete with a convenient group of three Common
Mergansers for scale. (The King Eider is obviously larger.)

Proceeding west along the walking trails to Humber Bay East Park (that
is, toward Mimico Creek from the mouth of the Humber; Humber Bay park
isn't on the Humber), I observed mixed flocks of Greater Scaup and
Redheads, various Bufflehead, scattered Long-tailed Duck, many still in
transitional plumages, one (1) White-winged Scoter (in very close to
shore; it started swimming out further as I walked by), a pair of Common
Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, and approximately a hundred Ruddy
Ducks.  (Four were in close, easy binocular range; the main raft
definitely took a scope.)

At Humber Bay East Park, there were displaying Hooded Merganser in the
ponds by the (closed) bathrooms.  Also the ubiquitous and obligatory
mallards, in the next pond over.

Had a merlin at Queen and Ossington on my way home.  There merlin didn't
get the house sparrow, but from the furious expression I doubt the next
sparrow will be so lucky.

-- Graydon




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