Yesterday eight hardy members of the Pickering Naturalists ventured out to the west end of Lake Ontario for our annual outing, with John once again leading the troops. Admittedly, our species count was low coming in at a meagre thirty-two, but a great time was had by all regardless of the numbers!
Our first stop was at Bronte Harbour where we enjoyed good views of Canada Geese, both Common and Red-breasted Mergansers, Long-tailed Ducks, Mute Swans, and Greater Scaup, to name a few.
After resisting the challenge of my birding companions to order a serving of Cold Stone Creamery ice cream in the dead of winter at the nearest Timmie's (hah!), we forged ahead to Sioux Lookout in Burlington where we scored two of the three target Scoters for the day, both White-winged and Surf Scoters.
Further west along the lakeshore at Spencer Smith Park (formerly known as the Travelodge, which yet again is no longer a Travelodge this hotel has changed ownership more times than Elizabeth Taylor has changed husbands), we were pleased to add Ruddy Ducks, Gadwall, Trumpeter Swans, and American Coots to our day list, seen below among some Mallards, Mute Swans, and Canada Geese:
Then it was off to Windermere Basin for some more new species, including Lesser Scaup, a few Hooded Mergansers, dozens of Northern Shovelers, and a few Northern Pintails. I caved and actually made a concerted effort to look at a gull it was, after all, a tick, so I sucked it up , as Steve spied an Iceland Gull on the wing, adding to our gull list so far of Herring, Ring-billed, and Great Black-backed.
We re-energized ourselves at Hutch's restaurant on the beach, consuming copious amounts of unhealthy burgers, fries, and battered fish. Glenda's halo blinded us all as she ate a healthy meal, although she was corrupted in the end as she indulged in some of my baking, mwahahaha! Between sugar fixes, John saw a lone Black-capped Chickadee being blown past our window by the high winds, which was a new species for us.
We made a hasty visit to Gray's Road in the Stoney Creek area where only three Long-tailed Ducks were seen out on the lake, so we retreated back to Burlington for our final stop at La Salle Park. As expected, this area that historically is fabulous at this time of year for waterfowl was frozen up solid, so we had to be satisfied with more Canada Geese and Trumpeter Swans. Any hopes of seeing a Bald Eagle were dashed, even when the geese and swans took to the air, which is usually a good indicator of an eagle on the wing. Instead, we were disappointed to see that a snowmobiler on the ice was responsible for flushing them:
The Canada Geese gradually returned, despite low visibility on the ice due to blowing snow:
It was time to pack it in at thirty-two species. Noticeably absent from our list were Peregrine Falcons and Double-crested Cormorants, usually visible from the lift bridge, but major construction prevented us from accessing this area. We also dipped on American Wigeons, usually present at La Salle Park, as well as Black Scoters, any finches whatsoever (!), and any sparrows, with the exception of House Sparrows.
Thanks again to John for leading us around the area, and both John's for driving us around, too.
Note to Carolyn: psssst! if Steve arrived home with no baking in hand, it means that they consumed the chocolate truffles and pineapple cake themselves on the way home!