Sunday 7 January 2018

Deep Freeze Ducks and Stuff

This afternoon my aunt and I went for a walk along the Thames river from Greenway Park to the Springbank Park dam. Our main focus was the wintering waterfowl, but we were also hoping to find a few birds to add to our year lists.

Upon arrival, we quickly found an American Robin (first of 2018 for my aunt!), Common Goldeneye, Common Mergansers, Mallards, American Black Duck, Ring-billed Gull, and Herring Gull. I think today was the first time that I have seen more Herring Gulls than Ring-billed on the Thames!

American Robin

Herring Gull

The Pied-billed Grebe from New Year's Day was still present.

The Long-tailed Duck could still be found as well.

Another rare duck has showed up on the Thames, this one in the form of a Red-breasted  Merganser. Red-breasted Mergansers are hard to find in Middlesex regardless of the season, and this one was yet another Middlesex lifer!

Red-breasted (front) and Common Merganser

At one point a Belted Kingfisher came in briefly. I didn't think we'd come across one!

Surprisingly, smaller birds were far and few between. At one point in Greenway, we came across a little group of Black-capped Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and a Brown Creeper. In typical creeper fashion, it didn't want it's picture taken!

Brown Creeper

As usual, there were quite a few Canada Geese present. At one point, I noticed a large goose with a much deeper voice than the others. I photographed it, and then I realized it was a Branta canadensis maxima, aka the "Giant" Canada Goose. I was happy with the sighting, as this subspecies is relatively difficult to find.

Bald Eagles seem to always be present along the Thames in the winter, and today was no exception. We saw at least 8 or 9 over the course of the walk. A couple provided some good photo opportunities.

Closer to the dam, waterfowl numbers started to build. Canada Geese and Mallards were most numerous, but Common Mergansers and Common Goldeneyes could also be found in larger numbers. Hooded Mergansers, black ducks, and Buffleheads were seen in lesser numbers.

Common Merganser (Left) and Common Goldeneye (Right)

Hooded Merganser

This Merlin was a first for 2018. I wasn't expecting to see one today!

Down by the dam there were many ducks, mostly Mallards.

As usual, there were many domestic types, including this one which has been around for years.

A pair of Redheads were mingling with the Mallards.

A couple Red-tailed Hawks patrolled the river, and occasionally perching in the evergreens.

It was at that point I found the most unexpected bird of the day...a female American Wigeon!

Wigeon are rare winter visitors to Middlesex, so I was excited to see this one!

I thought it was a very good outing, and a great way to end off the winter break. Tomorrow it is back to school!


  1. Thanks for a fantastic day, Quinten! I had a lot of fun! Looking forward to more birding adventures with you and the family. 😊