Eurasian Wigeon (rare), Pied-billed Grebe + a pair of Harlequin Ducks

The fun started last Friday afternoon after work.   In addition to observing Red-breasted Mergansers’ courtship displays, I had brief views of a pair of Harlequin Ducks (rare) at Gairloch Gardens, in Oakville.  It’s a serene little spot.

Harlequin Ducks (female and male)

Harlequin Ducks (female and male)

I noted the Eurasian Wigeon (rare) was still present at Tommy Thompson Park in Toronto.   The park is huge (23.2 kilometres) and I don’t have the stamina to walk every path, cell and embayment.  As I still wasn’t sure where to start my search on Saturday (I hadn’t read the previous night’s posting offering specific directions) I asked a local birder where I could possibly find the wigeon. He pointed out two areas on the map to the park.  Per his advice, I took a photograph of the map and started out.  As I made my way down a trail, a birder ahead of me was scanning the water with a scope.  I walked softly so as not to disturb him but made a noise or two so as not to give him a fright.  Didn’t work!  We chatted briefly.  He told me the wigeon had been seen in the company of Redheads.  I thanked him, bid adieu then continued on my merry way until these three impeded my progress.

Killdeer

Killdeer

I travelled onwards until I saw what I initially thought was a private home.  Turns out it was a sailing club.  I headed to the water’s edge to check the waterfowl.  Soon I was joined by two birders.  We scanned the water together and ultimately found the Eurasian Wigeon!

Eurasian Wigeon

Eurasian Wigeon

The lighting was sub-optimal and the wigeon somewhat distant from shore but we were happy to find it.  Here is a video posted by Luc Fazio who stated, “This rare Eurasian Wigeon…has been giving great looks and good comparison to other ducks. Its creamy head on the RUFOUS face and neck with a gray body distinguish it from our American Wigeon. Although it is an annual rarity in Southern Ontario, In Toronto Metropolitan Area it is very rare.

Other birds:

male Common Merganser

male Common Merganser

A pair of Common Mergansers

A pair of Common Mergansers

I headed off to High Park in search of an Eared Grebe as I haven’t eyeballed any this winter.  First, I stopped to check in on the Wood Ducks.

male Wood Duck

male Wood Duck

Next, a pause at the Grenadier Restaurant for coffee and stick-to-my-ribs-keep-me-full-rice pudding.  I found a Red-breasted Nuthatch in a pine near the restaurant, same spot as last visit.  Nice!

Then off to the Grenadier Pond where one of the two Wild Turkeys was calling from the Hillside Gardens.  Previously there was some thought that the turkeys were domesticated. They have since been confirmed to be wild.

Wild Turkey at High Park

Wild Turkey at High Park

Chatted with a chap who kindly directed me to the whereabouts of the Eared Grebe.  En route I found three male Northern Shovelers, two female Ring-necked Ducks and not one but two Horned Grebes and an American Coot!  Fantastic!

Pied-billed Grebe at High Park

Pied-billed Grebe at High Park

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe a bit closer to shore

Pied-billed Grebe a bit closer to shore

For comparison of species here is a look at a Horned Grebe photographed at Lasalle Marina.

Horned Grebe

Horned Grebe

I’ve been trying to work in some birding after work.  Rewards for the effort includes spending time with transitioning Ruddy Ducks, a female Cowbird and a co-operative American Robin.  I developed a soft spot for Ruddys after learning of the cull in England.

male Ruddy Duck

male Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Ducks

Ruddy Ducks

Female Cowbird

Female Cowbird

American Robin

American Robin

I am developing a liking for starlings.

European Starling

European Starling

Had a bit o’fun with these two Ring-necked Gulls.

Opposite

Opposite

Right

Left

Left

Right

Last Sunday we hit Hendrie Valley and the Royal Botanical Gardens. We were warmed at the thought that a considerate soul left some suet for the birds.

Poor Downy Woodpecker does not realize muffin is not good for him

Poor Downy Woodpecker does not realize muffin is not good for him

On closer inspection, we discovered it was actually muffin bits. We quickly removed what was left.

female Red-bellied Woodpecker

female Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker scooping up muffin bits

Red-bellied Woodpecker consuming muffin crumbs stashed by Downy Woodpecker

This is the second week I’ve found human food left for the birds. I believe I know who is responsible. Last week the individual left these.

Cheerios offered to birds

Cheerios offered to birds

When spoken to by myself and later by other birders, we received an identical response. “It’s whole-wheat Cheerios. It’s good for them.” I removed the cereal once there was some distance between us.

Can't say this enough

Can’t say this enough

We walked the trail for a bit photographing some regulars:

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

We ended our morning with a visit to the Royal Botanical Grounds and the Reptile Rendezvous exhibit:

On RBG grounds

On RBG grounds

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Veiled Chameleon

Veiled Chameleon

 

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