Sunday, 13 December 2015

Avon River Ramblings

Finally I'm putting out a blog post again.  I've been decently busy lately and haven't done as much birding as I would like. The forecast had predicted rain today, but fortunately it held off long enough for me to head into Stratford to the Avon River.  There was decent fog cover which made long range birding difficult, but it turned out to be an interesting day anyway.

The Avon has had several seasonal rarities lately and I was interested to see what I could find.  The mallards were certainly out in full force (no surprise) and I arrived as they were enjoying a late afternoon meal.

I headed off along the river and could soon see that the fog would present some challenges.
I was pretty sure photography would not be great, but attempted it anyway when the birds would let me close enough.

At one point I managed to pick out a female lesser scaup alone in the middle of the river.  She had also been reported on eBird this morning.  It wasn't a new species for me, but still great to see. 

I was scanning the canada geese when I noticed something odd.

In this zoomed in version of the above photo, I had my first good look at cackling geese.  Not much larger than nearby mallards and with their short stubby bills, it was a treat to see them and add them to my life list.

There were lots of eastern gray squirrel around both in black and gray morphs.

  A recent article in the local newspaper predicted a higher squirrel survival rate over this winter and into spring for much of southwestern Ontario.  The mild temperatures we have been having mean that they can harvest more nourishment for the winter and will go into the cold weather with more fat reserves.  If interested, the article can be found here.

In other Stratford birding news, a strange ring-necked duck has also been hanging around the river for most of the year.  It seems that he arrived with a group of ring-necks during spring migration and for some reason never left.  I caught a glimpse of him early last summer and according to the eBird updates I received, he stayed over summer and was reported again just yesterday although I did not see him today.   We are normally in their migration path but there isn't much reason why one should hang around this long.  It appears to be in good health.

As many of you probably know, we are approaching the time of year for Christmas Bird Counts.  I am looking forward to participating in my first count this year in the Stratford area.

That's all for now.

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