Sunday, January 17, 2016

Greater or Less than...Little Lake Visit

Last weekend I went on my first birding outing of the year.  I only wanted to take a hour or two break from work, so I went off to Little Lake in Peterborough to see some gulls and waterfowl.

It was a fairly quiet afternoon!  The Lesser Black-backed Gull that had been reported earlier in the week was no longer there, instead all I could see was a raft of ice full of Ring-billed Gulls.  Chickadees did not make a single peep, nor were there any woodpeckers.  It's always just a tiny bit eerie when even birds aren't making any noise!

There were four species of waterfowl out on the water that day.  Mallards, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, and then a Greater Scaup, although at the time it was just Scaup sp.

Common Goldeneye

Common Merganser
Greater Scaup

Scaup are always a tricky species for any kind of birder to tell apart from Lesser or Greater.  When in a large flock, I've always been able to figure out which are which, especially because they do look very different when together!  However, when they are in singles it really is difficult!

I posted the following screenshot of one of my silhouette photos to the Facebook site "Ontario Birds".  A number of friends are on this site and they, along with the other members, are always so great and so keen to help out with Bird ID.  After posting the photo I got a number of tips and tricks to identifying the two different kinds of Scaup.  Tips such as: peak at the front of the head, overall a fairly rounded head, larger in size all lead to the identification of a female Greater Scaup.  

And then from the Little Lake cemetery we departed to go back home with only one more stop.  It was still strange only having about 8 or so species on our list, especially in an area that is usually a little more lively, in terms of birds.

Mike and I then stopped at two locations on the way home to feed some hungry Mallards!  We had stopped at TSC earlier in the day to buy some cracked corn and now stopped at a spot on Little Lake, and then again at the boat launch off Monaghan Road.

The boat launch was the place with definitely the most activity.  We threw out a little bit of corn for the few ducks closest to us and within a minute we were swarmed with quacking, hungry mouths.  It was a super nice Sunday afternoon break!

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