Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Ducks galore at Presqu’ile

March 31, 2015

Ducks galore at Presqu’ile viewed by MVFN group

As the ice recedes in Presqu’ile Bay on the north shore of Lake Ontario, thousands of migrating ducks move in to await our northern lakes becoming free of ice, so they can move into their breeding homes. A small group of Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) members and friends journeyed to Presqu’ile Provincial Park on March 28th to view this natural spectacle, and they weren’t disappointed.

Viewing group at government dock, Presqu'ile. Photo Howard Robinson

Viewing group at government dock, Presqu’ile. Photo Howard Robinson

The MVFN outing, led by MVFN President Cliff Bennett has become an annual event for the club. From the various viewing stands, the group was able to see fourteen different species of waterfowl including a single white-winged scoter, a single American coot, and redhead and canvasback ducks by the hundreds. There were also dozens of long-tailed ducks and thousands of greater scaup, buffleheads and golden-eye ducks.  Dozens of mute swans dotted the whole bay and herring gulls picked up various bits of debris along the ice edge.

Long-tailed duck. Photo Peter Blancher

Long-tailed duck. Photo Peter Blancher

As well as ducks and other waterfowl, the group observed several raptors, including a red-shouldered hawk, a harrier, and a pair of kestrels, several red – tailed hawks, and a Cooper ’s hawk. Spring arrivals included red-winged blackbirds, grackles, American woodcock, turkey vultures and robins.  In total, the group tallied forty-five species in all for the day’s viewing.

Viewing so many ducks in one area is often quite revealing as one sees them in breeding colours and observes distinctive courting activities. A particularly active scene was demonstrated by a pair of mute swans; the female was completely submerged in the water by the male for at least ten seconds, followed by an intimate rubbing together of necks.

Courting Mute Swans. Photo Howard Robinson

Courting Mute Swans. Photo Howard Robinson

As spring weather approaches, there are many upcoming events being organized by MVFN’s active birding committee. The next of these are the popular spring Early Morning Bird Walks. This series will take place on 4 Wednesdays: April 8, 15, 22 and 29. For information on these events check the MVFN website at mvfn.ca. Other MVFN events in April include the Alvar Pub Night Friday, April 10 to raise funds to support the Burnt Lands Alvar Campaign, and an MVFN Members Night and AGM which will take place on Thursday, April 16.