This winter’s cold weather has lots of people wishing for spring to arrive. For many it feels like winter is lasting forever, but for me this winter has been perfect. This year 86% of the Great Lakes are now covered in ice, compared to 35% on average years. Many species of waterfowl that typically winter on these lakes are showing up inland in their quest for open water as open water is scarce this year. Even the St. Clair river, another popular location for wintering ducks, has more ice coverage. The recent closure of the Lambton Generating Station has resulted in less warm water being discharged into the river and thus more ice formation. Many of these ducks are now forced to migrate to the Atlantic coast as these lakes and rivers freeze. The Thames River is located right in their flyway and is an excellent place to stop over to feed and rest or set up shop for the rest of the winter.
The number of species on the Thames River has increased almost daily and is a great place to get excellent views of waterfowl that would otherwise appear as tiny specks out on the big lakes and rivers. In London, on the stretch of river between Springbank and Greenway Parks there is plenty of open water and waterfowl. This past week alone I have added four new species to my life list and had some incredible close-up views of many others. A complete list of waterfowl I’ve seen in this area are:
American Black Duck
Several access points for this stretch of river are available. There are multiple parking lots in Greenway Park by turning on Greenside Avenue off of Springbank Drive. Other access points are from the parking areas in Springbank Park off either Springbank Drive or off Commissioners Road West at Springbank Gate.
Once the warm weather arrives and the melt begins, several of these waterfowl species will be gone. If you are wanting some great views of these waterfowl species now is the time. Don’t leave it too long as this has truly been an amazing year on the Thames. There is no telling how long it will be when we see ice levels like these on the Great Lakes again and have such an abundance of waterfowl species move inland.