Good Birding Report: London, Ontario
January 12-18 2015

Bald Eagles are one of my favourite birds to observe and photograph along the Thames River during winter months.

Bald Eagles are one of my favourite birds to observe and photograph along the Thames River during winter months.

Great birding opportunities continued across the Forest City this past week with several notable sightings. Winter migrants continue to move into and through our area, providing birders with excellent opportunities to view some beautiful species.

I headed down to Greenway Park, early in the week, after hearing reports of a Greater White-fronted Goose being observed on the Thames River in this location. These geese breed across the Arctic tundra and spend winters in Mexico, Central America, and in the Gulf States of the southern USA. Greater White-fronted Geese are not common east of the Mississippi, making this an excellent find in the city. Unfortunately I was not able to locate the bird, but was treated to several other species.

While scanning the river in an attempt to locate the goose, I observed a single male Northern Pintail swimming on the far side of the river. These dabbling ducks are common, but typically winter in the southern USA or Atlantic Seaboard, but are common in our area this time of year. I was able to snap a few photos, and later submitted my sighting to both the Middlesex/Elgin/Oxford Natural History group as well as eBird.

Male Northern Pintail swimming behind a female Mallard.

Male Northern Pintail swimming behind a female Mallard.

Redheads were another first of the year species I observed on the river this week. Several of these diving ducks were observed at various locations between Springbank Dam and Greenway Park. Redheads feed on aquatic vegetation, and are drawn to the open water of the Thames River during winter months.

Several Redheads, both males (pictured here) and females, were viewed at various locations on the Thames River.

Several Redheads, both males (pictured here) and females, were viewed at various locations on the Thames River.

Great views were also available of the regular winter ducks on the Thames. This past week saw the number of Buffleheads, Common Mergansers, Hooded Mergansers, and Common Goldeneyes increase once again. A short walk through either Greenway or Springbank Park will quickly reveal these species. Many of these ducks, including the Buffleheads and Common Goldeneyes, are going through their courtship displays and even mating. Observing these courtship displays is quite entertaining. Male Common Goldeneyes tilt their heads back, splash water in the air with their feet, then extend their necks as they let out their “peent” call. The courtship display of the male Bufflehead is less dramatic, consisting mostly of head bobbing and water splashing, but still fun to observe.

Some ducks begin their courtship displays as early as December. Common Goldeneyes were observed courting and breeding this past week.

Some ducks begin their courtship displays as early as December. Common Goldeneyes were observed courting and breeding this past week.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that winter is the best time to observe Bald Eagles along the Thames River. This past week did not disappoint, with several adults and juvenile birds observed. In fact, every outing this past week along the river revealed at least one eagle.

Bald Eagle approaching from upriver.

Bald Eagle approaching from upriver.

Birding along the river is not just about waterfowl and eagles though. Several species of songbird were also observed. Nothing out of the ordinary to report, but quality views of Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, Woodpeckers, as well as Brown Creepers and Golden-crowned Kinglets were daily occurrences. I also observed several mammal species including: Raccoons, Squirrels, and White-tailed Deer. A complete list of the birds I observed between January 12 and 18, 2015 is included below.

 

  • American Black DuckWhite-breasted Nuthatch
  • Mallard
  • Canada Goose
  • Redhead
  • Common Merganser
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Common Goldeneye
  • Bufflehead
  • Northern Pintail
  • Bald Eagle
  • Red-tailed HawkNorthern Cardinal
  • Northern Cardinal
  • American Crow
  • American Goldfinch
  • House Finch
  • Mourning Dove
  • Rock Pigeon
  • Blue Jay
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Red-breasted NuthatchBlue Jay
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Carolina Wren
  • Brown Creeper

Several Snowy Owl sightings were reported just south of the city this past week. It seems these birds are returning to the same areas they were found during last year’s irruption. Multiple birders reported seeing Snowy Owls in the vicinity of the city dump on Manning Drive. If you live in the city’s south end, this will be a closer option for viewing these birds, rather than driving out to the Strathroy area. Be sure to check the eBird map for the locations of recent sightings before you head out. Remember, you can view the recent sightings of any species anywhere in the world using the eBird map.

If you have not made it out to observe some of these beautiful winter birds yet, I encourage you to do so. Many of these species will only be around until early March at the latest. Leave it too long and you will have to wait until next year. Don’t let these incredible birding opportunities pass you by.

Good birding,
Paul

 

 

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