Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A Saturday in Sault Ste. Marie

This past weekend, I hosted a morning bird tour in Sault Ste. Marie in search of some of the interesting birds hanging around. 50% of the proceeds of the tour went towards Bird Canada, so it was great to raise a little money for bird conservation as well.

We started off by checking a few of the vantage points along the St. Marys River. Our first stop was the Pine Street Marina. The wind was very cold here, as we were completely exposed to the elements, and there were only a few Common Goldeneyes to be seen, so we moved on quickly.

Stop number two was at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre. A few more Common Goldeneyes were here too, but the exciting bird was a Common Goldeneye x Hooded Merganser hybrid. This individual has wintered here in Sault Ste. Marie for a few years now (there were two of them in 2018!).

Next, we went to the vantage point behind the Art Gallery of Algoma. There were lots of ducks here, but mostly Mallards and Common Goldeneyes. Then the hybrid flew in from further up river, giving us a much closer look than the first time.

We hit the jackpot at our next stop by the Station Mall. The participants wanted to see the immature male Harlequin Duck that has been around since December. I was hoping to at least get them some distant views of it in the scope, as it's often on the far side of the river. However, with the strong winds, there was a group of ducks right close to shore, hiding from the wind off the end of a barge. Lucky for us, the Harlequin Duck was with them! We got some great, close up looks at it. Another bonus was that the female Great Scaup that showed up in town recently was there too, which is a great bird to see here in the middle of the winter. Check out this photo that one of the participants got of both of these ducks side-by-side.

We already got to witness a Common Raven eating a dead Rock Pigeon in the Station Mall parking lot. Based on the condition of the pigeon, it looked like it was a casualty of a vehicle, it looked pretty squished. Here is a video I took of it.

After checking out the river, we took some quick looks for the Gyrfalcon and one of the Carolina Wrens that have been in the area, but we struck out on both of those. By this time, the tour came to the end, with everyone still excited about the great views we got of the Harlequin Duck!

One of the tour's participants, Violet Aubertin, was taking photographs for a story she was doing on me for SooToday. You can read her story here. Thanks SooToday and Violet!

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