Birding Around the Sound

It was a wet day in early November when members of the Saugeen Field Naturalists (SFN) headed up to Owen Sound to meet with Fred Jazvac of the Bruce Birding Club. We were on a search for migrating waterfowl, a general term that includes groups such as dabbling and diving ducks, loons, geese, gulls and swans. We saw members of all these groups during our tour of the Sound.

It turns out that there are many places around Owen Sound that avid birdwatchers can access, and we must have visited most of them. The group started by following Fred up north of Leith to Ainsley Woods Conservation Area, where we saw a female Long-tailed Duck and a White-winged Scoter. We then headed back south and stopped in at Leith Spit Conservation Area, followed by Hibou Conservation Area. Birds spotted at these locations included a Common Loon, a Red-breasted Merganser, a Horned Grebe, a Herring Gull, and a Common Goldeneye.

A fourth stop at an open road allowance began with a look at the neighbouring woods, where some Chickadees, Juncos and Cardinals were seen and heard. These species are common visitors to birdfeeders throughout Grey and Bruce Counties, cheering the winter landscape with their presence. Heading down to the water’s edge, we set up our birding ‘scopes and spotted a Ring-necked Duck and a Pied-bill Grebe.

When we arrived back in town, we stopped for lunch and to warm up, then checked out the shoreline at the Bayshore Arena parking lot. A couple of Mute Swans had been spotted earlier in the day, but could not be seen from this vantage point. So we headed south again and at a couple of points along the west harbour walls where the water had narrowed significantly. There were a flock of Mallard Ducks near the shoreline across from us, and Fred spotted a Hooded Merganser swimming around near the entrance to the marina.

Our next move was to drive to the bridge at 10th Street , cross the river, and head north on 1st Avenue West. First Avenue ends at a point that makes a good viewing spot up and down the Sound. We could see the Mute Swans across by the Harry Lumley Community Centre from this vantage, as well an American Black Duck. Stopping by the marina, we spotted several Long-tailed Ducks and a Bufflehead Duck, but the Hooded Merganser eluded us.

A final stop on the Sound yielded a Ruddy Duck. The group then headed to the Shallow Lake Wetlands where many of the birds mentioned above had taken shelter on this wet and windy day.

Clarke Birchard of SFN thanked Fred for showing us such a wide variety of species, and for his patience with our questions. Fred was impressed by the persistence and dedication of the group. He hadn’t expected that people would be so enthusiastic in the face of the cold, wind and wet weather. But his ability to find the birds and tell us their life histories kept us interested to the end.

Submitted by Nikki May

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