Tuesday, February 7, 2017

An unexpected goldeneye in Lion's Head.

My drive to town this afternoon wasn't much fun. As happened through much of southern Ontario, the road conditions deteriorated quickly with the arrival of freezing rain and dropping temperatures. I stopped several times to clear ice from my side view mirrors and wiper arms. My plan was to pick up some provisions and head home before the highway became impassable. I passed a freshly ditched pick-up.

My typical winter milk run through Lion's Head takes about twenty minutes and ends with a grocery stop at Foodland followed by a quick scan of the sheltered harbour. Some interesting ducks hung out here over Christmas and a few years ago Bob and Ann-Marie Taylor encountered a Common Eider, a Bruce County first. With its excellent lines of sight from the public beach and marina, the harbour can be thoroughly searched in only a few minutes.

Given today's crappy weather, I very nearly decided to skip the usual pause at the harbour. I'm glad I didn't. There were no oddities among the 90 or so Herring Gulls, but accompanying the handful of the usual Common Mergansers and Common Goldeneyes was a very fine looking male Barrow's Goldeneye! These photos are the best I could do given the rain, wind, surface chop and frequent dives by the duck.

Small numbers of Barrow's Goldeneye show up each year in Ontario, most reliably in the Ottawa area. There have been far fewer sightings on the upper Great Lakes. The most recent observations for Bruce County, as recorded in eBird, were in 1979 and 1981.

Common Goldeneye, a few anyway, find the Lion's Head Harbour pretty hospitable and I suspect the Barrow's Goldeneye will stick around for a while. I'll post an update should there be more sightings in the coming days.