Thanks to tip offs from two birding friends (thanks Mark and Wayne) I decided that as the site lies “just” inside my pale green wildlife circle it was acceptable for me to get out the car to go and check out the pair of Long-tailed Ducks (aka ‘Oldsquaw’) that have been seen in the waters off l’Anse Vaudreuil for a few days. These are smart, black and white ducks that breed in the very high arctic and overwinter on the eastern seaboard of Canada and the US and also on the Great Lakes so spotting them around here is a bit serendipitous.
Turns out that there were not just two, but five (that I found) … and yes, pictures are below.
This north-easterly facing bay is a good gathering spot for waterfowl, and for shorebirds too when the water is low which it has not been for a couple of seasons. It is backed by a steep bank along the top of which runs a reasonably quiet road – making slow crawling with binoculars convenient on a day when the wind was a bitingly cold and northerly as today. Water levels were high and waves were, if not as big as yesterday in Vallois Bay, certainly big and choppy. There were perhaps 300 Canada Geese taking shelter close to the shore with smaller groups of gulls floating around further out and I confess that with the weather and the close-packed geese I was not at first confident of finding anything other than the inevitable mallard amongst them. Turns out I was needlessly pessimistic.
Cruising along the road passing goose after goose my eye was taken by something ‘small” just inshore of a raft of geese. Stop, try not to drive down the bank, get out of car avoiding passing truck (it was a quiet road up to that point – of course) and up with binocs and … yes! A nice Long-tailed Duck.
It dived, then instantly popped up ten feet to the right. That was fast, underwater swimming I thought and then realised there were two ducks. Bingo, take a few photos and I could go home for a warm.
But you never know – so a slow crawl back in the reverse direction and, blow me, there were another pair of Long-tails and then, just beyond them a fifth one.
Add to these a few Common Goldeneye, a solitary Common Merganser and quite a few sheltering Mallard and it was a good morning. In case anyone is interested in trying to find them themselves, they were all within ten feet of the reeds by the shore and always on the edge of or just inland from large groups of geese. There is a map at the foot of this post.
Now for the birds …. I have put the photos into a gallery to show them more conveniently. Click the first thumbnail to open it and then scroll through.
In case anyone is interested in trying to find them themselves, they were all within ten feet of the reeds by the shore and always on the edge of or just inland from large groups of geese. This map gives an indication of where they were this morning.