2015 Lake Ontario Winter Waterfowl Count

Tommy Thompson Park Route - Toronto, 11 January 2015

Our team left to right: Carl Hills, Jean Iron, Garth Riley, John Carley. This count is also known as the Duck Count. It covers Lake Ontario from Kingston to the Niagara River. We inventory the Toronto waterfront from Cherry Beach and Polson Street to Tommy Thompson Park (The Spit), the park itself, and the Ashbridges Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant. Photo: Robert Beeny.


Unwin Avenue at Regatta Road. The entire waterfront from the Eastern Gap to Tommy Thompson was frozen except for a few polynya-like areas of open water. On the Spit all internal bays were frozen, only the lake to the east and south was open. We tallied 21 species. Our top four were: Mallard with a total of 1280, Long-tailed Duck with 472; Gadwall with 209; and Canada Goose with 113. We recorded only one of each of the less common species: Tundra Swan, Northern Pintail, Hooded Merganser, Horned Grebe, Red-necked Grebe and a very rare at this time of year Double-crested Cormorant.


The upper left swan is a Trumpeter and the lower right a smaller Tundra. Tommy Thompson Park on 11 January 2015.


This Tundra has clear yellow in the correct location on the bill. The shape of the upper bill between the eyes is less deep than on Trumpeter, and this Tundra has the typical zigzag shape to the side of the bill. Tommy Thompson Park on 11 January 2015.


At the Ashbridges Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant we had to wear hard hats. Left to Right: Carl, John, Garth. Behind the railing is an excellent spot to study Kumlien's Gulls resting on the ice edge in the flock of Ring-billed and Herring Gulls. We picked out 3 juvenile, 1 second winter and 9 adult Kumlien's Gulls.


The treatment plant is always very productive. Most of the ducks were in the large aeration tanks. The water is warm compared to the air temperature and contains nutrients attractive to ducks.


At the plant, we counted 1,113 Mallards, 191 Gadwalls, 25 American Black Ducks, 2 female Northern Shovelers, 1 male Northern Pintail, 11 Buffleheads and 32 Canada Geese. 11 January 2015.