I had more time to go birding the following day, and headed out to the east end to follow up on a reported Canvasback near Petrie Island. This duck – a male in breeding plumage – had been there for a few days now, so I figured my chances of finding him were pretty good. I’ve only seen this species once before, at Presqu’ile Provincial Park on an OFNC trip in April, 2008, and was hoping to get a better view of this uncommon migrant.
Because I arrived in the east end early, I spent some time driving around the Wall Road/Frank Kenny area. The highlights were about 20 Snow Buntings and a single Northern Harrier on Regimbald Road; I saw no Snowy Owls, no Horned Larks, no buteos, no shrikes, and no Sandhill Cranes on Milton Road. I had better luck at Petrie Island; after parking on North Service Road, I walked down to the water where the male Canvasback was swimming in the middle of the bay. I had excellent views through the scope, and could clearly see his bright white back, reddish head, and unique profile created by the bill merging together with its sloping forehead. I also picked up a few more ducks for my winter list: one female Wood Duck, one male Hooded Merganser, and two Gadwall, a male and a female. Several mallards and American Black Ducks were swimming in the water with three Common Goldeneyes and several Common Mergansers; a Great Blue Heron was standing on the shore, while several gulls and a few Canada Geese were standing on the ice in the middle of the bay.
All the birds that I saw were too far away to photograph. This was a disappointment, as I really wanted a good photo of that Canvasback!