I awoke early, dressed quickly and fired up the GPS in my car, inputting the location of Collingwood Harbour and with a Tim Horton's coffee in hand, drove the 135 kilometres in about 90 minutes, while listening to morning talk radio, to see if I could see some fancy-pants ducks in a harbour I've never been to. Thanks to Alan Wormington's post last night I was saved a drive for a chancy look at the Harlequins 4 hours away in Prince Edward County.
It was almost too easy. I drove down to the end of Heritage Drive, parked the car, grabbed my binoculars and scanned the bay. It took less than a minute to find two of the Harlequin Ducks, as they were actually very close to rocks. Had I arrived a few minutes later they would have been more difficult to spot without my scope. I rattled off a few photos as they drifted away, then grabbed my scope and got some really nice looks. I spent more time talking to Roy, a casual birder who comes down there to walk his dog and look at the birds, including the Peregrine Falcon, than I did looking at birds. I did, however, get a nice look at the Peregrine before I left.
I had the rest of the day to bird at Kortright Centre, where most of the trails were closed due to ice, and the Hamilton/Burlington/Bruce Trail areas, and if my goal was to see Gulls, Canada Geese and Black-capped Chickadees, my day could be considered a success. It was actually more comfortable in the cold and wind of Collingwood Harbour than walking in the rain and trying to see birds through wet binoculars in Hamilton. But I survived the ice of Kortright, braving the sleet and walking in the muck of The Bruce Trail, as well as the rain at Bayfront Park and Lasalle Marina. By the end of the day, in addition to the Harlequins and the Peregrine Falcon, I did see Hawks, Ravens, Crows, Swans, a large variety of ducks and many Black-capped Chickadees.
So, the Harlequin Duck was bird 210 of 2012. And I may still yet drive out to Prince Edward County, or back up to Algonquin Park this week. I still have 7 days before heading down to Florida.
And as an added bonus for the day, I got to wear my LL Bean Snow Sneakers, which had arrived Monday evening. I love 'em!