Waterfowl Census


This year, the weather during the Waterfowl Count was fair, providing average viewing conditions with somewhat poor visibility due to morning fog with little wind. The lake was calm, with most shoreline areas open, but many bays and inner harbours were frozen. Temperatures ranged from +2°C to +6°C.

Participants on the Toronto Islands route of the Mid–Winter Waterfowl Inventory at the Toronto Island Ferry docks, 6 January 2008. Left to right: Jan Doherty, Don Barnett, Audrey Nowicki, Tove Christensen, Alison Paul, Glenn Coady. Photo: Glenn Coady.

Mid-Winter Waterfowl Inventory round-up dinner, Vesuvio’s Pizzeria,Toronto, 6 January 2008. Left to right: John Lamey, Don Perks, Jan Doherty, Audrey Nowicki, Mark Cranford (standing), Jean Iron, Ron Pittaway, Winnie Poon (standing), John Carley, Alison Paul, Roy Smith, Ross Harris. Photo: Glenn Coady.


This was the 62nd ’Duck Count’ for the Toronto Ornithological Club and 18th year that the entire Canadian shoreline of Lake Ontario has been covered. One hundred participants spent 187 party–hours searching for waterfowl.

This year we recorded 249,677 waterfowl from 39 species (the second highest species total ever – behind only the 40 species in 2000) along the entire Canadian shoreline of Lake Ontario. This is lower than the average total for the last 10 counts (291,875) but higher than the 29 year average (147,407).

Record high numbers were reported for four species: Pied–billed Grebe 4 (surpassing 3 in 2004); Trumpeter Swan 191 (187 in 2005); Mute Swan 1,171 (896 in 2006); and Greater Scaup 81,736 (62,804 in 2005).

Higher than usual numbers were reported for Double–crested Cormorant, Gadwall, White–winged Scoter, Common Merganser, Red–breasted Merganser and Ruddy Duck.

Lower than usual numbers were reported for Canada Goose, Mallard, Redhead, Long–tailed Duck and Common Goldeneye.

Missed species were Snow Goose (only the third year it has been missed in the last 29 years) and Greater White–fronted Goose.

A record 66 Bald Eagles were also reported (65 from Kingston, 1 from Presqu’ile).

An interesting exotic waterfowl find was a Barnacle Goose found on the Niagara sector. This is the second consecutive year that a Barnacle Goose has been found on that sector.

Toronto Area (Bronte Harbour to Whitby Harbour)

79,871 waterfowl from 31species were reported. This is the all–time highest total for the 62 counts (surpassing the 78,017 in 2001) and ties the record of 31 species found in 2007. First ever in the 62 year history of the Toronto sector of the count was a Cackling Goose found on Route 7. Species with the highest counts were Greater Scaup, Long–tailed Duck, Mallard, Canada Goose, Common Goldeneye, Redhead, Bufflehead, Red–breasted Merganser, Gadwall and White–winged Scoter (listed in order of abundance).

Record high numbers were reported for: Trumpeter Swan 40 (surpassing 31 in 2005), Mute Swan 429 (314 in 2005), Greater Scaup 40,254 (26,743 in 2001) and Lesser Scaup 161 (151 in 2003).

Lower than usual numbers were reported for: Canada Goose, Green–winged Teal (missed!), American Black Duck, and Northern Pintail.

Rarities included: 2 Common Loon, 1 Horned Grebe, 1 Tundra Swan, 1 Cackling Goose, 1 Canvasback, 13 Ring–necked Duck, 3 Harlequin Duck, 1 Surf Scoter, 1 female Barrow’s Goldeneye and 2 Ruddy Duck.

Outside the Toronto Area

There were many excellent sightings.

Niagara had 21 species, including 1 Red–throated Loon, 1 Common Loon, 1 Pied–billed Grebe, 1 Horned Grebe, 16 Double–crested Cormorant and 2 Black Scoter.

Hamilton had 33 species including 1 Common Loon, 3 Pied–billed Grebe, 1 Horned Grebe, 3 Red–necked Grebe, 56 Double–crested Cormorant, 1 Brant, 12 Green–winged Teal, 42 Northern Shoveler, 191 Canvasback(!!), 84 Ring–necked Duck, 6 King Eider and 425 Ruddy Duck (!!).

Durham had 18 species including 1 Northern Pintail and 1 American Coot.

Port Hope had 16 species including 1 Gadwall and 1 Cackling Goose in Cobourg Harbour.

Presqu’ile had 19 species including a male Barrow’s Goldeneye and a female Harlequin Duck.

Quinte had 14 species including 1 Trumpeter Swan and 1 American Coot.

Kingston had 27 species including 1 Common Loon, 2 Horned Grebe, 2 Double–crested Cormorant, 188 Tundra Swan, 4 Northern Pintail, 2 Ring–necked Duck, 36 Hooded Merganser and 44 American Coot.

Routes and Observers

KINGSTON (Ivy Lea to Prince Edward Point): Ron Weir plus 27 members of the Kingston Field Naturalists

QUINTE Area (Weller’s Bay to Point Petre): John Blaney, Terry Sprague.

PRESQU’ILE (Barcovan Beach to Wicklow): Doug McRae.

PORT HOPE (Wicklow to Wesleyville): Roger Frost, Elizabeth Kellogg, Clive Goodwin, Margaret Bain, Richard Pope, John Geale (Willow Beach Field Naturalists).

DURHAM (Wesleyville to Whitby): Rayfield Pye, Dennis Barry, Brian Henshaw, Kim Baker (Durham Region Naturalists).

TORONTO (Whitby to Oakville): Toronto Ornithological Club

Route 1 (Whitby to Rouge R.): Rob Nisbet, Ross Harris, Geoff Carpentier, John Stirrat, Steve Laforest.

Route 2 (Rouge R. to Coatsworth Cut): Roy B.H. Smith, Winnie Poon.

Route 3 (Eastern Headland to Cherry St.): John Carley, Carl Hills, Jean Iron, William Hewitt.

Route 4 (Toronto Islands): Glenn Coady, Don Barnett, Audrey Nowicki, Alison Paul, Tove Christensen, Jan Doherty.

Route 5 (Parliament St. to Humber R.): Margaret Kelch, Celia Harte, Harvey Medland.

Route 6 (Humber R. to Watersedge Park): Don Perks, John Lamey.

Route 7 (Watersedge Park to Bronte): Mark Cranford, Donna Sheppard, Brian Sheppard, Mike Boyd, Jean Labrecque, Bruce Mackenzie, Sarah Richer, Paul J. Charlebois, Marc Draper.

HAMILTON (Bronte to 50 Point + Hamilton Bay): George Naylor, Rob Dobos, Dave Don, Cheryl Edgecombe, Denys Gardiner, Sharon Gardiner, Kevin McLaughlin, Tom Ford, Rob Waldhuber, Jim Heslop, Bob Stamp (Hamilton Naturalists Club).

NIAGARA (50 Point to Niagara–on–the–Lake): John Black, Brian Ahara, Barbara Austen, Manley Baarda, Drew Campbell, Blayne Farnan, Jean Farnan, Marcie Jacklin, Brian Joule, Carol O’Shea, Kayo Roy, Tim Seburn, Maggie Smiley, John Stevens, Scott Watson (Peninsula Field Naturalists).

Note: Sector/Route leaders’ names are in bold.

Compiler: Glenn Coady

Jan Doherty and Audrey Nowicki participating on the Toronto Islands route of the Lake Ontario Mid-Winter Waterfowl Inventory on 6 January 2008.
Photo: Glenn Coady.