This winter sucked. No doubt about it. We were all cooped up and Xmas was literally taken by the Covid Grinch. Can't go to bars, can't socialize, no weekend plans. This meant that almost every weekend in the winter was spent out in the parks. Some of my go-to parks are Colonel Samuel Smith, Humber Bay (East), Tommy Thompson, Rattray Marsh, JC Saddington Park and High Park.
I probably go to Sam Smith the most since I've had the best sightings there and I'm quite familiar with all the spots that you need to hit up. It's great for just about anything from winter fowls, hawks, warblers in the spring and owls in the winter. It's also small enough that in 2 hours, you can get at least 20 species and on a good day you can go as high as 40 species.
Winter also means that some of the most badass looking birds and ducks come down to The 6ix. You start seeing Long-tailed Ducks, Scaups, Goldeneyes, White-winged Scoter, Red-breasted Mergansers, Hoodies, and so on. It's great for photography.
Apart from hooded mergansers, "hoodies", long-tailed ducks are probably my second fave winter waterfowl. Long gorgeous tail, face that looks like a stuffed animal, and great colour contrast on their winter garb, they are just so awesome to photograph.
Anyways, this past winter, I was up along the West Point area of Sam Smith park when I saw a flock of male Long-tailed ducks going fucking crazy. I didn't realize that a group of male was chasing a lone female. They were relentless, vicious and it looked like a case of sexual harassment. Apparently, this is referred to as forced copulation. Here is a blog post from Dr. Wayne Lynch from The Canadian Nature Photographer website: https://www.canadiannaturephotographer.com/ where he witnessed a similar incident.
Forced matings occur in less than three percent of bird species overall but are relatively common in waterfowl having been reported in a third of species. In some cases the mating attempts are so aggressive that the female is injured; sometimes even killed
The set below shows the lone hen being harassed by a group of drakes.
Sheeshhhh... don't be fooled by cute little fuckers. They are as abusive as they come. #birdingiscool