return of the native

Yesterday, as we traveled through the Perth to Westport and Opinicon Lake areas we observed much migrant bird activity. Beside Hutchings Road near Westport, we spotted a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) inspecting an icy stream flowing through a snow-covered field (click on all photos for larger views) At any spot where the snow had receded alongside the roadway, there were small flocks of foraging American Robins (Turdus migratorius).

At the intersection of Hutchings Road and County Road 10, we encountered a half-dozen Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) circling, and one roosting on the branch of a White Oak. We saw many other Vultures along the way mainly in the Westport and Opinicon Lake areas (we lost count, but the total for the day was probably around 20).

At Narrows Locks, the three Trumpeter Swans were off snoozing in the bay downstream from the dam in the causeway. The open reach of water below the dam is much larger than even a few days ago. In addition to the swans, we found about 50 Canada Geese (Branta canadensis), mainly wandering or swimming about in pairs. A pair of hawks was also seen circling to the east of the locks, but they were too far away for a certain ID. A single adult Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) was seen crossing Narrows Lock Road in the area of Round Lake.

On Chaffey’s Lock Road, an adult Raccoon (Procyon lotor) raced across the road in front of our vehicle, pausing atop a snowdrift on the roadside, before crawling through the page wire fence and disappearing into the forest. We encountered a total of 12 White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), with the greatest number seen along Opinicon Lake Road. The deer seemed to be in good condition. One pair that were wandering on the roadway, sprang over a snowbank, then scaled an almost vertical rockface that was probably at least 10 meters or more high — in seconds. A little further along the road, we came upon this trio that trotted easily across the road and up onto the rocky ridge where they paused to watch us before moving on.

All in all, it was a good day to be out and about. It’s great to see so much bird and mammal activity. It feels as though the land is coming back to life after a very long sleep.

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15 Responses to “return of the native”

  1. Cicero Says:

    A very profitable drive in deed and great pictures!

  2. Peter Says:

    Love your geese photo! We’ve been out this weekend checking things out too, and feel the same about it all coming alive.

  3. Cathy Wilson Says:

    It lifts my spirits to share your Spring returnees. What is it about deer? Perhaps those mammal eyes, the watchfulness. I love that picture. Oh – the geese, too.

  4. Cathy Wilson Says:

    Hit ‘submit’ too soon :0)

    There’s something oriental about the heron on that field of white. Hmmm. Not sure why it affects me like that.

  5. Wayne Says:

    Very nice photos, Bev, and it does indeed look like there’s some snow melt!

    I probably would see more indication of migratory birds if I were to get out to some water in the area, but it seems to me that you must have really massive influxes in the spring. They just pass by us, but they’re headed toward you!

  6. bev Says:

    Cicero – It was a great day to be out and the photos were a nice “extra”!

    Peter – The land has seemed so quiet to us this year, so it really does seem like it’s coming back to life after a very long sleep.

    Cathy – I love those deer eyes too. I also very much agree about the heron on the snow. As soon as I put the photo up on my computer the other night, I told Don that the minimalism of the image reminded me of either a Chinese or Japanese watercolor or ink painting.

    Wayne – There’s been quite a bit of snow melt, but those darned adirondack chairs are STILL hiding under the snow in our yard. It has turned very hard now — you can walk atop the surface of it now. However, it’s supposed to turn warm tomorrow, so that might do a number on the snow levels (I sure hope so!). We were along the St. Lawrence River yesterday and there are huge numbers of geese and ducks resting on the ice along the shores. I should have taken some photos, but couldn’t find a good spot to stop along the roadside. However, we may make a trip to the bird sanctuary area near Cornwall later this week to see what’s happening there. I imagine the number of birds that will be going through over the next couple of weeks will be phenomenal. I do think the migration is probably a bit slow though — I guess the deep snow is slowing things down by a week or so.

  7. robin andrea Says:

    It is so interesting to see the heron on a field of snow. What a beauty. You saw so much on that drive. It must be grand to get out after such a long winter.

  8. Cathy McN Says:

    What a great time of year.
    The heron photo is especially lovely.

  9. Dave Says:

    How cool to see a heron in the snow!

  10. Ruth Says:

    It is great to see returning birds. The herons are back in the local rookery here but the water is still “hard” except in the very fast flowing streams and rivers. Today’s warmer temperatures will help. Nice to see your recent pictures, including the turkeys.

  11. DougT Says:

    I also liked the heron photos. Do any of your GBH stay for the winter? We always seem to have a few that stick around. The migrants are definitely returning at the moment. It’s great to go outside and hear bird song again.

  12. bev Says:

    robin – the heron on the snow is one of my favourite photos now — and yes, it sure is nice to be out and about and see the snow gradually receding.

    Cathy McN – Thank you!

    Dave – It’s not exactly a common sight!

    Ruth – We’re seeing a lot of open water now, but spring is sure taking its time to arrive this year.

    Doug – I haven’t really heard of any GBH that have overwintered here. I guess it’s just a little too cold for them to stick it out. I was just thinking about bird song yesterday as I heard a couple tunes that I haven’t heard since last summer.

  13. am Says:

    Can’t seem to concentrate on words but having no problem concentrating on pictures. I’ve been coming to visit your heron photo since you first posted it. Exquisite sunlight in the three-deer photo.

  14. bev Says:

    am – I really like that heron photo and have been looking at it quite a bit too.

  15. Laura Says:

    I love that great blue heron shot, Bev.

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