While fall colours quietly creep into woods and wetlands, one group of leaves remains vibrant green: the lily pads. In Bowmanville Marsh and Westside Marsh you may spot a sandpiper treading lightly from leaf to leaf while feeding on aquatic insects, or a beaver swimming from one lily patch to another while happily munching on a flower.
The herons, too, keep watch over lily pads for signs of movement from fish or frogs. Here a young black-crowned night heron hopes for a meal, at the edge of a dense stand of cattails which have lost nearly all their summer colour.
Toehold (click images for larger view)
The fall palette is reflected in the water as a beaver makes a swift passage across the marsh by setting sunlight.
The resident mute swans are often seen feeding among lily pads – and they leave their mark even when the birds themselves are nowhere in sight.
Sandpipers prove that there are great advantages in being light of weight but wide of foot. On a quiet end-of-summer evening the surface of the marsh teems with insects, and the lily pads make even the deeper waters accessible to this wading bird.
In the vegetable garden, meanwhile, another nimble footed creature is springing from leaf to leaf – a grasshopper feasting on collard greens.
Top photo: Sandpiper Buffet (click here for larger view)
On a chilly late August morning you may feel that your best-before date has come and gone, your colours have faded and your once-splendid wings are tattered. But by the warmth of the noon-day sun, when you’re sipping nectar from a silphium flower eight feet in the air, you can still make the most of the summer’s glories.
Ragged Red Admiral (click images for larger view)
Once-bright petals are curling and falling to the ground, but a new round of flowers is taking over in meadows and gardens.
Meanwhile the marsh is alive with a profusion of dragonflies and damselflies.
Whether in the marsh, harbour or along the breakwater, the ducks are no longer skittish – they continue feeding while a kayaker drifts within a few feet.
Duck Diner 1
Duck Diner 2
An adult Black Crowned Night Heron is not a flashy bird, but this nearly full-grown juvenile shows real sartorial flare.
One Fine Heron
Several Great Blue Herons can often be seen in one small part of Bowmanville Marsh.
Along this coast there is another distinct sign of summer’s end: salmon are approaching the mouths of creeks, and that means fishing charters linger near shore while hopeful anglers line the breakwater.
Illustration at top of page: Red Dragon and Blue Dragon
This week’s photo post is all about things that catch the eye with a flash of sunlight – even when that light is first reflected by the moon.
Campanula. This bellflower, one of the nearly 500 species of campanula, grows well on the shoreline sand dune. (click images for larger view)
Hang on. On a breezy summer afternoon this dragonfly keeps a steady grip.
In our garden the first of the summer fruits are just about ready to eat. Meanwhile out in Bowmanville Marsh the water smartweed (persicaria amphibia), whose seeds are snacks for waterfowl and raccoons, is sending up its flowers.
Just down the coast, the channel where Westside Marsh meets Lake Ontario is a favoured fishing spot for local birds. As night falls a Great Blue Heron often waits at water’s edge, and if there is still enough light you may catch a glimpse of a shiny fish before it is swallowed in one gulp.
The full moon rising over the lake is a spellbinding sight all on its own. But if a heron chooses that moment to leap from the gravel bar into flight, and you’re lucky enough to have your camera ready, you may as well press the shutter.
That was now.
Top photo: Squirrel-tail grass on sand dune. (click here for larger view)
Today’s post features just a few of the birds seen in the waters, on the shore, and in the treetops in recent weeks in our neighbourhood.
Dive (click images for larger views)
Swimming in green
Killdeer in dune grass
Motion studies, or Thanks for all the fish
While the sun is low or storm clouds blow through, light beams bend and scatter, painting sky and water in extraordinary tints.
Purple Beacon – May 3, 2017, 8:30 pm (click images for larger views)
Fishing Party – May 27, 2017, 8:50 pm
Between thunderstorms last night, a vivid rainbow fragment held its place over Lake Ontario for twenty minutes or more.
Rainbow Rock – May 30, 2017, 8:20 pm
Rainbow Gap – May 30, 2017, 8:20 pm
The standard rectangular framing imposed by digital cameras is a reasonable default for most images. But the scene below vibrated on so many dimensions that it called for a less static framing.
What’s the buzz? – May 30, 2017, 8:15 pm
As a full moon ascended over the lake a few weeks ago, a kayaker simply needed to backpaddle patiently and hold the right position, waiting for the moon to rise behind the lighthouse. A thin cloud across the moon’s face was an additional lucky stroke.
moonrise – May 10, 2017, 8:35 pm
With Lake Ontario at record high levels, coastal marshes have now spilled over large areas which are normally more or less dry land.
Edges (click images for larger view)
To take pictures along the walking trail along Bowmanville Creek at the north side of Bowmanville Marsh, you need to add hip waders to your photography kit – mere knee-high boots will only get you around the edges of this wetland.
Though the bare ground has been well under the waters for weeks now, many of the moist woodland species appear to be thriving.
In the Catbird Seat
The meadow at the east end of West Beach Road, just 100 meters from the Lake Ontario shoreline, also teems with activity.
With masses of rotting wood from generations of huge willow trees along the edge of this meadow, there are billions of ants – now all flushed out of the ground to find a dry perch. Anything sticking out of the water – a blade of grass, stem of last year’s goldenrod, or the odd passing photographer – soon acquires a population of ants. Myrmecophobes be forewarned.
But there are bigger animals making the grass rustle – schools of carp now swim and splash through this meadow.
If you are a bottom feeder this is fine dining.
Top photo: Return (click here for larger image)
Lake Ontario and the coastal marshes are near record highs this spring. While this can lead to sleepless nights due to fears of flooding, the high water also makes for great kayaking and wonderful views at sunset and sunrise.
Port Darlington cottages (click image for larger view)
Channel Sunset (click image for larger view)
Drydock (click image for larger view)
Breakwater (click image for larger view)
Electricallusion (click image for larger view)
Top photo: Westbound Express (click here for larger view)
In Westside Marsh (just west of Port Darlington, on the north shore of Lake Ontario) the colour scheme is still mostly brown and blue. But the signs and sounds of spring are everywhere, with birds picking out nesting locations and a few already settled down on nests.
An osprey chows down on fresh fish. Unfortunately this bird appears to have a thorn or twig lodged in a nostril – it was clearly visible, sticking out at the same angle, on three different evenings in the past week. (Click image for larger view)
A real fixer-upper. The view from this platform is great but the furnishings so far are sparse. (Click image for larger view)
These nests are last year’s models but they’ve certainly held together through many strong winds. At left, this nest is only a few feet above ground in a dogwood bush, but its location on a narrow island makes it inaccessible to most predators. At right, this oriole (or possibly red-eyed vireo) nest hangs high in a tree on a hill overlooking Westside Marsh. (Click image for larger view)
Mute swans, which stay in the area through the winter, are already on their nests. (Click images for larger view)
These plovers splashing in the shallows at sunset may be just passing through. (Click image for larger view)
Beavers are a common sight here, especially in evening when they cross the open water to the wooded edges of the marsh.
Top photo: ospreys perched below one of several nesting platforms in the marsh. (Click here for larger view)
The swift coming of a cold front in recent days brought vibrant colour and motion to the lake shore.
‘Horizon’ – Bowmanville West Beach, Lake Ontario, March 10, 2017, 4:44 pm
‘Flight’ – Bowmanville West Beach, March 10, 2017, 4:46 pm
‘Rivulet’ – Bowmanville West Beach, March 11, 2017, 6:01 pm
‘Pier’ – St. Marys Cement docks, Lake Ontario, March 11, 2017, 6:18 pm
‘Speed of Light’ – Lake Ontario, Bowmanville, March 8, 2017, 5:31 pm
‘Slow Growth’ – Bowmanville Marsh, Lake Ontario, March 12, 2017, 9:36 am
‘Depth’ – Bowmanville Marsh, Sunday March 12, 9:45 am
Click photos above for larger versions.
Top photo: ‘Purple splash’ – Port Darlington Lighthouse, Lake Ontario, March 8, 2017, 5:20 pm (click here for larger version)
Red-wing blackbirds, finches and grackles are returning. Raccoons and skunks are making their rounds at night. How do they all know it’s spring? For the last few days it hasn’t been the warmth of the air – it must be the warmth of the light.
‘Stalks’ (click image for larger version)
‘Raccoon Road II’ (click image for larger version)
‘Contemplation’ (click image for larger version)
‘Alternation’ (click image for larger version)
Top photo: ‘From a to b’ (click here for larger version)