In these parts we can usually hear spring coming long before we can see it.
On the second day of March when this coyote was making midday rounds, the marsh was frozen solid and it didn’t even feel like spring – except that the snowflakes landed almost like soft rain.
But non-wintering birds had already started to appear, and the quiet of winter was punctuated by sounds we hadn’t heard here for months.
A few Long-Tailed Ducks started to show up in late February. This one was taking shelter in the harbour on a blustery early-March afternoon.
A more surprising visitor on the same day was a Common Loon, which had been stranded after landing on a rooftop in Oshawa. Unable to launch into flight except from water, this one was rescued and set free in Bowmanville harbour.
One way to gauge the spring was by watching the ice dwindle on the harbour breakwaters. Though the ice at the very ends of the breakwaters is still hanging on, ice on the lower rocks was gradually washed away by waves or melted by the strengthening sun.
It was a warm sunny afternoon when we had a delightful surprise visit from a pair of Trumpeter Swans.
The largest native bird in North America, Trumpeter Swans were nearly extinct in the mid-20th century, and had been extirpated from Ontario some 200 years ago. But dedicated work by volunteers over the past 30 years has resulted in a population of hundreds of these birds in Ontario, along with as many as 50,000 on the continent as a whole.
In spite of a few warm afternoons, most nights and mornings have stayed below freezing, and it’s hard to think how some of the really small birds stay warm.
The Black-Capped Chickadee seems to stay comfortable right through the winter – but at least it has the ability to fluff up its luxurious plumage for maximum warmth.
The Red-Winged Blackbirds return from their migrations long before there is a hint of new growth in the marsh, and perhaps they stay warm through aerobic vocal workouts.
The song of a Killdeer in March is more surprising. A pair stopped by the harbour on March 27 and found the sand at water’s edge was still an icy slide.
But each spring sunrise lets us know the chill is only temporary.
Top photo: Due East (click here for larger view). The top photo and the bottom photo were taken 13 seconds apart.