As June gave way to July there was a whole lotta catchin’ up goin’ on along the north shore of Lake Ontario. Finally, summer at its finest – the weather hot, but not too hot; gentle breezes, but no storms; lots of moisture, but a break from big rains every-other-day. And creatures of all sorts have hurried to get back on pace after the long, wet, chilly spring.
Selecting nest sites, laying eggs, a whole lot of sitting, and if all goes well, feeding a hungry brood – everywhere you look there are busy birds.
The Song Sparrow, above, can be seen and heard in the woods and around backyard feeders. The Yellow Warbler, for all its colour, is usually harder to spot and even more difficult to photograph, given its habit of flitting rapidly about in deciduous bushes and trees. So when a Yellow Warbler male settled on a bare branch over Bowmanville Creek it made for an unexpected photo opportunity.
Fortunately a pair of Yellow Warblers also made a nest in a nearby shrub and soon four hatchlings were sharing that tiny bowl.
You could almost see them grow every hour. Only 48 hours elapsed between the photo above and the photo below – and in another 36 hours, the four youngsters each glided out of the nest to the ground, took their first steps, flapped their wings, and quickly flew to safety while both parents hovered nearby.
In the marshes some birds have had to start over after their first nests and eggs were lost to record-high waters. So some goslings and cygnets are far more advanced then others.
Big stands of reeds have floated around, driven by the wind, and areas that would typically be mud flats are fully submerged. But this Spotted Sandpiper has found a small outpost in Westside Marsh.
Insect populations certainly seemed to be lower through the cold spring but now it’s not hard to spot a new variety every day.
With a profusion of flowers everywhere, pollinators can get busy – and the Vipers Bugloss flower attracts lots of different bees.
A few Yellow Salsify plants have bloomed in our lawn. I’ve been hoping they’d spread enough so that I could harvest a few of their tasty roots one of these years – but alas, the rabbits seem very fond of the flowers too. Only one has matured enough to produce a beautifully patterned seed head, below.
Fishing, it would appear, has been good for those who know where to go. In one evening on Westside Marsh recently, the resident Osprey pair was joined by a Green Heron, a Black-Crowned Night Heron, at least two Great Blue Herons, and a pair of Belted Kingfishers.
This Great Blue Heron waited up in a tree, then suddenly pirouetted and flapped away toward the sunset.
The Kingfishers darted back and forth across the marsh but stopped occasionally to rest on a perch beneath an Osprey platform.
Though Kingfishers almost always fly away, with their typical cackle, just before I can get into photo range, finally this female Kingfisher touched down at the edge of the marsh and waited while I drifted close enough to get a good angle and a good shot. It only took a few short years of trying, and every one of those hours in a kayak was time well spent.
Photo at top: Wetlands Broadcast System, in Westside Marsh (click here for full-size image)