A few days of very early spring, brief periods when it felt like the depths of winter – and now and then, a few days somewhere between those extremes. February, we hardly knew you.
Not many of the diving ducks which typically winter here have been hanging around Port Darlington this year. Perhaps there are just too many other options, with almost no ice anywhere on Lake Ontario and many creeks and rivers flowing freely through much of the past month.
We’ve still seen the dabbling birds, though, especially Mallards and Canada Geese, who are content to stand on shore-fast ice when they aren’t feeding in shallow waters.
Scaups have been scarce. But as the sun dipped low one afternoon, this female Greater Scaup swam through the rippled reflection of a dry-docked red boat, to spectacular effect.
One place birds were not scarce was around our backyard feeders. As many as two dozen goldfinches, mourning doves, juncos, sparrows, nuthatches and chickadees gathered for hours each day. When there wasn’t room on the feeders or on the ground beneath, they waited their turns from the trees.
American Tree Sparrows (foreground below) and Dark-Eyed Juncos (background) were just as happy feeding directly from the finch feeder as from the ground.
On snowy, blowy days appetites seemed to be sharpened and the feeders were seldom unattended.
The swift swings in weather reshaped the shoreline almost every day. Strong waves piled up banks of stones and freezing spray locked the stones into place. No matter. The next day’s warmer waves carved the formations from underneath while sunshine loosened the icy cement from above.
If you were lucky you could see colorful stones illuminated by sunrise – and remnant ice-shells illuminated by sunset.
Photo at top of page: Just This Minute 1 (click here for full-screen image)