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. (Correction, Aug 13 2018: after further study I’m convinced this is not a young Black Crowned Night Heron, but rather a Green Heron. See “Reading the Fine Print”, Aug 14, 2018)
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
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
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)
As the sun sinks low the nighttime feeders are venturing out for breakfast, daytime feeders are grabbing a few more bites, and they can all be seen in the best light. Here are some recent photos from Bowmanville Marsh, in Port Darlington on Lake Ontario.