The water level in Lake Ontario is extraordinarily low for this time of year, and so the shoreline marshes don’t have much depth. The diving ducks – Buffleheads, Mergansers, Long-tails and their ilk – are staying out on the lake or just migrating further north. But the dabblers – Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintails, Mallards and Ring-Necked Ducks – are happily feeding in the shallows.
A flock of Pintails (above and below) landed on a recent morning. After a quick look around their surroundings above the surface, they got to the real business: feeding on the vegetation below the surface.
Well out from the edges, the water in Bowmanville Marsh is so shallow that a migrating Yellowlegs can wade.
It might appear that a Robin has stowed away on a drifting log. But the Robin, like so many other small birds, is happy to bathe and drink right at marsh’s edge. This log was just a short jump away.
The low water also results in wide mud flats all around the marshes, and the Killdeers are loving it. Their shrill cries fill the air as they dash from one great feeding spot to another to another.
Frogs are thawing in the spring sun’s warmth. These were spotted just a hop down the coast, at McLaughlin Bay on the east edge of Oshawa.
Frogs can be difficult to identify, but from my googling I’d say we have a Leopard Frog, above, and a Wood Frog, below.
The water in much of Westside Marsh, as in Bowmanville Marsh, is only 15–20 centimeters deep. But Westside Marsh is a better swimming hole this spring for the large dabblers, including swans.
A trio of Trumpeter Swans, above, stopped by at least briefly. Meanwhile the locally more common Mute Swans were all over this marsh, and one pair, below, apparently ran aground.
On the muddy banks of marsh and creek, one bright flower is already marking the season. The tiny Coltsfoot blossom sparkles just a few centimeters above the cold mud.
And when the winds are still and the sun shines through the shallows, bright-coloured shoots light up the silty bottom. There’s life in all that mud.
Photo at top: clockwise from top, Northern Shovelers, Grackle, Killdeer, Mourning Dove (click here for full-screen version)