The animals around us are busy building their nests and hatching their young. Mark Fleming, a neighbour on our road and and avid nature photographer, explores the lake and the river in his kayak as soon as the water is ice free. He sent us beautiful photos of water birds and mammals building their nests and dens and starting the breeding season early in the month of May, 2019.
A Mute Swan couple near the large wetland that is part of Esther Marsh.
A goose’s nest has been built, eggs laid and now the hatching begins.
In the same area, but more to the south is evidence of beaver dam building.
The large dome of the beaver den has been co-opted by a Canada Goose, and why not. It’s great for safely hatching her eggs.
Can you see her?
Maybe not, so have a look at the cropped photo below.
For details on the building habits of animals see this blog of the National Geographic.
The rocky island, just south from the canal between Colonel By Lake and the River Styx, has always been an attractive place for gulls, cormorants and since 2016 a pair of Mute Swans, that built a nest on the rocks. A hard but solid foundation. This year when the photo was taken, Common Terns, on the left, sit side by side, resting from their long migration. They will spend several weeks in our area.
North American terns spend the winter in South America or along the Pacific Coast of Central America. One-year-old birds often stay on the wintering grounds and do not migrate to the breeding grounds until they are 2 years old. For more CLICK HERE.
Here is mother swan with six cygnets seeking the warmth of the sun and of the mother. In the first week of their lives they are prone to hypothermia from the cold water, rain and wind. They also have to learn to feed, while depleting the nutrients of the egg yolk that clung to their bodies when they hatched.
Three years ago, I was able to observe this couple from my boat. They had two offspring and none survived. It is well-known that young couples are not very successful in breeding and protecting their young. Of these six cygnets at best three or four will grow up to fledglings and then they might run into more trouble on their migration to open water south where they overwinter. However there are plenty of Mute Swans, an invading species, around the lake and especially in the River Styx, all along the wetlands going up to Lower Brewers Locks. Adults can live up to 10-20 years and they mate for life.
And finally, a female Red Winged Blackbird. She is clinging to two different stalks of bulrushes.