On a recent visit to the bald eagle nest along the Nith River one of the adults was perched in a tree surveying the area. The three eaglets were not present and I must conclude that all is well and they are getting on with the business of staying alive. The mortality rate in the first year is 50%.
I cannot pretend to know what that eagle was thinking but maybe it was proudly reflecting on another successful breeding season.
I have been back twice since and have not seen a single eagle. What then must I do to occupy my obsession with being outdoors in nature?
There is of course the family of red foxes that hunt – and sometimes sunbathe – in the woods behind my apartment. Having my early morning coffee on the balcony waiting for a sighting has become a ritual.
As I write I have just caught a glimpse of one of the foxes running through the trees stopping, it seems, only to evade the prospect of being the subject of one of my photographs. I can’t complain. Yesterday my son spotted an adult curled up on the hillside and I spent an hour and a half waiting for it to move. The sound of some kids running down a nearby path stirred it and up it went into the sanctity of the woods.
Here it is making a hasty retreat:
On a whim I decided to visit Hespeler Mill Pond last night, a shallow but kilometre long body of water that is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Along with blue herons, wood ducks, mergansers, geese and an assortment of gulls, on a good day, one can find great egrets, those beautiful white cousins of the heron. Standing about a metre tall they are only slightly shorter than the blue herons:
They are distinctive, their white forms slowly wading through the lilies looking for fish. When they are close to their prey they lean forward and spear it with their long yellow beaks. I enjoy watching them. Occasionally one will fly in and challenge another for the best fishing spots. I was fortunate to capture some nice images as these birds will soon be heading to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States for the winter. This is the egret I had watched for half an hour changing positions.
In addition to the egrets I was lucky to see a Caspian Tern speedily flying the length of the pond. Flapping its wings madly it dived or sometimes skimmed the water’s surface chasing prey. Inside an hour I believe it caught four small fish. This was a successful evening for both me and the tern.
There are numerous places to experience wildlife. As I have often said, it’s all about taking the time to observe. Whether it’s looking off your balcony or in your backyard, or better still, taking a walk along a river bank, there is nature all around.
I hope you enjoyed this blog. To see more of my images of Ontario Wildlife be sure to sign up for my next Zoom presentation for Idea Exchange (7:00 p.m. Eastern on September 24th). Registration is limited.