Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Canada Geese on Snow Lake Ontario Three Days Before Winter Solstice

I took these pictures of several Canada geese who had wandered up the hill from Lake Ontario, in Rhododendron Gardens, Mississauga. The geese had come to look for lunch in the grassy areas exposed where the bright sunshine had melted last night's snow. With only three days until the winter solstice (Dec 21), yoo'd think they'd have flown south long ago.

Canada Geese Rhododendron Gardens
The day before, when there was no snow at all, at this same location, hundreds of ducks - Mallards, white and black coloured ducks ( that I can't find in my Peterson Field Guide to Birds), gulls, geese and swans -- filled the waters of this small cove and covered the waters far out into the lake. It was late afternoon, on a cloudy day, and I couldn't get a decent photo.

Two Canada Geese Walking in Snow
A passerby mentioned that the annual bird count had taken place the previous Sunday December 15. I had been there on that day, and there were significantly fewer birds of all types then. Yet on Friday, and on Tuesday (Dec 16), the birds were here in huge numbers. I hadn't known the date of this year's annual bird count then, or how to get involved, but I did find this information today.

Geese at water's edge, Lake Ontario in Mississauga
While half a dozen Canada geese had waddled up the embankment from the shore, larger numbers walked along the water's edge or bobbed out in the waves. It was a glorious day, with temps around zero C (32F), little wind, and a cloudless sky. How quickly the weather changes here! As I write this, an hour after I took the photos, the sun has gone, and huge clouds pregnant with rain or snow (my money's on snow) are rushing in over the lake.

Canada Geese Foraging for Food
I sat for a goodly while on one of the park's benches, warmed by the sun, out of the wind, dripped on by snowmelt falling from trees, all the while keeping watch that none of the geese got too close. I have a healthy respect for all geese: My grandmother's geese on the farm served as very reliable guard dogs. Those beaks can give you a good nip if you get too close.

Here at Rhododendron Gardens, I've watched while three hawks soared and dove, and a red headed flicker hammered a trunk for his lunch. Port Credit is a great spot to live, people! Who needs to drive to the cottage when the best of cottage life is right here, for free?

Ontario Field Ornithologists
site may be of interest, too, for the types of birds found in Ontario.
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