Groundhog Day

Cambridge 177E

Well evidently winter will be hanging around for a while longer this year! But on a positive note there is almost an extra hour of daylight for watching birds already so surely spring is on its way. We made a tour in a roundabout way to Cambridge along some roads that we seldom use just to see what we could see. We wanted to see if the water in the Grand River was open and what kinds of ducks might be taking advantage of the open waters. 

We spotted a number of hawks along the way and about 20 Horned Larks on the road near Haysville.

Cambridge 198

Cambridge 198E

We were surprised to see that a lot of the Grand River was also ice-covered. However we did find some open water need the bridge near downtown in the vicinity of the dam. And sure enough though there wasn’t a large number of ducks there was an interesting mixture that included Common Merganzers, Mallards, Common Goldeneye, Horned Grebe, a female Long-tailed duck and a female Bufflehead duck; a surprising variety for a small group of ducks. There couldn’t have been more than 2 dozen ducks there together at that time.

Cambridge 247E                                                    Mergansers, Mallards and a female Buffelhead.

Cambridge 226E                                                                          Common Goldeneye (Male)

Cambridge 293E                                                                   Common Goldeneye (Female)

Cambridge 230E                                                                           Female Longtailed Duck

Cambridge 267EHorned Grebe

Cambridge 263E
Cambridge 247EE
Cambridge 224E                                                                                         Common Mergansers

I read on another blog that people had been noticing the same thing that we had – there are an odd variety of ducks in the rivers because the big lakes have been frozen for quite some time this year. According to Reuven Martin over at Winged Things we aren’t the only ones who had noticed some ducks that don’t normally show up on the rivers and he makes mention of the extensive freezing of the Great Lakes and the lack of open waters available for ducks. And so, they are showing up on rivers that they seldom frequent. Makes sense!

Cambridge 350E
Cambridge 382E

As the snow started falling again, we decided to head for the barn but kept a close eye on the surrounding fields for odd lumps of snow. Finally we did spot one on the highway coming into town from Milverton. (Yup, we took the long way home!) We caught sight of a very dark coloured Snowy Owl that was hunting in a field. We turned onto the side road and watched as it caught and made short work of some small rodent it had caught. And as usual, it was getting close to dusk. I guess it was likely to have been a first year snowy or a female. I’m not really sure but it was certainly the darkest one we have seen to date.

Cambridge 387E
Cambridge 402E
It was getting quite snowy so but it was pretty easy to spot this Snowy Owl because it was so dark and because it was hunting low to the ground. It didn’t seem to be bothered by us and was still there when we moved on.

Cambridge 415E
Cambridge 417E
All and all a very enjoyable birding day!

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