Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ice Breakup

Sometime at the end of last week, the ice on the river near the hospital broke up. Some sections of the river did not freeze much this winter, but this area was solidly frozen for several weeks. One week ago I walked the trail and noticed that the ice in the centre of the river had given way to the current and the thaw had started.
I took these pictures on March 20th and wonder at the force that would move the large chunks of ice off the river and up to 30 metres away from the banks. The trail, pictured above, was completely impassable. The picture below was taken on the opposite bank and I was able to get around this pile of ice with great care. The hospital is on the hill in the background.

Many geese and ducks were in the water and near the trails. The Canada geese were exceptionally noisy and aggressive and challenged me with hisses as I passed beside them. Many pairs of ducks were together on the water and it was obvious that mating season has arrived. There were six Common Merganser couples together paddling downstream and occasionally diving under the water for food. I think these ducks are very elegant, the male in his tuxedo colours and the female with her flamboyant reddish hairdo.

This pair looked ready for a party. (click photo to enlarge)

I walked towards a cattail swamp and heard the song of the Red-winged blackbird echoing back and forth between two stands of trees. I have been listening to the CD included in the book Music of the Birds and was pleased that I recognized the distinctive buzzing call.

A brief diversion here....our dog ignores the sounds of music and television in the house. However, when I play the bird songs on CD, he is completely attentive, ears twitching and his mind obviously responsive to the various sounds coming from the speakers.

After tramping into the muddy marsh, I was able to see one Red-winged blackbird high in a treetop. This male was calling loudly and other birds were responding in turn to his message. I have included a sample of his call from the CD below the picture. We don't have large numbers of migratory birds here yet, but they are returning in spite of the ice and snow that remains on the ground.
If they have reason to sing, then so do I.


  1. That's a lot of ice, Ruth! I'm glad you were able to get around it safely and show us some life on the trail. Nice shot of the RW blackbird and the song clip is nice and familiar! Be careful out there!

  2. We had a River in CT., Salmon River, where the ice chunks built up so much one year that it ripped several cottages off their foundations.- Lynne from Hastybrook was talking about nast Geese.It must be that time of the year for them.

  3. I played the red-wing blackbird song, and watched my dog. Sound asleep on her bed, she did not move a muscle! However, bird songs do get my cats' attention. They tilt their heads, looking for the elusive bird.
    On ice break up--the Susquehanna, near where I live, has occasional flooding when the ice breaks up including one year that took down a 100 year old bridge span!

  4. Wow, I really like the photos. I have a particular fondness for ice pictures because no two pieces are the same.

  5. ...That bird CD disturbed my sleep!! :P (jk... :D)

  6. Mary- I have to look hard for life on the trail. We don't have the abundant bird populations you enjoy. One bird for me is a big deal!

    Larry- Our river is not particularly large.A wider river would have more ice to cause more damage. I would like to see the ice moving sometime. Does it move suddenly or gradually?

    KGMom- That must have been flood of the century. Our dog spends a lot of time on the trails with us, so perhaps he recognizes the bird sounds. Perhaps the cat instinctively knows the sounds could be dinner.

    Laurie- Thanks for dropping by. I have so many photos of that bridge and river, but the ice does make it different. It will be interesting to see how long they take to melt.

    Becka- I have only played the CD on Saturday mornings...the day you sleep in til noon. ;-)


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