Sunday, January 13, 2008

Open Water

Grand River and Pioneer Tower at Doon, Ontario

It is snowing tonight and the ground is bright and clean again after the messy thaw. The waterways are still running ice free and it will take an extended cold snap to freeze over the fast flowing currents. My daughter and I walked a high trail today and watched the ducks and geese hurtling down the river in the high water. Protected areas near small islands were crowded with waterfowl of all descriptions.

There are a number of municipal water treatment plants along the Grand River. In the winter the water near them generally stays open because of the treated water that is discharged in the area. These sections of the river are great for birding and our winter visitors like Buffleheads, Mergansers, and Goldeneyes as well as the usual Mallards, Canada Geese, Black Ducks, Gulls and Kingfishers feed in the warmer water. Muskrats and other water animals are frequently seen as well. In several nearby towns, sewage lagoons are good birding locations during spring and fall migration. The above photo shows geese feeding from the edge of the ice at our closest water treatment facility.

Chickadees love peanuts too

Birds continuously adapt to environmental changes caused by humans. Most of the time, we focus on change that impacts nature in a negative way. Our river is far cleaner that it was twenty or thirty years ago. When I moved to this city in 1970, it was commonly said that downstream communities drank our sewage. While the water quality of sections of the Grand River close to Lake Erie still need to be improved, pollution controls seem to be working in the right direction.

In the winter, many birds rely on our help to survive. From the water treatment plants to backyard feeding stations, woodlots and green spaces our cities can help support a healthy wildlife population.

Mourning Dove waiting for a turn at the feeder


  1. Hi Ruth - I learned 2 things from your blog today. Didn't know chickadees loved peanuts or that mourning doves had multi colored feathers. Ours doves look all grey but it's from a distance - or maybe you have fancier doves!

  2. This is a terrible thing for someone who works at a nature center to say... but I have tremendous faith in nature's ability to bounce back from the ills we create. Things won't be the same... but there will always be beauty...

  3. Hi Ruth,
    I'm glad you had the chance to get out and enjoy the wintery sights. My chickadee likes peanuts too (but not as much as the mealworms!)

  4. Nice photos! The top one makes me cold, though! Love the chickadee--they are among my favorites of the little birds And what pretty colors on the dove!

  5. It's so true about the improvements. We have many of bald eagles nesting near us in Maine and our rivers were REALLY bad 20 years ago from the paper mills. I love your pictures, too. I'd never seen those colors on a mourning dove

  6. Anonymous6:57 pm GMT-5

    What a lovely peaceful scene! You've captured it wonderfully.

  7. Anonymous8:42 pm GMT-5

    always love open water (so doesn't the geese)! Great Chickadee shot and I am so ready for spring!

  8. I always enjoy going along on your walks with you.

  9. I liked that photo of the Chickadee and the peanut. They hang on my nut feeder, too.

    Your photos of the open water are so pretty, Ruth. It's nice to hear good news about the improvement in the water quality and that nature has adapted so well.

    I'd love to have someone walk with me like The Becka does with you. I think I'll make my daughter spend a day a month with me at a nature preserve. She'll love it.

  10. It's good that the water quality of the river has improved.-The water in the Connecticut River where I live was also severely polluted in the 60's and 70's but has steadily improved since.-It offers good birding opportunities as well.

  11. Jean- The sun was hitting that dove as it sat on our deck and colours showed up that I had never noticed before. I thought it was very elegant looking.

    Jennifer-You are right. Even if we don't deserve it, nature gives us beauty.

    Ruthie- I haven't seen mealworms around here, and the peanuts cannot escape in my house. The chickadees are all over the peanut feeder too.

    Peggy- It wasn't even cold when I took the top picture! ;-)
    That is I didn't need mitts, scarf or hat...just my jacket.

    Beth- Paper mills were big polluters for sure. But people are demanding more responsible industry these days.

    April- Thanks...This is one of my favourite trails.

    Monarch- Those geese were noisy. The scene wouldn't seem as peaceful on video.

    KGMom- Thanks...This walk was a little muddy, but you are always welcome.

    Mary- I enjoy it when the dog, daughters or my husband walk with me, but I am often alone which I don't mind either. Hope you get your daughter on a nature date.

    Larry- Waterways are best for birding. I am glad they cleaned up your river too.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.