March 24th – Winter Just Won’t Quit

The Grand River in York opened a few days ago - see the ice blocks pushed up on the shore.

The Grand River in York opened a few days ago – see the ice blocks pushed up on the shore.

Winter ain’t goin’ down without a fight…..it just seems to keep hanging on. Minus 12 last night and only -5 today with a cold westerly wind. The Grand River by York hasn’t frozen over in several years but this Winter it did. Late last week the ice buckled and piled up – open water now from Caledonia to York – but the breakup ended there; there’s ice all the way from York down to Lake Erie still. Needless to say the migration has stalled. But you know that as soon as there’s even a hint of a warming trend, birds will be on the move.

Canada Geese, seen her in York Park, must be getting hungry having used up most of the spilled corn in the fields and with no new grass shoots starting.

Canada Geese, seen her in York Park, must be getting hungry having used up most of the spilled corn in the fields and with no new grass shoots starting.

The Grand River at Ruthven (pictured during a snow squall) is still frozen except for a lead along the shore.

The Grand River at Ruthven (pictured during a snow squall) is still frozen except for a lead along the shore.

Some interesting things happening though. Sandy Turner, the Steward Co-ordinator at Ruthven, was driving home a few days ago when she came upon a Red-breasted Merganser on the highway just outside York. This is a duck that prefers big open water (like the Great Lakes) and we rarely see them inland up the river….but here it was. Sandy managed to catch it before it could get smucked by a car. She took it home and……well, you can read her letter for yourself:

Handsome male Red-breasted Merganser rescued by Sandy Turner.

Handsome male Red-breasted Merganser rescued by Sandy Turner.

[The duck] Flew up Hwy 54 only 1ft off the ground and landed on hwy 54 in the middle of a lane, exhausted. Pick-up and took home – it spent the night in a laundry basket in a bathroom – the laundry basket is lined with briefly clean drop sheets to prevent the beak from being caught in the plastic mesh. (I went through a lot of sheets so at least it had had something to eat prior to being picked-up.) As requested by the centre no food or water was given until they assessed the bird when dropped off the following morning. (I presume because any surgery requires no food or liquids for at about 12 hrs.)

And from a previous e-mail:

The red-breasted merganser is dropped off at the centre. They were friendly and helpful. They did say that they have over 20 mergansers to release soon that have gotten onto trouble because Georgian Bay is frozen over and when they flew south most of the water bodies were frozen too. My dad said 87% of the Great Lakes surfaces are frozen.

Toronto Wildlife Centre info.

Toronto Wildlife Centre info.

They’ll assess it’s status and will feed it a fish slurry and live fish if they think it may recover. When well enough they’ll release to large open water body – probably Lake Ontario as they feed almost exclusively on fish.

[“The centre” refers to the Toronto Wildlife Centre.] Anyone who may have injured wildlife should call first; they may direct you to anywhere closer, or if there are any care guidelines.

Toronto Wildlife Centre staffer.

Toronto Wildlife Centre staffer.

Toronto Wildlife Centre
60 Carl Hall Rd, Toronto, ON M3K 2C1
(416) 631-0662
www.torontowildlifecentre.com/

Sandy

This has been a GREAT Winter for Snowy Owls. They (as well as Snow Buntings) are on their way back to the Arctic. Peter Thoem sent me this note and link:

If you’re not already following this I think you’ll be fascinated. Project Snowstorm is gps-tracking the return northward flights of a couple of dozen Snowy Owls. Check Maps | Project SNOWstorm to get the full story. 

Peter Thoem
For Peter’s bird notes and highlights check out his blog at:
www.mybirdoftheday.ca

Rick

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