Sunday, March 29, 2009

Salamanders and Barred Owls

For the first time this month, warm evening temperatures (+5 C) and rain coincided to trigger a wave of salamander migration. At 8:30 pm I walked out to the county road, adjacent to a known salamander breeding pool, and counted close to thirty Blue-spotted Salamanders and half a dozen Spotted Salamanders crossing the road.

In a week or two, the night air will be filled din of spring peepers and chorus frogs. Tonight, the only calls I heard were those of dueting Barred Owl, one of which called from a white cedar close to the road. The other was perhaps a kilometer away - I only heard it because of the silence of the frogs.

Barred Owls are known to exploit migrating salamanders, and other seasonally restricted food items. They didn't seem to be interested in marching salamanders tonight.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ice-out waterfowl

Right on schedule, the winter ice is receding from Stony Lake. The Burleigh Channel, and other sections with current, are now ice-free. As the bays open up, waterfowl are staging as they wait for more northerly lakes to thaw.

Today in Dunford's Bay, the gang included, in decreasing order of abundance, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, Ring-necked Duck, Canada Goose, Mallard, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, American Wigeon, American Black Duck and Wood Duck. On two of my last three visits, single Bald Eagles were patrolling the ice edge where winter killed fish can be expected. All can be viewed leisurely from the public landing at the bottom of Dunford Road, about 1.5 km south of the Big Cedar General Store, northeast of Burleigh Falls.

[On the Mississauga River, where it is crossed by CR 36, just east of Buckhorn, I saw my first Pied-billed Grebe of the season this afternoon.]