Today the sun and blue skies re-appeared and the temperature started falling again to more seasonal levels. Itchy feet got me down at the Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue locks under the rail bridge where the rapids are always free of ice in even the hardest winter.
This is a general view of the place – always worth checking in January, February and March. Odd stragglers are to be found and early returners often stop here for a day or two as they can at least get a square meal after all that migrating.
Well worth the effort as out on the edge of the ice were five Common Mergansers. Mostly just sitting there, preening themselves and soaking up some rays though one brave guy set off for a swim and a bit of fishing. The fishing must be good here as further along near the boat locks there are always ice-fishermen getting cold and drinking hard.
Common Mergansers are not rare by any means and would have been a bird that I would have been able to pick up a dozen times in the spring but it’s nice to add something new to the local patch list for the year … all the more so in mid-January.
The approach to the jetty by the locks was dangerously treacherous – recent mild days caused gallons of water to drip off the bridge and it has built up into several inches of clear, hard ice. Even with cleats on my boots it was tricky … but a bird is a bird and we have to go for them.
And here are pictures of what it was all about:
These ducks show the power of the digiscope. Below are some photos of the location and a map showing our relative positions … I was at X (of course) and they were approximately at D – the distance between us was some 300m, or three football pitches. The photos above were not cropped, that’s what my rig produces when the gods are in a good mood. If equipment is your thing, see http://sparroworks.ca/wildlifing/?page_id=65 for details of what I am using.