It almost seemed like this maple tree was between seasons. Seeing the buds that have started forming on the branches conjures up spring and new life... just inches away however a broken branch leaks sap, which due to cold weather has frozen in an icicle. It sure seemed like winter had returned this morning.
I was on my way down to the Grand, to check a location where I had spotted a muskrat 2 weeks ago. The muskrat must have seen me first because as I raised my camera it slipped down the muddy bank into the water. I wanted to see if I could improve my luck and get a picture of the skittish rodent.
Something brushed against my coat and when I turned I saw this pine cone twirling in the breeze. It had been tied with a length of thin rope on a maple tree branch. It kind of reminded me of a cheesy movie called The Blair Witch, where a group of lost film makers keep finding things hanging in the branches of trees.
I found this clam shell during a walk along the sandy, pebble strewn banks of the Grand River that border the grey silo golf course. Clearly some predators either birds or small animals had feasted on the contents. The bank was littered with these empty shells. I am not sure which I found more of during my walk, clam shells or lost golf balls.
I was looking for a place to access the Grand near a construction site where homes are being built along a high ridge that overlooks the river. After peering over the edge it appeared the safe access would be up the river near the grey silo golf course. I spotted a kayaker making his way up the river and decided to try to get a picture.
After finding my way to the spot I had last seen him I couldn't locate the craft anywhere and continued to walk along the bank. Eventually I came to an area where a small island provides a bit of shelter from the current. Tucked between the island and the bank was the resting kayaker, University of Waterloo student Charles Hache.
We talked for about 15 minutes and he told me he usually hits the water 1-2 times a week and paddles north against the current for 6-7 kms. This routine is his part of his exercise program in the summer and fall. I had encountered him on his first trip of the year and he was already finding the water levels quite low. Thinking back to three weeks ago there would have been a torrent of melt water surging through this spot.
He wished me well and headed south back to where he started. I took this picture as he rounded a bend, dwarfed by the mighty cedar lined banks ahead.
A temporary bridge is under construction next to the crumbling Bridgeport structure that spans the Grand River. The new bridge will stay in place while work to refurbish the historic Bridgeport bridge is done and a roundabout is built.
Near Bridgeport I hiked down to the edge of the Grand and noticed a raccoon had been active in the area. A small stream leads down to the river here and it looked like this raccoon was foraging along the riverbanks and made its way up the stream. Raccoons are known to make their homes in hollow logs and large cavities within elm, oak and basswood trees. There were several large examples of these trees present. On a closer look at the muddy banks I noticed killdeer and muskrat tracks as well.
A few Christmas ornaments dangle from a cedar tree near the Grand River in Kitchener. This is the kind of thing that will put a Christmas carol rattling around my head long after it should be there. Worse still, they are the kind of songs that don't tend to leave in a hurry. I'll be singing songs from John Denver's Christmas album all day...
David recently had a picture of a robin, and at the risk of becoming a blog about the birds of the Grand River, here's another one. I found this guy near the river in Kitchener.
And shortly after finding him I found a beaver. I'm not going to be too specific about the location because it's already a fairly busy place. I'm a little worried about what will happen to him, because sooner or later enough people will know where he is that it may cause him difficulty. My guess is he'll be trapped, hopefully humanely, and relocated. It may be naive, but I'd love to see him become a part of the neighbourhood, just another soul trying to make a living.
And, no, I have no idea if the beaver is a he. I just don't want to call him an it. Doesn't seem right.
The American merganser is another breed of duck which makes a winter home on the Grand River. I have seen plenty of these impressive birds on my riverside hikes. Until today, I have never had the good fortune of being in a position to photograph a pair. Most of the mergansers I have seen, have flown by me so fast I barely had time to raise my camera, let alone take a picture. They are sleek flyers skimming just above the surface of the water, making pin point turns like some kind of high performance jet.
They are also very distinct in their shape and bill colour. I saw this drake and hen on a stretch of the Grand near Bingemans from a high vantage point. I was able to slowly scramble down the bank to the river's edge and get this picture. The light of a cloud covered but bright sky provided reflected highlights on the water.