The warm weather birds are returning. And while the land, too, has returned from under the snow, the rivers and lakes are still holding vast expanses of ice. I was watching these seagulls bickering, swooping and foraging at the open edges of the water, catching little fish and the lovely afternoon light. Some of the slow-shutter-speed images made me think of paper cranes which explains the title ‘Origami Gulls’.
We might have reached the final crescendo of winter cold. Maybe? This might be it for mornings starting out at -25c. How beautiful they can be, though. The clarity of the cold. And a stage set for…ducks. Those goldeneye ducks will push up against the northern iciness as long as there is open water. Surely there are more hospitable places to spend the winter but every year it seems as though there are just a few more of these birds that can’t resist this beautiful river.
The thermometre is rising now. We are destined to feel temperatures above zero in the next few days. It will be especially sweet this year.
Part of me, though, already misses this frosted landscape.
I can’t resist the call of the river, even at (especially at?) -25c. The way the cold transforms the landscape is always captivating and I especially love visiting the places where the water runs fast and manages to defy the freezing temperatures. It can be difficult to truly capture the majesty of the winter wonderland but perhaps that is part of what keeps me coming back.
It seems the river has been pitching itself against the shoreline in the cold and wind, frosting whatever it could manage to touch before its own edges are too frozen to move. Unfortunately, by the time I managed to get out the light was very dull, but at the moment there is new snow falling, and by morning the landscape will be transformed again. These fringes of the seasons can be so fleeting.
The gorgeous Purple Martins have returned to their summer home near the river. I saw a little bit of nest-building material being collected but mostly the swallows were zipping about catching insects when I made these photographs.
I love their songs and when you hear an entire community of them vocalizing together – especially once the young are hatched – it’s really quite a wonderful auditory experience. I’ll try to make a little recording at some point but there is a soundbite link below if you’re interested.
Click here to listen: Purple Martin Vocalizations (Soundclip from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.) Imagine perhaps 100 birds making those sounds…
It’s been so beautiful outside it’s been hard to stay indoors!
[The image with three birds is a composite (layered) image showing various flight acrobatics.]