CA, Ontario: Wildlife around Buckhorn Lake

I knew is going to be a glorious summer when I saw the first dazzling morning sun rising over the still waters.Glorious morning

And then when the foggy waters allured us in another time, or another space.Foggy morning

Flanked on both sides by other two lakes, Buckhorn Lake looks like a buck head, while the other lakes appear like its horns/antlers.  The name was probably given by one of the first settler in the area John Hall, who was a collector of deer antlers, and who proudly displayed them outside of the walls of his mill. Part of the Kawarta Lakes, Buckhorn Lake is also home to many species of wildlife, a real feast for our eyes. Exploring Buckhorn Lake and its surroundings offered us many splendors at every corner. Today I will focus on birds.

Loon
The common loon, is a diving water bird, and the most known bird in Canada: not only it’s the provincial bird of Ontario, but it appears on the Canadian one-dollar coin, which is actually called loonie.

This mysterious and very territorial bird with red eyes and red irises, the common loon is mostly seen as a lonely bird floating on the water. This summer I saw for the first time a pair of them, and not only once. They tend to get used with people presence, and I was able to get pretty close to them, without scaring them. They get easily underwater, either to prey for food, or to get away from danger.

2 Loons

The loons normally dive up to 10 m, but it has been recorded to dive up to 70 m. With an average of 42 min underwater, you can imagine that you have no way to catch a loon in a picture after coming up from the water. Even though you are waiting patiently to come out, you will never know where exactly will show up, since in this almost 1 minute underwater, a loon can swim very far from where it dived.

Once the evening comes, a loon starts wailing. If you get goosebumps, thinking it’s a wolf howl, don’t be worried, it’s only a loon communicating with its family.

 

Mallard duck is the largest and most abundant duck on the planet.

Mallard Male
While the Mallard females are very plain, the males are easily recognized because of their shiny green head and a white ring around the neck.
Mallard Youngsters
Most Mallard ducks spend majority of their day in the water. While majority waterfowls replace their plumage once a year, the mallard ducks shed their flying feathers twice a year; until they grow them back (few weeks) they are not able to fly.

The northern flicker is a medium-sized bird of the woodpecker family. Flickers are the only woodpeckers that frequently feed on the ground, especially after a rain, rather than climbing up the trunks of the trees. They are one of the few species of woodpeckers that migrate to South areas during the winter time.

Northern Flicker
Males Flickers have a malar mark/black mustache, while females lack in such marks on the face.
Northern Flicker baby
Northern Flicker baby

The American robin is known for to be one of the first North American bird species to lay eggs at the beginning of the summer. Fervently seen running across lawns picking up earthworms, especially after some rain,

American Robin

American Robin juvenile
American Robin juvenile
American Robin nest
American Robin nest – these reddish brown breast birds don’t shy away to make nests close to the urban areas, with two to three broods per breeding season.
American Robin eggs
American robins have pretty blue eggs.

It is said that grasshoppers are the oldest living group of chewing herbivorous insects, dating back to the early Triassic (250million years ago). A large grasshopper, such as a locust can jump about a metre, or twenty times its body length, without using its wings, using only the back legs.

Grasshopper

Due to the climate change, Monarchs tend to go further north every summer. There are concerns if they will be able to make all the way south to Mexico in the fall migration. Monarchs travel about 3,000 km between breeding grounds in North America and overwintering sites in central Mexico; some Monarchs can travel up to 80 km in a single day.

Monarch

The Blue Jay’s feathers are not actually blue. The bright blue colour is the distorted result of the reflection of light. Blue Jays are monogamous, and form long-lasting bonds. I’ve seen several pairs chasing each other during the summer, rarely a lonely one. They look very social; they like to gather as a group in the trees, always in pair. What I really liked was the loud cry to call each other, and the way the other was answering back in a lower tone. They are known to mimic the calls of hawks, to advise other jays that a hawk is around, or to deceive other species into believing a hawk is present.

Blue Jay
Blue jays lower their crest when they are feeding, or are calm with their family, and higher the crest when they feel in danger.

Blue Jay - Alert

The double-crest of the Double-crested Cormorant is only visible on adults during breeding season. The crests are white in cormorants from Alaska, and black in other regions. Here are few pictures of what I named “The Island of a thousand cormorants”, when I saw this isolated little island in the middle of Buckhorn lake.

Cormorants

Some of the cormorants were standing in the shallow water, or on top of the rocks on the south side of the island, some of them on the bare branches of a tree on the other side of the island. They were obvious at rest, bathing under the sun to get dry. They have less preen oil than other birds, so they need to dry out more than other birds after fishing.

The cormorant tree

Double-crested Cormorants are colonial water birds that seek aquatic bodies big enough to support their mostly fish diet, which of course we bumped into. After fishing, cormorants retire to high, airy perches to dry off and digest their meals—rocks, wires, tops of dead trees. They tend to form breeding colonies in clusters of trees in or near water. After a while, masses of cormorant guano might kill these trees, and then the cormorants might switch to nesting on the ground.

Cormorant pair

Double-crested Cormorant populations have rebounded from persecution and pesticides over the past couple centuries, and today they are a widespread and abundant species. Populations increased steadily between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding bird Survey, and concerns arise as they become a threat for fisheries.

The cormorant boss

 

Red Squirel
American red squirrel
Squirrel
Noisy red squirrel eating a nut

Hairy woodpeckers tend to spend more time on trunks or big branches, rather than other similar species, and they are leaning back against their tail feathers while eating.

Woodpecker
Hairy woodpecker
Woodpeckers
Nice show of these 2 woodpeckers while eating, as they kept moving around and around the trunk of the tree.

Common blue damselflies fly usually very well out over the water, and can be easily recognized from the dragonflies since they are smaller in size and thinner in body.

mating wheel damselflies
During mating, the male blue damselfly clasps the female by her neck while she bends her body around to his reproductive organs forming a mating wheel.

Great blue heron are expert fishers. Herons walk very slow, often they stand still for long periods of time waiting for fish to come within range of their long necks and blade-like bills. They are very gracious due to a pair of black or slate plumes that run from just above the eye to the back of the head, and the ones from the lower back, and the blueish rather than grey plumage makes an imposing, and elegant sight.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Herons can nest in low shrubs, even though they prefer tall trees.

I cannot end without one of the beautiful sunsets on Buckhorn Lake this summer, while thanking you for stopping by!

Sunset

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