But finally where there is flowing water, the ice is disappearing. This first image shows the state of the Thames River at Chatham. With the exception of a bit of ice clinging to the edges, the water is completely open with a good flow.
And a bit farther, it doesn't appear as if there is much change at all.....it looks like it did for most of the winter....relatively smooth solid ice.
A small creek along the road going to the Jeannette's Creek boat launch had some open water, and under the tangle of branches on the far side were three male Hooded Mergansers, but too shy to show themselves completely.
At Erieau, it is the same story, but on a different scale. The ice on the lake and the bay is still fairly intact. However the water flows steadily through the channel in either direction, depending on the wind and wave action out in the lake. As a result the ice is totally gone in the channel, which allows for recently arrived waterfowl to use the sheltered conditions to rest, feed and court. There was a small variety of several species a day or two ago. Common Mergansers were by far the most numerous, with about 160 birds seen, along with much smaller numbers of others species.
This year has been somewhat different.....it seems every year is in its own way. We've had our share of precipitation in the form of snow over the winter, but in reality it has been quite dry lately. Therefore there are few flooded fields, and with the bay still frozen pretty solid, there are few swans using the area. This is also the case in the former Dover Township, northwest of Chatham. In some years, especially those years when the Thames River flooded its banks, there were many hundreds of hectares of flooded cornfields. The swans, geese and ducks numbered in the tens of thousands, and if one could access a road that wasn't closed due to the flooding, it was fabulous...probably the premiere place for waterfowl viewing that year, but at the expense of many local human residents being inundated by flood waters, unfortunately. This year you are hard pressed to find any standing water in the fields. And so there are very few swans in Chatham-Kent this year, at least so far.
I did find a few hundred swans a few days ago in Dover, which had attracted swans, geese and ducks, including these snow geese. There are three snows and two blues, towards the far side of the wet spot and on the left hand side of the photo.
Happy spring everyone!