With the weather of these last few weeks, there is lots of waterfowl around, so one cannot blame people for wanting to enjoy their hobby of hunting. (Full disclosure: I used to be a hunter, back in my teens, as most of my buddies did as well. But eventually, in my twenties, I put away my gun and began hunting with a camera, and that is perhaps a topic of another post as well sometime).
January 1, 2016 turned out as a windy, cloudy and cold day. Not the worst weather we've had, but not the best either. The winds were a sustained 30+ km/h, with frequent gusts or periods of wind in excess of 60 km/h. It stayed just below freezing, something we've not been used to very much this 'winter' so far.
When I first arrived at SCNWA, it was still quite dark. The swans weren't really headless....they were sleeping! And it was hard to get this photo before 0800h on a dark cloudy day.
At about 0750h, the huge numbers of waterfowl in the marsh woke up. No...those aren't a multitude of specks of dirt on my camera lens.....the sky was full of winged things, mostly at the far side of the NWA. The telephoto lens I needed to capture them could only capture a small portion of the huge numbers spread across the sky.
While I was there, there were more swans arriving from the north, which I thought was a little unusual. Most of the ones that had been in the area for awhile were resting in the NWA. They typically leave for the surrounding fields to feed in the morning, returning later in the day. Presumably the ones arriving shortly after daybreak were ones that had flown in from the north as the winter weather there was finally driving them here.
A couple of swans were swimming in the open channel along the road.
Sandhill Cranes were in record numbers this year. We saw them flying into the NWA and also out into the fields.
|Canada Geese, Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes|
The official estimate of crows for 2016, and it is only an estimate, is 125,000. Our all time official high count for this CBC is 159,860, made in 2000. Some folks have estimated that in November when they are at their highest, there are as many as 250000-500000 crows in the vicinity of Chatham. But there are usually from 150000-500000 that are documented leaving southwestern Ontario at two of the local hawkwatches (Holiday Beach in Essex and Lake Erie Metropark in Michigan).
For lots more detail on the phenomenon of roosting crows in Chatham, check out one of my previous posts here.
Our final tally for the day was 85 species, our fifth highest count ever, and a little below our all-time high of 92.