It was a Sunday morning in January when I went for a walk with my camera, trying to capture the weather through my photos. There was a heavy fog that was lifting ever so slowly, it was damp, the air was brisk, the grounds were muddy and the sun was trying to peak through the clouds. I had this strange feeling that I was walking on the cliffs of Scotland. As I wandered around the lake, shoes often sinking in the mud, I imagined hearing the whail of bagpipes in the distance. I continued to walk to the south side of the lake and then listened carefully. Could it be that I really did hear bagpipes? As I looked up to the balcony of the Festival Theatre, I saw a lone piper practicing his skill. Yes it was a little craggy, but then he would break into a song I would recognize and I hummed along. I continued my walk through the fog, knowing that someone else was also here so early in the morning. It made me feel quite content!
Though it was overcast and windy on Sunday, it was dry -- thankfully. So we bundled up in our jackets and gloves and went to stand in line to watch the parade of the swans. I couldn't believe how many people came just to watch some swans walk down the road and jump into the lake! Along the road, there were thousands of local residents and many out-of-town visitors lined up to watch the parade, reaching ahead with their cameras to get the first pic of the swans. It was really cute as the first swan (or it might have been one of the Chinese white geese -- he moved so fast I couldn't see clearly) that appeared first and decided to high-tail it through the crowds and ran right down to the lake -- I guess he is a little camera shy! Then the Stratford Police Pipes and Drums came down the road playing their bagpipes and wearing their kilts (and I thought I was cold!!!). Then to everyone's delight -- the black swan and one of the Chinese White Geese came marching down the center of the road, pausing to look at everyone. I think those little rascals were actually posing for their close-up pictures!! Then behind them came another 22 white swans and 2 more Chinese white geese! It was so exciting to see them all again as they proudly walked allong and then gently slipped into the lake. The crowds dispersed quite quickly along the banks of the lake and watched the swans all glide so gracefully towards the east end of the lake. As it happened, we had to walk east too and so could see the swans checking out the edges of the lake. But Princess, our favourite black swan, seemed to glide by herself and get to the bridge first. Then the 22 white swans all swam around the north banks as people cheered them on. By the time I got home, they were paddling right by the front of our house.
I read that in the first few days of the swans being back outside, they will start looking for a great nesting area in which to raise their young. We have already seen some pairs looking around the park area -- I guess establishing their new homes and marking their territories. Rumour has it that three of the widows now have new boyfriends. A 13-year old Margaret (who lost her 29-year old mate Charles last year) has now been seen with Joey -- an off-spring of Josephine and Napoleon. Josephine (who is 11 years old) lost Napoleon last year when he disappeared -- it is thought that he was captured by a coyote -- though I have never seen any coyotes down here. So Josephine is being courted by a 3-year old swan -- I guess female swans really are cougars -- oh the tongues will wag now!! Finally, 5-year old Princess (who lost her spouse to a wild animal -- I think it was the mink) is spending time with Robbie. And so mating season will start now that the swans are free to circulate on the lake, so Let The Romance Begin!!!
Speaking about romance, the swans aren't the only feathered friends who are making moves! The ducks are also starting to pair off and nest! And though most people wouldn't be happy, we are ecstatic that we have our own couple nesting on our property. Fred and Ethel (as Dawna named them) are a pair of Mallard ducks that like our trees. They first appeared last weekend as they were sleeping on our front lawn under the big maple tree. They now circle the house all day and seem pleased that no other ducks have chosen this place to roost. Fred has the beautiful blue and white stripes on his sides and Ethel is all shades of beige and brown -- so gorgeous! The other night when it was drizzling out, they were on the roof of our flat-topped garage, splashing around in the water and just enjoying their shower. Then Fred started nesting by moving the pine needles into one little corner while Ethel just watched. Today I was in the driveway and saw Fred walking around and I called to him asking where Ethel was. He stopped, looked at me, then continued to walk around the trees with his head held low. I was startled when this loud quacking started -- I looked up to the roof but coulnd't see anything. Then Fred quacked and flew up to the garage roof, then all was well with the world. I am really hoping these two do nest on the garage as we can see them really well from our back window. Now we have our own close-up of nature at it's finest.
It is dreary and raining right now, but I wanted to get a pic for you to meet Fred and Ethel. This is through the screened window so the image isn't very clear, but they are sleeping together at the end of our driveway -- too cute!
Looking at the weather forecast I can only hope that today will be the last cold day to end this winter. I am hoping for sunshine and blue skies so we can all go out and enjoy the lake and visit with our returning feathered friends. I hope all of you are looking forward to spring coming and the flowers blooming! So with positive thoughts, I wish you all a Happy Spring!
PS - It is now Friday and my hopes for spring have vanished. We woke up this morning with no power and then realized that 4 of our very large trees had major limbs broken off due to the ice storm. Our property has the tallest and oldest trees around, so a 35' limb fallen off may be minor to the tree, but when it spreads across the front lawn, it is a devastating look. Thankfully, the house was not hit at all! Some of the fallen branches are leaning against other trees, but the longest limbs fell across the front of the house avoiding the front porch and the sunroom.
Cheers for now!