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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Letters to M - April 2013

Oh, it sounds like they're throwing every weapon in the arsenal at this thing! A good thing too, but heartbreaking all the same.

Mr. and Ms. Cardinal are now expectant parents! I know this because he is collecting sticks and leaves and presenting them to her to help build the nest in the cedar hedge next door. Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to be impressed with his choice of building materials! She keeps dropping them over the edge of the nest. It could be that they have finished the structural part and are on to interior decorating...and that she doesn't like his choice of colours for the nursery! Of course, it's very difficult to find leaves that are any colour other than brown, these days!

Freya is taking a keen interest in the activities of all the birds - those delicious juncos are hopping about in a most endearing way in the leaf litter at the end of the yard. The cat is confined to the house, except under supervision, while the birds are all so busy. Too bad, but she is not to be trusted as I wrote about before.

Coincidentally, Don and I drove past the nearby town of Cardinal just the other day. It is, like where we live in Morrisburg, on the St. Lawrence River. Cardinal (the town) has a large white water tower with a picture of Cardinal (the bird) on it! The town is small, but it has a waterfront park which was made from the old canal. Many years ago the St. Lawrence River was very wild and rough with many dangerous rapids. In the 1800's people built a series of locks and short canals to bypass the rapids so that boats could go from Montreal to Kingston on Lake Ontario. In the 1950's (about the time that I was born) it was decided that there needed to be a way for wider and deeper boats to travel with their cargoes on this route. So the St. Lawrence Seaway was built. It took many years but it was finally opened in 1959 by Queen Elizabeth who traveled on her royal yacht through part of the new canal.

The old canals and their locks were abandoned. Today, there are many parks and play areas around the old locks near Cardinal, and lots of places to walk the dog! There are the wrecks of old boats in some places, which are interesting to divers, so sometimes we see scuba divers there as well.

This day, we drove down to the Legion Hall which is in the park on the riverside in Cardinal. From the road above (Highway 2), we had seen a great mass of white objects floating on the water and we wanted to investigate. When we got closer, we realized that these were the snow geese taking a break from their annual migration between Mexico to the Arctic! There must have been 10,000 birds all sitting on the water all across the river! They looked like they were sitting still, but they must have been paddling like crazy because the water runs fast just there.

We met a man who had binoculars that he let us look through. We were all amazed by the sight of the shining birds in the setting sun. From his car the man then got a big telescope on a tripod. When he had set it up he gave us a look. Each bird which looked tiny in the distance could now be observed just as if it were in my back yard! It turns out the man was a serious bird watcher...he told us that this flock had spent the previous night in some nearby fields. He thought that they were waiting for the high winds to stop before they few on. He didn't know why they were on the river like that as there was ice all around, and no food for them, but he suggested that they had been frightened by something and were waiting for that danger to pass. Eventually we said goodbye - Don's stomach was rumbling - it was suppertime!

The next day we saw that immense flock flying over our house, beautiful white strings of birds were shining in the sunlight, making their strange honking noises. We called our next door neighbour, Richard, who was raised on a farm in the area, and he said with satisfaction, "Now the Spring is here!"

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