5 February 2015
This lone female Hooded Merganser Lophodytes cucullatus has been at the same location on the Conestogo River, just downstream from the weir on Three Bridges Road, for the entire winter.
The flow of the current is especially rapid at this location and this ensures that there is always a little open water in a river that is almost completely frozen by this stage of the winter.
Hooded Mergansers are usually found at the very least in pairs and often in small groups. It is unusual, therefore to see this solitary female.
She is obviously having no trouble finding a ready source of food and she dives into the icy rapids without a moment's hesitation. Often we see her preening and repeatedly immersing herself in the water, all the while vigorously flapping her wings and delicately arranging and sleeking down her feathers.
Sometimes she seems to be content simply to loaf on the ice in a sunny spot, and at this time of the year, with longer days and more strength in the sun's rays, seems to delight in this activity, (if I may be permitted a moment of anthropomorphism).
At this location we have seen an American Mink Mustela vison and I saw it briefly today, but it disappeared into its hole very quickly. On one occasion we watched it cavorting around and swimming across the river, but on that occasion we had no camera with us! We will keep checking to see whether we can get some decent photographs of this individual.
I know that mink have become a serious problem in Europe due to releases and escapes, but here it is an integral part of the ecosystem and is a welcome sight for us.
These horses were patiently waiting at the Mennonite one-room schoolhouse on Martin Creek Road for school to end so that they could return to the comfort of the stable.
Wild Turkeys Meleagris gallopavo are hardy birds and this group was feeding on whatever could be found in a snow-covered field of corn stubble. The temperature was minus 13°.
I am sure that they, like all of us, are looking forward to spring!