Tony Beck - Photography, Nature and Birding Tours, Local Birding Excursions

Consistent as Change

adult winter plumage Lesser Black-backed Gull

adult winter plumage Lesser Black-backed Gull

I’ve been living in my condominium beside the Ottawa River for a year now. I’ve watched the seasons pass, and observed an abundance of life, both human as well as other animals. I’ve tallied more than 100 species of birds, some abundant, others only a single time. One thing for certain, the view is spectacular. But, it also reveals how much has changed over the course of my life as a birder.
Back in the early 80’s, many species that were rare or unusual are now common, in some cases even abundant.
Unfortunately, the success of these species has to be at the expense of others.
Looking down from the 23rd floor over the Britannia Conservation Area and Deschenes Rapids, its blatantly obvious how a few species have flourished. Ring-billed Gull, Canada Goose, Double-crested Cormorant, Turkey Vulture and Common Raven are ever-present during the breeding season. Less obvious, but equally as dramatic are the increase of such rare birds as Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Egret, Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle and Black-crowned Night-Heron. Although seeing these birds is always exciting, I have to reflect which birds are missing. I used to see more diversity on Mud Lake – various ducks, large numbers of swallows and Common Nighthawk. Although these birds are still observed occasionally, their numbers have dropped significantly.
At night, the illuminated colours of the city contrast to the stark black woodlands, the river reflecting the moon, stars and city lights. The occasional bark of a night-heron, or the honk of an agitated goose, mix with the roar of road traffic and sirens. There is a precarious balance between nature and humans.
I can only speculate what changes will come with the increasing pressures of the city on greenspace.
For now, life of various kinds flourishes in proximity to my balcony.

Common Raven

Common Raven

adult Bald Eagle

adult Bald Eagle

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Ring-billed gulls at dusk

Ring-billed gulls at dusk

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