I knew is going to be a glorious summer when I saw the first dazzling morning sun rising over the still waters.
And then when the foggy waters allured us in another time, or another space.
Flanked on both sides by other two lakes, Buckhorn Lake looks like a buck head, while the other lakes appear like its horns/antlers. The name was probably given by one of the first settler in the area John Hall, who was a collector of deer antlers, and who proudly displayed them outside of the walls of his mill. Part of the Kawarta Lakes, Buckhorn Lake is also home to many species of wildlife, a real feast for our eyes. Exploring Buckhorn Lake and its surroundings offered us many splendors at every corner. Today I will focus on birds.
This mysterious and very territorial bird with red eyes and red irises, the common loon is mostly seen as a lonely bird floating on the water. This summer I saw for the first time a pair of them, and not only once. They tend to get used with people presence, and I was able to get pretty close to them, without scaring them. They get easily underwater, either to prey for food, or to get away from danger.
The loons normally dive up to 10 m, but it has been recorded to dive up to 70 m. With an average of 42 min underwater, you can imagine that you have no way to catch a loon in a picture after coming up from the water. Even though you are waiting patiently to come out, you will never know where exactly will show up, since in this almost 1 minute underwater, a loon can swim very far from where it dived.
Once the evening comes, a loon starts wailing. If you get goosebumps, thinking it’s a wolf howl, don’t be worried, it’s only a loon communicating with its family.
Mallard duck is the largest and most abundant duck on the planet.
The northern flicker is a medium-sized bird of the woodpecker family. Flickers are the only woodpeckers that frequently feed on the ground, especially after a rain, rather than climbing up the trunks of the trees. They are one of the few species of woodpeckers that migrate to South areas during the winter time.
The American robin is known for to be one of the first North American bird species to lay eggs at the beginning of the summer. Fervently seen running across lawns picking up earthworms, especially after some rain,
It is said that grasshoppers are the oldest living group of chewing herbivorous insects, dating back to the early Triassic (250million years ago). A large grasshopper, such as a locust can jump about a metre, or twenty times its body length, without using its wings, using only the back legs.
Due to the climate change, Monarchs tend to go further north every summer. There are concerns if they will be able to make all the way south to Mexico in the fall migration. Monarchs travel about 3,000 km between breeding grounds in North America and overwintering sites in central Mexico; some Monarchs can travel up to 80 km in a single day.
The Blue Jay’s feathers are not actually blue. The bright blue colour is the distorted result of the reflection of light. Blue Jays are monogamous, and form long-lasting bonds. I’ve seen several pairs chasing each other during the summer, rarely a lonely one. They look very social; they like to gather as a group in the trees, always in pair. What I really liked was the loud cry to call each other, and the way the other was answering back in a lower tone. They are known to mimic the calls of hawks, to advise other jays that a hawk is around, or to deceive other species into believing a hawk is present.
The double-crest of the Double-crested Cormorant is only visible on adults during breeding season. The crests are white in cormorants from Alaska, and black in other regions. Here are few pictures of what I named “The Island of a thousand cormorants”, when I saw this isolated little island in the middle of Buckhorn lake.
Some of the cormorants were standing in the shallow water, or on top of the rocks on the south side of the island, some of them on the bare branches of a tree on the other side of the island. They were obvious at rest, bathing under the sun to get dry. They have less preen oil than other birds, so they need to dry out more than other birds after fishing.
Double-crested Cormorants are colonial water birds that seek aquatic bodies big enough to support their mostly fish diet, which of course we bumped into. After fishing, cormorants retire to high, airy perches to dry off and digest their meals—rocks, wires, tops of dead trees. They tend to form breeding colonies in clusters of trees in or near water. After a while, masses of cormorant guano might kill these trees, and then the cormorants might switch to nesting on the ground.
Double-crested Cormorant populations have rebounded from persecution and pesticides over the past couple centuries, and today they are a widespread and abundant species. Populations increased steadily between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding bird Survey, and concerns arise as they become a threat for fisheries.
Hairy woodpeckers tend to spend more time on trunks or big branches, rather than other similar species, and they are leaning back against their tail feathers while eating.
Common blue damselflies fly usually very well out over the water, and can be easily recognized from the dragonflies since they are smaller in size and thinner in body.
Great blue heron are expert fishers. Herons walk very slow, often they stand still for long periods of time waiting for fish to come within range of their long necks and blade-like bills. They are very gracious due to a pair of black or slate plumes that run from just above the eye to the back of the head, and the ones from the lower back, and the blueish rather than grey plumage makes an imposing, and elegant sight.
I cannot end without one of the beautiful sunsets on Buckhorn Lake this summer, while thanking you for stopping by!