Return to Mud Lake

American Robin

The next day I stopped by Jack Pine Trail on my way to Mud Lake where I hoped to relocate the Winter Wren. I wanted to head there first, but as Jack Pine Trail gets quite busy later in the day I figured I should make it my first stop so I would have a chance of seeing some wildlife!

This strategy didn’t pay off. Even though there were few people on the trail, I didn’t see any mammals other than squirrels. There were lots of deer tracks and even some Snowshoe Hare tracks, but no sign of the animals themselves. The diversity of birds was better: one Mourning Dove, a Downy Woodpecker, and two male Cardinals were all in the vicinity of the OFNC feeder; along the trail I encountered about four Blue Jays, both nuthatches, and a pair of juncos.

Jack Pine Trail in January

I drove over to Mud Lake as planned. The sun was starting to shine through the clouds as I walked up to the ridge, and as soon as I reached the top I heard a couple of robins calling. A pair were in the buckthorn shrubs right in front of me, so I took the opportunity to photograph them before they saw me and flew away. There is something really heartwarming about seeing robins in the middle of January – this is the time of year when I enjoy watching them most, perhaps for their bright colours, or perhaps because they remind me of spring.

Winter Robin

I saw a couple of cardinals (one male and one female) on the ridge as well as the usual chickadees; although this is where I had last seen the Winter Wren, I wasn’t able to find him. I decided to try the area along the river but had no better luck. The wren, the kingfisher and the beaver were all gone. The chickadees and the mallards were happy to see me, however, and I spent some time feeding them. A Downy Woodpecker and a Brown Creeper were also foraging close by.

Downy Woodpecker

Brown Creeper

I discovered a wasps’ nest in one of the trees behind the ridge. It was quite small, and at first – while I was still a distance away – I thought it was a Baltimore Oriole nest. You can see the buds developing on the trees in these photos as well.

Wasps' nest

Wasps' nest

This feather, likely from one of the mallard hens I’d just been feeding, also caught my attention. Like the wasps’ nest, the intricate complexity of the structure and pattern created by a living being awed me.

Mallard feather

After leaving the ridge I decided to walk around the east end of Mud Lake. I found more robins, more cardinals, and a House Finch in the southeast corner of the conservation area, but turned around after meeting a couple of friends who said they hadn’t seen much of interest on their walk around the lake. We walked back to Cassels Street together, and searched for the Winter Wren behind the ridge one more time with no success. However, I was thrilled when a flock of 50-60 Bohemian Waxwings landed in a tree right above us, stayed for about ten seconds, and then flew off again.

It was a nice outing, but not a spectacular one; yet the Bohemian Waxwings and the sight of those two robins in the sunshine on the ridge left me with a feeling of contentment I don’t always find on my winter walks.

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