It wasn’t. The woods were unusually quiet, though a porcupine sleeping in a tree was an unexpected find. The pond was frozen over, so there were no water birds around; and in the woods I found only a couple of chickadees and a White-breasted Nuthatch. These were the only birds I saw along the trail, other than a couple of crows flying over. When I returned to the parking lot I found some more chickadees, so I put some seed on one of the fence posts and watched them come in. A pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches, male and female, joined them.
Still in the mood to see some gulls, I went to the Trail Road landfill, but there were none resting out in the open. However, a steady stream of gulls was flying from the landfill toward the quarry ponds on the other side of the road, and I watched from inside the car until I spotted a juvenile Glaucous Gull with pure white wings. Even though my eyes were watering so badly I could barely see, I still managed to get one photo of the bird in focus before it disappeared. You can see the pink, black-tipped bill that differentiates this bird from the other white-winged gull that often shows up in Ottawa this time of year, the Iceland Gull.
On my way home I stopped by the ponds on Eagleson. The southern ponds had all frozen, while a bit of water remained in the middle and northern ponds. There were five Common Mergansers swimming among the many mallards, American Black Ducks, and Canada Geese, including three bright white males. Because the pond is so small and there was so little water, they were close enough that I was able to get some decent photos.
I don’t have very many good photos of males in breeding plumage, so I spent about 20 minutes photographing them even though I was thoroughly frozen. In the end I left because my fingers were becoming numb, as the wind was blowing right through the material of my gloves.
With colder temperatures on the way, I suspected these birds would be gone the following weekend; indeed, they were. Although only the northern-most pond still had a bit of open water on December 1st, only the Canada Geese, mallards, black ducks, and a single Ring-billed Gull remained.
If this is a taste of things to come, it’s going to be a long, miserable winter. With no Boreal finches to look forward to, I just might be tempted to spend it indoors.