Monday, October 26, 2015

My Everyday Waterway - Fall Edition

One of the major perks about where I live is my commute to work. I'm not so fortunate that I can walk a few blocks, I have almost exactly 10 kilometers to go from home to the office. But when I ride my bike to work, I go along the Rideau Canal. Some days, if I squint just right, I can pretend I'm out on a lake. 

It's a nice distraction to look at the water and observe the myriad of things going on. The variety of waterfowl is entrancing. I'm only slightly envious of the summer boaters using the canal as their highway. And it's fun to see the newbies who rent canoes, paddle boats and stand up paddle boards from the Dow's Lake Pavilion. I also pass the Rideau Canoe Club where all summer and into the fall the early morning enthusiasts are out paddling a variety of boats and boards. Occasionally I even see some serious canoeists travelling the waterway. Parks Canada has a special canoe I've seen a couple of times too.
Wouldn't want to portage that baby!
On my ride in this morning (yes it was chilly!) this guy caught my eye. Sunrise was at 7:20, which is right about when I leave home. The light might not be bright enough, but here he is:
He was right near the Heron Road Bridge!
This time of year the waterfowl gather in the canal usually in different sections. It is true, birds of a feather do flock together. Although occasionally a super brave mallard will swim up to where the Canada geese are feeding to see what's on the menu.

Early this spring I spotted a wood duck. Then I saw the missus. They had some babies, I would sometimes see them on my commute. They hung out at a specific spot near Carleton University. I noticed them again this week on my way home one day. It's nice to see they survived. 

I was shocked when I was listening to a nature show and they were talking about bird survival. They said that only 20% of the birds born in a season would survive to the next year. The migration they are required to do in this part of the world is what is so tough on them. 
Canada Geese gathering before migrating
One of my favourite birds to check out are the cormorants. I know, they eat all the fish. The fishermen hate them. It's harder to catch a glimpse of them. Most of their body is below the water when they are swimming. In the past 4 or 5 years I've been riding this route, their numbers are increasing. One day in September I saw about a dozen of them all together, that was a first. The most I had seen before was about 8. They do mate in pairs, but are often seen swimming and diving all by their lonesome. It's a treat to see them drying their wings in the breeze.
Cormorant pair
Swimming cormorants
The water levels in the canal are definitely an indicator of the change of season. Right after Thanksgiving, the water was lowered in the upper section between the Hogsback and Hartwells locks. 
Not even enough water to paddle through
A better perspective
Today I noticed the water is starting to lower between there and Parliament Hill. They've tucked one of Paul's Boat Lines' boats in one of the Hartwells' locks for the winter. It's a pretty big boat, it fills the whole lock.
Winter parking for this boat
Another boat that fills the lock when travelling the canal is the cruise boat that travels from Hartwells' lock to Merrickville and back. It's been designed with a bow that folds up to allow it to fit into a lock. The Kawartha Voyageur is the name of it.

I don`t have a picture of it right now, but I`ll take one next spring/summer.

Boating season is really over now
Pretty bridge in the Arboretum
Pig Island (really!) near Landsdowne Park
Corkstown Bridge over the canal
I'll know winter is on its way when they start putting the skating huts on the gravel pads just before the water starts to freeze. By then I probably won't be cycling. I quit commuting by bike the end of October. Sometimes the weather isn't too bad in November, but the sun doesn't come up early enough. Or when the time changes, it'll be dark going home. The combination of cold and darkness is enough to deter me.

The rest of my observations for the year will be done from the warmth and comfort of my car.

Skating huts are in

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