I decided to visit Mud Lake and do a “normal” walk for once. In the past, either I came for an event (Bioblitz) or a school assignment (herbarium), or I chickened out because mosquitoes were on the loose after a rain. This time, it was sunny, warm and all the good stuff that a birder would hope for.
After reaching the lake by around 14h, I went straight to the end of Cassels to the opening with the river. A scan and there was nothing out of the ordinary. I spent a bit more time just enjoying the place when I saw a bird flying from east to west. It travelled a few meters, hovered in one place while looking down, did a slight half-loop forward, and repeated the process again before continuing its normal flight. A Belted Kingfisher. A remarkable sight, and my first! I wish I had a picture of this. I then went to the parking lot south of the filtration plant because of a terribly noisy Blue Jay.
I headed back and entered the higher-ground area from where one can look down toward the lake. Nothing other than a Leopard Frog that jumped for its life as soon as it saw me and a warbler species I couldn’t identify. I went in the birding trail that had the IBA (Important Bird Area) sign and this happened:
I went to the chairs in front of Mud Lake, sat down and opened one of my school assignments. I should’ve known better than to try to study at Mud Lake. Less than 5 minutes later, I looked up to see a Great Blue Heron. I heard people say that it’s a common location for this bird.
I looked down and back up a fraction of a second later at a girl who was trying to make Black-capped Chickadees land on her hand. Her father (?) sat down near me and we had a conversation about ducks, food, white cedars, common loons…(there’s a reason why we talked about ducks and food…and pots). Once they left (temporarily), I decided to leave myself. No homework’s going to do itself for me here. I SO looked forward to biking up the hill on Britannia Rd that my bike’s gears were set to one of the slowest speeds. I was 2 meters or so below the steep hill when I saw a little black irregular form in front of me move toward the center of the road. A Snapping Turtle? Oh shnap!
I jumped down my bike and fast-walked to it. There were people around and they asked me a few questions about the turtle. “Yeah, I’ll bike back to the lake”. I put it in a FLAP paper bag and went back toward the lake.
The turtle wasn’t moving much and I decided to wait for a bit to see if it’d move more. I walked up to the bird feeder, took a bit of food and stood a few meters away. Short-term wish came true. Shush! It may not be much to you, but it was very special to me.
After that was done, I went back to where I left the baby turtle and saw it go in the water. I hope the pond is okay for it…maybe the lake would’ve been better because it has more oxygen and freezes less in the winter. I did do a bit of research and found that they’re fine in a pond and under low oxygen conditions. I’m worried it doesn’t apply as well for juveniles though. Like the “father” I met said, “you’ve tried enough. Just let nature do its work now”.
This concludes my trips to Mud Lake for the year. Legs, where wilt thou bringest me next?