Blue-winged teal

Perched on a rock at high tide, a female blue-winged teal
Perched on a rock at high tide, a female blue-winged teal

Another duck in our local collection, alongside American black ducks, mallards and buffleheads. I wouldn’t ordinarily get such a photo, but there was a bush between us and the duck was preoccupied, I suppose. The tide was very high, flooding the marshes. It’s duck country.

If you don’t like the weather in Nova Scotia…

… stick around for 20 minutes. That’s what they say. I got anecdotal proof of it today. Driving into Mahone Bay at about 8:10, I saw this:

8:10 a.m. Gloriously sunny - but see those clouds on the horizon...
8:10 a.m. Gloriously sunny - but see those clouds on the horizon...

Then about 20 minutes later, this is what I saw in the same spot:

20 minutes later it's cloudy in Mahone Bay.
20 minutes later it's cloudy in Mahone Bay.

Case closed.

Ice on an April morning

On a cold morning the receding tide leaves a film of ice on the seaweed and rocks along the shore.  Nova Scotia is blessed with natural shorelines like this, a haven for wildlife which is threatened by development.
On a cold morning the receding tide leaves a film of ice on the seaweed and rocks along the shore. Nova Scotia is blessed with natural shorelines like this. It's a haven for wildlife, but threatened by development. More about that in future posts. We feel fortunate to live along an undeveloped coastline.
Ice forms patterns on two species of seaweed.
Ice forms patterns on two species of seaweed.
Chunks of heavier winter ice are heading out to sea, temporarily caught in the overnight freeze, soon to be melted by the warming spring sun.
Chunks of heavier winter ice are heading out to sea, temporarily caught in the overnight freeze, soon to be melted by the warming spring sun.

Ice leaves, buffleheads take over

The ice that yesterday filled the cove has floated out to sea.
The ice that yesterday filled the cove has floated out to sea. The Oak Island Inn (which is not on Oak Island, but overlooks it) is in the distance.
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As soon as the ice had melted, the bufflehead ducks that had all winter occupied the other side of the causeway, the side that didn't freeze, gleefully (I imagine) took possession of the newly open water.

Feeding mallard ducks in Mahone Bay

A friend has been feeding ducks in his backyard in the town of Mahone Bay.

The females have a sweet, gentle way about them, my friend observes, while the males are more raucous.
The females have a sweet, gentle way about them, my friend observes, while the males are more raucous.
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Ducks come by for a meal
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Orange feet

Spring breakup on Martin’s River

A jumble of ice on Martin's River as the weather turns warm
A jumble of ice on Martin's River as the weather turns warm

It was about 8 degrees Celsius today, and sunny – a gorgeous day that drew us outside.  We went for a walk along Martin’s River, which flows into Mahone Bay between the towns of Mahone Bay and Chester.

We saw quite a  jumble of ice from upriver blocked by the two bridges: the former railway bridge that is now part of the trail system, and the road bridge.  The tea-coloured water was rushing around and under the ice floes.

Looking downstream, past the railway bridge to the road bridge in the distance.
Looking downstream, past the railway bridge to the road bridge in the distance.
Looking down Martin's River
Looking down Martin's River

We walked past the bridges down one the east side of the river.  The ice is thinning but still intact.

Derek Hatfield sails again

Derek Hatfield and Spirit of Canada, with some mutual friends, in Halifax Harbour
Derek Hatfield and Spirit of Canada, with some mutual friends, in Halifax Harbour. Photo by Ed Sulis.

Canada’s Derek Hatfield (who makes his home in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia), was forced to retire from the Vendée Globe round the world, non-stop solo sailing race in December, due to damage to his boat.  He nursed his Algimouss Spirit of Canada to Hobart, Tasmania, where he fixed the damage, and on February 27, he left Hobart, determined to complete the course of the race, even if he is no longer officially in it.  Thus he will gain valuable solo experience and the knowledge of his Open 60 equal to that of anyone who completes such a race.  He will not get the support from the race organizers that he would have had were he still in the race.  However, he will be sailing along parts of the route in the company of some other major offshore races.

The Vendée Globe is gradually wrapping up with the final three boats now in the North Atlantic and due to reach France in the next couple of weeks.

Fair winds, Derek.  Hope to see you back home safe and sound in a couple of months!

Freezing and thawing

The tidal inlet on the cold morning of December 9th
The tidal inlet on the cold morning of December 9th

The temperature has been bouncing around like a yo-yo – rather like the price of gas, from minus 10 degrees C to plus 10 and back again within a few days.

Unlike fresh water, which is at its most dense around 4 degrees C, salt water is most dense at its freezing point, which is typically around minus 2 C.  The more salt is in the water, the lower its freezing point.  In oceans that freeze, the water deeper down is saltier, so it stays down, and is less likely to freeze because the high salt concentration lowers its freezing point considerably.  The lighter, relatively fresher water stays on top – so it’s more likely to freeze, and when it does freeze it has little salt in it, as I found out by tasting it.

Ice that formed over rocks at high tide, then bent and cracked as the tide fell.
Ice that formed over rocks at high tide, then bent and cracked as the tide fell - December 14.

Lobster season starts in southwest Nova Scotia

After what will surely be remembered as the great November snowstorm of 2008, I went for a walk this morning in crystalline -8 degrees(C).  From Crandall Point I looked out on the still waters of Mahone Bay, the open ocean behind, and counted six boats between Oak Island and Tancook.  I thought of our sailboat, now snug and dry, and marveled at the fishermen who brave such cold. But it’s the first day of lobster season, too important a day to stay home if you have traps to set.