Recent Archive Gallery About Home For A Day
Wetland Adventures

My final set of photos.

Blue Flag iris

This spring and summer I went exploring in a new corner of Marlborough Forest. I found a vast wetland, and within it, a large pond that was almost an exact double of Roger's Pond--so much so that it disoriented me at first! (I later learned that their similarity is due to both having been constructed by Ducks Unlimited.) After the initial discovery, I returned many times. So much birding magic happened at that site. Pied-billed Grebes and Ring-necked Ducks breeding on the same pond. Willow Flycatchers and Alder Flycatchers singing side by side. American Bitterns getting in aerial fights. One day a pair of Trumpeter Swans flew by, and I wondered, with some excitement, if they intended to breed nearby. (I never saw them again, though.) On another day, I arrived in the early morning and took a fox by surprise.

Grebes are feisty birds as a rule, and Pied-billed Grebes, despite their diminutive size, are no exception. The breeding pair on this pond were like phantoms, abundantly heard but seldom seen, but the one thing that helped me find them was the Ring-necked Ducks. Whenever the ducks suddenly flushed, I learned to check the spot where they had just taken off from, and like as not I'd see a Pied-billed Grebe with just its neck and head sticking up, like a snake in the water. Grebes launch sneak underwater attacks using their sharp bills as weapons. I've read that some waterfowl will flush as soon as they see a grebe duck under anywhere near them.

Marsh Wrens nested in the cattails. One wren nest was actually visible from the trail, with a wren occasionally visible as it snuck into and out of it. (This is an elusive bird that I seldom manage to actually spot.)

Where's Waldo?

Around this time I was already winding down from nature photography, so I didn't capture most of what I saw. But I was happy to be able to capture this handsome fellow, who was swimming along the edge of the pond one day. As he slid gracefully through the water, I followed on shore and snapped picture after picture.

Northern Water Snake

My big aspiration for next spring is to finally go exploring Richmond Fen. Richmond Fen is a huge wetland, one of the biggest fens in eastern Ontario, famous among Ottawa birders for its breeding Sedge Wrens and, once upon a time, breeding Yellow Rails, the only known spot for that elusive species in the Ottawa area. (No one knows why, but they've disappeared. Now Yellow Rails are unheard of here.) There is no easy way to get into it. You can canoe into it in spring when the Jock River is high, if you're good at canoeing. You can walk into it by trespassing along an active Via Rail line with fast-moving passenger trains, which seems a bad idea for multiple reasons. And there's also a trail between the ends of Kettles Road and Goodstown Road...which is said to be very, very flooded. Not flooded as in rubber boots. Flooded as in hip waders.

Richmond Fen has a mystique for me. The inaccessibility just makes it all the more interesting. I was intrigued earlier this year when I found out that it is essentially the northeastern extension of Marlborough Forest--you can see it on Google Maps in terrain view, that MF + Richmond Fen is really just one big contiguous green space. At the same time I realized that the place where I discovered that Showy Ladyslipper colony--the place that fascinated me with how fenny it felt--was in fact very close to Richmond Fen, arguably the southernmost finger of it.

So this spring, I'm making a concerted effort to go there, to get into the heart of the fen. I don't know how. I'm not an experienced canoer--not really a canoer at all--and any time I bring up the subject with people who are canoers, their interest evaporates as soon as I mention that a river is involved, and that the river does, technically, have rapids. Maybe it's time to buy hip waders!

And that's about it, at least until I decide to take up the camera again. (Although if you have an interest in reading stories-sans-photos, let me know.) I have done a massive rehaul of my gallery in recent months: deleted much cruft, changed to zoomed-in thumbnails, and put all my best work (or at least what I consider my best work) up front. I'm very happy with the results. So if you haven't visited in awhile, you may want to have a look!

Less Travelled By


December 8th, 2018 at 1:34 pm
Nice color catch on the iris, and good shot of the snake too!

Looking at the fen trail between Kettles and Goodstown Roads on Google, it looks like it's not easy to get lost, anyway...

Jack Eitniear
June 30th, 2020 at 11:44 am
Want to use a photo but need credit info? Your name?

June 30th, 2020 at 4:40 pm
Hi Jack,

My name is Suzanne Britton. See this page for rules of usage: