Sunday, July 18, 2010

Moira River Phoebe (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) SOLD!

17 July finds me on an old bridge over the Moira River near its mouth, east south east of Madoc, Ontario. The riverbank Maples are turning silver sides to the wind, and grey clouds are threatening rain - but it doesn't.  

Thunder rumbles intermittently in the distance, and a blue Damselfly darts out from an overhanging Maple bough and then mysteriously back in again as if snapped at the end of an elastic thread.  I watch the spot in puzzlement for it to happen again, but the next movement to catch my eye is closer to the water, as a Phoebe lands on a broken branch, wags its tail, and says "Peep" repeatedly.  There is something in its beak - perhaps the Damselfly I saw being snapped back to the branch - in the beak of a tiny bird that was perhaps too quick and too neutral coloured for my eye to detect!  

A little later, as I lean on the concrete wall at the other side of the bridge, photographing dark red Cardinal Flowers among tall grasses and Joe Pye Weed, the little brown bird flies out from under the bridge and lands on the branch of a tree that is fallen in the river.  It vigorously wipes its beak against the branch and makes little stabbing movements.  I think it may be breaking the wings off another flying dragon before feeding it to its nestlings.

I see a large Dragonfly dart down to splash into the water, and then return quickly in the same direction it came from - perhaps a quick egg-laying mission, with a sharp eye out for Phoebes.



Adam, who moves among the shadows below the Maples on the other side, bare feet on river edge rocks, exclaims that there are lots of Zebra Mussels here - all those little light flecks on the bottom are Zebras! And indeed, I can see them from the bridge, through the clear golden water in the shallows, all over the cobbly bottom.  They weren't here when Fred visited this place in 1989. The "miniature waterlily leaves" of Frogbit are here too, another invasive alien. Adam has just picked up a large, round Chinese Mystery Snail, an alien which has now found its way to the outlet of Moira Lake. Twenty years ago Fred found them only where Highway 62 crosses the middle of the lake.

Changes are all around us. The Conservation Authority no longer owns the meadow by the river and I can detect a faint whiff of weed killer there.  At least some Dragons and Damsels are still swooping on  flies, to be in turn caught by Phoebes. 

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