Tag Archives: Doug Worrall Photography

Introduced Species Beautiful Mute Swans Hamilton

Introduced Species Beautiful Mute Swans Hamilton

Thursday November 11 2010

Signets tear Canadian Flag

Common Name: Mute Swan (Domestic Swan, Wild Swan, Tame Swan)

Scientific Name: Cygnus olor


Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum:  Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae

Identification: With their distinctive white plumage, mute swans are one of the largest waterfowl in North America weighing up to 13kg.   Adults grow to 1.50m in length with wingspans up to 2.4m.  Their orange beak with the black basal knob and terminal nail distinguishes mute swans from all other species of swans.  Mute swans have webbed feet that range in color from black to grey-pink.  While swimming, the birds hold their necks in a characteristic “S” shaped curve.  Juvenile mute swans, or cygnets, have grey or white colored down.  Their grey or tan beaks lack the characteristic basal knob of the adults.  As their name suggests, mute swans are generally silent.  They lack the loud discernable calls often characteristic of other bird species.  The few sounds made by the mute swans can only be heard from a short distance and include puppy-like barking noises, hissing sounds and high-pitched whistles.  On the contrary, the bird’s wing beating behavior during flight can be heard over very long distances.

Pen swan stretches

Original Distribution: The original breeding grounds of the mute swan are in the British Isles, northern Europe and north central Asia.  Since they are a status symbol in European cultures, mute swans have been domesticated in Western Europe since the 12th century.  In their native land, the birds migrate to their wintering grounds in North Africa, the Near East, northwest India and Korea.

Current Distribution: Today in Canada and  the United States mute swans can be found in lakes, ponds and estuaries as far west as Alberta.  But the majority of the bird’s distribution is limited to the freshwater and estuarine areas of the Northeastern and Midwestern Canada and United States.  There are substantial populations in the  St Lawrence seaway, the Long Island Sound and the Great Lakes.  While the birds migrate in their native distributions, there are no mass migration events in Canada or  the United States. 

Site and Date of Introduction: Mute swans were introduced to the northeastern Canada and  United States in the late 19th century from Western Europe.  The majority of the introductions occurred in Southern Ontario.  Other areas of the world where mute swans have successfully survived include Canada, United states , Australia and Tasmania.

Modes of Introduction: Mute swans were intentionally introduced to  Canada and the United States.  Europeans transported the birds to Canada for display as decorative waterfowl in zoos, parks, avicultural collections and private estates.  Mute swans were favored in Quebec by breeders of waterfowl for their beauty and grace.  Between the years of 1910 and 1912, over 500 mute swans were brought to Canada and  the United States from Europe.  While most of the captive mute swans in Canada  had their flight feathers clipped, a small number of birds escaped from captivity.  The first birds to escape in Canada and  the United States are believed to have done so in the St. Lawrence watershed.  A few other birds are thought to have been intentionally introduced into the wild throughout Ontario.  Feral populations were then quickly established, spreading as far south as The Great lakes.  An escaped population of only five birds in 1962 from a captive population in Maryland has resulted in a population of feral mute swans of over 4,000 individuals.  Established populations in the Great Lakes and the Long Island Sound are also causing very little amage to the freshwater and brackish ecosystems.

nearly 6 months signets

Reasons Why it has Become Established: The birds have thrived in Southern Ontario because of the similar climatic conditions to their native land and presence of freshwater habitats.  Due to their size, overly aggressive behavior and hostile territoriality mute swans out-compete many native birds for food and nesting sites and relatively low predation rates.  Owing to this assertive behavior, mute swans are also able to establish populations in new areas fairly quickly.  Mute swans have been protected by Provincial legislation because they fall under laws concerning waterfowl and wetlands protection.   Since 1980, the mute swan population in the Southern Ontario has grown by 10-30% per year.

Ecological Role: Mute swans are herbivorous aquatic foragers. An individual adult swan consumes 3-4kg of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) per day.  The remainder of their diet includes a small proportion of terrestrial plants, algae, insects, fish and frogs.  In their native lands, mute swan feeding habits aid other waterfowl’s foraging as they stir up vegetation deep in the water that smaller waterfowl, such as ducks, cannot reach.  If left unprotected, medium-sized predators, such as mink and raccoons, will take eggs and cygnets.  Adults are not usually preyed upon unless they are injured or sick.

Benefits: For centuries mute swans have an aesthetic appeal due to their size, color and gracefulness.  In some European cultures they are a status symbol and have been domesticated.  The swans bring enjoyment to many people because they are conspicuous bird that may be fed, photographed and observed for their many interesting behaviors.  The swans display little fear towards humans, allowing close viewing of wild animals.  The swans are sold for display in residential lakes.  Mute swans have been used as biological control of filamentous algae in small ponds and to reduce nuisance problems caused by resident Canadian geese.  A pair of mute swans can be purchased for $500, indicating a high economic value.

Six months older

Threats: Mute Swans have been eating to freshwater SAV communities in Canada and  the United States.  While feeding, the birds uproot and dislodge three times the amount of SAV they ingest.  Therefore an estimated 13kg of SAV per day are removed by a single mute swan.  When populations of mute swans can reach numbers in the thousands, the result is a substantial loss of SAV.  Grazing by mute swans has been severe enough  that they have caused some local extinction of a number of plant species.  SAV is vital to the freshwater and brackish ecosystems because it provides food, shelter and breeding areas for economically and ecologically important species of fish, invertebrates and shellfish.  SAV also provides food and nesting sites for resident and migratory waterfowl.  This vegetation also has the ecosystem function of improving water quality through filtering out sediments and pollutants from runoff.

Mute swans out-compete native waterfowl for habitat and food.  Studies have shown that mute swans graze on the same SAV species as native waterfowl.  Since mute swans are non-migratory, they reduce the available habitat for native breeding and wintering birds year round.  Due to their aggressive territorial behavior, mute swans have caused the nest abandonment of least terns and black skimmers, both threatened species.  They have also been known to wound and sometimes kill adult and juveniles geese, ducks and a number of other wetland birds if they approach there nesting area. This behavior is called Busking, and have many images of the behavior.  Mute swans further reduce the viability of native waterfowl by hybridizing with trumpeter swans and tundra swans.  Mute swans also pose  NO threat to humans.    

Control Level Diagnosis: Mute swans are slowly affecting the structure and functioning of ecosystems, but, in this writers conclusion they are Part of the  biodiversity of wetlands.

Bad Ideas Control Method: Management of mute swan populations has been a major concern since the 1970’s.  Currently the population of mute swans on the Atlantic coast of Canada and the United States is over 14,000 birds.  An objective of the Atlantic Flyway Council is to reduce this swan population to less than 3,000 birds by 2013.  In order to meet such a goal, a vast amount of birds will need to be removed through lethal and non-lethal methods.  Egg addling and nest destruction, while more acceptable to the public, is not as effective as reducing adult survival through hunting or capture and humane euthanasia.  Many management programs have been met with protest from animal rights groups.  As a result, it is of importance to survey public attitude towards different methods of control and to increase public awareness of the status and threat of mute swans in their area. As always, communication between government, managers and scientists should to be encouraged in order to establish effective legislation.  In addition to relieving any laws that protect wild mute swan populations, legislation needs to be implemented concerning the control of captive mute swan populations.

Atlantic Flyaway Council: Atlantic Flyaway Mute Swan Management Plan 2003-2013

Visit these sites to come to your own conclusion

This writer after months of observation believes the Mute swan causes very little ecosystem damage and is a wonderful source of Nature.


Doug Worrall Photography

The Mallard Duck North America

The Mallard Duck North America

Wednesday November 10 2010

Mallard Duck

The green head, yellow bill, and black rump of the Mallard Duck is a familiar sight for many people living in the Northern hemisphere. Nearly 10 million Mallards live in North America with millions more in Eurasia. It is thought to be the most abundant duck in the world today.

The Mallard is a medium size duck measuring 18 to 27 inches in length. During the breeding season the male has a green head, white neck ring, chestnut colored breast, and a gray body. The inner feathers on the wing are a metallic bluish-purple bordered with white. Its bill is yellow with a black tip. The female is a mottled brown with a white tail. Like the male, the feathers on its inner wing are a bluish-purple. The female has a mottled orange and brown bill rather than the distinctive yellow.

During the non-breeding season, the male’s plumage is similar to the females, but it maintains its distinctive yellow bill and chestnut colored breast.

The Mallard Duck’s summer range covers a wide territory. It stretches from Alaska and Quebec, south to northern Mexico and Texas. The Mallard will spend its winters in the warmer climes of the United States, Central America, and the West Indies.

They inhabit most wetlands. They will settle along lakes, ponds, river bends, marshes, estuaries, and even ditches. It is not uncommon to see a family of Mallards, swimming in the lakes and ponds in city parks and playgrounds. If the water is fairly calm, the Mallards will find it.

Distinctive yellow bill

The Mallard Duck’s courtship starts in the fall. The Males grunt and whistle, swim, pump their heads, and preen in front of the females. The females spur the males on with loud calls and suggestive body movements. The rituals usually occur on the water, but chase flights are not uncommon. By midwinter the pairs have formed. The mated pair migrate together returning to the female’s place of origin.

The nest is usually built on the ground within a hundred yards of water. The depression is lined with soft reeds and grasses. The nest is usually concealed in tall grass or reeds. Once the female lays her eggs, the male abandons her.

The female Mallard’s clutch usually has 8 to 13 eggs. They are incubated for 27 to 28 days. The ducklings are precocial, which means they can swim and feed themselves right after hatching. They stay close to their mother for protection until they fledge at 50 to 60 days.

After the Mallard drakes abandon their mates to the job of raising the young, they fly to a secluded area and undergo their annual molt. The molting of their wing feathers leaves them temporarily flightless. They are no longer displaying their courtship plumage, but a drab “eclipse” plumage is similar to that of a female. It provides better camouflage against predators while their wing feathers grow back. The entire process takes 2 to 3 weeks. The hens go through a similar molt once their ducklings have fledged.

Mallard Ducks are omnivores. They are often seen with their head under water and their tails sticking up in the air as theydabble for their next meal. That meal may be comprised of plant food, invertebrates, fish, or amphibians. They will also graze on land, feeding on grains and small plants.

Female mallard

Mallards fly in small groups or in V shaped flocks. The flock is usually comprised of 10 to 20 members, but the flock can swell to over a hundred. They are swift fliers and excellent swimmers.

The Mallard Ducks are a noisy species. The hen’s call is the quack-quack often associated with ducks. The drake’s call is a reedy quack and during mating season will pierce the air with sharp single and double-noted whistles.

The lifespan of the Mallard duck is 7 to 9 years, but over half die before they reach 2 years of age. They die from predation, accidents, hunting and diseases such as botulism, cholera and viruses.

For more information on Ducks, visit the WIKIPEDIA


Doug Worrall

Rainbow Trout Fishing Hamilton Ontario

Rainbow Trout Fishing Hamilton

Wednesday October 20 2010

Arive at fishing spot 7AM

Rainbow trout fishing Ontario can be an exhilarating experience. This beautiful fish has a reputation of not only being a superb fighter, but also makes a great meal.

It is not uncommon to hear anglers yell with joy after landing one of these freshwater predators. If you’ve caught one you’ll know why! The rainbow is well known for its acrobatic jumps and long runs as they challenge even the best of anglers.

Fisherman have success rainbow trout fishing in Ontario by using a wide variety of lures. Spinners, bait and spoons and especially Roe bags are very popular. But folks who have caught the rainbow on a fly rod swear it is the only way to go!

Strategies for rainbow trout fishing Canada vary as the seasons change. The fish have assorted tendencies month to month and this can make it a challenge on anglers. Rainbows are often caught frequenting the shallows in the spring. June and July rainbows are commonly nailed on a fly rod. And fishing for rainbow in the fall  October, November and the winter months are often done with small lures and Roe Bags in Hamilton Harbour.

The rainbow trout can be found across all of North America. It is a hardy species that is easily transported. In fact, you can now find rainbow trout in as far off places as New Zealand! Those that know however will tell you that rainbow trout fishing Canada is second to none. Especially if you are looking for a spirited fight!

Rainbow trout have distinct markings and are one of the nicest fish you will ever see. They have a red stripe down both sides of their body that runs from the gill plates to the tail. The fish is also covered in black spots that typically cover the dorsal of their body. Fresh out of the water, you will agree this fish is striking.

Striking fish

The rainbow trout is a very strong fish. It has an amazing acceleration rate and can sustain a high speed for a number of seconds. It is not uncommon for a rainbow to un-spool a reel of fishing line within a minute after hooking it.

The fish has a very good sense of smell. In fact if you compare it to the human, the rainbow trout has a sense of smell 400 times more sensitive. They use this strongly adapted sense to help identify prey, structure and spawning locations.

The rainbow trout also has an uncanny ability to sense movement in the water. The fish can even pick up the miniature movements of a fly from a distance. Using a lure that has a pronounced wiggle or rattle to it has often yielded large fish. Spinners of all sizes frequently translate into success while rainbow trout fishing Ontario.

The rainbow has eating habits that are sometimes hard to figure. You will notice at times that it can be hard to get their interest. Other times rainbow seem to gorge themselves on anything you throw at them. The good news is success can be had rainbow trout fishing in virtually any season!

The rainbow prefers water that is open and fast moving but is at home in both lakes and rivers. The fish frequent waters between zero and twenty five degrees Celsius, with the ideal temperature in lakes at about 18 degrees. They can also be found at a variety of depths depending on the oxygen levels in the lake.

The rainbow trout begin to spawn when they reach about 15 inches in length. Quite often they are about three years old when they reach sexual maturity. The trout seek out shallow gravel bottoms or a clear stream as their primary spawning locations. The spawn generally occurs from early April through to the end of June but some rainbow may spawn in the fall.

The rainbow trout is terrific game fish. Like any other species you may be fishing for, make sure you check out the hot locations and strategies of the region. Talk to the outfitter or your fellow angler to see what has been successful from the size of hooks, colour of  the Roe  to the size of the lures. You just may land your trophy.

Rainbow trout fishing Ontario has something for every angler. Whether in a lake or a stream, these fish can be had. Make sure you are outfitted with the right tackle and gear to ensure success on the water.

And when the snow comes to Hamilton get down to the Waterfront and Cootes Paradise for the Beauty and fishing. Hope you enjoy the pictures and information.

Information Wikipedia

Doug Worrall Photography