Watching Ducks Braving the Winter Waves at J.C. Saddington Park in Mississauga

One January afternoon, I went for a windswept walk along Lake Ontario at J.C. Saddington Park in Mississauga. Big swells were rolling in and breaking on the blocks of limestone meant to reduce erosion. The spray was landing up to 3 metres (10 feet) further inland. And some diving ducks were bravely hunting right in the blast zone.

Photo of Long Tailed Ducks Body Surfing on NaturalCrooksDotCom
Long-tailed ducks body surfing.

How Did the Ducks Avoid Being Battered on the Rocks?

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Bufflehead male bobbing on top of the waves.

Frankly, I thought some of the ducks nearest to the breakwater rocks were suicidal. When one of the big waves broke ashore, it actually caused a low resonant boom like distant thunder.

Photo of Lake Ontario Waves Breaking on NaturalCrooksDotCom

The conflicting currents caused by incoming swells and retreating whitecaps made for strange peaks and valleys that would suddenly move en masse forward and into the limestone.

Photo of Bufflehead Male and Female Below Spray Wave On NaturalCrooksDotCom
The male Bufflehead is in a trough.

Some of the smaller ducks, like the Bufflehead, dealt with the danger by swimming back out towards the Lake when they felt too close.

Photo of Bufflehead Female Riding Up Wave On NaturalCrooksDotCom
Notice that this Bufflehead has spread its tail for stability.

They rode the swells like pieces of dandelion fuzz.

Photo of Bufflehead Female Near Breakers on NaturalCrooksDotCom

Other ducks, particularly the larger long-tailed ducks, would try to ride the waves. But Photo of Long Tailed Duck Rollercoaster on NaturalCrooksDotCom

if they were in danger of getting buried under a foaming white cap crest, they would dive right through the wall of the building wave.

Photo of Long Tailed Duck Male Dives to AvoidWaveonNaturalCrooksDotCom

Photo of Long Tailed Duck Through Breaking Crest of Wave On NaturalCrooksDotCom
There’s a duck just below that white foam if you look.

Photo of Bufflehead Diving through Crest on NaturalCrooksDotCom
Even the Bufflehead dove sometimes.

I have no way of knowing if any one duck made a fatal error in judgment and ended up broken on the rocks. I sure hope not, though!

Photo of Bufflehead Male Near Cresting Wave On NaturalCrooksDotCom

Watching the ducks diving for food, probably zebra mussels, in these huge rolling swells made an entertaining afternoon.

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