Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A peaceful end of the day in Britannia Bay

As the sun went down yesterday afternoon, we walked down the bike path from the Andrew Haydon Park's parking lot to Britannia Beach and back, enjoying the view upriver and the glow of the light on the water and on the banks, bushes and trees. A sprinkling of snow earlier this week had not altogether melted and had mixed with ice at the water's edge. This didn't seem to deter the water birds: ducks foraging close to the shore and geese landing for the evening, further out.

In fact, thousands of geese were landing on the Ottawa River, especially just after the sun had sunk below the horizon. They arrived in flocks and in families, all flying a sort of circuit in formation, overhead the landing area, then downwind, then turning base for a final long or short approach to land, just as human pilots would. Britannia Bay seems to be a major airport for the geese!

Britannia Beach, at the far end of this long, straight bikepath was not quite deserted, with people like us taking a walk there, but looked nothing like it did in August, when we were last there. No human swimmers at this time of year, no white-water rafts setting off. The snack bar is shut and the patio cleared of furniture, but the central part of the facility in the main building (the Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre) is still open throughout the winter, from 9-5 every weekday; community recreational activities take place there. Later this winter I'm going to take some friends snowshoeing from there.

Returning the way we'd come we did not have dazzling sunbeams in our eyes because the sun had set beyond the distant ex-Nortel building at Crystal Bay. In place of the sun, a thin crescent moon appeared, high over the silhouetted leafless branches of the trees that line the bike-path. The shapes of the landing geese were silhouetted too against the fading sky and river water and the evening was filled by their loud voices. By the time we got back to our car it was altogether dark.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Water levels

Water levels on the Ottawa waterways are remarkably variable this year. For the last couple of weeks they've seemed low, the Rideau Canal drained in advance of winter, the Rideau River showing its muddy bed along the edges, ducks' footprints showing, but this morning it's different, river water lapping over the roots of the trees. We are at the end of a "significant rain event", with two weather systems merging, one from the southeast and one from the south (the remnants of Tropical Storm Philippe). At the Ottawa airport, winds are gusting to 45 knots today (85 kph). This wet and windy weather is reminiscent of the thunderstorms and micro-burst at the end of last month that had a shocking number of large trees down along the John A. MacDonald Parkway near Westboro, near the Ottawa River, and in the vicinity of the Britannia Yacht Club.

During thundery weather conditions, storms sweep southeastwards down the Ottawa Valley from Pembroke, more or less following the course of the river, but cyclones (low pressure systems full of moisture) more usually come from the south east. The famous Ice Storm of January 1998 was one such depression.

This morning, a parking lot near Billings Bridge was deep underwater, and 9000 Ottawa households were without power. Close to our house, under the St. Patrick Street bridge, the cycle track (Rideau River Eastern Pathway) was underwater, just as it usually is during the spring thaw.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Somebody read this blog!

The author of Wild. Here. nature in your neighbourhood mentioned in one of her recent posts (also drawing attention to other like-minded, local bloggers) that she has read my River Diary and seems to like it! Thanks, Katherine.
Alison Hobbs has created a thoughtful and observant journal of life by a river or actually a confluence of rivers both those here in the city and some in her travels.  She offers a very detailed account throughout the seasons and provides personal and current commentary interspersed with photos including aerial ones!  She talks about city development, aurora borealis sightings, city events, wildlife, geological details, snowshoeing, biking and occasional boating outings also.  It's great that the archives are still up and available to read as it includes a total of 238 posts!
So now, 239 posts. I think it is time I resurrected the diary / blog and added further posts, because our rivers continue to flow, and what happens in, on, or around them continues to change and catch my eye. An obvious example is this season's Mìwàte sound and light show at Ottawa's Chaudière Falls, happening every evening from 6:30pm until November 5th. We have not been to see it, yet.

It would have been really dramatic to run the show in early May, when we had tremendous floods at this spot, but it was obviously too dangerous then.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dragon boats in Mooney's Bay

It's been three months since I published a blogpost here. We're now in mid-summer, June 21st, and the Ottawa rivers look totally different. This weekend the Dragon Boat Festival takes place in Mooney's Bay on the Rideau River with crowds of competitors and their supporters there, thousands of people making a noise.

From downtown, I cycled up the bike trail by the Rideau Canal to see them, returning along the Rideau River trail, a ride that only took about 40 minutes each way, and I'm not a speedy cyclist. Some of my friends from the Ottawa CFUW were paddling in the races but so many people were there, I never spotted them. Some teams were just there for a laugh; others were taking it very seriously, limbering up with team chants, arm-waving exercises, press-ups. All participants wore a uniform and life jackets. The marshalers lined them up to wait for their turn in the boats, which had dragons' heads and tails as in the Chinese tradition on this day–– Duānwǔjié (端午节). During the races a drummer in the prow of the boat beats a rhythm for the oars and a steersman or woman stands at the back. At the end of the race came the cheers and mutual congratulations, high fives.

On the bank were many tents and stalls. The results tent listed the teams that had competed so far this morning, among them some silly or witty names: Blazing Paddles, Rowdiculous, Girls on Fire, Sea of Troubles, Release the Krakens, Holy Ship, Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies and even My Arms Hurt.

Photo by CW Clark
This afternoon Chris and Chuck are flying above Mooney's bay in our Cessna so that Chuck can capture pictures of the boat races from the air.

(Added later.)  See one of these pictures on the right. Click to enlarge and you can clearly see the wakes of the dragon boats and a close finish for 1st place in this race ...

A couple more pictures created by CW Clark are attached below.

The whole of Mooney's Bay, also showing the Hog's Back Falls and canal

Dragon boats returning from a race, with the Festival site beyond

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ice-breaking: a slow process

This month's ice-clearing operations on the Rideau River, upstream from the Rideau Falls, have so far only reached as far as the Chinese Embassy. As usual, dynamite was used first, then the amphibious excavator, but it's taking more time than usual because the ice is so thick this year and because the ice is piling up to a huge extent at the base of the falls.

I took some photos yesterday:

Saturday, March 8, 2014

They've begun

The ice-breaking crews have sprung into action on the local rivers. The amphibious excavator has created a semicircle of ice floes beneath the Rideau Falls and this morning my husband 'phoned to warn me that the bridge on Sussex Drive across the Rideau River was being closed, so that the dynamiting operations could begin just above the Rideau Falls. As the Minto bridges are also closed at present, this means quite a long detour for people wanting to access the Rockcliffe Parkway.

Anyhow, they have a nice, bright day for it. Windy, but sky clear.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mo's Fly-in, on the river!

Last weekend, Feb. 22nd, was the date for Mo's Fly-in on the Ottawa River, the aircraft landing on ice. It was good weather for it! The sun shone and melted some of the surface ice, but the ice beneath was strong enough for a runway to be ploughed and even aircraft not fitted with skis could land for the event, the 25th one of its kind.

Here's a video made by Yves Grenier of the ground operations, this year:

The event started at 1000 hrs and ran all day on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, 1 mile west of the Ottawa VOR. The Canadian Owners and Pilots Association published the following details about it:

Coordinates: 45°26'57" N, 75°55'48
Runway: Runways 34 & 16, 3500' x l00'
Frequencies: ground 122.75 MHz, air 123.20 MHz.
Notes: Ski landing recommended. Landing is at your own risk.