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.