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PHOTO FEATURE: Fish feeding frenzy produces nature wildlife spectacle

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Journal Staff

Huge numbers of birds have gathered on the St. Clair River near Corunna this month in scenes that might have been lifted from a National Geographic documentary.

A male canvasback duck dispatches a morning snack.
Ronny D’Haene

The ducks, geese and other hungry birds – as many as several thousand some days – are feasting on massive schools of shad fish swarming in open water at the mouth of Talfourd Creek, near the Shell Canada refinery.

“There’s been a constant feeding frenzy for weeks and it’s made no difference in the number of fish still there,” said Sarnia photographer Ronny D’Haene, who has documented the spectacle.

Hey you! A trumpeter swan reacts loudly after a duck snuck in and swiped back a fish it had originally caught and lost.
Ronny D’Haene

He’s recorded 10 species of ducks eating the silvery, herring-like shad and 13 individual bald eagles and three species of swans in the area.

Though all the birds are proficient at fishing themselves they spend much of their time attempting to steal each other’s catch and quarrel over the spoils, he said.

And it’s not just birds. D’Haene has watched at least one large tiger muskellunge, an apex predator of the fish world, scoop up both the shad and unsuspecting ducks as meals.

His photos, shared online, have drawn people from across Southwestern Ontario to see the spectacle.

“It is a display of life at its fullest,” he said.

A large tiger muskellunge surfaces in the open water of the St. Clair River with a mouthful of fish.
Ronny D’Haene

 

Redhead ducks tussle each other for fish caught in the relatively warm water of Talfourd Creek, where it enters the St. Clair River near Corunna.
Ronny D’Haene
One mature bald eagle drives off another in a territorial dispute over fishing at the mouth of Talfourd Creek.
Ronny D’Haene
A fish leaps from the water, spraying an arc of water as it tries to evade a group of hungry redhead ducks.
Ronny D’Haene
A mute swan snags a meal.
Ronny D’Haene

 

 

 

 

 

 

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