I took these shots one morning at the end of February. The Rideau River passes through the core of the city in a meandering path roughly parallel to the Canal. Here at Billings Bridge, there is always some open water through the winter, which provides ducks with a spot to congregate around. As a preventative measure against spring flooding, in late February, the ice is blasted downstream near the Rideau Falls, which allows the ice upstream to start breaking up on its own. Here that was starting to happen, with slabs of ice fracturing to the west.
Coming back across the bridge from running errands, I saw the open water wearing away at the ice. The ducks were on the water as well as on shore, where there were many of them getting fed by a local family. A Canada Goose spent the winter here with the ducks and got through fine, which surprised me; usually they're all gone from here through winter.
There's a wood duck in this mix- if you look at the bottom row of ducks, there are five- he's right in the middle with his back turned to me, but he had the distinctive feathers on the back of his head, unlike the rest of the male mallards here.
Here is how it looked a week later, first to the west, and then to the east. It doesn't quite look like it, but we were in the midst of a deep cold spell in the first part of March when I took these shots. Tomorrow we'll have another look at the river.