Tag Archives: cormorants

Feathers in the Dusk of Night-Hughes Island

Feathers in the Dusk of Night-Hughes Island


I don’t know a lot about Mississippi Lake, and thanks to the kindness of the Card family I was able to see an amazing sight Monday night. If you have no idea like I did, one of the smaller islands on the lake is called Hughes Island. In the middle of the lake here is Green Island, which had that name before it was bought as a cottage site in 1915 by Mr. W. J. Hughes. If you want to be technical they say the estimate terrain elevation above seal level is 131 metres– Latitude. 45.0501°, Longitude. -76.1661°  and the sun comes up these days about 04:57 and we saw dusk take place at about 19:22.


I had no idea Hughes Island is kind of a “Jurassic Park sanctuary” for a species of Phalacrocoracidaes.  A Phalacrocoracidae is a family of some 40 species of aquatic birds commonly known as cormorants and shags, and there are cormorants on that island with one giant nest as a look out.  Approaching the island we could see “a raptor” in the nest of one of the trees, and Sean said it was an Osprey– but did you know that Peregrine Falcons, Loons, Bald Eagles, Osprey and Herons are also frequently sighted in these local habitats.


The Ospreys and Herons also breed inland from the lake, for example in the nearby Scotch Corners Wetland and these birds are prolific island colonizers. They birds living on small islands like Hughes Island don’t need large flight muscles for powering rapid escapes and are built to catch fish.

Their talons, powerful wings and hunting technique give them a success ratio and their feet are uniquely adapted to grabbing what is essential to them. One of the biggest things is that they are potentially the only bird of prey that never takes its eyes off their prey. Ospreys dive feet and head first into the water, and that is where one of these poor birds got into trouble a few days ago. If you see the bottom two photos one of these amazing beautiful birds died a brutal death, strangled by fishing line, and left to hand forever in a tree.


Miles and miles of line are sometimes improperly disposed of being tossed into water or onto land. Most bird-catching incidents happen when the line tangles around a bird as it flies past, but sometimes, birds like gulls or gannets will eat a bait or lure and get hooked somewhere in the beak. Last night as the sun sets I saw first hand that fishing line kills and some of the birds sat united on the branches around the deceased as we approached. No doubt that they understand that there is strength in unison.


As I kept staring at the birds I saw no emotion or fear coming from them.  I realized I had never seen any form of wildlife feel sorry for themselves as they understood that we only part to meet again. A lesson for us all.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night

Take these broken wings and learn to fly

All your life

You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Hughes Island on the map. I am Ross Gravelle. My Grandfather secured the lease on Hughes Island in 1941 E.B Gravelle. There was a cottage on it then but burn down in the 1980’s and it was sold by my family to an Ottawa University professor in 1970 the year after my grandfather died. I had a lot of fun on that island as a child in the 1960’s

Ross D Gravelle

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.


Miracle at Mississippi Lake-John Brown Jr.

Tales of the Mississippi Lake- Believe it or Not!

The Phantom Light on Mississippi Lake

CPHS Students Declare War on Mississippi Lake – 1973

The Cottages of Mississippi Lake — Carleton Place Ontario

Lake Park Lodge – Queen’s Royal Hotel- Mississippi Lake Carleton Place Ontario

Lake Park Lodge – Queen’s Royal Hotel- Mississippi Lake Carleton Place Ontario

Carnival Diablo out at Generations on Mississippi Lake 2011

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