The Conestoga River
27 April 2014
The term Conestoga, or Conestogo, which is used interchangeably, has great cachet in this area. The early settlers to the region, especially the Mennonites who came to southern Ontario from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, made their epic journey in covered wagons, known as Conestoga wagons. People, livestock and personal possessions all made their way to Ontario in these conveyances. In the western part of North America similar covered wagons were known as Prairie Schooners.
The Conestoga River is a prominent natural feature of Waterloo County and bears greatly upon some of the birding routes we regularly take. It transverses wonderfully bucolic countryside, accentuated by rolling hills and rich farmland. The Old Order Mennonite community has a long-standing presence here and the neat, productive, well organized farms of this community are well known to all who call this part of Ontario home.
|The Conestoga River near to St. Jacobs (Jakobstettl), Ontario|
We sighted our first Blue-winged Teal Anas discors at a bend in the river, just above the dam on Three Bridges Road.
The Mill Race Trail which runs alongside the river for 1.5 kilometres is a favourite walking spot for many local residents, one of whom had obviously passed away recently, and we thought the funeral notice nailed to a tree would be fitting for any of us at the end of our life.
Nearby, a White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis and a Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus were feeding on sunflower seeds, left by one of several people who regularly leave food for the birds
American Red Squirrels Tamiasciurus hudsonicus are enchanting little creatures, not nearly so common as the Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis, and not so destructive of bird feeders. This individual was quietly going about its business.
To be expected along the river at this time of year are Common Mergansers Mergus merganser and this handsome male was swimming close to shore.
A male Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia was in full chorus as he attempted to attract a mate.
As might be expected Sunday is reserved for prayer, worship and devotion by the Mennonite adherents and they drive to the Meeting House in their traditional horses and buggies.
The following pictures show the line up of equines patiently awaiting the return of their human masters to transport them back to their homes, for a day of feasting and visitation with friends and family.
I have been fortunate to have travelled to many parts of the world, and there is a good deal of charm and allure to be found in all regions of the globe. For me and Miriam, however, I doubt that there is any place where we would rather live.