Fall is upon us and already some of the trees are starting to change colour. A few mornings have been pleasingly crisp recently, but in general the warmest August on record has slithered into September and one would never know we are less than three weeks away from Thanksgiving. Short-sleeved shirts and tee shirts are still the order of the day.
On Thursday morning, when doing my regular monitoring chores at the rare Charitable Research in Cambridge, I came across a group of about fifty Common Starlings Sturnus vulgaris perched in a couple of snags.
There is nothing unusual about this, of course, but the encounter was made memorable by what I heard. The sound coming from them was ethereal and beautiful - burbles, flutelike notes, clear whistles, arpeggios almost, with much of their mimicry included - I was mesmerized. A motet by Palustrina would not have sounded as sweet.
Common Starlings are not generally spoken of with expressions of endearment, but I confess to having a healthy respect for these birds. They have been introduced into North America and out-compete many of our native species for nest cavities, much to our collective chagrin. But it is we who have brought them here and we are now stuck with the problem.
They are not going anywhere and their sheer numbers preclude any plan to totally eradicate them. Perhaps others can learn to enjoy them in the way I did on Thursday morning and refrain from the anthropomorphic rhetoric one hears so often.
This Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii was perched on the same snag as many of the starlings and seemed to be equally entranced with the performance!
The starlings appeared not to be perturbed by it and the Cooper's Hawk finally flew off without making a pass at them. Perhaps it was already sated and the starlings could somehow detect this.
The forest floor is always beautiful and worthy of study. I couldn't help but wonder what treasures would be found if one had the time and the skill to really comb through this tiny segment.
In any event the sheer sensory delight is a tonic for all who experience it and take the time to drink in its splendour.
While I was busy conducting a tour for Waterloo Region Nature Miriam was wielding the camera for me and captured these delightful images of a Wood Frog
This hardy little frog can tolerate freezing over the winter in appropriate conditions. It is usually found in damp woodlands and swamps with adjacent upland forest, but this individual had strayed into a recently cut alfalfa field.
Our banding totals were not impressive as birds seemed not to be moving, but people were nevertheless fascinated to see Kevin display his skills.
On a day's outing with John and Geraldine Sanderson, and Curtiss MacDonald, to Hullett Marsh, we discovered this impressive nest of Blackjacket Wasps Vespula consobrina. It was a splendid discovery but we made sure to keep a respectful distance from them!
As always, any little foray into the world of nature, produces surprises, new discoveries and delights by the score. I hope you will get out and enjoy it to its fullest. We are right on the cusp of changing seasons when so much is adapting to abbreviated hours of daylight and cooler temperatures, some by migrating, others by entering hibernation and others getting ready to cope with the harsh months still to come.
Nature in all its seasons. How could I live without it?
All species banded 17 September: Blue Jay (3), House Wren (1), Nashville Warbler (1), Magnolia Warbler (1), Song Sparrow (3) Total individuals: 9