4 October 2016
Yesterday we embarked on the second of our Tuesday morning rambles. We were the same group as last week except for the addition of Carol, Franc's wife, who was unable to join us at Bannister Lake.
It was as nice a fall day as you could wish for and Miriam took a few pictures to set the scene.
We started up by the weir on the Conestogo River, where there was not a whole lot of activity, but Franc captured this gorgeous image of a small flotilla of Canada Geese Branta canadensis.
Franc by the way, was unanimously voted to assume the function of official photographer for these outing whenever he is present. We didn't give him a chance to decline, but I am sure he is quite willing to assume this grave responsibility!
Here is a photograph of the distaff side of our group.
|Mary Voisin, Judy Wyatt, Miriam Bauman, Carol Gorenc|
Based on this next image it is clear to everyone that they are having far too much fun! Even Franc decided to get in on this one.
At least they got serious for a moment or two and all were focused on a bird.
Franc seems to be checking his camera and wishing that it was a little lighter!
Ever the consummate photographer, Franc saw the aesthetics of this shot where the Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura is almost peripheral to the picture, highlighting the intricate covering of lichen on the tree.
Mallards Anas platyrynchos are always common in this area and this pair was no surprise. The male has just about recovered his full breeding plumage after his period of eclipse.
Mallard is easily the most common duck over most of the continent and for that reason is seldom given its due. It is by any standards a very handsome species indeed.
Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus was ubiquitous and friendly. Many people leave little piles of sunflower seed along the Mill Race and the chickadees have learned quickly to associate humans with food. They would land on our outstretched hand whether we had food or not.
Based on what we saw Cedar Waxwings Bombycilla cedrorum have had a prolific breeding season and most of the birds we saw were juveniles. Franc managed this picture of an adult, however.
White-breasted Nuthatches were keeping company with the chickadees, and snagged their share of seeds.
The following picture is Carol's favourite, showing a bird about to fly off with its prize, to be cached away under bark somewhere, and retrieved when winter's chill descends on the landscape and other food sources are covered with snow.
The migration of Blue Jays Cyanocitta cristata this year has been nothing short of spectacular and Franc captured this image of a bird flying high overhead.
Although we are birders first and foremost, I think we all pride ourselves on being good all-round naturalists, so it was with a great deal of pleasure that we located this Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentina moving lazily through the water.
Soon it will be burying itself deep in the mud to hibernate for the winter.
Franc aptly captioned the following picture as "Chickadee in the Vineyard" as this individual was captured near a crop of wild grape. What a fine shot it is. It would make a great wine bottle label!
I have been privileged to give three presentations to the children of St. Jacobs Public School, so perhaps the highlight of the whole excursion for me was to run into Janet Scheuring (a truly remarkable teacher) escorting her class along the Mill Race on one of their regular walks. It was enchanting to hear the loud chorus from the children, "Hello Mr. Gascoigne" and I was astounded that they all seemed to remember me. Here are these children, the biologists of the future, saying hello to the other members of our group.
It was once again a great morning spent in nature, with the very best of companions. I am so fortunate to have such friends and I am looking forward to the next "Ramble with David" which will be at RIM Park next Tuesday.
Thanks are due again to Franc Gorenc for being so willing to share his photographic expertise with us and allowing me to use his pictures. The results speak for themselves.