Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Tuesday Rambles with David - The Mill Race Trail, St. Jacobs

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.



  1. A nice shot of the biologists of the future. It's a kind of cliff-hanger.
    Whom will be next traveller with birds??
    Great story by you David and beautiful pictures made by Franc.
    Gr Jan W

  2. Woodsy Autumn beauty! The birds are fabulous as always (my favorite is the nuthatch (little clown/acrobat)! But the people shots were fun to see! Your group having such a good time as you "do good" ... and the heartwarming picture and words about the children and their great teacher out walking and learning (and remembering your name and why wouldn't they!)

  3. Hi David, a wonderful post with some great images by Franc especially at the end with your group of children, what an honour to have them remember your name and then to get your photo with them. Regards to you both. John

  4. Really enjoyable photos. I liked a lot. Greetings.

  5. What fun photos David, thank you for taking us along. What a delight to be so recognized by the children. I think that is lovely!

  6. Fantastics trip David. Meet are fabulous.
    Oh yes, I know the colony of Gannets. It's fantastic to see so close to us.
    One day maybe, we will come...
    Good day.

  7. A truly lovely post, David!
    Autumn is a lot more advanced where you live than here.
    Your Nuthatch photos are fantastic!
    Great to see how happy you were with your friends, outing like these make up for the best of memories!
    You are very welcome to come back and stay with me, I can take you to Mazères but there are few interesting species unfortunately, so I'd rather go to Le Teich on the Atlantic coast.
    Fuertos abrazos, amigos, y que se vayan bien :)

  8. Wish I could have joined you it looks like a great ramble. I did not know turtles hibernated in winter, interesting bit of info for me. Love the bird shots Diane

  9. Great photos of everyone there, and not outdoing the shots of birds, fabulous images.

  10. Beautiful images David. Yesterday evening I saw about 300 Canada Geese in the field near by us.

  11. Nice series of images .. I love all the birds .. Greetings ..

  12. A very nice and friendly post :-) It shows that you also have many fun and the walk itself. The photographer has done his best to make image. It is seen that has been introduced to you the fall. Warem beautiful colors come on the trees. The birds are really great, especially the witborstboomklever (we have not in the Netherlands) and the bird plague.
    Maybe you can send them this way;-)))

  13. What a lovely post to read and look at.
    When I got to the end and read that all the children said "Hello Mr. Gascoigne" and the lovely wave they gave to the camera ... that is so special.

    The scene photo's and the birds included here are lovely and so clear. Thank you David for writing this post, but also thanks to all who were mentioned and made this such a pleasing post.

    Good wishes for the coming weekend

    All the best Jan

  14. It looks like a wonderful morning walk about, finding treasures as you go.

  15. Absolutely beautiful! Lovely series of photos, David! Thank you so much for sharing. I love long walks in nature and do this as often as I can here in Montreal. :)

  16. Hello David,
    Beautiful birds show you again, I like the nuthatch, like an acrobat.
    Great as with the children, the new generation of biologists
    Best regards, Irma

  17. What a delightful walk with good company, David. Between the three photographers amongst you you came up with a fine set of images. I'd not really appreciated, until now, just how handsome a bird the White-breasted Nuthatch is - a little stunner!

    Love to you both - - - Richard

  18. Beautiful series of photos !!

  19. Looking back in your blog I see that I also not responded on this lovely post of yours. So nice to see you all had a wonderful Autumn walk and encounterd such lovely birds as well. Sorry for the late reaction on my side.