11 October 2016
On Tuesday last we did our regular ramble at a local birding spot, this time choosing RIM Park in the northeast corner of Waterloo.
Our regular group met in the parking lot and we were off on our walk when Franc's cell phone rang. It was Francine on the line. She and Jim had been unable to make the previous outings because they have a yoga class on Tuesdays. But what is yoga compared to the thrill of birding on a bright fall day? She wanted in! So we returned to the parking lot to meet them and Francine and Jim joined us for a great morning of birding, banter and fine companionship.
From left to right above - Franc Gorenc, Carol Gorenc, Francine Gilbert, Mary Voisin, moi, Judy Wyatt, and Jim Huffman. Miriam was taking the picture; in fact she and Franc took all of the photographs, so I am contributing only the narrative. Seems like a great group effort to me!
In the sky above we spotted a rainbow-like apparition, but it did not curve in the usual fashion and arc towards the ground; it was in fact a sun dog I am told.
Not far into our walk we spotted a distant Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus, a lifer for Francine, so she was elated and even happier that she had decided to forego yoga in favour of coming with us.
Our entire ramble was punctuated with birds, but the most numerous was Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula. This tiny bird migrates in great numbers in the fall and Franc was able to capture a bit of the ruby crown, seldom observed, and more likely to be seen in the spring when males are displaying.
American Robin Turdus migratorius was also common. Most of these birds will be migrating out of our area soon, but ever more frequently this species is found overwintering, exploiting micro climates in ravines and other sheltered places. It is now to be expected that American Robin will show up on our Christmas Bird Counts.
I think that Franc has done a splendid job in the above picture, capturing the red breast of the robin contrasting so wonderfully with the autumnal foliage.
The following shot of a Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris is equally appealing to my eye.
Several species of sparrow are to be found in the fall, some migrating through this latitude; others already arrived from the north to settle in here for the winter.
White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys is a very handsome species.
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia has been with us all summer, and as is true of the American Robin, some hardy individuals will spend the winter here.
There were patches of mist here and there along the Grand River and the light was quite variable. Canada Geese Branta canadensis, to no one's surprise, were ubiquitous. The picture below could have been painted by the first European explorers to southern Ontario; the beauty conveyed is timeless and so iconically Canadian.
Mallards Anas platyrynchos were equally content to share the river.
Most of the Western Ospreys Pandion haliaetus that breed so successfully along the Grand River and in other parts of the watershed have departed for the south, and we were all surprised and delighted to see this individual still patrolling for a meal.
I am not sure why but there were few gulls that morning, but Franc captured this shot of a Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis passing by, highlighted by the fall foliage behind it.
Black-capped Chickadees Poecile atricapillus were happy to scold us as we passed by for not bringing them gifts of sunflower seed.
Rusty Blackbird Euphagus carolinus is a species that has experienced catastrophic declines in recent years so any sighting is a cause for rejoicing.
This grasshopper (sp?) was in clear view along the path, risking becoming a juicy morsel for some passing bird it would seem.
This interesting looking fungus is a species of Stinkhorn, I believe, and was spotted initially by Miriam near the end of our walk. See Jan's comments below. This is a Shaggy Mane Caprinus comatus.
It was a fabulous way to spend the morning, with the very finest of companions, and Miriam and I decided to celebrate its success by going to the local sushi restaurant on the way home for lunch.
Weather permitting, the next account of Tuesday Rambles with David will be from Mounstberg Conservation Area. À la prochaine tout le monde!