Friday, 4 November 2016

Tuesday Rambles with David - Bannister Lake and rare Charitable Research Reserve, Cambridge, ON

01 November 2016

     This week's outing took place in Cambridge, ON, starting at Bannister Lake where we thought there might be a wide range of waterfowl, given that many species from the north should now be arriving in large numbers. The fact that temperatures of late have been so mild has perhaps slowed southbound migration, for there was a lack of variety, with Mallards Anas platyrynchos predominating, with only small number of a few other species.
     The day was a little drab; Bannister Lake, however, was breathtaking in its autumnal splendour.

     A lone Mute Swan Cygnus olor and a pair of Trumpeter Swans Cygnus buccinator were very pleasing and they were close enough for Franc to get some decent pictures.

Mute Swan

Trumpeter Swan

    The local population of Sandhill Cranes Grus canadensis, augmented by birds arriving from the north, stop to feed each day at Bannister Lake and Franc was able to capture these two birds as they arrived to take up their position in the rich feeding beds of the marshes.

     From our vantage point on the observation tower, various passerines joined us, including this male Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens whose energetic work on the snag is causing the bark to fly.

     When we left to head down to the rare Charitable Research Reserve, Jim, who was in the lead car suddenly pulled off to the side of the road. He had spotted this Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis, perfectly positioned for Franc to take a picture. 

     Obligingly it flew away in short order, permitting this interesting shot of the bird in flight.

     This magnificent sculpture of a Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus was for the longest time located at the head office of rare in a garden at the back of the property, where it was hardly seen by anyone. Recently it has been moved to the trail head near the slit barn and now commands the attention and admiration of all who view it.

     Miriam thought that a group picture surrounding the eagle was pretty appropriate.

     From left to right above - Judy Wyatt, me, Jim Huffman, Francine Gilbert, Carol Gorenc, Franc Gorenc, Mary Voisin.
     No sooner had we started to walk across the alvar, this distant Northern Harrier Circus hudsonius put in an appearance. Some individuals of this species are migrating farther south, but others will settle in for the winter and make a living on the abundant rodents in the fields and meadows.

     Most Western Ospreys Pandion haliaetus have departed for warmer climes and we were surprised to encounter this bird. It is my first ever sighting of an osprey in the Region of Waterloo in November.

     All of the gulls we saw loafing at the water's edge were Ring-billed Gulls Larus delawarensis except for these two American Herring Gulls Larus smithsonianus.

     A Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias was perched far off atop a tree like a sentinel over the river.

     Suddenly it took flight enabling Franc to capture these quite remarkable images, one head on and the other showing the powerful wing beats of this large bird.

     A pair of Mallards was content to expropriate a Muskrat Ondatra zibethicus lodge as a place to hang out and watch the world go by.

     Several American Tree Sparrows Spizella arborea were spotted, many of them feeding on the seeds of Goldenrod.

     We decided to finish off our morning's walk at the Grande Allée area of rare, a location new to all except Miriam and me. It is a lovely walk down Grande Allée to Indian Woods and this Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata seemed to be enjoying it as much as we did.

     A Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus was clinging onto a snag while being buffeted by the wind.

     That remarkably hardy, tiny little bird, Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa, was moving through in small flocks.

     While gathering together at the junction of Grande Allée and Indian Woods, we decided that one last group shot was in order, following which we returned to our vehicles, well satisfied with another successful day together.

     Next week will feature a visit to Mountsberg Conservation Area and Raptor Rehabilitation Centre. Stay tuned for that one!


  1. Great selection of birds there David............

  2. Hi David.

    Many beautiful show you David.
    The woodpeckers are super nice.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  3. Hello. Really spectacular birds. You have had a fine excursion.

  4. What a basket of delights,outstanding Birds,only thing missing in line up is me.
    Have a great day.

    1. It would have been great to have you there, John.

  5. Ah even an Osprey and those woodpeckers wow. I am a bit jealous of the two Cranes you saw. I still have not seen one. All in all you saw a lot of great birds David. So nice to be able to enjoy a walk with good friends. Also thank you for your reaction on my latest blog.
    Regards, Roos

  6. Beautiful collection David, I love all.

  7. Hi David, Another super and varied post with another set of wonderful images of your Canadian birds. Amazed you are still seeing Ospreys, ours have had the towels on the bed chairs for a couple of months. All the best to you both. Regards John

  8. You are all a happy lots, good to see.
    The birds are so lovely and well captures.

  9. The autumn colours do look great, especially with the swans in the foreground.

  10. Good selection David. The Osprey is very late, our own long gone. I could have borrowed that shot of the harrier. The one I used was such a good ppicture I decided to use it even though there is I think still disagreement whether there are two tickable species, Hen Harrier and Northern Harrier or one species of of which Circus cyaneus hudsonius is a sub species. Over here, and perhaps in Canada too, many birders are desperate to split them, not necessarily in the interest of science. It's hard enough here to get to see Hen Harrier to get to see a Hen Harrier without worrying too much about the even rarer chance of ever seeing a hudsonius.

    I thought by now you might be on your way to Cuba for some well earned sunshine and a break from the politicing?

    1. The two harriers have been split by many authorities for several years. For excellent coverage of harriers I highly recommend "Harriers of the World, 2000, Simmons R.E., Oxford Ornithology Series, Oxford University Press."

  11. Fantástica excursión, ya veo que fue un magnífico día entre amigos para observar aves. Me llama la atención la Grus canadensis, diferente a la Grus grus de Europa, que ahora en otoño las tenemos en plena migración. Precioso reportaje mi amigo David, un fuerte abrazo desde España.

  12. Interesting species and excellent photos of them. One would always hope to have such good photos of birds in flight... or at least pieces of bark flying. :)
    Thank you for your interesting comments on my posts. Have a good week ahead!

  13. Another great account of what was obviously a very rewarding walk, David. Again, I'd have loved to have been there. The birds are wonderful - particularly the woodpeckers!! Congratulations to Franc for his great photos. What a wonderful Bald Eagle sculpture that is!

    Love to you both - - - Richard

    1. Hi Richard: I can see that one if these days you'll have to sneak a visit here by yourself. Then you can take part in all these outings. Everyone has been enjoying these Tuesday morning rambles so much I am sure they are not going to let me stop leading them! Love to you and Lindsay from both of us.

  14. so many wonderful bird sightings and photographs!
    watching birds can bring such joy and interest.
    good week to you.

  15. Great post David!
    I was looking for Miriam on the picture with everyone around the sculpture of the Bold eagle and seeing her further below made realise she was the one who took it! LOL!
    Very impressive this variety of birds, the Trumpet swan is one bird I'd love to see!
    About my bellowing stags, if there had been mating, I would have been at the right place but unfortunately it never happened in my 4 hours in hide...
    Keep both well, muchos abrazos!

  16. Hello David,
    autumn colors are beautiful and your photo is also great to see.
    I envy your beautiful cranes in flight. I hope to shoot a crane in the wild. The woodpecker is a great beautiful picture and it is also a wonderful bird. Magnificent are the photos of the Red-tailed Hawk !!!
    Other birds and small birds are wonderful to see. A beautiful and rich blog.
    These are beautiful photos David and I enjoyed it :-)
    Greetings, Helma

  17. Hello David
    Beautiful series of pictures of all the different birds.
    Photo 2 and 6 are my favorite.
    You are doing really good work, compliment.
    Best regards, Irma

  18. Some amazing photographs here, a lovely post.
    It was nice to see all of your smiling faces too!

    All the best Jan

  19. Downy Woodpecker is a great bird !

  20. Very nice post, specially liked the raptors, the two swans, herons and woodpeckers.