Sunday, 11 December 2016

Tuesday Rambles with David - Glen Allen area

06 December 2016

     We were short one member of our group (Miriam's cold lingers on) and we added one (John Lichty) for our Tuesday morning ramble, so we still maintained our limit of eight participants.
     It was a grey, blustery day, the kind to chill your bones, when we all assembled at my house to car pool and set out for the hinterland. Judy, Mary and John came with me; Franc, Carol, Francine and Jim rode together in Franc's car. I needed to stop for gas; with that taken care of we headed to Three Bridges Road where we stopped briefly and checked out the weir on the Conestogo River. Birds were reluctant to show themselves and the scene along the river looked gloomy and uninviting.

     Back near the car, however, numerous birds were cheerfully going about their business and Franc swung his camera into action. What would an Ontario morning be without a Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus to serenade us with its familiar refrain?

     This female Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens was anxious for her moment in the spotlight too.

     The areas around Glen Allen and the Conestogo Dam in Wellington County beckoned us so we got back in the vehicles and drove there without stopping again. There is a bridge on County Road 12 that crosses the Conestogo River, just before turning into Glen Allen, where we always stop and check for winter ducks. Today there was nothing!
     When we got into the hamlet of Glen Allen we parked and walked alongside the river, and our fortunes changed for the better. In addition the sun was peeking from behind the clouds - just a little, I must say - but the light improved a tad.

     Franc was shooting almost from the moment he got out of the car.

     Ring-billed Gulls Larus delawarensis were present in huge numbers, with very small numbers of other larids, however.
     This individual puzzles me somewhat. Its head bears the hallmarks of a Ring-billed Gull, but lacking black on the wings, the rest of the body resembles an Iceland or Glaucous Gull. Perhaps it is a hybrid.

     There was an absolute abundance of fish and the gulls were enjoying fine feeding.
     Everyone was really getting into the spirit of birding now.

     Franc captured this admirable sequence of Ring-billed Gulls in flight.

     It was good to have Mary back with us.

     A few weeks ago, on one of our walks, Francine was delighted to find and identify her own Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus so it was old hat for her to identify this one.

     A couple of Blue Jays Cyanocitta cristata were spotted in the same area.

     The Conestogo Dam was quite productive, but initially the birds were far out, including a third year (?) Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus grappling with a large fish and being harassed by a couple of wily American Crows Corvus barchyrynchos trying to filch some of its meal.
     American Herring Gulls Larus smithsonianus were lined up on the concrete walls of the spillway, always on the lookout for food.

     Curiously, for the most part, Ring-billed Gulls and American Herring Gulls lined up on opposite walls facing each other.
      As was the case at Glen Allen, there was no shortage of fish for the hungry gulls.

     It pays to gulp down your food in mid air before some piratic congener steals the food right out of your mouth.

     Common Mergansers Merganser merganser were far and away the most common ducks and our patience was rewarded when they moved in quite close. The flock consisted mainly of females and juveniles, but some males were present also. This individual obliged with a take-off demonstration for us.

     Franc had no shortage of photographic opportunities. All he could have wished for was better light.

     On the way home we saw three species of raptor. Our first was a glorious female Northern Harrier Circus hudsonius followed in short order by a silver, grey male. Unfortunately, by the time we got the cars stopped, windows opened and camera primed they were out of photographic range.
     Better luck was had with a Rough-legged Hawk Buteo Lagopus...

     ...... and this Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis.

     As always, it was a fine outing, with time spent well together. Agreeable companions, good birds - what else could one wish for? Sunshine - I heard Franc mumble! Ah well, you can't always have everything.
     Tune in next week for another episode of Tuesday Rambles with David.


  1. Hi. Thank you very much for your great photos. True beautiful birds.

  2. Hello David,
    The birds did not want to go out but you made beautiful pictures. The ring-billed gull is beautiful !!!! And all the passerines are too cute.

  3. Superb collection of stunning Birds David,loved the Ring- Billed Gulls,brilliant flight shots,looks like you all had a great days birding.
    Hope Miriam gets well soon.

  4. Hi David. So sorry to hear that Miriam is still off-colour. Please give her my best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    Although, as you know, I'm not really a gull person, this looks like it was another excellent walk. I'd have been more than happy with the non-gull species. OK, so I'd have been delighted with Ring-billed Gull also!

    Lindsay's is away with Melanie and Georgie for the week so I'm hoping to go out and do a bit more birding than usual - having said that something's bound to come along and bite me on the backside!

    Love to you both - - - Richard

  5. Hi David, wow another wonderful read and set of images, tops for me is the Red-bellied Woodpecker, what a delightful colourful bird, the Red Tailed Hawk is also a super image. I'm afraid Francs mumble for better light are also heard over here. Hope Miriam is on the mend, Regards John

  6. You saw a lot as usual... the woodpeckers are my favorites ... I see all of them here in Florida ...yours must be the hardier members of the species, while mine, like me, must hate the cold. Hope Miriam feels better soon.

  7. Looks to me like a wonderful day. No sunshine? Well, you can't have everything! I do like the Chickadee.

  8. Wonderful to see, do like the red bellied woodpecker.

  9. Hi David

    Beautiful David.
    Beautiful gulls and woodpeckers.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  10. All looking very similar to here!

  11. Hello, looks like a great outing. The Mergansers are one of my favorites along with the cute chickadee. Great sightings and photos. Have a happy day and new week ahead!

  12. In spite of the grey day, you all had a wonderful day and great captures of beautiful birds, especially those in flight!

  13. I think you have a very determined bunch there David. On a horrible grey day you all persevered to the extent that a good list was had by all. I'm bound to say that the whitish gull looks very much like a small Iceland, but I'm not sure how common the species is near you?

    Talking of grey. That is all we have had for a week or more now - endless grey and gloom plus lots of rain, hence my lack of posts, no pictures. No ringing either with rain and breeze. Wish we had a little of your bright winter days, or even better, beyond the shortest day. Maybe I'lll get out in the morning.

    Dr Slade recommends Miriam takes a glass or two of Canadian Club with honey! honey

    1. Could well be Iceland Gull, Phil. They do occur in this area.

  14. REally well done for such a dull day and it's obvious you had a great time together!
    Fun to see Franc's excellent flight photos!
    I really wish Miriam to get better soon, she must feel quite frustrated!
    Muchos abrazos, amigos!

    1. Soon, Franc will be leaving for five weeks, so I'll have to start taking my own pictures again!

    2. Hahaha!!
      Not a problem for you though!
      About the tartar sauce, I will for and Miriam to coma back ;-)
      I hope she is much better now :)
      Keep well and enjoy the new week

  15. Wow ...... these pictures are really great !!!!
    The tit is beautiful but the various woodpeckers are really great to see!
    The Blue Jay is such a beautiful bird. All these birds we do not have in the Netherlands. The gulls do, we even have too much * fun *.
    The mergansers have you can capture beautiful in flight.
    I enjoyed it immensely these beautiful pictures.
    Kind regards, Helma

  16. Beautiful views with some snow!
    The Black-capped Chickadee is always my favourite, but the photos of birds flying are truly spectacular.

  17. Otro reportaje magnífico, me ha gustado mucho. La novena foto, la gaviota en vuelo con la cabeza levantada es maravillosa. Un fuerte abrazo desde España.

  18. Hello David, some great walk you had there with some great birds along the way. It looks like it was very cold. I love those woodpeckers! Sorry to read that Miram is not well. I do hope she will feel better soon.

  19. Hi David. In answere to your question we follow the guidelines of defra. In fact it is not all cold at the moment here,hence the damp,cloud and misty conditions for Saturday. I can see that in Canada there is prolongued cold weather and more need to control both ringing (and I hope, shooting).

    1. Thanks for this, Phil. Great to have this information and to understand the situation from a British perspective. I learn something new every day!