Saturday, 29 July 2017

A Visit to Hespeler Mill Pond, Cambridge, ON

26 July 2017

     Recently Miriam and I were in the vicinity of Hespeler Mill Pond and dropped down there to see whether we could locate a Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus), a great rarity, which had been reported a few days earlier. Fortunately, it was still present, albeit far out, but we had no difficulty finding it, and I had my scope with me so good looks were assured. 
     Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) appears to have had a prolific breeding season and we were greeted by a friendly member of the clan.

     Hespeler Mill pond is not in fact a pond, but a spot in the Speed River where it widens considerably, just downstream from former textile mills, long since dormant as the entire, once dominant, textile industry in Canada has succumbed to competition from the Far East.

     It is always a good location for migratory shorebirds, but this year the water level seems particularly favourable and there are many plovers and sandpipers present covering a range of species - with more still to come.
     When our regular group had met the day before, the Red-necked Phalarope was mentioned, and it became clear that none of the others had ever seen one, and some had never visited Hespeler Mill Pond, so we agreed to meet there at 08:30 the following morning to try our luck.
     As it turned out the phalarope had not been seen the previous day, and we, along with other birders and photographers present, were unable to locate it. Doubtless this errant individual has moved on.
     This news did not dim our spirits one bit for there was a panoply of avian activity spread before us, with much to see, to study and to excite our attention.
     A Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocoax auritus) moved along at a leisurely pace right in front of us.

     A prominent stump attracted the attention of everyone; a Midland Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta marginata) and a Juvenile Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia) seemed to be "hanging out" together. 

     As this remarkable series of pictures taken by Franc reveals, the Spotted Sandpiper was intent on capturing the flies around and on the log, and the presence of the turtle was entirely incidental.

     I can't help but think that Franc's pictures get a little better each week and I am pleased and grateful that he agrees so readily to share them with us. Nothing makes Franc happier than getting a good shot, but he is always respectful of his subject and never does anything untoward to cause stress or undue disturbance.
     An American Mink (Mustela vison), lightening fast both on land and in the water, posed only briefly for a portrait.

    There were many, many Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) present, with lots of space and ample feeding area for all, yet this duo seemed more intent on squabbling over one little patch of water than going about the business of fattening up for the long migration ahead.

     Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) was less numerous than Lesser Yellowlegs, but this individual was still in breeding plumage.

     And this one is an exemplar of grace and beauty as it coursed over the water.

     CaspianTerns (Hydroprogne caspia) were plunge diving for fish, with a high success rate, shaking the water off their plumage as they emerged from the water.

     An adult seemed to be delivering food to an offspring while at the same time imparting a lesson that it was high time for it to start procuring its own food. It would transfer the fish to the young bird's mouth and promptly snatch it back again.

     Hespeler Mill Pond is well known as a fall roosting area for Great Egret (Ardea alba) and already their numbers are starting to build. Most disperse after roosting for the night, but a couple were still present when we arrived.

     There were about fifteen Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) in attendance, including
this individual flying in tandem with a Kildeer (Charadrius vociferus).

     Juvenile birds were proving that they were getting along well with the serious business of

    Everyone enjoyed their visit and I suspect that it will not be long before we make another stop to see what new species have arrived.

All bird species: Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Wood Duck, Mallard, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Kildeer, Least Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Ring-billed Gull, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Common Yellowthroat, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow. Total: 23 species.


  1. Hi David.

    What a beautiful bird all.
    You have made beautiful pictures.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  2. Hello, looks like a great outing. I love the cute bunny and the mink is cool. Awesome variety of birds. The Sandpiper is beautiful. The Terns are one of my favorite birds, they just seem to have a lot of spunk and attitude. Great post and photos. Happy Sunday, enjoy your day and new week!

  3. Hello David!
    Great to see Frank's nice pics!
    I believe his behaviour towards wildlife is normal and every photographer should act the same way, unfortunately it not always the case.
    The mink is such a must in this post, I would love to see one too!!
    Lovely post, thanks to the both of you :)
    Keep well and enjoy more outings like this one!

  4. I must agree David. Francs' pictures this week are inded quite expceptional, especially the Solitary Sandpiper, pictures that really show up some of the diagnostic features. Likewise the Lesser and Greater yellowlegs, all useful stuff for us folk waiting for a transatlantic vagrant in the bins.

  5. What a great post and as always Franc's photos are amazing. I have to admit though my favourite is the mink, stunning animal. Have a good week Diane

  6. Interesting place and great photos of birds. You have very beautiful species, I love them all. Greetings!

  7. Some great birds again, congratulations on the pharalope..........

  8. All the pictures are great, but I particularly liked the action shots -- the tern feeding (and lecturing) and the yellow-leg territorial dispute. Fascinating.

  9. More truly amazing images by Frank and I too am so glad he agrees to you sharing them, thank you. What a great day you all had and the sandpiper looks so cute chasing after the fly!
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  10. Wow .... great pictures of these birds.
    The fishing pier is fantastic! The riegers are also amazing.
    Gorgeous aerial photos of the runners !!! So nice to see.
    One then the bottom !! Wow, what a good luck that these photos could be made.
    I'm a little jelaoers on these beautiful pictures !!
    Best regards, from Helma

  11. Yes thank you Franc for these superb photos and thank you to Miriam for the vision, exceptional !!!

  12. From bunnies to birds, I thank you for this wonderful collection of photographs.

    All the best Jan