Friday, 14 July 2017

Tuesday Rambles with David - The Linear Trail the second time around.

11 June 2017

     Last week we had a very productive outing to the Linear Trail in Cambridge, ON and covered about half its length. This week we decided to begin at the opposite end and work our way towards the point where we turned around last week. The weather was a little foggy, and the light far from ideal for photography, but we enjoyed a great walk filled with wildlife of different taxa.
     In the parking lot, before even embarking on the trail, we saw this Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus), a stunning species. We initially thought that a woman parking her car had inadvertently run over it, but it was fluttering, and the driver of the vehicle, filled with remorse, carried it over to a tree. Without further ado it flew back towards us, so no harm seemed to have been done.

     In high spirits, we set out along the trail.

     We had not gone far, no more than four or five hundred metres, when our walk was abruptly brought to a halt.

        Quite what happened to the bridge is open to speculation, but it appears that someone attempted to drive over it with equipment exceeding the load-bearing capacity of the structure.

     Had we been children, we would have taken our shoes and socks off and waded across, but being a conservative bunch, and no doubt older and wiser (or is that less adventuresome?) we headed back to the parking lot.
     Common Whitetails (Plathemis lydia) were common. Here is an adult male...

     ...........and here is a juvenile male with its characteristic brown abdomen and pale diagonal dashes along each side.

     On the way back to our vehicles, Franc and I ventured off into a bushy area, filled with tangles and saplings of various heights, and plagued with mosquitoes unfortunately. In any event, we made our way down to the river and were rewarded with a great range of species.
     Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) is rare around here, but this year I have seen as many as three individuals at the Hespeler Mill Pond, and today Franc and I were treated to the delightful spectacle of seeing a delicate Common Tern, in superbly choreographed flight, alongside the bruiser of this family, Caspian Tern (Hydroproge caspia).
     The scientific name of Common Tern translates to Swallow Tern, and you can judge for yourself from the pictures below that it is aptly named.

     Franc had never seen a Common Tern before and was thrilled to be presented with such great opportunities for photographs.
     The powerhouse Caspian Tern was a study in contrast.

     A male Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) was perched just over the water, a little farther away than we might have liked, but photogenic nonetheless.

     A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) stalked its prey, patiently waiting for every opportunity to make a lightening strike.

     Kildeer (Chardrius vociferus) is our most common shorebird and is frequently observed in large numbers, especially as we approach migration time. 

     As we picked our way back through the tangles, Grey Catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis) were frequently seen and heard, gurgling their delightful, cheery song, with a little mimicry thrown in for good measure, and ending on the miaow exclamation point from which the bird derives its name.

     Having donated our share of blood to the ravenous female mosquitoes we rejoined Miriam, Judy, Mary and Carol in the parking lot, and set off to park adjacent to the trail around its midpoint, so that we could traverse it back to the defunct bridge which had stopped us in our tracks.
     The birding was terrific. Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), no longer subjected to idiotic and obscene levels of persecution, have made a resounding comeback across the continent and are now fairly common in the Grand River watershed. It was with enormous satisfaction that we saw two adults perched at the river's edge, quite far away, but close enough for a record shot.

     One of the birds flew a little closer and perched at mid height in the trees along the riverbank. It is indeed a majestic species.

     Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) is a skillful and opportunistic feeder and this individual had caught a catfish, a fine meal indeed. It is amazing what a bird can swallow!

     After all that exertion, and with a full belly, perhaps it needed to rest for a while.

    We have a watermelon in the fridge and I think that to match the feat of the gull I would have to swallow it whole!
     American Herring Gull (Larus smithsonianus) is less common at this time of year and this is the only individual we saw.

     American Robin (Turdus migratorius)is a prolific breeder and often has three broods in a single season.  Juveniles are seemingly everywhere. 

     Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) is common along suitable watercourses and we saw several of them.

     It is always interesting to watch them zoom across the water with their typical rapid wing beats.

     There were several small flocks of Northern Rough-winged Swallows (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) and we were fortunate to have one perch for a picture.

     This male American Yellow Warbler (Setophaga aestiva) has lost his tail somehow. Perhaps sacrificing it saved him from a predator bent on making a meal out of him.

    House Wrens (Troglodytes aedon) were spotted several times, often announcing their presence by their rollicking song.

     Birds need to keep their plumage in prime condition and bathing is an important part of feather maintenance. This male American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) is drying off after immersing at the river's edge.

     Japanese Beetle (Popilla japonica) is a serious invasive species, with adults damaging leaf tissues and ripening fruit of more than two hundred plants. This pair seems intent on making sure that we have more of them.

     Maybe Song Sparrows (Melospiza melodia) will eat a few!

     Warbling Vireos (Vireo gilvus) have a robust population along the Linear Trail.

     Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) is a very common species, of course, but this is an interesting shot.

     I always think that Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is like an old friend that you never tire of seeing, no matter how often it happens. 

     Another great Tuesday ramble. Now we have to think about next week's destination.

All birds species: Canada Goose, Mallard, Great Blue Heron, Western Osprey, Bald Eagle, Sandhill Crane, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Ring-billed Gull, American Herring Gull, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Mourning Dove, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Warbling Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Tree Swallow, House Wren, American Robin, Grey Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow.   Total:  39 species.


  1. Love your Tuesday rambles and that moth is spectacular. The photos of the the bald eagle are fabulous, but I still think the South African fish eagle (I am prejudiced) is more beautiful and has the most amazing call. Thanks for another great post showing the birds from your side of the world. Diane

  2. Superb birds and the others, I love your ramblers.

  3. Excellent shots! Nice to see that the Eagles are doing well. The gull eating that fish is quite a feat!

  4. That's a lot of interesting species to see!

  5. Beautiful ... so many birds~~ That broken bridge did not slow you down one bit!

  6. Another epic selection of species and it must be great to have Bald Eagles around in summer.........

  7. Hi David.

    Beautiful birds let you see us.
    Nice there.

    Groettie van Patricia.

  8. Oh my what a great post, so many stunning images of birds ind insects. I love the moth and it's story.
    You certainly had an amazing ramble!!
    Have a wonderful weekend :)

  9. Another excellent set of pictures and a delightful commentary David. That picture of Spotted Sandpiper really emphasises its elongated body shape in comparison with our podgy Common Sandpiper. I still hope to find a Spotted over here sometime.

    Yes, to have Bald Eagles in almost profusion must be terific.

  10. As always very interesting and pleasant story that allows me to know how they are for me so far corners of the world, with wonderful images of the landscapes and the wonderful beings that inhabit it.

  11. Hi David and what a trip out you had, wonderful moth to start with, then a collapsed bridge to deal with, and then all the wonderful birds, how do you manage with all these distractions. As always the Northern Cardinal is such a stunner. All the best to you both, John

  12. A great and interesting posts. That was a beautiful moth in the 1st photo. The dragonfile was so unique, I have seen one like this before. Lovely birds photos especially the one with its lunch between its beak! You had a very fruitful outing. Have a blessed Sunday!

  13. This is very beautiful David, so many kinds and so beautifully pictured.
    What do some birds also have beautiful colors.
    The seagull with the fish is very beautiful.
    Beautiful butterfly too, I had the poplarship pie in my garden this week.
    Coming next time in my blog.
    Happy sunday, greetings Tinie

  14. Great photos of these interesting birds. However, i love the Polyphemus Moth. This is amazing butterfly!

  15. Hi!!! nice series of photos ... :-)

    Beautiful landscapes. I love.

  16. Hello David1:) Your Tuesday rambles always come up with the goods. I would be so pleased to see so many different species. The Juvenile American robin captures are lovely, as are the graceful in flight Common Tern captures, and the Gull eating the catfish. Your analogy made me smile!:=) I'm so pleased the beautiful moth wasn't harmed, and it's good to know that the Bald Eagle is in a safe environment, and no longer persecuted.

    David, the Jay's I see are extremely shy, and fly away at the slightest movement, but I can get fairly near to them when I'm inside my homemade hide. Just lately I have been having fun photographing them in our garden, and will have more to share in the coming weeks.

  17. Great set of birds - it seems that the 'bridge out' did not really curtail the fun!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Grindelwald, Switzerland

    1. You are a travelling man, Stewart. Seems like every time you leave a comment it's from a different country!

  18. Hello David!
    Gee, what a great post again!
    This moth is such a beauty, I wonder how wide the wingspan is??
    The dragonfly might be common it is also gorgeous!
    But my favourite is the juvenile American robin!
    What a delicate plumage, as lovely as the adults... to me!
    Back from Spain with nice pics :)))
    Much love to you both and enjoy the new week

  19. Excelente reportaje amigo mio, especies muy interesantes y unas fotos fantásticas. Un fuerte abrazo desde España.

  20. Hello, sounds like a fantastic bird walk. The moth is stunning. Lovely collection of birds and photos. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day and weekend ahead!

  21. Hakllo David,
    Your opening photo with this beautiful colored night butterfly is the same as an eye-catcher :-) The dragonflies emt that are pretty broad tires on the picture, unfortunately not in the Netherlands. Beautiful are these pictures. The fishing dog has also taken a good time to photograph photography, and the bird of the ice is of course great to see :-)))))
    Blue heron and plovers continue to look nice. Nevertheless, I have never heard of a bird of birds! Beautiful eagles show you and the seagull with big fish is also very nice.
    Your birds are all beautiful because I fall on all the beautiful colors that all these birds have. A beautiful blog with a very high level of enjoyment :-)

    Best regards, Helma xxx

  22. Hi David - it's me again!

    What a splendid day's birding you had, even if the bridge-out did inconvenience you a bit. The bird images are delightful, but it's the moth, and the two dragonfly images that I find most exciting as they look very exotic!

    Had lunch today at a pub at the head of the River Thames which has been run for the past year by a couple from South Ontario. Had quite a chat with them, and the father of one who was visiting from Canada, I hope they have a smoother ride than that poor couple who were running the store and cafe in Laggan.

    Take good care - - - - Richard