Thursday, 27 July 2017

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

25 July 2017

     It was as fine a summer's morning as anyone could devise when all eight members of our regular group met at 08:30 in the parking lot near the slit barn at rare for our weekly outing. 

     It was the kind of day when it was simply good to be outside; it mattered little what one might see, the sheer exuberance of rambling in bright sunshine with warm breezes was enough. But, there were many things to be observed. And (modestly, I might say) the fact of being part of the finest gang of eight ever assembled did nothing to dilute the pleasure.

       This is the time of year when butterflies abound. Common Woodnymph (Cercyonis pegala) was exactly that - common.

     It seems to have been a relatively good year for Monarch (Danaus plexippus) compared with recent years, when this species has been scarce indeed, and we can only hope that their numbers are rebounding.

     The population here in southern Ontario is part of the cohort that makes a legendary migration to Michoacan in Central Mexico, a journey and a destination discovered by Canadian entomologist, Fred Urquhart. The butterflies generally arrive on schedule each year on El dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. Fittingly, la mariposa monarca is believed by the residents of the area to harbour the souls of departed loved ones returning for their annual visit.
     A Northern Crescent  (Phyciodes coctya) seems pedestrian by comparison; it bears no responsibility for taking lost souls back home.

     A Wild Indigo Duskywing (Erynnis baptisiae) is the fourth butterfly that we were able to photograph, although other species were seen.

     Perhaps Francine is on a quest for them here.

     Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) were quite common, with many juveniles in evidence.

     Many were seen flycatching across the Grand River, but equally they were involved in gathering the plentiful berries that ensure that in July in Ontario, the living is easy!

     The plight of pollinators across the world is well know to everyone, so it is always reassuring to see them, such as this bee on a teasel, at work.

     Japanese Beetles (Popilla japonica), beautiful they may be, are not quite as welcome; these alien invaders represent a serious threat to native vegetation.

     Judy heard the sneezy fitz-bew song of the Willow Flycatcher and Franc took this lovely photograph.

     We observed a couple of male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilocus colubris) defending their territories.

     This one zoomed out at some perceived threat.

     These tiny creatures are fearless in defence of what they believe is theirs and will attack without hesitation, no matter the size of the intruder.
     This male House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) looked especially fit and handsome; no doubt it has fathered a brood this season.

     Or perhaps its nest was parasitized by a Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) such as this female seen here.

     The undoubted star of the morning was a family of Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus).
This pair has successfully raised three young which are on the verge of fledging. This bears testament not only to the diligence of the parents, but also to the biomass of fish in the Grand River watershed, supporting not only Ospreys but a variety of other fish-eating birds, and mammals, to say nothing of fishers of the Homo sapiens persuasion.

     Everyone was either taking pictures or was focused on the enchanting spectacle in front of us.

     I think the rest of these pictures speak for themselves.

     I would imagine that these young birds are mere days away from fledging, when their parents will teach them how to fish for themselves, before beginning the long and dangerous migration south. Many of them will not make it, but those that do have an excellent chance to return here to raise their own families.
     Every Tuesday ramble has its own charm and rewards. Today was no exception. And we planned a bonus walk for the following day. You can read about that soon, so be sure to check in over the next few days. Thanks for visiting!

All bird species: Mallard, Turkey Vulture, Western Osprey, Ring-billed Gull, Mourning Dove, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Willow Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Barn Swallow, American Robin, Grey Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Common Yellowthroat, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Finch. Total: 27 species.


  1. Absolutely beautiful, I loved the House Finch taken by Franc. And there was the butterflies, fantastic.

  2. The monarchs ARE rebounding . I knew it!

  3. Wonderful pictures! I used to take students to rare before it became rare.

  4. Never seen a baby Waxwing before..............

  5. Hi Both and another wonderful outing, you are most certainly having better weather than us. Some super Butterflies and the Hummingbirds are beautiful but the star of the show must be the Ospreys, wonderful to see the young when they are helicoptering prior to fledging. All the best and thanks for a super post with your group. John

  6. Hello David!:) Good weather does make a difference to ones disposition and your high spirits show in your lovely group photos. Great photos of all the birds and butterflies. I especially liked the Waxwing, Willow Flycatcher, male House Finch, and Ospreys, and congrats on getting shots of the Monarch with it's wings open,...this never happens for me! :)

  7. Hi David.

    Beautiful picture of nature at its best.
    The birds of prey on the nest are really super.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  8. How wonderful to be able to observe those Ospreys from such close proximity, David. The closest we can get to a Rutland Osprey nest is 240 metres. It's 320 metres from the montoring hide. We just have to hope for a fly-past!

    I'm a bit in awe of Franc's photography skills, particularly with the degree to which he has managed to freeze the wing movement of that hummingbird! Fabulous!

    My love to you both - - - Richard

  9. Oh wow how lucky can you get to see those Ospreys, I am very jealous. Love the butterflies but they can be so annoying when you see them and they will not settle. I agree with Richard, Franc's photos are amazing. Hope your weekend is a good one Diane

    1. Franc will be happy to read your comment, Diane. We are going to have to widen the door frame so his head will fit through!!

  10. Beautiful pictures David.

    Both of the butterflies and birds, beautiful species, you always have the lens.
    I think the birds of prey are very beautiful to see.
    Nice weekend,

    Greetings Tinie

  11. It was great to see so many wonderful photos of nature. I love these Western Ospreys!

  12. It's a dream, again ! Splendid birds !!!

  13. Lovely to see your group in the photographs as well as the birds and wildlife.

    All the best Jan