Monday, August 14, 2017

Tuesday Rambles with David - West Perth Wetland, Mitchell, ON

08 August 2017

     Judy had been following the birding reports from West Perth Wetland and let us know that the conditions were nigh on perfect for shorebirds in some of the ponds. It seemed like a logical destination for our weekly ramble and we were not disappointed.

     Over several years this location has been one of our preferred destinations. It is less than an hour from home and from time to time has yielded some extraordinary rarities. Numerous ponds tend to hold distinct suites of birds and varying water levels and trophic resources encourage birds to linger for a while before continuing with their migration.

     It didn't take long to have a few Pectoral Sandpipers (Calidris melanotos) in view. a species we see spring and fall as the bird wends its way to and from its arctic breeding grounds.

     I find that among shorebird enthusiasts snipe always seem to have a certain cachet and we counted ourselves fortunate to find four Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata); concealed in aquatic vegetation, they were, however, unwilling to come out and put on a real show.

     We meandered along the berms, searching all the while for hidden gems, enjoying warm sunshine on a beautiful August day.

     Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) was far and away the most common species and there were many juveniles attesting to a successful breeding year for this familiar plover. A baby Killdeer is the epitome of cuteness and even the most detached observer would be hard pressed not to utter a silent "aah!" upon seeing one.

     Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) is ubiquitous in suitable habitat as it pauses to take on fuel for the long journey south, and its familiar call was seldom out of earshot.

          By my count we saw only four Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca), a species usually found in small numbers only on mudflats and sandbars in southern Ontario.

     As you can judge from the images above Franc is a master of the flight shot, and this capture of a sub adult Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) proves the point.

     When I spotted this Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) I vacillated between a young male evolving into adult plumage, and a female. Having checked various references I am opting in favour of a female; one thing we can be certain of - it is a Wood Duck!

     Our find of the day, without a doubt, was an American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) hidden in the reeds, barely visible at times. This species is far more often heard than seen, although it is almost certainly present in suitable habitat from spring through fall. At this time of the year it tends to be silent.

     Franc is always determined to do what he needs to, to try to get the perfect shot. Here I think he was trying to replicate the bittern's skill at camouflage!

     Several times we saw birds explode into flight, often telltale behaviour when a raptor is on patrol looking for a meal. This Merlin (Falco columbarius) did not make a kill as far as I know, but these Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) and an American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) seem to be playing a foolhardy game in chasing after the Merlin, given its superb maneuverability in flight. They are certainly risking becoming Merlin lunch du jour!

     We saw several Green Herons (Butorides virescens), a species that has become more common in recent years at West Perth Wetland.

     Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is always to be found on any suitable body of water, at ponds, rivers, creeks, marshes and estuaries throughout the continent.

     We were very happy to see four Grey (Black-bellied) Plovers (Pluvialis squatarola) fly in to one of the cells, with enough vestige of breeding plumage remaining to please everyone.

     A couple of Short-billed Dowitchers (Limnodromus griseus) were fairly far off and there was no way to get into a position for really good photographs, but the following shots serve to record the presence of this species.

     It seems that on every walk Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) is our constant companion and today was no exception.

     A Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) stayed in the same spot for thirty or forty seconds, enabling Miriam to get this shot.

     Right at the end of our walk a small flock of White-rumped Sandpipers (Calidris fuscicollis) flew overhead, but we did not see them land. Perhaps others have discovered them in the days that followed.

     As we were about to leave we ran into Dave Brown, the resident birder who lives very close by, and who  has a hand in regulating the water levels, and it was pleasant to chat to him for a while.

     Judy had kindly invited us back to her farm for lunch and we were very happy to accept. Mary had visited the farm before, but it was a first time for the rest of us. 

     After lunch Judy presented me with a wonderful pair of wine glasses, which I will treasure always, and use very carefully, especially the hummingbird whose bill could easily be broken off. I think I had better confine my imbibing to one glass when using this stemware!

    Ross, Judy's husband, is an avid old car enthusiast and he has the most amazing collection of vehicles and automotive memorabilia you could possibly imagine. He visits the farm almost daily and immerses himself in whatever his current project is, the time going by unnoticed as he indulges his passion. 
     Jim was an auto mechanic when he worked, no doubt he has more appreciation than most for some of these antique cars.

     I think the rest of the pictures speak for themselves!

     Miriam couldn't resist imaging that she was going for a ride in style!

     The visit to the farm, and the chance to chat with Ross, was a fitting end to a great day of birding. I can't wait to do it all again.

All species: Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, Green-winged Teal, American Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Turkey Vulture, Western Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk, Grey Plover, Killdeer, Least Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Wilson's Snipe, Spotted Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Chimney Swift, Merlin, Barn Swallow, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Baltimore Oriole, Red-winged Blackbird.  Total: 30 species.
David M. Gascoigne,
David M. Gascoigne,

I'm a life long birder. My interests are birds, nature, reading, books, outdoors, travel, food and wine.


  1. Thanks Judy for scouting out the place and for providing a little piece of paradise for lunch. It certainly was a memorable outing! Four lifers for Franc and I. Great pictures Franc, Miriam and David. I particularly like the ruffled Green Heron and who can deny the charm of the baby kildeer waving at us!!


  2. Today, not only have you shared some beautiful bird photos of species we are waiting for in over a month like plovers and yellowlegs, but also some great photos of old cars and the impeccable collection of memorabilia, I was fascinated by it. There are friends and other people who collect them but I doubt that many can be found with a collection so rich and in such good condition.

    1. And there is so much more to Ross' collection we didn't even show.

  3. You have the best birding adventures and now car adventures! I also like those wine glasses. Treasures for sure!

  4. Some very nice waders there David...........

  5. Amazing place and trip. I like waders, so I admire these beautiful photos of them. Greetings!

  6. Hello David, what an amazing place you went to vissit. Some great birds there. It must have been fantastic to be able to see it all. Those wineglasses are beautyful. Something to treasure indeed. The collection of old cars is amazing as well.

  7. What a great day you had. So many wonderful birds captured on camera. Loved the American Bittern and Herons. The Killdeer remind me of antelopes with their stripes.
    The wine glasses are amazing as is the barn with all of the car memorabilia and fantastic antique cars!!
    Have a lovely week.

  8. Hi David

    It was enjoying all the beauty you show.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  9. Hello David!:) In every way a great day out, good weather, congenial company, great bird sightings, lunch invitation, including viewing of veteran cars and antique signs, and gift of two lovely wine glasses. Lovely post David, and you are quite right about the baby Killdeer, but all the birds have their own charm, and I enjoyed seeing these wonderful images.:)

  10. Stunning photos the in flight ones are amazing and the heron's 'hairdo' is wonderful. Wow those wine glasses are very special, I would be too scared to use them they would go into a cabinet so I can just look :-) I also love the cars, very special.
    Sorry I am a bit behind we are still having WiFi problems and the connection is not only slow but it comes and goes all the time. VERY frustrating. Cheers Diane

  11. Surely days do not come any better than that one, David! The birding you had was wonderful - most exciting for me would have been the American Bittern and the Green Heron. The hospitality you were shown was without parallel - the gift of those wine glasses was fabulous, and it must be quite a dilemma as to whether to use them, or just display them. Ross's car and automobilia collection must be one of the finest in North America.

    All in all, a most enjoyable post.

    My love to you AND Miriam ;-} - - - Richard

  12. A lovely selection waders there David. I'm drooling just by imagining one or two on my local patch. Great work by Franc again. Oh well, back to the Redshanks and Lapwings.

    I'm sure I could also spend an hour or two in that barn looking over the cars and signage.

    Miriam looks quite at home with that antique model. Is she accustomed to dealing with them?

    1. The only antique she regularly deals with is me. My engine still purrs and I can get into high gear when I need to.

  13. Hi Both and you've done it again, another superb day out for the group. What a stunning set of images from all concerned, but well done Franc. The wine glasses are a real wow, as you say be careful when having a tipple. To finish with the antique cars, what a day. Glad you still purr and get into high gear. All the best, John

  14. Beautiful series David.

    The Purple Heron is favorite with me.
    Greetings Tinie

  15. Hello, looks like an awesome birding spot. Wonderful sightings and photos. Some of my favorites are the Killdeer chick, Snipes, Green Heron and the Bittern. Well done! The cars are a bonus. The wine glasses are beautiful, I would be afraid to use the one with the hummer. Enjoy your day and the weekend ahead.

  16. Great set of photos David, especially the waders, with my eye sight not at its best these days I find it mush easier to watch water birds and waders than the small birds, and I enjoyed your wader shots excelent.
    Take care, and have a good week, Gordon.

  17. Brilliant photos, my fsvourites is the American Bittern, gorgeous.

  18. Wonderful place. .Many and interesting birds..
    Nice shots.. Cheers

  19. Marvelous photos of the birds and I love those wine glasses! Thanks for your comment on my blog and rest assured, my new kitten is definitely an indoor only cat. I love watching my neighborhood birds too much to take that kind of risk!

  20. My gosh that was a wonderful day! Almost all the birds made me think of our Florida home and birding excursions. Your pictures are great, I especially loved the wild eyed and wild headfeathers on the green heron...they often look slightly crazed to me. And what an interesting hobby your friend has...nice!

  21. Wow !!!!!!! Really amazing !!! I'm open mouth looking at these pictures and what are they saying nicely !!! Great species such as the rounder pump and the green heron (which I think so beautiful !!!!!) but also the little fun and the other setters are super. This is really a great deal to meet. What would you have had a great day wow ...... I ahd very much wanted to join you!

    The glass with the bird in the paw of the glass is great fun.
    The pictures of the old car classics are great to see. Beautiful hobby. Thank you for sharing my friend David :-)

    A big hug

  22. A very, very interesting post and as always I was in awe of your photos and enjoyed the narrative alongside them. How marvelous to experience such camaraderie in this group of people/friends. It was fun to see Judy and Ross' home and their collections are fascinating. I especially loved the old cars and the glasses with the birds on them.

  23. What a fantastic day you had.
    Wonderful photographs again and the bird may be called 'A Common Yellowthroat' but to me it looks very special indeed ... amazing yellow colour.

    I do like those wine glasses.

    All the best Jan

  24. Those vintage cars and plates are simply great.
    The Yellowthroat is cute.

  25. My goodness what an interesting day!
    Lovely photos from Miriam and Franc, but what about yours???!!
    I enjoyed especially the young kildeer, the bitter and the Green heron all fluffed up!
    Bisous and abrazos to the both of you :-)))

    1. Good morning Noushka: I will try to take more pictures myself, but when you are the leader of the group, trying to locate birds and answering everyone's questions, it is not always easy to concentrate on getting a picture. And besides, Franc does a better job, and he has the equipment.

  26. What a lovely trip! I agree about the beautiful glasses. I wish I weren't so antisocial, and could bird with people. sigh.


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We acknowledge that the land on which we are situated are the lands traditionally used by the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Neutral People. We also acknowledge the enduring presence and deep traditional knowledge, laws, and philosophies of the Indigenous Peoples with whom we share this land today. We are all treaty people with a responsibility to honour all our relations.