We had been invited to the farm of friend in Oxford County, a first visit for all of us, and were treated to gracious hospitality in a lovely, bucolic setting.
Outside the window of the family room of a wonderful old period home, the number of bird feeders was staggering. By sitting outside quietly Franc was able to capture a female House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) perched in a cedar and a male on the stand of a bird feeder.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) are fattening up and massing for migration, so a number of feeders filled with sugar water were eagerly patronized by these tiny gems seeking to increase their reserves for the long and arduous journey ahead, as was the rich nectar naturally derived from flowers.
We went for a walk outside but the sheer number of voracious mosquitoes made it a less than totally agreeable experience. Mary had borrowed a bug jacket and was protected better than the rest of us. We all applied insect repellent, but if you miss even a square millimetre of flesh the little pests will find it, and even if not the constant buzzing around your head is annoying.
We were not daunted, however, as the photograph above shows.
We left the farm, well fortified with coffee and drove on towards Grass Lake. Dragonflies were in evidence everywhere and this individual is, I believe, a Ruby Meadowhawk (Sympetrum rubicundulum).
Butterflies were prolific also, but getting them to land was another matter entirely! This Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma) was a little more cooperative than most.
White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) is stunningly beautiful and at its most pristine at this time of year.
While driving down a country road we spotted four Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) ahead of us feeding on "something" on the road. The "something" turned out to be the carcass of a road-killed fox.
Even though we parked quite far away the vultures were reluctant to return to their feast while we were there and we never did get the rare chance to feature these utilitarian scavengers feeding in their inimitable fashion. They circled quite close overhead, but that is what we had to be satisfied with.
Grass Lake proved to be pretty much devoid of birds and we followed Franc's lead to a trail in the nearby Sudden Tract. There were more birds to be sure, but high in the canopy, mostly hidden by foliage.
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) is the most ubiquitous species in the woodland and it is not surprising that this species provided one of the few good photo opportunities.
It is often a truism that where there is a chickadee a White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) is not far behind.
Several wood warblers were present, but this Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia) was unique in coming into the open.
An American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) was a little easier subject.
Our second ramble took us back to West Perth Wetland in Mitchell, a true magnet for shorebirds, and we were well rewarded.
Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus) is a species I always consider myself fortunate to see spring and fall, but especially in the fall. Sometimes an individual is still in breeding plumage for an added treat, but this year only drab definitive plumage was seen.
A couple of Stilt Sandpipers is a treasure; this year about fifteen were present, the veritable pot of gold at the end of the avian rainbow! Here are a couple in flight.
A consummate photographer at any time, flight shots are surely where Franc shows his remarkable skill to best advantage.
And speaking of flight shots, how about these female Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa)?
Or the simple majesty of a Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)?
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) was present.
And so was Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla).
Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) was, as usual, the most common sandpiper present.
In the following picture it is shown with a Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) to give a sense of the size comparison.
It took careful searching, but persistence paid off; several Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata) were present, albeit often well hidden.
I saw my first Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) of the year (and still my only one) at Mitchell. Initially, we thought this bird was just resting on one leg, but when it flew it was clear that is was a one-legged bird. How it lost a leg is open to conjecture but it seemed to be coping quite well.
Green Heron (Butorides virescens) is often seen stalking its prey, well hidden in stands of dense shoreline vegetation, showing but a fleeting glimpse as it carefully and silently moves along. Franc is equally persistent in stalking the quarry of his lens and I am not quite sure who had the upper hand today!
I have not yet selected a destination for next Tuesday's ramble, but, as always, it will be a very enjoyable day out with fine companions and wonderful birds.