Monday, 29 January 2018

A Couple of Hours on a Sunday Afternoon

28 January 2018

     There are a couple of local spots we haven't checked out for a while so Miriam and I decided to see what we could find.
     We had barely embarked on our afternoon jaunt when we came across a pair of Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) together in a tree, early it seemed to us to be paired off, but they were clearly male and female, and were perched side-by-side. Unfortunately, the male flew off before Miriam could get her camera cocked, but the female remained for a picture.

     Our primary destination was the Mill Race Trail in St. Jacobs, but it was very icy and a bit of a hazard for walking so we didn't do the whole length of the trail, but there was a good deal to interest us on the few hundred metres we covered.
     A Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) had been hard at work and we were hoping that it might return while we were there - but no such luck!

     Several Downy Woodpeckers (Dryobates pubescens) were much more obliging.

     The Mill Race is a well used trail and someone often distributes sunflower seeds at various points and these food deposits become magnets for birds, and, as we discovered for other other creatures too.
     I believe that this rodent is a Woodland Vole (Microtus pinetorum), although my level of expertise with rodents is not great, and if anyone can either confirm or correct this identification I would appreciate it.

    Its den was a hole in a tree stump and it would make quick dashes out to obtain a sunflower seed or two and quickly retreat out of sight.
     Black-capped Chickadees have become very accustomed to humans bearing food and there were scores of them all around. They are indeed a constant visual and auditory delight and a source of pleasure for people of all ages.

     In recent years, White-breasted Nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis) have become equally confiding - at least along the Mill Race, where I am sure that simple observation of their chickadee brethren has led them to the knowledge that there is no danger in landing on an outstretched hand where food awaits.

     Recent mild temperatures have left the fields bare of snow, probably not a good thing from the farmers' standpoint, although there has been sufficient snow and rain so far that the moisture reserves in the soil are probably adequate.

     The protracted thaw of late has resulted in swollen rivers and ice has been heaved up over the banks.

     In fact, on the day of the recent Christmas Bird Count for Kids, the road I normally take to Cambridge was blocked by huge volumes of ice thrown up onto the road.
     A single male Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) plied his way along the Conestogo River, which only a few days earlier had been completely iced over.

     It was a very pleasant way to spend a few hours on a Sunday afternoon and as always nature held a few surprises for us. And to think we could have stayed home and watched TV!


  1. Hi Both,
    Super image of the Red-tailed Hawk, a really beautiful bird. We are really suffering with dull weather at the moment that doesn't lend itself to decent images.
    Just to think you had to drag yourself away from the TV to get these images!!!
    Great post.
    All the best, John

  2. Hello, wonderful outing and post. The little vole is cute. Awesome shot of the Hawk. I always love seeing the Chickadees and Nuthatches. Happy Monday, enjoy your day!

  3. The haw is beautiful and I love the little vole. That ice around though looks very cold!! TV - I would never worry if we did not have one I seldom ever watch it! N though is always glued to the news!!!! Cheers Diane

    1. Before the TV we have now (smallest screen in the whole neighbourhood I am sure) we went six and a half months without one after the old one died. We only decided to get a new one because one of the David Attenborough series was about to be aired.

  4. Hello David!:) I can't think of a more pleasant way of enjoying a Sunday afternoon than being in the great outdoors, especially when you encounter Hawks, and discover new species. Lovely nature photos.:)

  5. Amazing what a walk out in nature can do for you. It's been 3 days now of rain here so I'm about to go crazy. Tomorrow maybe it will be gone. Really love the shot of the Merganser been a while since I saw a male!

  6. Hello David!
    Gorgeous photos of the Hawk and the cute vole!
    Great captures of the Woodpecker and the Chickadee!
    I’m sure you enjoyed your walk and birdwatching too!
    Have a happy week!

  7. Hola David, es para mi un placer leerte, que preciosas fotos de preciosos animales, gran idea las pipas lo tendré en cuenta. Un fuerte abrazo para los dos. Muchas gracias.

  8. Hari OM
    Delightful... and after Eileen seeing one and you having one here, I too had seen a merganzer recently! Makes a nice change from the usual gulls, crows, pigeons and mallards! YAM xx

  9. Beautiful photos! Red tailed Hawk was very pretty.

  10. That is one weird looking rodent: I thought it was a mole at first!

  11. The Red-tailed Hawks sure is a majestic looking bird. First time I've seen a vole I think. Is it related to a mole?

  12. The first photo of the ice, on first glance I thought it was a whitish flat stone :)

  13. I would have waited for the Pileated Woodpecker to come back too! What a bird!

    Cheers - Stewart M - (back in) Melbourne

  14. Hello,David.
    Nice post.Those birds you have shared are gorgeous. The red tailed Hawk is beautiful, and how sweet the little vole is.
    Thank you for visiting Green Tomato. English is my second language,and not enough to express my feeling, but I enjoyed your birds!Have a good day.

    1. Your English is quite amazing, Tomoko, and I can assure you that it is whole lot better than my Japanese!

  15. Hello David,
    Beautiful series of photos, so much ice is there with you, here there is no winter at all, it looks like spring now.
    The first picture is really great, my compliments.
    Best regards, Irma

  16. Hi David, you two bumped into some nice species and great 'tiles' of ice. I really like that woodpecker, he looks cute and so does the vole, I have no idea if I've seen it before on a photo. It's always good to do a small walk when there's some nice nature aroud you and it looks like you plenty of it.

    Kind regards,

  17. The Red-tailed Hawk is superb, the best of this year. All of them are beautiful David.

  18. A lovely afternoon and definitely better than staying home! The Nuthatch is a beautiful bird!

  19. hello David, indeed a wonderful walk you had with lots of surprises. That male Common Merganser is just stunning.
    Warm regards,

  20. You show us beautiful pictures again David.
    Beautiful species, especially the first.
    Greetings Tinie

  21. despite the inclemency of winter, some very interesting species you've seen, I liked the hawk, the vole and of course when there are of my favorite birds: woodpeckers
    Best regards