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Thursday, 17 January 2019

Waterloo Region Nature Outing to The Mill Race, St. Jacobs

17 January 2019

Leader: David M. Gascoigne

Participants: Miriam Bauman, Shirley Bauman,  Robert Bezeau, Jim Bowman, Alice Buehrle, Roland Buehrle, Lynn Conway, Dan Daly, Justine Heinrichsberg, Peter Rasberry, Don Thomas, Henriette Thompson, Mary Ann Vanden Elzen, Mary Voisin
     (There are several others whose names I did not record; some of them people I met for the first time. Please pass on this report if you know them and have them get in touch so their names can be added).

Guests: Silke Hansen


     When we left the house it was minus 12.5°C, the sun was shining, and there was barely a breath of wind. What could be more perfect for a mid-January nature walk in southern Ontario?
     We arrived at the trail head in good time and several eager naturalists were already waiting for the walk to begin.



     This is an area where it is easy to coax Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) to feed from your hand and as you can see Mary Voisin is already trying her luck.
     While still waiting for the whole group to assemble, we were reminded that we are in Mennonite country.



     Upon entering the trail the scene that awaited us was suitably wintry.



     American Beavers (Castor canadensis) have been especially active this year and this lodge is coming right up onto the path.



     The bird life was pretty active and there was much to see. At times our group got strung out a little but I think that by regrouping as necessary most people got a chance to observe all the various species we encountered. Everyone was keenly interested and there was often a lively discussion.



     It appeared that someone had sat on this bench and strewed seed around it and beneath it, and a male and female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), and a Black-capped Chickadee were feeding on the ground.



     Shirley Bauman pointed out a couple of birds flitting around in some branches on the ice, and I saw a flash of yellow and called out "White-throated Sparrow." Jim Bowman said I should look again and that the birds were Golden-crowned Kinglets (Regulus satrapa). And he was right! You would think I would know by now not to make such hasty calls without fully seeing the bird.




     We observed many Downy Woodpeckers (Dryobates pubescens), often at close range. 



     Without doubt Black-capped Chickadee was the most common species. 



     This species has certainly come to know that friendly humans bring food, and the birds start to appear all around you as soon as you begin your walk. Many people seem to leave seed for the birds and as you can see in the picture above, this stump was well provisioned.
     Don Thomas kindly permitted me to use the following images portraying the joy of feeding a wild bird and having it alight on your hand, confident that it will come to no harm at the hands of this group of humans at least.


Lynn Conway



Henriette Thompson

     One of the attractions of a walk along the Mill Race is that the Eco Café is at the St. Jacobs end of the walk, and on a day like today, it is very pleasant to stop in for a coffee (and a muffin perhaps) and warm up and recharge before heading back along the trail to our vehicles. The chance for warm, clean, well-stocked washrooms is also a factor, especially for the ladies, for whom the need to go in the bush is decidedly unappealing at 12 degrees below zero! 




     American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea) has been quite uncommon this winter so we were very happy to run into a couple of them on the way back from the café.



      In this area White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) is more common than Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) so we considered ourselves fortunate to see both species.





     I am indebted to Jim Bowman for the shot of the Red-breasted Nuthatch. Jim also provided the following shot of a White-throated Sparrow.



     I doubt that you would get much argument from anyone, especially at this time of the year when many species are not present, that Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) is the most handsome of the four woodpeckers you might encounter.



     This male Downy Woodpecker is handsome too, but he does not quite match the brilliant elegance of the Red-bellied male shown above.



     Grey Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) were active throughout the woods and were attrtacted to the trail by the copious quantities of bird seed there for the taking.



     Several people had marched ahead and had left by the time we got back to the end of the trail, but this is a group shot of those who remained.


Alice Buehrle, Jim Bowman, Roland Buehrle, Mary Voisin, Dan Daily, Peter Rasberry, Don Thomas, Mary Ann Vanden Elzen, Robert Bezeau, Henriette Thompson, David Gascoigne


     It was a great walk, thoroughly enjoyed by everyone, proving once again that Waterloo Region Nature is the Best Little Naturalists Club in Ontario!

All species: Mallard, Bald Eagle (probable), Ring-billed Gull, American Herring Gull, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Sparrow, House Finch, American Goldfinch, White-throated Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal. Total: 21

57 comments:

  1. Hello, it has been a while since I have gone on a group bird walk. It looks like you had a great group and more eyes for sighting the birds. Great variety of birds sighted too. I love the Kinglet and the Tree Sparrow. The cafe looks perfect for warming up after your cold walk, those minus temperatures would have me hurting. Happy Birding. Enjoy your day and weekend ahead.

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  2. What an absolutely wonderful outing.
    I am awed by all that you saw and a tad envious. And very envious of your weather.

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  3. Buenas noches David, muy bonito recorrido y mucha belleza avistada amigo David. Esplendido reportaje. ¡Que gran disfrute de una mañana con nieve y que bien aprovechada.
    Recibe un fuerte abrazo de tu amigo Juan.

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  4. It looks like everyone had a wonderful bird walk and lots to see.
    Thanks for sharing, David.

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  5. Wonderful bird shots! I have not been on that trail, but I believe I'm familiar with the general area.

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  6. This looks like a fun group. I especially liked the pictures. We live in a great area where we can be in beautiful rural and park areas without much travel time. Bird watching is an excellent way to enjoy it in any season. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. It's a pretty place, and I'm sure fun with a group like that.

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  8. Hello David!
    I’m sure you had a great time and lots to see!
    The cafe looks like a lovely place to have a coffee after your walk!
    Great captures and beautiful birds!Like the cute squirrel! Thank you for sharing!
    Have a lovely day and a happy weekend!
    Dimi...

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  9. Sällskapet som ger sig ut i den kyliga naturen är lyckligt lottade som har en guide som du David! Tänk att bara kunna ställa frågor och det finns någon till hands som kan ge svaren.

    Melanerpes carolinus är sannerligen en stilig herre med sin rödorangea huvudbonad. Färggranna fåglar väcker alltid vår uppmärksamhet men med mitt sentimentala förhållningssätt till naturen är det de vanliga, oansenliga och kanske mindre uppskattade individerna som vinner min sympati. En känsla som jag inte är riktigt klar över varifrån den härstammar, kanske från något dunkelt rättvisetänkande.

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    1. You have a refuned and well-developed sense of justice in every way, Gunilla.

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  10. Such a pretty walk and a joy to be taken along with you. A real delight to be shown so many different species in your photographs. Thank you for sharing.

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  11. People who love animals are not scared of cold.

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  12. Nice to go out with a group like that in winter when making the effort to go alone is not always easy. Special respect to those who can handle cameras so dextrously in freezing temperatures!

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  13. It looks very cold indeed. Amazing walk and so many beautiful wildlife to spot. Loved the Golden-crowned Kinglets and the American sparrow. I occasionally see the odd Nuthatch, such a cute little bird. Thank you for sharing and I wish you a wonderful weekend :)

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    1. You can dress warmly and the cold is not so much of an issue, Prunella, but when you have oppressive, humid conditions in the summer yiu can't escape it.

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  14. Looks like a wonderful morning! I am so sorry that I was unable to make the walk but appreciate your post and the wonderful photos!

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  15. Hello David, so nice to see so many different birds and their colors are so bright sticking out the white winter wonderland you have their. The Bever lodges is amazing. We do have lots of Bevers here and in the landscape you can find lots of signs where they have been pulling down trees etc. The cafe looks rather cosy and I would not mind having some hot coco after a walk like you had that day.
    Take care,
    Regards,
    Roos

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  16. Glad y'all are not letting the cold stop you stop you. We have more rain coming in but yesterday I got out and saw literally 1,000 chipping sparrows flush out of a field up into the trees. Such a welcome sight.

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    1. I have never seen anywhere close to a thousand Chipping Sparrows in one spot. Amazing!

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  17. Hi David,
    Looks as if you and your party had a most enjoyable visit out despite the cold.
    We have gone colder but we are only playing at it compared to your temperatures.
    All the best, John

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  18. Hello, David! Awesome sightings and photos. I would love to feed a bird from my hand. They are too shy around my area. We are expecting some of that cold weather here tomorrow, I wish I could brave to cold to go on a bird walk. Thank you so much for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your day and weekend. PS, I appreciate and thank you for your comment on my blog.

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    1. You will just have to come up here in the spring, Eileen. The weather will be mild and the birds will still happily feed from your hand. We will all have our cameras ready to record the event!

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  19. ...such frosty delights! There are many Amish and Mennonites in this area, that buggy is quite different than those here!

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    1. There are many different styles here too, Tom, some decidedly seasonal.

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  20. A wonderful outing complimented by expert photography and post.

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  21. What a great turnout you had for your walk, David. I can judge how cold it was just by the way people were dressed, and was impressed to see that Peter Rasberry wore a coat inspired by his surname!

    Isn't it wonderful how birds can add so much colour to an otherwise largely monochrome scene. They can really lift the spirits on a dull day.

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  22. A wonderful outing, especially the afterparty! Good work.
    (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

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  23. How is it possible that the bird is sitting on someone's hand? Never seen here. I enjoyed your trip and the beautiful pictures. Thank you

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    1. Well, Aritha, you just have to plan a little trip to Canada and we will take you there so that you can enjoy the pleasure!

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  24. It looks like it was a successful day all round! There are few things as thrilling as a wild bird coming down to eat from your hand. I wonder if the Chickadees teach their young that humans are trustworthy since they always seem to be so friendly?

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    1. It is probably a learned behaviour. On this trail White-breasted Nuthatches will occasionally feed from the hand too, and I imagine they are following the lead of the chickadees.

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  25. Nice capture of a kinglet with his crown showing. That’s hard to get. The gray squirrel looks hunched up and cold.
    Probably warming up his poor little feet for another foray out into the snow.

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  26. such a beautiful woodpecker...great shots.
    have a wonderful weekend

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  27. David, what a great day and walk this looks.
    It looks so wintry but you are all warmly dressed.
    Gorgeous birds, fabulous photographs … a very nice post to see and read.
    Thank you.

    All the best Jan

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  28. How nice it is to see an outing with people with the same hobby in this case bird watching and nature, even more in adverse conditions with so much cold although I estimate you are accustomed to these inclemencies. I liked that landscape completely snowed and the trusting birds that sit in visitors hands to eat

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  29. What great sightings ... with photography that allows all of us to share the wonder. Winter brings a joy I’ll never know.

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  30. What a great bird walk! I enjoyed all of your photos.
    I like the American tree sparrow.
    Such a wonderful party!They all are smiling!
    Have a good new week,David.

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  31. I really need to try and do more group walks I think, it's good to see the cold weather doesn't put people off though I suspect people there would never go out if they wanted to avoid minus degrees at this time of year!

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    1. You are quite right, Pam, people would have to hibernate!

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  32. What a wonderful walk. Oh how I would enjoy having one of those chickadees sit in my hand and feed like that!

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    1. We'll be back there tomorrow, Lois. Wanna come? Temperature is predicted to be around minus 20 so dress warmly!

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  33. Hi David,
    You surely are enjoying (I hope) winter. The landscape looks marvellous. For me it is remarkable to see Mennonites. They are a very special and interestng group of people.
    You made an attractive nature walk, during which you luckily have seen a number of interesting species.
    Let's wait and see what else the winter has in store for you.
    Greetings, Kees

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  34. Going in the bush is decidedly unappealing period! But sometimes necessary. Glad you found the cafe at the end.

    It looks like a terrific, if very cold, day! That photo of Miriam's at the top of the snowy branches is just beautiful and I'd say you have plenty of good photographers in your group. I am a tad envious of the lucky soul who got the chickadee to be in her hand for snacks! It's beautiful country up there -- and you saw lots! (But then, that's what a great guide knows -- all the right places to visit!)

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    1. If you are a female field biologist, Jeanie, going in the bush comes with the territory!

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  35. Jeanie's been telling me that I would enjoy your blog, and she's right. I spend a good bit of time photographing our birds, and always enjoy seeing what we share with other parts of the world. I have the blog marked now, and look forward to following.

    I was surprised to see that you're in the area of Waterloo. For some years I've been following the blog of a friend who's a professor at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. He happens to be a runner and great appreciator of the outdoors, so I'm going to share your blog with him. He might even be interested in joining with your groups. Even if he doesn't I know he'd enjoy your postings.

    I laughed at your exchange with Jeanie. You're exactly right: some things do come with the territory.

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    1. Thanks so much for getting in touch. I will look forward to following your blog too.

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  36. Jeetje .... min 12.5 c. Here is minus 5 a unique in terms of frost whahahahaha ......
    You made a beautiful nature walk and the snowy trees I find fantastic to see. And then I see cardinals under the bench (I really like those cardinals!) Beautiful goldencocks and a woodpecker. The tits just eat out of control !!
    The birds that I see after your sanitaire stop are also very jealous, just like the cute squirrel :-)
    A nice grope people together for a beautiful walk: _)

    Sweet greetings and a big kiss xo

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  37. lol, you had a great day out. Would have loved to see the Kinglet. They are rarely seen in the open like that. :)

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    1. It's so true, and often they don't remain still long enough to get a picture.

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  38. David, I'm full of admiration for your hardy group of naturalists. At Minus 12 I wouldn't step out the door even to finish up at that cafe. This morning was minus 6 and I waited until lunchtime to go and unfreeze the car doors from the overnight rain that took hold. You do have some great winter birds I must admit, the Red-bellied Woodpecker the star of your day.

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  39. Hi David,
    Great report of a wonderful day!
    Lovely to view the picture of the Northern Cardinals. The Golden-crowned Kinglets is gorgeous ( he looks like a Firecrest, a bit) The Lovely Downy Woodpeckers and the Red-belled Woodpecker are beautifully captured. It is amazing that the Black-capped Chickadee comes on your hands to eat!!♥♥ Also stunning is the American Tree Sparrow. It was a fantastic walk!
    Thank you for sharing,
    Best regards,
    Maria

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  40. These are some awesome pictures of the beautiful birds! They are just gorgeous with their bright colors.

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  41. Hi David - it looks like a great day out for all your participants ... and I'm not surprised they went early - it looks somewhat chilly ... even with the cafe open. Loved seeing all the images. Cheers Hilary

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  42. Oh, my, what lovely results from your walk! I love your photos and appreciate you braving the cold to get them so you can share!!

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