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Friday, 24 May 2019

Waterloo Region Nature Walk along the Mill Race Trail, St. Jacobs, ON

22 May 2019

     I was privileged on Wednesday to lead a walk for Waterloo Region Nature, surely the best little nature club in the world!
     A good-sized group of participants gathered to enjoy a couple of hours'  birding with the promise of coffee and goodies at the half way point.


     The morning was decidedly cool, as it has been most of the spring this year, but we set out along the trail in high spirits to see what we could find.


     It is a modest 1.5 km hike to the village of St. Jacobs, with the Mill Race on one side of the trail and the Conestogo River on the other.


     Everywhere is leafed out now and pleasantly green.


     But it was pretty quiet and there was not a great deal of bird life in evidence. It was about as devoid of activity as I have ever found it to be on the Mill Race Trail.
     This bench was new to both Miriam and me, obviously donated by some citizen who has an attachment to this place. I am sure it is welcomed by many as a place to sit and take in nature for a while, but today was a little too fresh for lingering on a bench.



     One species that is predictable, in good weather or bad, is Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) and we were not far along in our peregrination before we were joined by these friendly little birds.



     Someone had brought some bird seed and was willing to share with others; to feed a chickadee is a moment of happiness whatever one's age.



     A Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) was perched on a branch over the Mill Race.



     Our merry group ambled along the trail, enjoying the outdoors despite the paucity of birds.


      
     Don Thomas managed to capture an image of an Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) which for the most part remained partially hidden, but Don was quick on the shutter finger when it perched briefly in the open.



     Wildflowers were in abundance and Marsh Marigolds (Caltha palustris) formed carpets of yellow in some of the wet areas.



     If I am not mistaken this flower is Wooly Blue Violet (Viola sororia).



     There is no mistaking Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), a flower familiar to every Ontarian; since 1937 it has been the provincial flower.




     We spotted an Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) but quite far away and unwilling to come a little closer.


     Ground Hogs (Marmota monax) are fattening up on the newly emerged vegetation and are no doubt finding the succulent green shoots much to their liking.



     The familiar American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) showed itself periodically, but even this common species was not as ubiquitous as one might expect.



     By the time we arrived at the end of the trail everyone was looking forward to a coffee and their choice of sweet snack. The Eco Café, always our favourite hangout, has interesting options for people to try.



     Miriam and I each had a coffee and split a delicious tea biscuit. For several it was their first visit to the Eco Café and all pronounced it very agreeable and worthy of a return visit.
     One of the first birds we saw on our way back along the trail was a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) stalking its prey in the Conestogo River.



     At this time of year most of the Mallards (Anas platyrynchos) one sees are males. The females are busy incubating eggs or taking care of recently hatched young. The males take no part in such activity as a general rule.



     Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) is guaranteed to please. The male especially is very handsome.



     But the female is not devoid of charm either.



     The vivid crimson of a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) was an  agreeable burst of colour on a cold and dreary day.



     We had been hearing Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus) quite frequently as we walked along the trail, but until almost the end of the walk had been unsuccessful in spotting one. And even this one didn't do us the courtesy of coming in for a close shot!



     Despite the relative paucity of species we all had a great time and enjoyed each other's company, I know we will do it again.

41 comments:

  1. Thank you for all the beautiful photos, and flowers was great. The names are correct, David. Trillium grandiflorum is so pretty. The American Goldfinch is pretty too. I have never seen it before.

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  2. Beautiful showing David, I do love the Eastern Phoebe, fabulous.

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  3. While the birds might have been scarce, those you did see and capture are exotic wonders to my eyes.
    Love the spring greenery and the flowers too.
    Thank you.

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  4. Your take of the heron is my favourite.

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  5. Envious of your wandering about. You captured my favorite: cardinal.

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  6. I would joined this wonderful group and walked with them. I am sure you were a great leader of this walk, David.
    All of you saw so many different birds. I liked the Blue Heron and the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, it's a very beautiful bird. And of course a cardinal, who is always so impressive. You all had a great time!

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  7. What a wonderful walk David. Chickadees are always adorable although I have never tried feeding them by hand before. How sweet that they are so comfortable around us humans. It says a lot for this park. Gorgeous wildflowers. That Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a beauty.

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  8. Everyone was decked out well for their walk in the bush. Seems a lovely bush with new green leaves which always look the best.
    The birds are good, some very pretty.

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  9. As always, I am delighted by the beauty of your birds. This post has inspired me to accompany my sister in laws partner on one of his weekly birdings. When hiking I am always trying to photograph birds that we see, but we are either too noisy or they are too shy and offer only their song.

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  10. Jag är övertygad om att gruppen som gav sig ut på en fågelpromenad var mer än nöjda att få en ledare som du David. En enorm kunskapskälla om allt som handlar om fåglar och natur, du kan mycket om växter också har jag noterat vid många tillfällen.

    Ett stort tack för bilden på T. grandiflorum i sin naturliga miljö. Här betraktas Trillium som mycket exklusiva växter som odlas av entusiaster i trädgårdar. De är inte vanliga och ganska svåra att hitta för inköp.

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  11. Hi David. Although as you say there was a paucity of birds, to my UK eyes there seemed to be a good selection I would be happy to see. It is interesting that you have had cool, even cold weather. I have thought for many years that migratory birds can somehow detect cool weather ahead and if necessary delay or divert their arrival to elsewhere. In some case, Swallows for instance, I think they actually return partially south until they sense a real change in conditions. If only I could prove this theory.

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    1. Hi Phil: It is an established fact that certain hirundines, Tree Swallows for example, do practice reverse migration if necessary, but I am unaware of this practice with other species, and when i say "cool" I don't believe that the temperatures are low enough to initiate such activity.

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  12. Hi David.

    Beautiful walking area.
    Beautiful all those little birds that you show.

    Greeting from Patricia.

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  13. Un agradable y bonito paseo por la naturaleza amigo David así como los avistamientos de preciosas aves.
    Un fuerte abrazo de tu siempre amigo Juan.

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  14. The American Goldfinch is lovely.

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    1. It is indeed a gorgeous little bird. On occasion I have as many as thirty in my yard decorating the Sugar Maple like a Christmas tree in May.

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  15. Hello. Wonderful looking place. Rose-breasted Grosbeak (female and male) looks beautiful. Great photos.

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  16. Hello, it is great to go on a bird walk with a knowledgeable leader. The bird walk are fun with so many eyes looking out for the birds too. Looks like a great outing and beautiful birds sighted. The Grosbeak couple are some of my favorites. Thanks for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend. PS, thank you for the comment and visit to my blog.

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  17. Lovely flowers, and great bird photos, too! I especially like the Great Blue Heron.
    We are on the migration route of the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, but they stay only a few days at our feeders. This Spring two immature males (only a few red feathers on their breasts) stopped by briefly. I did not get good photos of them, but it was thrilling to see them anyway.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

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  18. I miss the evening grosbeaks in Minnesota. There is nothing else like that hot pink contrasted with the black. You made some chickadees (and their human feeders very happy), saw lovely spring flowers, and topped it all off with goodies at a tea shop with good human company. Who can ask for more!

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  19. What a lovely walk! The lush spring foliage, a great group, cool air and a diverse array of birds to see. The goldfinch is resplendent in breeding plumage. We only see them during migration when they are quite drab in comparison.

    That list of coffee at the Eco Cafe has me off to the grinder ...

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  20. Once again you have taken us on a wonderful stroll, it was a joy to come along with you albeit from my armchair.

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  21. Yo habría sido feliz en ese paseo, me ha encantado. Besitos y feliz fin de semana.

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  22. I love all the birds and can't imagine having one land in your hand! Maybe we should try that! The winner today is the Groundhog though...I miss seeing those! Enjoy your holiday weekend! Thanks for telling me I passed with honours today....that made my day!

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  23. Such a wonderful nature walk and the rewards along the trail are priceless. Great photos to view, thank you.

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  24. David, it's a wonderful trip, I would have loved to be able to feed the birds as your companions did. Seeing the shy Sayornis, the marmot, the Pheucticus and the Cardinalis is a pleasure and also the beautiful flowers that you show us as the violet and that Trillium that I do not know has excited me.
    A hug!

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  25. Looks like ti ended up being a nice walk. And you had some successful birding. The woods is always so pretty when it is greening up and it does make it easier to spot the birds. Happy weekend, or at least the second half of it.

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  26. A lovely walk. How wonderful to have little birds eating out of your hand.

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  27. This looks like you had a lovely walk and good company. I loved seeing the Grosbeak. It is nice to share nature with a group. cheers, Nora

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  28. Hi Both,
    Appears that both the walk and company were delightful and as usual you had some coffee and biscuits.
    Some super images Miriam, especially showing the delight on peoples faces whilst the birds fed in the hand.
    All the best, John

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  29. You clearly had a lovely walk, and great sightings with 'the best little nature club in the world!'

    A lovely post.

    All the best Jan

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  30. A great walk you made, and the birds are superb.

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  31. One day I'll surprise you by showing up for one of these walks! Nice set of birds I have to say.

    cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne.

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  32. Hi David - delightful set of photos for us ... thank you to all. The herons are amazing aren't they - how they just 'sit' before pouncing. The Eco cafe looks to be fun - and how lovely to know there's something warm and delicious awaiting your break. Certainly green ... as it is here ... cheers Hilary

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  33. What a beautiful place to walk and bird watching!
    Gorgeous photos !
    Greetings

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  34. Like the name of your content and the way you can describe it more beautifully.
    Sandy recent posted
    Mauritius Island

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  35. That is quite the large group -- I'm surprised the crowd didn't scare the birds away. Someday I would love to have a chickadee eat from my hand. Maybe I should set a chair by my bird feeder and go out with a book for hours till one comes along and just hope! It looks like a wonderful day. I really do hope that if one day Rick and I get your way it is when you are visiting Mill Race!

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    1. Whenever that should be, Jeanie, we will take you to the Mill Race. And then we'll go to the Eco Café. And then we'll go to my house for lunch and/or dinner. Maybe even sip a little wine.

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