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