Thursday, May 21, 2020

Birds, Buns and Butterflies

     We have not been far enough afield to merit a complete post (although that might change when Miriam downloads her pictures from yesterday, albeit from a local morning walk), so once again this segment will be a composite of a few days activity.

16 May 2020
Hillside Park, Waterloo, ON

     This local park, mere minutes from our home, has become a bit of a favourite in recent times, especially during the Coronavirus. Sometimes the bird life is plentiful, at others not, but it is always a pleasant walk regardless.
     On this day it was very active and migrant wood warblers were present in good numbers. Seeing them, enjoying them, revelling in them, is entirely different from taking a picture, however.
     Myrtle Warbler (Setophaga coronota) was the most common species but this is the only picture we could get.

     Myrtle Warbler was formerly combined with Audubon's Warbler (Setophaga auduboni) as a single species (and still is by some taxonomists) as Yellow-rumped Warbler and the picture shows the reason for this name. I have heard it referred to as Yump, or, (with great affection no doubt), Butter-butt. I suspect it would be a sage and diplomatic decision to never refer to your spouse or special other in such a way! Otherwise hot tongue and cold shoulder might be your daily diet for a while to come!
     Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) is a wonderful bird to encounter. Its own song is varied and melodious but it is an accomplished mimic and many is the time I have searched for several species only to realize that a catbird is playing with me!

     The Mallards (Anas platyrynchos) we saw were all males, lazing away their time while the females go about the serious business of incubating their eggs.

     Miriam's close up of the head should cause you to take a critical look at this dandy next time you see one. Did you ever look so good?

     She also had the presence of mind to capture the speculum in glorious detail.

     The speculum is that bright patch of colour seen on the secondary feathers of waterfowl, with a distinct border surrounding the main colour. Interestingly this feature is different for each species, and careful examination enables one to identify the species by the speculum alone. I am sure you will all wish to embark on a study of this character in several species!
     Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) is one of our most common birds and can be heard almost constantly. It is a splendid component of our avifauna and very handsome too.

     Butterflies were not plentiful, except for Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) and this male obligingly lit on a beautiful golden Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale).

     A Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) was also very considerate and posed with wings outspread.

17 May 2020
In our house and in our yard

     Miriam and I both like to cook, but she is the only baker of the two of us and has been doing quite a bit of it during our Covid-19 confinement.
     One of the items she has made are buns for sandwiches for lunch. They are large, quite flat (something like baps in Britain), coated with red onion and cheddar cheese, and they take their place on the Elysian Fields of culinary out-of-worldliness. If Michelin were to have a category for home cooking, these petits pains would have the highest rating. (Take note, Rick, in Michigan, you have serious competition!)

     Miriam has declared that next time she makes them she also plans to add sliced olives, so the very best will get even better. 
     I wonder if the House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) on the backyard feeders were looking in and contemplating a change in diet?

     The American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis) seemed utterly content with sunflower hearts. 

       Baltimore Orioles (Icterus galbula) were happy to gorge on oranges sliced and put out for them to enjoy.

17 May 2020
Lakeside Park, Kitchener, ON

     This location seems to have acquired a bit of a reputation as a warbler hot spot during migration; it has never been so for us, however. In fact, for birding in general, it has by and large been a dead zone.

     The highlight of the visit was that we ran into Jim and Francine, also similarly deprived of avian companionship at the park. We kept our social distance, but chatted for a while and got caught up a little. 
     Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) and their young were the undisputed stars in the park, and barely a person walked by them without an admiring glance. I think that "ooh" and "aah" were the two most used words that day!

     And there are more to come.

      This Mallard was determined not to be outdone and posed for all the world to see.

18 May 2020
Three Bridges Road, St. Jacobs, ON

     It was a bit of a dreary day, and at times there was quite a bit of rain, but I had a great suite of birds despite the conditions.
     Who can fail to ignore the weather when male and female Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) take the time to say hello?

     And a couple of noisy Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata) did their share to enliven the day too.

     A little bird seed, judiciously distributed, is guaranteed to bring in a variety of species.
     This female Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) was chased out of the trees by a Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) where perhaps she had intentions of depositing her egg in the grackle's nest.

     A couple of White-breasted Nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis) navigated the trunk of a tree in their customary head first fashion.

     The little male Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) hopped onto the cable for the briefest of moments but my camera was primed and ready.

     The local Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) were dealing with the rain as best they could.

     And a Red-winged Blackbird seemed resigned to a good drenching too.

     So there you have it - a little glimpse into our lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. I suspect that we will all look back on this event and have stories to tell. The one consistent for us is that life has not radically changed, and the certain benefit of being captivated by nature is that it is always there to enjoy, pandemic be damned!

David M. Gascoigne,
David M. Gascoigne,

I'm a life long birder. My interests are birds, nature, reading, books, outdoors, travel, food and wine.


  1. Beautiful series of bird photoes!some of them i have never seen!Looks very good that sandwitch Miriam has made You are Lucky to have a good cook in Your home:)) It is always Nice to be out in the nature and there is always something to that mallard as well :))Beautiful feathers!

    Wish you a happy weekend and thanks for sharing:)

  2. Beautiful photos, David. The young Canada geese are very cute. The Blue Jays are my favorite birds. I love the blue color.

  3. Your photos are beautiful and that bread, amazing! Looks delicious,,

  4. Una entrada muy entretenida con gran variedad de aves, algunos con preciosos colores tenéis suerte de verlos David. El pan con las aceitunas seguro que estará más rico.
    Gracias por enseñarnos a conocer los pájaros.
    Os deseo un buen jueves.
    Un abrazo.

  5. I always love your photos, your knowledge about the birds, but this time Miriam made the blog post! The bread looks so delicious!
    Oh yeah, I don't like your beard ... do you still have it? LOL
    I wish you a nice weekend!

    1. I do still have the beard, Ella, and I think it is here to stay!

  6. Hello David, Great outing and birds sightings. The Oriole is a favorite, they are beautiful. Miriam bun looks delicious! I am glad life has not changed for you. Enjoying nature is a joy! Wonderful collection of photos. Take care, enjoy your day! Have a great weekend!

  7. Near or far, the world of birds is animated.

  8. Apart from the Mallards and Canada Geese they'd all cause a sensation if they turned up in my neck of the woods.

  9. Those buns look delicious, blow the birds, I would like some of those too. I just had to go out and buy mine. Never been much of a baker. Lovely pictures as usual. That picture of the stream looked delightful and refreshing. I don't see birds here so seeing the ones you post pictures of is really enjoyable. I ordered the DVD of that Eagle programme but it isn't available for a while apparently.

  10. You got to see so many wonderful birds, so lovely. The orioles are fantastic, love the colour. And you still have Canada geese over there? I thought they were all here in Balconia-by-the Rhine! But sorry, the star of the show for me today is Miriam's baking. If you could get some of those buns to fly over to Europe that would be divine. I will be dreaming of them tonight. Have a great day, hugs, Valerie

    1. Well, I have certainly had a great fondness for Miriam's buns from the day I first met her.

    2. Sometimes you just crack me up, David. I do love your sense of humor.

    3. We're awash in your mallards, suddenly. Today at work I saw two sets of parents with teenagers tagging long: a total of fourteen young ones. Even better, there was a mother with six just beginning to get tail feathers, and another mother with eight fuzz-balls. I'd say spring has arrived!

      Even though this article is focused more specifically on insects, there's a good bit in it that seems to apply to birds, as well. I thought you might find it interesting.

  11. Otra hermosa serie fotográfica realizada por los buenos ojos de Miriam. Todo lo mostrado es fascinante amigo David, y por lo que deduzco según comentas es muy cerca de vuestra casa. Casi sin moveros podéis disfrutar de una esplendida y preciosa variedad de aves y pájaros, no se puede pedir más, bueno realmente si, la libertad de poder transitar por cualquier parte. Como bien dices, el ¡maldito covid! De momento tiende a cambiarnos la vida aunque sea por un tiempo limitado.
    Un fuerte abrazo querido amigo y compadre cuidaros.

  12. Waaa tous ces oiseaux sont tellement beaux <3
    La brioche fait envie!Avec des olives en plus ce sera top!
    Bonne soirée

  13. In hebrew there is a saying which refers mainly to women:
    "Both beautiful and baking" - which means she's beyond beautiful; she's got many skills.

  14. Hari OM
    Getting the flour to do any baking is the challenge here! Those 'buns' (what I'd call a roll) looks yum. So are all the bird piccies though; eye-candy. I particularly like the bluebird on the headstone as a well set image. YAM xx

  15. What a great variety of birds you have photographed! I must pay more attention when I am out but I am sure there is not that variety here. Although lots of geese and robins and I think sparrows. The catbird is an interesting one!

  16. Birds are beautiful. They are such a myriad of colours, how could one not admire them? I tried painting a Mallard once, in watercolours. Trying to capture the iridescence of that head was really difficult - when looked at closely it is full of greens and blues and purples of all different shades. Very hard to capture in a painting (for me, anyway LOL).
    I'm glad Nature is not pandemic-minded - and very happy to hear you still have your beard! I thought it suited you :)

  17. Love the wonders (and deliciousness) your shared.
    I was first introduced to that warbler (by a blogger in Utah) as a butter-butt. A decidedly affectionate term, and an improvement on the only name one of my sisters-in-law can remember for our red-rumped parrots. She calls them bum birds.
    Huge thanks to Miriam for the photographs and particularly the plumage macros. Awe and wonder are always welcome.

  18. Love your wanders and the birds you encounter. So many I’ve never seen here, such as the catbird and the oriole. Thank you!

  19. How many beautiful species have you been able to register in these outings at the time of the covid-19, spring seems to be in full swing in your country, the photos are very good, I liked them above all of the House Finch, it is a beautiful bird. Meanwhile here in mid autumn and with the quarantine extended, the last days heavy with humidity and somewhat warm, today rain, wind and cool; just a few trips in countryside while you did yours, I will show next time those kilometers we did.
    A huge hug

  20. Such amazing photos of some pretty darn amazing birds. All that is missing from this post are the sounds of singing.

  21. A mí me parecen unos lindos paseos, vistes muchos pájaros bonitos. El pan de Miriam tiene que estar buenísimo. Besos y abrazos para los dos.

  22. These beautiful photos exude much beauty and simplicity that it is what we need most and they look like spring. The birds, the ducklings are quite fascinating and the delicate butterflies are angels (or fairies, perhaps) of total love... but, now we also have buns around here! thus, the birding adventures now feel more pleasant than ever! you two are going through a wonderful quarantine. Have a wonderful evening, hugs for you desde una lluviosa & autumnal Buenos Aires

    1. If I have to be confined, and without contact with others, I am very happy to do it with Miriam.

  23. A great abundance of birds.
    My brother in law used to arrive home from work whistling, and the dogs ran to the door in a frenzy. A catbird across the road caught on, and any time it wanted some amusement it would whistle like Tom, coming home. He caught those dogs every time. My sister would yell It's only the bird! and the dogs would slink back to the sofa to continue waiting.

  24. I love every photo in this post, David. Especially Miriam's bread, which sounds fabulous! And all those birds. That gray catbird -- I'm wondering if that's what I got a photo of here. I'll be posting it soon and you can confirm -- or not! Some wonderful shots. I'd love to see that oriole -- and with those colors, hard to miss! I'm so impressed with what is so close at hand!

  25. I love all those wonderful colourful birds and the buns look pretty good as well.

  26. David - yes, pandemic be damned - nature goes on her way, regardless, and many of us are blessed to be avid observers of the spectacle. Loved the variety in your post today. I have been delighted to see and hear Audubon's Warbler around our home. I have yet to see any Orioles, but I have my jelly feeder out in case a Bullock's Oriole (only species that is seen in Montana) happens by. Goslings are adorable, especially at that fluffy stage. I recently saw a pair at our lake with only one gosling - predators must have been active! I was shocked to see a blue jay at my feeders back on May 6 - very uncommon here in Montana. Thanks for the wonderful photos - a delight as always!

  27. Bellissime queste immagini di uccelli e bello il blog sulla natura. Credo proprio che ti seguirò. Un saluto dall'Italia.

  28. Magnificent close up of the head, well done Miriam.
    The birds are wonderful to see. Well done.

  29. Your birds are always a joy to see with their amazing colors and sizes! Each one has its own beauty.

    I am so glad that you took the time to share your world at 'My Corner of the World' this week! Thanks!

  30. What a great set of photos, it is good that you have somewhere close by with lots of bird life. One complaint though, those buns look great what about the recipe?? Keep safe, Diane

  31. Hi David.

    Beautiful birds and butterflies.
    Beautiful the duck with the wing so beautifully in view.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  32. What a beautiful series of photos. The birds are amazing and there are lots that I've never seen before. Have a great day and stay safe!

  33. Oh my gosh that bread looks so good, our local supermarket sells something similar but you can't beat homemade! It's always interesting to see what's happening closer to home, i've yet to see or hear a Wood Warbler and would have to travel to do so here!

  34. Great bird photos David, and of course loved the baby geese ones. Those buns look delicious, what about a recipe, so we can all try them out?
    Have a lovely weekend.

  35. It's so good to see the coulours!
    And I learned two new words, speculum and avifauna. Well, I've had kids, I know about the medical speculum!

  36. ...David, you captured a rainbow colors, thank you!

  37. What a great collection, and I loved your commentary about the little butter butt bird...which I've never seen. I get to see hummingbirds which have returned in the last few weeks. Robin had a conflict with a chipmunk this morning...strange that they had a difference of opinion.

  38. Hello David, Great collection of colorful birds and photos. Your bird walks always look wonderful. The butterflies are beautiful sightings. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Enjoy your day, have a happy weekend! PS, your visit and comment are always appreciated.

  39. Hi David, I always wonder you have such a beautiful coloured birds in your country. Maybe they can fly to the Netherlands. Nice photos. I love the blue birds and the grey bird. Last week I stayed home. Have a nice weekend. Greetings Caroline

  40. Hello. Fantastic serie of birds. They are so beautiful birds!
    Stay safe!

  41. You must have a super camera to be taking those lovely bird pictures. I didn't know that each different duck has a different colour feather speculum.
    Those buns look great. I have baked bread recently, but I am not going to attempt buns as there's only me here and they would get stale before I could eat them all. But a loaf of bread lasts longer.

  42. Hi David, so may outstanding and very colorful birds in this post it's difficult to select favorites, but the finches and orioles get my votes (this time), I did appreciate Miriam's closeup of the male mallard and the specula as well. But, her freshly baked buns made me decide I will be trying a recipe for similar ones very soon. You and Miriam both know how to make the best of the shutdown and glad you shared these outings.

  43. Hi David, it really lloks like spring now on your blog! I remenber a week ago or so there was snow on tyour blog... This is much better in my opinion. You've seen wonderful birds and I love the photo's of the Mallard (which is the bird of 2020 in NL because the species isn't doing well. All observations will count and helps to find out what's going wrong), because of the beautiful colours and details.
    I also am sure I like Miriam's buns and I think the olives are a great idea to add. I like a lot to bake all sorts of things and bake my own (zucchini)bread, cakes and much more.

    Of course all of your Canadian birds remain wonderful to look at and not only for us but of course they're a pleasure for you to look at. We enjoy what's around us here too and I'm happy with all the sightings in nature that makes us wonder and smile.

    Have a lovely weekend,
    Your friend from The Netherlands,

  44. The bread looks incredible and I may make some more hamburger buns this weekend...thanks for the reminder! Love seeing what you have there at this time of year. The Baltimore Oriole is a real beauty and something I have seen only a few times in my life! Have a good weekend! Hope you enjoy some time in nature....I'm sure you will!

  45. hello David
    again a nice report, to have such beautiful nature nearby is very nice, the rolls are nice too ... delicious .. I have already gained weight when looking at and reading ... ;-))
    a recipe from miriam for these rolls .. completely unknown here in Germany ...
    Regards Frank

    1. For whatever reason, Frank, Miriam seems reluctant publish the recipe. I will keep working on her!

  46. Each short trip would make some of us quite happy. When combined into a single post, it feels like we've been on a nature safari!

    It's good to know our "winter" visitors made it to their summer homes but we miss them already. We're resigned to no "butter-butts" until the fall.

    What a fantastic sandwich bun! I can only imagine enjoying one after a morning's hike.

    We are of similar mind here concerning getting out and about. Our routine has not changed much since we normally visit areas away from human activity. Florida has re-opened most state and local parks so now we can check on our resident birds and their breeding progression.

    Thank you, David, for another uplifting post!

  47. I'm still mightily impressed that you are managing to get out virtually every day, and are finding such splendid birds.

    I think that Lindsay and I are taking things a little more seriously than most, particularly in respect of the risk of contaminated surfaces, as nobody seems to know how long this damned virus lives on various surfaces - we get mixed views. This limits my trips out as I am trying to only go places where I don't have to open gates or climb over stiles. The ability to 'answer the call of nature al-fresco' is also a consideration. Things are getting better, but slowly.

    My very best wishes to you both - take good care - - - Richard

  48. Lovely photos! Goslings visit our yard with their parents watching closely. They have big appetites.

  49. Hi David - gorgeous places to wander, or to stop and wonder at the differences evolution has given your local birds - I particularly like Miriam's photos of the Mallard's head and speculum, as too the Baltimore Oriole. While your red cheese and onion buns look so so good ... excellent to take with you on your walks - take care and stay safe - Hilary

  50. Magníficas las fotos que hace Miriam y estoy impresdionada por la bonita variedad de aves que puedes localizar cerca de tu casa. A veces lo más hermoso está más cerca de lo que imaginamos!
    Mil besos.

  51. Dear David!
    Thanks to your beautiful photos I can admire the beauty of nature. I meet wonderful, very colorful birds. Thank you for the spring walk in the park.

    Hugs and greetings to Miriam and for You.

  52. Hello David, first again the photos Miriam made are a joy for the eye. You comments with it is great and this together gives a good impression of your walks in naturea and all the beauty you see on the way. The colours of the birds keep amazing me. The bun made by Miriam and your discription of it give me a good impression of what it would taste like.
    May you have much much delightful walks the coming months.
    Take care,

  53. Oh my goodness I don't know where to begin! Let me start off with one of those freshly baked buns! Delicious. And then those birds...all these lovely birds!! Super. Each and all. Today, that close up of the duck I favor...just dazzling.
    Thanks for joining us at I'd Rather B Birdin this week

  54. Beautiful series of the birds, I love the Blue Jay, perfect.

  55. Wow, what beautiful birds did you have in front of the lens David.
    As colorful as some are, beautiful.
    Delicious that Miriam bakes so tasty, I feel like tasting a piece ;-))
    Greetings Tinie

  56. Hi David,
    No doubt about it, you don't have to travel far to see a very interesting and colourful bunch of birds. It surprises me that the variety and brightness of the feathers is enormous. It must be quite a joy to go for a walk and see these beautiful birds. And then, coming home after a walk and enjoying a cup of tea or coffee accompanied by the buns Miriam has baked. You must be a lucky guy!
    Greetings, Kees

  57. Hi David,
    it's wonderful you have so many colorful birds in your surroundings.
    The mallard is one we see here with exactly the same features; and I also think they are soooo beautiful. Never see enoug of them.

    Best regards, Corrie

  58. Hi Both,
    A wonderful outing made all the better with Miriams super images and your comments, felt as if I was with you, just needed one of Miriams buns.
    Yu both stay safe.

  59. Wonderful shots David, I enjoyed the detail shots of the Mallard, it's nice to see up close. Summer fledglings are all over the place and now the birding will slow down so very nice to have our regular line up to appreciate.

  60. Those buns make my mouth water :) They look so delicious.

    Mersad Donko Photography

  61. beautiful birds as always from you. And...the bun looks very pleased :)

  62. Beautiful days! You have some beautiful nature within your “patch”... I know most of those birds live in mine also..but I don’t get out early enough (nor do I have Miriam’s camera skills even if I did. ). But I agree that the ability to enjoy being out in nature is a gift (always and especially now). .... ... we are both cooking more and even doing some baking, the latter a practice I’d pretty much given up in my old age prior to “stay at home”.

  63. Hi David,
    I really appreciate all these american birds photography, kind of a trip on the other side of the ocean. We were suposed to go to Yellowstone next July but because of all the restrictions due to coronavirus it has been canceled, so a virtual trip in your country is really nice ! Thanks for all that photos. Take care.

  64. Beautiful birds and delicious looking bread :)

    All the best Jan

  65. Hola David. Que bonitas aves, son espectaculares. Las fotos preciosas. Enhorabuena para Miriam, su pan tiene un aspecto muy muy sabroso. Besos.

  66. Great that you and Mirjam both love cooking and baking. Mirjam's sandwich also looks great with that cheese and red onion yum.
    Your birds and small birds in this post are again terribly beautiful😍. What beautiful birds you have.
    The butterflies are always beautiful to see. unfortunately I have not had much time to go butterfly hunting but maybe that will come this summer. Anyway, I really enjoy it here with you.
    Dear growers and a hug,


Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that the land on which we are situated are the lands traditionally used by the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Neutral People. We also acknowledge the enduring presence and deep traditional knowledge, laws, and philosophies of the Indigenous Peoples with whom we share this land today. We are all treaty people with a responsibility to honour all our relations.