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!