The realities imposed by the global pandemic are a daily feature of our lives, but by careful planning, common sense and respect for others we have been able to continue on with our lives without undue hindrance.
Forwell Park/Hillside Park, Waterloo, ON
Often, after dinner, we go for a walk through Forwell Park to Hillside Park, and are bound to encounter other walkers and cyclists, but everyone seems to be well aware of the precautionary measures to be taken, and it is a pleasant experience all round. I don't think that we have ever encountered another birder there, but many have inquired as to what we are looking at, and a few have given us tips about birds they have seen farther along the trail.
Common Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) appear to have had a successful breeding season and we frequently see large flocks with many hatch-year birds. Adults are underrated beauties in my opinion.
An American Robin has captured a tasty morsel or two.
If there has been a constant component to our walks at Hillside Park this year it has been the presence of Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus). There is ample high quality nesting habitat for them and they have had a successful breeding season based on our observations.
I always think we pay less attention to the sky than we should, other than looking for birds above us, and Miriam rectified this shortcoming with a dramatic intersection of branch and cloud.
It is a little early for even incipient signs of fall and I suspect that this tree has been subject to stresses of one kind or another. Perhaps its root system is unduly shallow and has suffered from drought. Whatever the cause, I do not think it represents a genuine herald of autumn.
To the best of my recollection, and that of Miriam too, this is the first occasion when we have observed a Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) bathing in the creek.
These conditions are favourable to shorebirds and there were groups of Semipalmated (Calidris pusilla) and Least Sandpipers (C. minutilla) feeding on the mud and in shallow water.
There were several Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) present, often serenading us with their high, whistling call.
A Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria) was mainly content to feed in a delicate manner, deliberately picking insects from the surface of the water. It appeared positively well mannered compared with the frenzy exhibited by the peeps all around it!
Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) is at its peak in late August and presents a glorious sea of yellow.
There are many species of bumblebee seeking nectar, and I am not sure as to the exact species of the following individual.
Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice) is at its peak in southern Ontario from about mid June through mid September.
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is among the most catholic of eaters, dining on just about anything it can swallow, and the low water level doubtless concentrated fish into shallow pools making for easy pickings.
There were about a dozen or so Solitary Sandpipers present, all birds of the year making their first migration from the boreal forests to their winter quarters in South America. Their plumage is crisp and clean, not yet having endured the rigours of a year's life on the wing. The yellowish tinge to the legs is another clue that these are hatch year individuals.
Lesser Yellowlegs was clearly the most common species and this bird was wrestling with some tasty food item hidden from view.
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) was also in attendance, though in much lower numbers than Lesser Yellowlegs, as is usually the case.
It is hard to beat a Wilson's Phalarope for the "bird of the day" but a hunting Merlin (Falco columbarius) could perhaps lay claim to the honour.
It rested for a short period, perhaps to allow its food to digest, and then left the area completely.