Sunday, 20 September 2020

Fall, Moult, Lily and Warblers

 Hillside Park, Waterloo, ON

     As we move closer to the end of September, mornings are decidedly cool, the days are crisp, and the colours of autumn are manifest.

     Each day brings another reminder of fall, and the nights draw in closer. It is time to think of soups and stews, to dig out scarves and sweaters.
     Young American Robins (Turdus migratorius) are rapidly developing the skills they will need to survive, migrate, and return to breed next spring.

    Miriam and I watched this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) for several minutes at close range. It seemed totally unperturbed by our presence as it went about its business.

     It was perhaps the most inefficient heron we have ever seen for we did not observe a single strike! At times it approached the creek bank and seemed to be seeking prey there, but as far as we could tell it went on its way hungry.

Riverside Park, Cambridge, ON

     For any number of reasons I did not get around to blogging about our Friday walk with Heather and Lily last week, so today you will be treated to two such outings!
     Before going any further, take a look at our precious little girl.

     It is remarkable to see the changes each week and Lily is now clearly following objects, reacting to sounds and quite possibly is able to distinguish colours. 
     Riverside Park attracts a number of people who bring bird seed in their pockets to deposit along the rail of the boardwalk, and the birds have learned where to come for a predictable source of food. Among them are Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), vivid red, and it is postulated that red may be the first colour that babies can clearly recognize. I am convinced that Lily reacted to a cardinal with a little throaty chuckle.

     As you may note, many of the birds are now in various stages of moult, and this male looked a little scruffy.
     The female didn't look appreciably better either.

     But for Lily, there were flashes of colour, the noise of birds quarreling, the whirring of the wings of a Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) and it appeared to me that she was absorbing it all. 

     I wonder if she noticed a Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) or two?

     In the centre of the picture below you will see a Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) undergoing moult before migration.

     This Red-winged Blackbird is waiting for its tail feathers to grow back in.

     Lily is obviously happy to see Heather and Grandpa David!

     Her favourite activity, I think, is blowing bubbles!

     We were relieved to see this Eastern Yellowjacket (Vespula maculifrons) go about its business and not bother us.

     It does not even bear thinking about the anguish a sting from an angry female wasp would cause a baby - and an angry female will sting repeatedly at the least provocation.
     Purple-stemmed Angelica (Angelica atropurpurea) is a common plant in southern Ontario and was abundant at Riverside Park, in the wet swampy areas  it prefers.

     American Red Squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) are aggressive creatures and always manage to secure their share of available food.

     This Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) was not at his or her most elegant, but it is still a striking bird.

     There were several Blue Jays in the area, screeching loudly as they sailed in to perch or feed. I wonder whether Lily picked up on that? Will she learn the speech of birds along with the speech of humans? I suspect she will.
     A basking Midland Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta marginata) paid no attention to all the commotion.

     Soon it will be trapped beneath the ice where it survives due to chemicals in the blood that effectively act as antifreeze.
     A Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) is a handsome bird often overlooked due to its familiarity.

     No matter that you do it a thousand times, to have a Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) come to your hand to feed is a rare treat and always a thrill.

     And how can I not end this account without a couple more looks at Lily and her mom? 

     It's all pretty special if you ask me!

RIM Park, Waterloo, ON

     Two days shy of her three-month birthday, we met Lily at RIM Park, having been transported there by her personal chauffeur, Heather - aka Mom!

     It was a cool morning and she was suitably dressed to stay warm.

      She was so good the whole time on this walk; she never fussed even for a moment. Usually, when we meet Heather and Lily each Friday, the whole purpose is to get together and birding becomes a bit of a secondary activity, with Lily demanding attention from time to time. This was the first time when we could all bird together and we had great success. 
     Migrating warblers and other small passerines are not the easiest subjects to photograph, so I have reached into the archives for pictures of some of the captivating neotropical migrants we saw.

American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)

Black-throated Green Warbler (Setophaga virens)

Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica)

Nashville Warbler (Leiothlypis ruficapilla)

Myrtle Warbler (Setophaga coronata)

Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)

Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius)

     It was a textbook fall day, cool, but with bright sunshine and we were very happy to be out together.
     And what shall I leave you with? A couple more pictures of Lily, of course!

     À la prochaine mes amis!

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. Lily is so sweet, David, and I understand why you show so many pictures of her.
    It must be very exciting to feed the birds from your hand.
    Beautiful photos!

  2. You can tell that it is already cool over there, Lily is very warm, she is so pretty! and I like that that somewhat cooler climate does not impede your outings to see the birds. Beautiful that Angelica atropurpurea and the squirrel is very nice to me.
    Lots of hugs and kisses.

    1. Even in the dead of winter, Montse, we go out to find birds,

  3. Autumn colors are starting to appear shy.
    The birds feel at ease.

  4. Hello,

    Lily is adorable. The Warbler images are just fabulous. I love the cute chickadee. Lovely series of photos, great reports on your outings. Wonderful series of photos and great reports on your outings. Take care, enjoy your day! Have a great new week!

  5. Hi David, very beautiful blog with amazing photos of birds and a other animals. And your lovely granddaugher. I don't understand how can a wild bird eat from your hand. Here they fly away.

  6. Enjoyed all your photos except perhaps the yellow jacket as I realized it's what I spotted on the playground at work last week (yikes!). Now twice as relieved it quickly went on its way. Lily certainly steals the show from all those great bird pictures. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

  7. Another fine walk with Heather and Lily. The birds seem to greet you when you walk among nature, show themselves so they can be photographed. Beautiful photos as always. Have a great day and weekend.

  8. Oooh and ahhh. Lucky Lily. Lucky you, lucky us.
    And the 'scruffy' birds look a heap better than I do (at any time of the day/year).
    Thank you for another beautiful post.

    1. It really has been very special to have been part of Lily's life from the very beginning.

  9. Lily grandit tellement vite!
    Une multitude d'oiseaux, le geai est beau, j'aime bien l'étourneau et son beau plumage.
    Le temps s'est rafraichit ici aussi.
    Bonne soirée

  10. Stunning bird photos and I love the refection in the water of the heron. You would never get a bird here to feed from the hand here, too much hunting in France and generally frightened birds. We find the Blue Tit is the one most likely to be less shy, but I doubt if they would ever feed from the hand.

    Yes Autumn is showing up here as well, leaves are dropping and changing colour.

    Keep safe and take care. Best wishes to you both, Diane

  11. An impressive array of birds, David, especially those shown from your RIM Park visit. Some of those warblers are extremely attractive.

    I have a suspicion that you'll soon be changing the title of your blog to "Travels With Lily"! She's a little cutie!

    Best wishes - - - Richard

  12. Ohh you are soo lucky with that little bird feeding from your hand.You must have a good vibrations with them:))Many of the birds you show I have never seen before and they are beautiful all of them.So the Grey or blue Heron did not cach any food today?? hih hih poor little thing!Yes I see amany of the birds have started to change their feathers.They will be beautiful once again in time.At last Lily!!Precious little princess!She is beautiful with that dark hair and the blue ribbon! you must be very fond and proud of her!

    Ok David it is late here in Bergen Norway!Have a good week coming in to you and family


  13. Lily is looking adorable on all photos, happy to be with you on a trip no doubt. Fantastic captures David.

  14. Hi David, just a quick comment before I fall into my bed. The birds are all fabulous, fun to see them moulting, they look like the moths got at them.....Poor heron, not finding any food. One of ours was in the field by the stream today, evidently looking for little creatures for breakfast. And the star of our share is once again sweet Lily, what a little darling. And I love her hairstyle and her funky head-band - a real little diva! Glad you had a good day out! So, I'll wish you bon nuit before I sleep here at the keyboard. Hugs, Valerie

  15. Hi David,
    nice to read that you are experiencing some "normal" weather for the time of year. Here in Holland we suddenly have a summertime-week?! I love sunny weather, but it's feeling kind of crazy and a few days too hot.
    Nice that you can have weekly outings with Heather and your lovely granddaughter.
    As allways I enjoyed your post and the amazing numbers of birds you've seen.

    Best regards, Corrie

  16. Love the birds but Lily steals the spotlight. She’s gorgeous!

  17. I once grew angelica at a friend's request. I wonder what she made of it.

  18. Beautiful birds, trees (the photos are phenomenal as usual) and a baby who makes us smile. Adorable Lily, God bless you always!

  19. Hello, buenas noches querido amigo, que tal!

    Earth has rotated, the clock has moved and i see
    a golden autumn sky,
    love the fall colors.
    and birds in love...
    it's an ideal world!

    This amazing place is heavinly 🌳🍁🍂
    and Lily, she is such a sweet little star ⋆ how beautiful she is!
    It is so beautiful to share endless laughter and joys with your loved ones. They are the most valuable gift life has given you.

    Spring is about to begin in this part of the world
    and it fascinates me at all.

    Sending bigs hugs to all of you over there
    from Buenos Aires, Argentina with love 🌺🌼🌺🌼🌺🌼

  20. When we arrived home to the cabin two days ago we scared our local Great Blue Heron off a neighbours log boom. H must have been fishing for his supper. - Margy

  21. What glorious sightings, David. It's interesting to see the birds in the state of moult. And so many are really lovely, even if a bit scraggly. Lily, of course, is a gem. What a grand birding partner!

  22. Scruffy birds always make me smile, but not nearly so much as Lily. She is beautiful, and so lucky to have loving people around her willing to take her into the world. I envy your autumn signs a bit. But, at least here it's cooled enough that I can open the house and listen to the approaching winds of Tropical Storm Beta. It seems he's going to be well-behaved, bringing some wind but mostly rain.

    Speaking of wind -- a few days ago north winds began to blow, and on Thursday the first Osprey of the season arrived on our lake. On Friday, there were more -- maybe a dozen in all. It's such a thrill to have them back, hearing their calls to one another as they rest atop the boat masts -- and eat their fish there, too.

  23. Lovely photos as always, David. That Great Blue Heron looks quite miserable.

  24. A delightful little girl she is, ever so sweet and cute.
    The photos are lovely and always a pleasure to see different birds and animals.
    Take care.

  25. Hi David.

    You show beautiful birds.
    Beautiful Red Bird, Red Wing Blackbird and many other species.
    The Squirrel is a lot of fun too.
    And then Lily, what a cutie and so nice to be here on the other side of the pc. to be able to watch the growth of this cute child.

    Thanks David.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  26. Hello David, A Lovely post with all those amazing birds. Lily is growing and indeed even looking at the photos you can see the differences.
    Stay healty,

  27. Querido y apreciado amigo David, Lily está cada día más bella, es una pequeña encantadora y adorable, seguro que os cae un poco la baba cada vez que estáis con ella y no es para menos, sois afortunados.
    Ya tenemos el bonito otoño a la vuelta de la esquina y nos sorprenderá un año más con esas pinceladas de color tan hermosas. Ha sido un perfecto recorrido viendo esas aves tan preciosas y sobre rodo la imagen del carbonero es la que se lleva la palma, me encanta ver como comen en la mano.
    Estimado amigo, es todo un placer para mi contar con vuestra inestimable amistad, es un bello puente Canadá-España, gracias siempre por vuestra amistad y compañía, es todo un placer. Muchos besos a la preciosa Lyli.
    Un fuerte abrazo y buena semana amigo y compadre David.

  28. That first photo of Lily in the stroller with the headband is best.

  29. Such a lovely array of Warblers! There's so much for Lily to see it's nice to be able to see how she reacts over the weeks. Autumnal chills have hit here too, though it's still fighting with the last of the summer sun too, it'll win soon enough!

  30. What a great nature walk you took us on. So many birds and insects. And little Lily is a doll.

  31. Lily cada día está más bonita, es una alegría pasear con ellas para ver pájaros, me encantaron todos. Besos y abrazos.

  32. Hi David - delightful ... love you sharing Heather with her Lily with us - just special. The birds are a motley crew aren't they ... but fascinating to see the range of change etc. I was really sad to see the Nashville Warbler was probably the least interesting of your delightful crew - seeing as its orchestra wasn't there surrounding it!

    It is autumnal ... warm, but cool before the warmer times arrive. Gorgeous shots of life a la David and Miriam - always a pleasure ... and that Midland Painted Turtle surviving the frozen river always amazes me. Thank you - Hilary

    1. You are right, Hilary, the Nashville Warbler is a little drab compared to with the others. And I have to say that life for David and Miriam is really not bad at all!

  33. Enjoyed going with you on your walk through your photos. So many birds to see. Perhaps the blue heron was not as healthy as it could be. Sweet Lily! You all are such a lovely family.

  34. Hi David,
    Yes, the Fall is comming....Here too.
    The bird in this Post are very special. Great shots!
    And Lily is gorgeous.

  35. nature and trees looks the same in my neck of the world. But the birds is different. We have the Starling but not the other beauties. And we don´t have a Lily. She is growing fast :)

    Take care, stay safe.

  36. You brought us so many examples of Autumn we might never notice! Oh my gosh ,, Lily is beautiful!

  37. Your life has been blessed with the arrival of Lily. How wonderful to be able to share your joy of nature with her as she grows up.

  38. Lovely bird pictures and Lily, of course, is adorable.

  39. It seems Lily's not going to escape turning into one of your naturalists.
    Anyway, she was probably able to enjoy the sight of the red cardinal.

  40. Hi David oh my I think Lily gets more adorable each time I see her and how wonderful that she is enjoying her walks with her mum and grandparents. David I love the beautiful photos you take of nature and my favourite this post is the cheeky squirrel,Thankyou for sharing these lovely photos with us,stay safe cheers Sheryl

  41. Love those last pictures of Sleeping Beauty - Lily is totally adorable :)
    It never ceases to amaze me how many different species of birds you have around you, I'm sure we never have that many (I'm a little envious!).

  42. Beautiful birds and a lovely Lily. A great post.

  43. Your birds are wonderful, but the baby is the best!

  44. I did enjoy this post.
    All of your photographs are wonderful, but as Jenn says above, Lily is the best and I can't get over how much she has grown.

    Enjoy your week.

    All the best Jan

  45. This little one is certainly getting a first-hand nature education, David. I have a feeling from here on we will be seeing photos of wildlife and Lily and it will be interesting to see if she shares the same passions

    1. Her mother shares our passion for nature so we have every hope and expectation that she will share it too.

  46. Jakie miłe są drobne napotkane w parku ptaki! Czasami są tak blisko,a my ich nie widzimy!
    Czapla się was nie bała? U nas są bardzo płochliwe i nie można podejść kilkanaście metrów!
    Mała dziewczynka szybko rośnie!

  47. Hi David, I looked again to your beautiful photos and granddaughter. Greetings Caroline

  48. A future bird-lover, no doubt, Lily is as photogenic as any creature you have ever captured with your camera. I’m afraid the birds and squirrels take second place since it’s impossible not to gush over that little face.

  49. I have a great fondness for herons. They seem such patient creatures.

  50. Beautiful birds, but the baby outshines them all!
    Have a wonderful day!

  51. Un placer llegar siempre aquí. Gusta ver la naturaleza que compartes amigo.
    Lindos los pájaros. Pero Lily eclipsa todo lo que pones cuando la vemos💗 Está preciosa.
    Buen otoño David. Cuidaros.
    Un abrazo.

  52. Your post is a feast of birds, baby and even a turtle! Your blog has opened my eyes even further to wild creatures. The other day I saw a couple birds in my fig tree I had never seen before. They might have been parrots. Thank you!

  53. We are hardly ready to don sweaters and scarves, but we have had a few days of relatively dry air which has made early morning birding very pleasant.

    It seems Lily is well on her way to becoming an avid birder, perhaps by osmosis.

    All of your images are incredibly enjoyable and I almost felt like autumn had crept in through the windows. Thank you for the series of fall warblers! I would be ecstatic to see any of them.

    It's almost a weekend again. We hope yours is filled with peace and birds!

  54. Such a great variety of gorgeous creatures. Of course, Lily is the fairest of them all :)

    I am glad you joined us at 'My Corner of the World' this week!!

  55. David - well, I must say that it is a welcome addition to have all these adorable photos of Lily in your posts. I do think someone is wrapped around the proverbial little finger! Secondarily, the collection of warblers is fabulous! Enjoy your weekend!

  56. hello David
    who is the star in this post?
    are they red or other colorful birds or even the squirrel ???
    Of course Lily leaves everyone in the shade ... whether in the moult or colorful, Lily is the star, super cute ...
    Greetings Frank

  57. Hi David,
    It looks like you are successful in finding a balance between paying attention to wildlife and Lily. It is great to see young animals and birds growing up, but of course seeing a little child growing older is an incomparable experience. Every parent and grandparent will agree with this.
    The autumn is approaching with its special characterictics. Let's look forward to it. It will bring a welcome change.
    Greetings, Kees

  58. Lily is an adorable baby. Hope he will be a great bird lover.
    David! I always watch your photos with great care. I meet many interesting, very birds.

  59. Halo my friend David,
    autumn has certainly arrived. From next Thursday we will also have autumn showers and then the nice weather is over. does not matter because in every season there is something beautiful to experience :-)))
    Nice pictures of the blue heron but your granddaughter is of course the star of your blog ❤💕
    Of course also enjoyed your beautiful birds :-)
    A big kiss from me, Helma


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.