Sunday, 13 September 2020

Large Milkweed Bugs, Laurel Creek, Hillside Park and COVID Walks

At Home     

     Since discovering a Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus) a couple of weeks ago on the Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) at the front of the house we have been keeping a watchful eye on the plant.
     It has now produced an extensive array of seed pods, and Large Milkweed Bugs are known to feed on seeds of various species of Asclepias. Furthermore, since this bug goes through four instars, individuals in different stages of development may be found feeding on the same seed pod. In fact, it is believed that the first bug to arrive at the pod and begin feeding, releases a signal, in the nature of a pheromone perhaps, that is picked up by others who quickly join the feeding frenzy.

     Large Milkweed Bugs are capable of producing one to three generations per year depending on climate and geographic location, so the variation on a single pod may be significant.

     Upon finding a follicle, saliva is injected to predigest the seed, enabling it to be sucked up.
     We have seen no predation at all of this species and have concluded that as is the case for Monarchs (Danaus plexippus), (that other better known milkweed denizen, whose colouration is the same), aposematic protection is afforded and the bugs may feed with impunity, in plain sight.
     At our latitude the population is migratory and it has been fascinating to have been able to observe this activity before the insects depart for the year.

Laurel Creek C.A., Waterloo, ON

     Over many years we have observed Pied-billed Grebes (Podilymbus podiceps) at this location and they have bred there every year for as long as we have visited Laurel Creek. A few individuals were spotted in the spring, but since then we have hardly been able to locate a single bird. They obviously bred, however, well concealed from prying birders' eyes, for several are now out on the water, with this year's crop of young vigorously pursuing their parents for food.
     The pictures are not the best, but the lighting that day was quite awful.

     A mere four Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) were present, having once again been subjected to an unreasonable, unwarranted, ill-considered, unnecessary and obscene cull. The politicians and their servile, slavering lapdogs who support this travesty in Ontario should hang their heads in shame.

     As before I apologize for the quality of the picture, but it is not entirely inappropriate that the image reflects the dark and gloomy state in which this species finds itself.

Hillside Park, Waterloo, ON

     The delicate, appealing blooms of Jack-in-the Pulpit have been replaced by their fruit, and these bright red berries dot the woodland floor. There is no surer sign of approaching fall.

     A walk through Hillside Park without a Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) or two would be a rare event.

     We are getting into the margins of my meagre knowledge of plants, but I believe this is a Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus) shrub.

     It was quite widespread and there appears to be a bumper crop of fruit for berry-eating birds.
     Several species of grasshopper can be found springing along the ground and feeding voraciously on the vegetation, much as birds and other predators seek to feed on them. Red-legged Grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum) is one of the most common species and they were abundantly present at Hillside park.

     The Woolly Bear Caterpillar is the larval stage of Isabella Tiger Moth (Pyrrharctia isabella) which will overwinter here as a caterpillar.

     A Common Eastern Bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) was one of scores of its kind seeking the rich nectar of Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera). There was a bit of a breeze and that, combined with the swaying of the flower when the bee alighted, means that the picture is a little fuzzy.

     We came across an American Red Squirrel (Tamiascurius hudsonicus) that had found a walnut and was working hard at getting to the good parts.

     In the waning hours of daylight a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) was hoping for a final snack before roosting for the night.

     As we drove home it was clear that the sunset was going to be quite spectacular and we deviated from our normal route so as to be better positioned to view and appreciate its splendour.

     And just before darkness closed in we saw this cloud formation that resembles a cow.

     Is this perhaps the cow that jumped over the moon? It made me recall how much fun I had during my first childhood making creatures and scenes from clouds, and we must be sure to introduce Lily to this magical world of creative and fanciful interpretation.        
     It won't be long!

COVID Walks at Columbia Lake, Waterloo, ON

     It has been a source of concern as to how to keep the members of Waterloo Region Nature involved in the affairs of the Club, when virtually all activities were cancelled, courtesy of the pandemic.
     I came up with the idea of leading multiple walks with small groups rather than a single walk with twenty participants. So, I organized five outings to Columbia Lake, alternating between morning and evening, with a limit of four participants per walk, plus Miriam and me, when it would be easy to maintain social distancing while also permitting everyone to see the birds we found. Knowing that we would need a scope to enable everyone to have good looks at the finer points of shorebird topography especially, but other species too, we soaked cloths in isopropyl alcohol and wiped down the lens surround, the focus wheel and the directional handle, between views, leaving each person to determine whether that was in their zone of comfort.
     Within a couple of hours of making the announcement all spots were taken and there was a waiting list. The Pandora's Box of pent-up demand had been sprung loose it seemed!
     As it turned out the walks were spectacularly successful, with all participants expressing great pleasure in them, and urging me to do it again! And so I will!

Walk No. 1
Monday 07 September 2020, 09h:00 - 11h:30

Participants: Claire Asling, Charles Foley, Meg Slater, Diana Spearn

Claire, Charles, Diana, David, Meg

     This Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) put on quite a show for us enabling everyone to appreciate all its field marks.

     It was joined by a second bird for reinforcement.

     A single Great Egret (Ardea alba) has been present for several days; we know it is the same bird because of the bands on its legs.

     Here I am explaining the finer points of something or other.....

     ..... and wiping down the scope before the next person uses it.

     It seems that we can hardly go on a walk of late without spotting Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus).

     At the end of the excursion it was interesting to see this American Crow (Corvus brachyrynchos) working away on a bone it had picked up somewhere, aggressively drilling at the ends to get to the nutritious marrow.

All bird species counted: Mallard, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Ring-billed Gull, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Flicker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, American Goldfinch, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle.

Walk No. 2
Tuesday 08 September 2020, 17h:30 - 20h:00
Participants: Michelle MacMillan, Bev Raimbault, Roger Suffling (A fourth member cancelled at the last minute).

Bev, Roger, David, Michelle

     Several Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) were seen feeding on the seeds of cattails.

     Roger spotted this Spotted Lady's Thumb (Polygonium persicaria), an interesting plant, and pointed it out to everyone.

     It is the time of the year when Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) are gathering in large aggregations in preparation for migration, and we saw several such groups.

     A Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria) was very cooperative and allowed everyone to appreciate it through the lens of the scope.

     Least Sandpipers (Calidris minutilla) were a little farther away.

     A female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) dazzled everyone, at one point plunging into the water and coming up with a fish.

All bird species counted: Canada Goose, Mallard, Mourning Dove, Killdeer, Least Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Ring-billed Gull, Double-crested Cormorant,  Turkey Vulture, Belted Kingfisher, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Barn Swallow, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Goldfinch, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Black-throated Green Warbler, Northern Cardinal.

Walk No. 3
Wednesday 09 September 2020, 09h:00 - 11h:30
Participants: Lynn Conway, Victoria Ho, Marg Paré, Andrew Wesolowski, Lorraine Wesolowski.
Lynn, Marg, Lorraine, Andrew, David, Victoria

      Several Greater Yellowlegs presented themselves for all to see, as they had on previous walks.

     The lone Great Egret was still present and we initially saw it in the water.

     While we were watching, the Great Egret and all the Mallards (Anas platyrynchos) took to the air, and our eyes immediately looked skywards to see what had caused the commotion. The arrival of an adult Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was enough to cause panic in the ranks. The eagle finally perched and order was restored to the pond.

     The Great Egret decided that staying high in a tree was the safest place while the eagle remained in the vicinity.

     A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) had not yielded its position in the water despite the threat the eagle might have posed.

     We had moved along only a short distance before seeing a juvenile Bald Eagle perched on a transmission tower, no doubt hoping for an easy meal.

     Andrew took the time to capture a group shot as we meandered along.

     Meanwhile, Lorraine, ever vigilant, captured this Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) before it dived into dense cover.

     Miriam spotted this Common European Amber Snail (Succinea putris) making its way among the leaves.

     Mallards were spotted anywhere there was water, a common species, but always delightful.

     Lorraine was a dedicated photographer, pursuing her quarry with vigour.

     Her final success of our outing was a Black-throated Green Warbler (Setophaga virens), probably a first year female.

All bird species counted: Canada Goose, Mallard, Mourning Dove, Killdeer, Least Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Ring-billed Gull, Double-crested Cormorant, Turkey Vulture, Belted Kingfisher, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Barn Swallow, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Goldfinch, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Black-throated Green Warbler, Northern Cardinal.

Walk No. 4
Thursday 10 September 2020 17h:30 - 20h:00
Participants: Jim Bowman, Rosalie Foyle, Curtiss MacDonald, Janet Ozaruk

Jim, Curtiss, David, Janet, Rosalie

     For whatever reason, this walk proved to be the least rewarding in terms of observations, but it was pleasant to get together with old friends again, and to make a new one in Rosalie.
     A Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) was a little distant, but with the aid of the scope everyone was able to see it well.

     New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) is dotted throughout woodland verges and meadows at this time of the year, a welcome source of nectar for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilocus colubris) preparing for their long migration to Mexico and beyond.

The Tamaracks (Larix laricina) have a bumper crop of cones, so if we are fortunate enough to have crossbills (Loxia sp.) move south in the winter there will be a ready supply of food awaiting them.

     The caterpillar of the Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae) will spend the winter in a furry cocoon under leaf litter and other debris.

     With help from Janet, I think we narrowed down this plant to Great Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum).

      I am not quite sure of the identity of this seed cluster, but as far as I can tell it belongs to the Asteraceae.

All bird species counted:  Canada Goose, Mallard, Killdeer, Least Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Ring-billed Gull, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, Blue Jay, American Crow, Common Starling, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Northern Cardinal.

Walk No. 5
Saturday 12 September 2020 09h:00 - 11h:30
Participants: Jenny Lorette, Bill Prociw, Liz Prociw, Tracey Rainer

Jenny, David, Tracey, Liz, Bill

     All the keen naturalists who joined this group are quite new to the Club and it was my first time, and great pleasure I might add, in meeting them. They were enthusiastic and quickly became engaged with the whole exercise. As it turned out, they were the beneficiaries of the greatest variety of birds of the whole series, with some outstanding species too.
     There were but four Double-crested Cormorants on the water, joined by a fifth when they took flight, but Miriam managed a nice shot of one swimming by.

     I think that as long as we were close to the shore we were never out of sight or sound of Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus).

     The Great Egret that has been seen at Columbia Lake for a couple of weeks now could be seen off in the distance, adding to the excitement of the moment for these four relatively novice birders. Do you see the white "bump" in the background about two thirds of the way across the picture?

     Well, here it is close up.

     And the Greater Yellowlegs wanted in on the act too.

     A Great Blue Heron meandered stealthily through the shallows ready to spear anything that moved.

     Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) reveals a rare beauty when seen close up.

     Some might consider the presence of an Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) on 12 September unusual, but migration patterns of numerous species of birds are undergoing modification, as the effects of climate change influence their behaviour.

     How could anyone ever tire of New England Aster?

      This Western Bumble Bee ( Bombus occidentalis) was finding it exactly to its liking.

     Columbia Lake is a delightful place to ramble on a beautiful September morning.

     As I pointed out earlier, this was a keen group, and Tracey is animated in her discussion of something that has caught her attention.

     The most exciting find of the day, in fact of the entire sequence of these walks, was an Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi), high atop a snag, where it stayed for several minutes.

     A Northern Flicker showed why the form in the east is known as Yellow-shafted.

     Milkweed pods are filled with seeds waiting to be dispersed when the pods burst open.

     And Wild Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum was looking exceptionally splendid bathed in sunlight.

     I am not quite sure what I was pointing out here, but I hope it was worthwhile!

     We were almost at the end of our walk when a red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) entertained us greatly as it battered a caterpillar into submission before gulping it down.

     Miriam and I puzzled over this dragonfly for quite a while, both in the field and at home, finally concluding that it a Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata), a fairly common migrant species. 

     I have been unable to find much information on the breeding cycle of this species, but I am wondering whether this is a teneral waiting for its exoskeleton to harden, and for its colour to develop. It showed no inclination to move as three people photographed it, but I am unclear as to whether teneral forms are present in September.

     Bluets (Coenagrionidae sp. were very common, but I find it just about impossible to narrow these damselflies down to the species level.

     A Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens) is much easier!

     Midland Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta marginata) were happy to catch the rays on a mild September morning.

     After a successful morning enjoying the wonders of nature we headed back to our vehicles.

     It seemed appropriate that an American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) came to see us off; perhaps this wise bird was congratulating us on our success.

All bird species counted: Canada Goose, Mallard, Rock Dove, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Ring-billed Gull, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Turkey Vulture, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Flicker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Common Starling, Grey Catbird, American Robin, American Goldfinch, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak.


      My thanks are due to the Board of Directors of Waterloo Region Nature for signing on to this first attempt to renew our field trips, and having the faith that the format would work, without exposing anyone to undue risk. I am grateful to all who came out on the five walks; my days were enhanced by their company.
     Most of all I am especially appreciative that Miriam took part in every single outing and is responsible for most of the pictures used in this account.  In many respects she acted as a second guide.
      Finally, I received this postcard from my good friend Valerie-Jael Tups who lives in Düsseldorf, Germany. The card is Valerie's own design, and with its fanciful birds and its message of peace it seems especially appropriate for the times.

     Keep well everyone, and for those of you who live locally, stay tuned for news of the next series of walks.

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. Such a rich, versatile post! It has something for everyone; nice walking groups of naturalists, a great variety of birds and plants, awsome photos.
    I've noticed the lighter aspect of the post and liked it: the 'cow' in the sky, the american red squirrel 'working' on a wallnut, the blue heron 'working' on a snack, turtles happy to catch the sunrays.
    Many thanks for this gem-post.

  2. Wonderful photos, David. You show so many flowers, birds, animals and a frog! The frog was very beautiful. The nature is fantastic.
    I have just started to feed the birds in my garden. They seems very hungery.

  3. I did now know about those Milkweed bugs. How interesting that their colours are similar to the Monarch.

    I think it is great for both you and your small groups that you are able to get on your walks like that. I am sure that you are a most interesting guide.

  4. Il y'a beaucoup de très belles photos, corbeau, écureuils, oiseaux, grenouille, libellule...
    Les tas de punaises sont un peu effrayant lol, il y'en a vraiment beaucoup.
    Bonne soirée

  5. Enjoyed reading this. It's amazing how much nature one sees when they really look.

  6. Interesting post and I love the variation. The milkweed bugs are intriguing and I love the American Red Squirrel. I only thought you had greys over there so I am delighted to see this.
    Keep safe and stay well. Diane

    1. American Red Squirrel is a different species, Diane. It is quite charming, but really feisty. If ever it gets into a dispute with the large Grey Squirrel it is always the red squirrel that emerges victorious.

    2. Very interesting David. I walk daily in Victoria Park, the usual suspects but 5 or 6 cormorants are regulars these days. Harold

    3. Hello Harold: It's always a pleasure to hear from you. Keep enjoying your walks. David

    4. For years Laurel CA was closed during the week for educational programs. I stopped going as a consequence. Are public walk ins allowed now?

    5. Hi Harold: The Laurel Creek Nature Centre, which is what I think you are referring too, is open during the week only for schools who attend for educational programmes there. The gates are locked on the weekends but you are free to park your car outside and enter on foot and walk to your heart's content. To the best of my knowledge you are still not permitted entry Monday - Friday.

  7. If I lived closer I would sign up for those walks in a heart beat.
    Huge thanks to you and to Miriam for allowing me a completely socially distanced glimpse of the wonder.
    Culling? Hiss and spit. The nasty side of me often thinks that our planet would benefit from the culling of the politicians and economists who support such measures.

    1. When you find out where that cull will take place, Sue, sign me up!

  8. Hi David, it looks like you had a very busy week, with lots of walks, and you saw a multitude of birds, animals, plants and insects. Those milkweed beetles are fascinating, I have never seen so many before. The photos were all magnificent, well done to you and Miriam. I have never seen one of those black dragonflies before, most interesting. Your 'followers' are luck to have you as guide on those walks. And I just love that frog, what wonderful colours. And thanks for showing the card, glad you like it. Have a nice evening, it's bedtime here so I'll say goodnight and crawl into bed. Hugs, Valerie

  9. nice photos, the american red squirrel is not very different from the european, greetings!

  10. it would be hard for me to comment on all the wonderful images in this post, David. The insect photos were fascinating because I had never seen such a large gathering of milkweed bugs before. The grasshopper closeups were amazing as well. It was nice to see that a group could gather safely and enjoy these nature walks. We visited Franconia State Park in NH this past week and I spotted a red squirrel there, but the photo in this post was much better than any I failed to get!

  11. I realise, having now seen these photos, that it is little wonder that I never capture pictures of birds like you do using my little point and shoot camera.
    I have never seen Milkweed Bugs here, but I did see a huge mass of them one year when we were visiting France.
    Really stunning photos of the sunset that you saw.

  12. So much to appreciate and enjoy in these photos. The turtles are one of my favourites but the birds never disappoint. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Hi David, I really liked the idea you had of organizing short walks, here the number of people affected is growing, although in my town there are still few sick people and we must continue to take extreme precautions; coincidentally an hour before seeing your post I thought fleetingly about resuming the activities of our club in a similar way, reading your publication gave me encouragement , taking advantage of the fact that spring is about to begin. I saw the beautiful photos and there are several shorebirds that will soon be in our latitudes. Today I made birdwatching in countryside and I already saw fewer winter visitors and the arrival of two species from the north.
    A big hug

  14. You certainly gave me lots of herons and egrets to admire. Thank you.

  15. Lucky locals! What wonderful wildlife you get to see. So glad you share it with us in the photos. Hope you have a wonderful new week!

  16. Hello David! what a great post, this is an amazing ride! you are the Lord of the Parks! no matter how stressful life gets, nature is always there for us. In my busy day to day routine these photos give me a break.. everything seems wonderful to me and that blue heron... i have never seen it, that splendid sunset... it really is a romantic vision! i like the berries, your feathered friends and humans too.
    Sending wishes for a beautiful week and waiting for more pictures of Mrs. Miriam, expert photography.

  17. Hi David wow what amazing bits of nature you all got to see on your walks,oh I love seeing all the different variety of birds ,these walks are so interesting ,Thankyou for sharing these things with us xx

  18. The sunset really has the shape of a cow!

  19. WOW!.. what exotic photos.. so nice to "walk" again with the other groups!
    I really enjoyed the time & excellent teaching & companions!
    Thank you David & Miriam!!.. Meg

  20. Jean took the words out of my mouth - what wonderful wildlife, thank you for sharing.

  21. Interesting post of the walks.
    Great variety as well.
    The cow in the sky is amazing, you see lots of things when you look up but watch where you are going.
    Photos are lovely as always and something different to see in each one.

  22. Hi David.

    Great to make smaller groups so that more people can enjoy nature.
    It looks like everyone has been able to see beautiful nature from Insects and Birds.

    Took some nice pictures and thanks for sharing, I enjoy it.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  23. Que paseos tan productivos y agradable amigo David, además estas hecho todo un experto botánico. Grata la compañía en esos días tan fantásticos. Un bello y precioso atardecer. Creo que poco más se puede pedir para tan linda semana.
    Un fuerte abrazo querido compadre y amigo.

  24. Hello David,
    Great reports on all your outings and bird walks. It is a good idea to have smaller groups go out on the walks during these Covid times. I love all the natures scenes, plants and birds. The sky is beautiful. Beautiful photos! Take care, enjoy your new week!

  25. Hello David, Good to see that you found a way to go out with birders and people interested in nature again to make smaller groups. That must work. Your post is full of great birds and plants amazing. Nice to see that you almost call the bush/tree Geulder Rose almost the same as we do. Here it is called Gelderse Roos.
    I enjoyed reading your post and enjoyed the photos tremendously.
    Take care,

  26. Magnificent excursions and walks through the countryside ... Many beautiful and varied species ... Flora and fauna ... Very well done ... Happy week

  27. So glad I came on this virtual excursion with you and your nature loving friends, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the birds and the frogs and the insects and the caterpillars etc.
    I saw the cloud as a cow even before I read your description. Moo!

  28. Thank you so much David and Miriam. Absolutely loved our Saturday morning walk and learned such a lot. It was absolutely beautiful. Would love to join you every single day on a walk!!! Lol! Looking forward to more nature nerding with you! Tracey. Xx

  29. A lot of interesting information David. I liked the photos of the blue heron, titmouse, caterpillar and Olive-sided Flycatcher. Beautiful flowers, you correctly found that this is viburnum. It grows in my garden. Your groups have wonderful people, they are passionate about taking pictures.

  30. Beautiful photos David. The sunset photos are amazing!

  31. You definitely have been busy with all those wonderful excursions. The photos are a pleasure to see and your narration is always greatly appreciated. Thanks so much for sharing your love of nature with us.

  32. What a great adventure. I have social anxiety, and couldn't do it. Good for you for helping out your fellow birders!
    I depend upon you for your amazing birds, but you have quite an array of critters.
    I hear you, regarding the cormorant cull. It really is shameful.

  33. Those bugs are fascinating. I've never seen anything like that and it's so intriguing. I'm delighted you can now continue your walks with your other bird-and-nature-loving friends. It has to feel good for everyone involved. Loved the many beautiful birds you shared today especially -- wait for it -- the heron!

  34. hello David
    As I see you are very famous and asked, your knowledge of what you pass on is very good so that it is a lot of fun to do a tour with you, but I would have to cover 6000km first ...
    Greetings Frank

    1. But just think of the good time you would have, Frank!

  35. Learning to Live With Covid is something we all have to do, and I applaud you for finding a way of doing this and operating in smaller groups.
    Going along with you (via this blog) and seeing your different birds is always a pleasure, but I must say I have really enjoyed seeing the diversity of some of your other wildlife as well.

  36. Very nice photoes all of them.You really are a true nature lover.I love all the birds you show.Many I have never seen so it is very interesting
    Most of all friends get together and have a good time😊

  37. Wow, thats a serious catch up of a post! I think that Jack-in-the-Pulpit was called Lords and Ladies where I grew up. Love that Leopard frog at the end. 5 weeks and I can go birding outside of 5km from my house again!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  38. Hola David, buenos días.

    ¡Qué entrada tan fantástica, rica y diversa nos publicas hoy!

    Me alegra mucho que pudieras constatar la cría de Podilymbus podiceps, en cuanto a las fotos están nítidas, muy buenas y contra la luz sólo podemos controlar lo que las cámaras nos permitan (opciones manuales o semi-automáticas).

    En lo que respecta a Phalacrocorax spp. tristemente aquí también se les persigue por parte de los pescadores con la anuencia de algunas autoridades en ciertas regiones de España (creo que lo hemos comentado en alguna ocasión pero vale denunciarlo permanentemente).

    Por lo demás felicitaros a todos por unas salidas tan provechosas (con muchas limícolas).

    Un abrazo de tu amigo de Galicia, España,


  39. My dear friend David, first of all, thank you so so much for giving us free passes to your walks! I am sure these amazing photos will not compare to the actual walks that you facilitate which looks both fun and informative, surely one that I will enjoy! And those bugs David, it gave me massive chills! But still I teased myself by staring at it but only lasts a good 3 seconds then scrolls HAHA But my favorite from this series is the american crow! That is such a beauty!!!

    Sending you hugs my friend David! have a great new week ahead!

  40. Hi David,

    It's good to see and read that you and Miriam are birding 'corona proof' with your friends and that you see so much and everybody enjoys the trips. Even the Northern flicker that looks
    out for you I think.
    The group of milkweed bugs in your garden is amazing. I was surprised to read that they are not eaten by any other animal.
    The greater yellow leg is a very handsome bird, and I was lucky to see them twice in NL.
    The chickadee is so lovely.
    I enkoyed also the photo's of the grasshopper and the frog and furthermore all the species that there are, because nature and natures wildlife remains wonderful.

    All the best, stay okay you all!

    1. I am always happy to hear from you, Marianne. Glad you enjoyed this post.

  41. Hi David,
    It was nice to view this!
    Happy September!
    Stay save.

  42. Kudos, David, for organizing and conducting the walks during challenging times. I know the participants are especially grateful.

    You certainly observed an impressive array of birds! If you could arrange for that Olive-sided Flycatcher to drop by our yard during migration I would be obliged.

    Another thoroughly enjoyable post and virtual nature walks.

  43. David: Sorry I'm so late getting here to send along my thanks for linking up & sharing this marvelous outing, been kinda too busy to be online. So much seen, good times & good friends makes for a perfect week! I love all flora/fauna but, I must admit, I do have a favorite & that is the flicker in flight

    ~Anni @ I'd Rather B Birdin'

  44. Hi David. Does the smell of Large Milkweed Bug s--t class as a pheremone?

    Those COVID Walks are a wonderful initiative on your part, and obviously highly successful. I take my hat off to you for all the effort that you and Miriam put in to make it happen.

    1. Esteemed Dr Pegler: Thank you for this scatalogical clue which had not entered my more pristine thoughts, but I will be sure to follow up on this further. Shall I perhaps forward a sample to you for analysis in a British laboratory specializing in such matters? You might be able to make a real name for yourself with this inquiry! It seems to have the colour and consistency of Marmite so you probably have a leg up on us poor Canucks who eschew such delicacies.

    2. I'll pass on your kind offer, thank you, David. Our scientific laboratories are currently unable to cope with the demand for COVID test analysis, so I don't want to add to the burden. Glad I read this reply from you AFTER Lindsay had finished her Marmite-laden bagel at breakfast!

  45. I enjoyed everything in this post, especially learning about the milkweed bugs.

  46. Post obfity! Kilka spacerów, kilka grup i udane obserwacje. Pisałam Ci już, ze zawsze cieszy mnie widok ptaków brodzących. Maja w sobie coś intrygującego. Fajną masz lunetę, kiedyś chciałam sobie taką kupić, ale to spory wydatek, a ja jednak lubię fotografować. Mamy dobre lornetki i to musi wystarczyć.
    Na spacerze nr 3 byli ludzie o nazwisku Wesolowski! Na pewno pochodzą z Polski!

    1. You are correct, Ludmila. Andrew Wesolowski was born in Poland and has lived in Canada for many years. His wife, Lorraine, is originally from Montreal and took his name when they married. I will be sure to draw his attention to this remark from you!

  47. Lots going on for you :) i'm glad you were able to work out a way to do the walks, they're so necessary especially at the moment and good to see enthusiasm too. There's lots of great photos too, the Olive-sided Flycatcher is a beauty!

  48. So wonderful you were able to find a way to get together with other birders and still be safe. I long for some similar adventures with good company. I really enjoyed the photo of the Black Saddlebags dragonfly which I don’t think I’ve seen before.

  49. Wonderful walks for birding. It was interesting to follow your study of the milkweed bugs. We've just had a 15-year resurgence of moths that have larva that feed on our evergreen trees in the forest. I've never seen so many moths in one place. They are floating on the water in the marina and the little fish are going crazy feasting. - Margy

  50. I was lucky enough once to find milkweed pods covered with milkweed bugs in every stage of development. They are protected in the same way as the Monarchs, which allows them to roam with impunity. I'm glad you were able to begin roaming again. It's always a pleasure to see species that we share, like the goldenrod and asters. Of course there are several common bird species, too. It was fun to see some of them appearing for each of your groups!

  51. So many fine photos! Glad the walks were a success. I don't understand why the cormorants were culled.

  52. David - how wonderful that you would organize these walks that meet social distancing AND get folks out into nature. I don't need to tell you how important it is for mental as well as physical health to be out and about! So many wonderful photographs, it would be hard to choose a favorite. But I think the chickadee with the cattail seeds on its face has to be close to the top!

  53. It's good to hear you are able to organise such great walks even in these difficult times.
    What an amazing set of beautiful and interesting photos! As you said, some of the first photos had been taken in difficult light conditions but then there are so many that are pure masterpieces... just to mention one: that of an American crow.
    Fascinating plants, cheerful flowers, and a cloud that indeed looks like a cow. :) Cloud gazing is one of the best activities for children and adults alike.

  54. Boa tarde David!
    Que viagem maravilhosa pelo seu lindo cantinho!
    Fotografias e descrições extraordinárias!
    Um beijinho para todos o que tornaram isso possível!🌺🌼🌻
    Megy Maia🌈

  55. We have had milkweed bugs (although I suspect a different species, and not as large) on our milkweed plants in our front yard. It's been a couple years since I've seen them. Thanks for your comment on my blog. Your comment about the messed up world we are passing on to Lilly and her generation is both sad and true.

  56. Me encantaría apuntarme para una de tus caminatas, pero será en otra ocasión. Un abrazo amigo David.

  57. I absolutely love these jaw-dropping photos, David!

    Nature is so beautiful and wonderful.

  58. Hi David,
    It certainly was a great idea to make the walks in nature with smaller groups. Obviously no unnecessary risks and plenty of opportunities to enjoy. I am not surprised that is has been a success. And even you made the walks several times, every day has been different for you.
    I think you loaded enough motivation to organize similar trips in the (near?) future again. Greetings, Kees

  59. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. How fortunate all those folks are to be able to walk with such knowledgeable guides. I kept comparing your sightings to what I have seen here in my little neck of the woods. You put a name to several for me including the tiny bluets. If only everyone could view it all through our appreciative eyes, heh.

  60. Hi David - I love the sunset cloud pictures ... a golden lining to the day I'd say - and I can imagine Lily learning loads from the two of you, let alone her parents. Fantastic range of photo goodies for us to enjoy and get stuck into ... those milkweed bugs are amazing and I gather used as a model organism.

    I do congratulate you on opening up 'your doors' to sharing a few walks to check in on the wildlife ... particularly the birds. What a glorious card from Valerie Gael - clever lady.

    Loved the post - thank you ... take care - Hilary

  61. Hi Both,
    Another superb and varied post, mind I am starting to think you must have considerably more hours in the week in Canada. How you manage to lead 5 walks and then turn out such an impressive post. I will try to keep up but don't hold much hope.
    you stay safe and well

  62. He pasado un rato muy entretenido viendo vuestras caminatas amigo. Cuanto se disfruta con la naturaleza para los que nos gusta David. Gracias por compartir.
    Buen fin de semana. Cuidaros.
    Un abrazo.

  63. A fabulous post, I enjoyed all of your photographs, thank you.

    All the best Jan

  64. Wonderful images! Those bugs are awesome to see all together :)

    Your link at 'My Corner of the World' is greatly appreciated!! I'm glad to see you this week!

  65. beautiful and so good pics!!

    greetings :)

  66. All I can say is, thank you David and Miriam, for a deeply satisfying post. I took my time and really enjoyed the visual (computer) participation.

  67. Hi David,
    I have never really seen so many bugs together !!!! For me that is also a unique experience to be able to see this with you. Of course also enjoyed the beautiful pied grebe which is also such a beautiful animal.
    The many birds, caterpillars and grasshopper feet are great to see. There are really many beautiful nature spots in Canada :-))))
    I also like to see squirrel hihi ...
    The yellow-legged horse is great as are the woodpeckers and the kingfisher. I really see a lot of beautiful feet and these days you will not soon forget I think.
    I enjoyed this beautiful nature session.
    Dear greetings and stay safe,
    Helma xo


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.