Thursday, 1 October 2020

The Linear Trail, Hillside Park and the Mill Race with Lily

The Linear Trail, Cambridge, ON

     Recent outings have been characterized by benign weather, fall colours and interesting sightings.
     It was a pleasant meander along the Linear Trail, initially following the bank of the Speed River, where a Mallard (Anas platyrynchos) and a Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) enjoyed each other's company.

     Judging by the sheer numbers of Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) it would appear that they have had a successful breeding season. 

     Had this bird wished to emulate Narcissus it would have had a perfect reflection to admire - and pay a very steep price for its self-indulgence!
     We ambled along, happy to be enjoying nature on so pleasant a day.

     Early into our walk we spotted a female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) which flew ahead of us in short bursts, perching and then moving forward as though on cue, as Miriam raised her camera. Finally, it co-operated and permitted a portrait; even then, grudgingly, from the concealment of some branches.

     A very handsome Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) was far more willing to flaunt its finery.

     About a kilometre or so along the trail one is presented with the confluence of the Speed and Grand Rivers.

     In this area very interesting observations can be had, and it appears to be a favourite spot for Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) to congregate in the winter. We saw little but gulls, cormorants and ducks today, but it is always a splendid experience to look out over the water and scan for surprises. We have been rewarded for our diligence on many occasions.
     We were delighted to have an American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus americanus) join us for a few minutes to pass the time of day.

Hillside Park, Waterloo, ON

     Many are those who disparage goldenrod, but who can deny that it is a fine and wonderful part of autumn in Ontario? 

     A Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is no less bold and enchanting, fabulously attired in scarlet,  a reminder of how fortunate we are to be possessed of a naturalist's eyes, where the normal becomes incredible, and beauty is present at every turn; a goldenrod or a cardinal to stir the emotions and energize the senses.

     The colours of fall were reflected in the limpid waters of Laurel Creek.

     There are so many bumble bees, some very similar indeed, that I hesitate to assign a species to the following individual foraging on Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), so I will restrict myself to calling it Bombus sp.

     A Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinensis) could be heard high above us drilling into a dead tree in search of grubs and other tasty morsels.

     A  male Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) was industriously nectaring on New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae).

     Four or five Eastern Phoebes (Sayornis phoebe) put on a classic display of flycatching, perching on a branch and sallying forth to capture passing insects.

     Several lifetimes ago, or so it seems, when I owned a cottage on a lake in the Muskoka region of Ontario, a pair of phoebes built their nest each year on the porch light, so I have a special spot in my heart for this delightful little bird who was my companion through two broods a season, for many years.
     To the best of my recollection, we had not previously seen the caterpillar of the moth evocatively called Goldenrod Hooded Owlet (Cucullia asteroides) so we were especially interested to see this form.

     This species will overwinter in a tough cocoon constructed beneath the ground.
     As mentioned above bees are difficult to identify for the non-expert and I have been unable to to pin this one down as to species.

     I can tell you, however, that it was busily flitting among the flowers of Pannicled Aster (Symphyotrichum lanceolatum).
     Of Diptera I have but miniscule knowledge, so all I can tell you about Miriam's extraordinary picture below is that it is a fly!

     Miriam was happy to sit and relax for a little while, well-deserved I might add.

     It seemed that we could hardly move, or sit on a log for that matter, without a Red-legged Grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum) bounding along with us.

     An American Crow (Corvus brachyrynchos) posed for several minutes and "talked" to us, before being joined by a few of his brethren, and they all flew off together.

     Anecdotally, it appears that House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) have been in decline in recent years, and we see them relatively infrequently at our backyard feeders. It was a surprise to see a male perched high on a snag.

     On a couple of occasions we have come across a black domestic cat at Hillside Park; in fact it seeks us out as soon as it sees us. It is a friendly cat, in splendid condition, obviously someone's pet, and rubs against our legs and purrs with pleasure. It generally then walks along with us for some distance.

     This animal should be confined to its home. No matter how delightful it may be, it has the potential to wreak havoc on small wildlife, from young rabbits to chipmunks, to unwary songbirds, grassland rodents, and others. I hope its owners will take heed and restrict the movement of this cherished family pet. 
     I should also point out that Hillside Park is home to foxes, coyotes and Great Horned Owls (Bubo virgianus) so the cat is threatened too, and it would be better all round if the cat did not prey on some wildlife or fall prey to others.

The Mill Race, St. Jacobs, ON

     Friday is "Lily and Heather Day" for us, and so it was that we met up at the Mill Race to perambulate and prattle on a glorious fall day.

     For several years we have noticed that American Beavers (Castor canadensis) have taken to raiding the adjacent cornfields and dragging copious quantities of corn stalks with the husks attached into the water. You can see the extensive trails they create.

    We found it very interesting to observe a group of Mallards (Anas platyrynchos) resting on the watery stash, and it dawned on us that they were feeding on the ears of corn, and doubtless invertebrate prey was accessible there too. Smart Mallards!

     Let's not proceed any further without showing you a picture of "Lily with the brown spiky hair"!

     White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) is predictable along the Mill Race, but it is always a joy to see them.

     It was while we were watching the nuthatch that a Green Heron (Butorides virescens) walked up to almost where we were standing and for several minutes remained in full view, unperturbed by our presence. It was quite remarkable.

     The leaves of fall are always breathtaking; seen every year yet they never become commonplace, and always evoke admiration. I sometimes think that the camera starts taking pictures by itself the moment it sees them!

     New England Aster, that quintessential flower of autumn, is no less magnificent.

     Thank goodness we live in this area of natural beauty, with four distinct seasons, each with its own treasures.
     Lily, of course, is too young to take all this in, but we notice that every week she is more observant, and her eyes are darting hither and yon, and she unquestionably reacts to the screech of a Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) or the slurred whistle of a Northern Cardinal.

     Perhaps in ways that we are unable to understand she is storing up these experiences and they are forming the foundation stones of her life. We will never know, of course, but we can hope.
     Look at these tiny feet.

     To borrow from an old song, "These feet are made for walking." And her footsteps will make a difference.
     Lily will make her mark in life. Whatever she chooses for herself, we have no doubt she will succeed, and we will all be there to help her.

     It seems that every week as Heather lifts Lily from the stroller to put her in the car seat we get a final picture of the two of them together.

     Why mess with success?


  1. As always beautiful photos, David! I love to see the Aster flowers. Here they have not reached to flower yet, and they proably will not. Poor cat! I hope it comes home. I understand your worry about all they can catch and kill, but cats are only following their instincts. My two cats lives indoor, and they have never lived outside. But if I let them go out I'm sure they would kill birds and whatever they may catch. That's the way they are, but still I love them very much.

  2. Hi David.

    So many beautiful things to see again.
    The Kingfisher is beautiful as are the Cardinal and the Red-bellied Woodpecker.

    I loved your series and little Lily.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  3. Hi David
    Lovely report about the comming autumn season. Lovely to walk with you and see al this beautyful nature. The mallards, de Red Cardinal, Kingfisher, leaves and streams, great portrait of Miriam and also Lily. Stunning the Green Heron passing by!!
    Greetings and stay save!

  4. Love your picture of the female Belted Kingfisher, and the wonderful details in Miriam's superb fly photo. Lily, of course, is always a pleasure to see too.

  5. I am quite sure that Lily and Heather Day (whatever day of the week it falls on) is a red letter day for you.
    And many thanks for sharing all the beauties and wonders that pack this post.

  6. Oh Ilove little Lily with that today red ribbon !She also has so tiny little feet!!Sweet!think of all she is going to walk in her lifetime:)

    Beautiful birds and nature pix today David!I have never seen any of them.Right now here at my place we have visitor Mandarin duck and we all travel to the pound where he is, a young one, to take a picture.He is very cute:))
    Wish Miriam and you all good

  7. Hi David, another great post, filled with beautiful wildlife including birds, insects, a gorgeous toad, lovely Heather and Miriam, a black cat and LOVELY LILY! So good to see this little species again, so beautiful. I'm so jealous of her hair! I love that bird with the yellow legs and feet, perhaps I should buy myself some yellow boots this year! So, off to get some work done. Thanks for sharin the spledid pics, have a great day, hugs, Valerie

  8. Now, what kind of person doesn't like goldenrod? :)

    I tend to agree about cats, but once they have a taste of the great outdoors, they tend to be unhappy indoors. Sadly.

    1. Then people should not be surprised when it is killed by a coyote.

  9. Hello, David

    Pretty pictures of Miriam, Lily and Heather. I always enjoy your birds and photos, the reflection are beautiful. Lovely Autumn colors and beautiful flowers. Wonderful collection of photos. Great outing and post. Take care, have a great day!

  10. Oh my gosh, such a collection you brought us!That green heron and Lily’s toes,, just magical.

  11. Lovely reflection of Fall colors in the waters of Laurel creek!
    The awesome black cat's stare, and the tiny feet of Lily - definitely steal the show.

  12. Très joli le martin-pêcheur à ceinture et j'aime aussi beaucoup le héron vert.
    Les chats peuvent tuer beaucoup d'oiseaux!Le mien reste sur ma terrasse qui est sécurisé car en plus il y'a la route à côté... Lily a toujours des cheveux incroyables!
    Bonne journée

  13. So many wonderful photos in your post I don't even know where to start with my commenting. That fly picture is amazing but those tiny feet win for me, I think. And of course, the bird pictures are also amazing. Love the belted kingfisher. Perhaps the black cat is a barn cat? Our cat is indoor/outdoor though we're fairly suburban and I keep a close eye when she's out. However, she was born a barn cat and it is no small feat keeping a cat with outdoor blood in its veins indoors. Sometimes, they outsmart their owners. Hope you are having a great week!

  14. Precioso reportaje y preciosas escenas de un mes de otoño que empieza a manifestarse con toda su belleza estimados amigos. La paleta de colores de otoño no tiene parangón comparándola con el resto de estaciones. Las varas de oro, están preciosas, como preciosa está cada día más la increíble tierna y adorable Lily, una preciosidad de criatura.
    Un fuerte abrazo amigo y compadre David, deseándote desde esta otra parte del mundo llamado España tengas un feliz otoño junto a Miriam.

  15. What a lovely excursion! I love them all!
    Where was your cottage in Muskoka?

    1. Near to Dorset, on a small lake called Wren Lake.

  16. I’ve never heard weather described as “benign” … I like it because do no harm weather is probably the safest best kind. The toad really is cute as are Lily’s tiny toes.

    1. Maybe I will pass along the term to the meteorologists!

  17. Serenity at its best.
    The natural surroundings have a great impact in our wellbeing… no doubt…
    And then there is Lily… : ))
    I am leaving with a smile.

  18. Lily is growing so quickly. She is adorable.

    You saw lots of birds. Thank you for sharing them. The heron was a beauty. Smart mallards too. Great post.

  19. All excellent photos David. The Kingfisher is extraordinary!

  20. Oh dear Lily! Your hair is so full and beautiful!!! Grow strong little baby girl!

    Looove that Starling David, it's one of a kind plus the way it's perched exuding so much aura! I love it!

  21. Another great outing for you all, lots of nice sightings. The fall colours are looking good.
    Thanks for sharing and have a nice day.

  22. I feel totally refreshed having completed my "virtual" nature walk with you! What delights we found!

    Fall migration "officially" began for us two days ago as a cold front moved through the state. Well, I'm not sure we experienced a "cold" front, even though that's the correct term. At least we have had a drastic reduction in humidity along with clear skies.

    More importantly, what I consider the harbinger of bird migration, the Palm Warbler, made its first appearance yesterday.

    Thank you, David, for sharing your crisp air, fantastic foliage and all the sensations of an autumn excursion.

  23. It looks like you had a great walk and I am always surprised you see so much. I find my walks are generally plants and a few insects, very seldom do I ever get close enough to a bird.

    There are a selection of barn cats around here and as we are the only people that feed the birds the cats seem to know where to hangout!! I spend my life chasing them out of the garden.

    Stay safe you two and take care Diane

  24. Loved to read the story of your phoebes. How nice to have them so close several seasons. That is trust!
    I also loved to see the second shot of the Green heron. Never seen the feathers raised like this before. A beautiful post ans do is Lily.

  25. Lovely photos of your glorious wildlife. You mention owning a cottage on a Muskoka lake. My cousin has a cottage on Wood Lake and we visited her there some time ago now.

  26. Another wonderful post, David. I enjoyed it very much and found it a needed lift for counteracting a little bad news today. I loved seeing so many species both floral and birds and the way little Lily was slipped in there just like another splendid specimen of her species too. And you know you are really getting to us grandmas by showing those sweet little toes.


  27. All the photos are very beautiful, showing a profuse variety of living beings of all kinds, from plants, insects and birds among many, with a beautiful environment. The Tringa are already in these latitudes, we have seen some, I calculate that in some days more the vast majority will leave the northern hemisphere.

  28. Another wonderful week. Miriam indeed is a photographer of excellence.

  29. Yes, why mess with success. I am always amazed on how much wildlife you all encounter on your walks. You truly live in a very beautiful place. It's fun seeing Lily through your eyes.

  30. Hi David wow great post and awesome photos as well. Oh I love the Kingfisher pic he colour is so pretty and what a beautiful pic of Heather and Lily,how lovely to be able to go wali g with them hope you have a wonderful weekend David xx

  31. I'd like to join you on your walks. Wow - tremendous scenery and the birds. Plus cute Lily with the spiky hair. Have an excellent weekend.

  32. Vuestras salidas son fantásticas por la cantidad de aves que aviastáis. Así aprendemos por aquí a conocerlas. Ya veréis cuando esos pies empiecen a caminar... No van a parar:))
    Os deseo un buen fin de semana David. Cuidaros.
    Un abrazo.

  33. Sure wish we lived closer to come along and see such natural beauty. We do walk in the large city park near our home, but aside from some mallards and an occasional great blue heron or Canada geese, don't have such variety and of course seeing Lily and Heather is an added bonus for you. It was nice to see Miriam as well in this post. That green heron may have found new friends.

    1. If ever you find yourself in southern Ontario, I would happy to spend time with you, Beatrice.

  34. Es agradable caminar, sin excesivo frío ni excesivo calor. El otoño ha llegado con unas temperaturas muy agradables que invitan a caminar.

    Buen avistamiento de aves y de insectos.

    Los colores del otoño ya se manifiestan en tus bellas fotos.

    Que tengas un buen fin de semana.

  35. Once again, David, a most enjoyable post. Loved the birds, the insects, the plants, and (of course) seeing how Lily is getting on.

  36. How come that the House Finches are in decline, do you know? There are still large numbers of them in my garden and I love watching them. The photos of the Green Heron are stunning! I love these guys and have also experienced them of being quite unimpressed by my presence.

  37. David - as always, a joyful meander with you and your entire family! So much in this post that caught my attention; I have also been fortunate to see quite a few kingfishers lately. The killdeer always looks like it is concerned about something - I never tire of seeing their striking faces! And the tiny caterpillar - how ever did you spot that!? I found a fellow crawling across the driveway the other day, and I relocated him lest he get squished!

  38. Hello David, again a splendid walk with so much to see. I love the Red Belly Woodpecker. I find the Green Heron an amazing bird. We do not have them here in our region. Red leged Grashoppers we do see those here as well but perhaps it is a bit different. Hard to tell from a photo. A great photo of Miriam resting on the tree. And ofcourse Lily and her mom are wonderful.
    Wishing you all a nice weekend and stay safe.

  39. Hello David,
    I love your posting with all the wonderful walks and photos, just so wonderful the wildlife there. .
    Beautiful touching scenes and words from the little one and mother of you.
    Have a beautiful weekend and take care of yourself!
    Greetings Elke

  40. Hello David,
    A wonderful walk and a great report on your sightings. The flowers, birds and insect are great captures. One of my favorite birds is the Green Heron. Cute photos of Lily! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, enjoy your day! Have a happy weekend! PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

  41. Hi David :) You take some amazing photos. So many beautiful birds! I love the froggie shot too! :) My favourite bird is the Mourning Dove, I love their coo, I have yet to capture one on film without it being blurry! :) The tree in the fourth photo is awesome! :)

  42. Lily is just the cutest little bundle of joy! I know you can't wait to take her on hikes to learn about nature. Love seeing the wildflowers you've seen. The Goldenrod is blooming here too. And we have a type of that crazy fly here. Enjoy your weekend and the nice weather!

  43. So nice to see the birds, plants, insects and of course the lovely Lily.
    Great selection of photographs.

    All the best Jan

  44. Hola David.

    Aparte de tu bella princesita que semana a semana vamos viendo su evolución, no deja nunca de sorprendente que los congéneres americanos de los trepadores o los pájaros carpinteros sean los de aquí tan huraños y desconfiados y los del otro lado del Atlántico tan confiados. Muy buenas fotos y como siempre acompañados de precisos y amenos relatos.

    Un fuerte abrazo desde Galicia de tu amigo,


    1. Thanks for stopping by, Rafa. It is always a great pleasure to hear from you. Un fuerte abrazo mi amigo.

  45. hello David
    autumn conjures up the most beautiful colors again, I'm looking forward to seeing this and of course taking photos. The green heron looks fantastic and has a nice hairstyle ..
    Greetings Frank

  46. Tu reportaje me encanta como siempre. A Lily se la ve cada día más bonita. Espero y deseo que todo os vaya muy bien, con mucha salud. Abrazos para todos.

  47. Lots of lovely sightings here, not the least of which were Miriam and Lily! I don't think I've ever seen a phoebe. That green heron is a stunner and so is the belted Kingfisher. It's lovely walking with you!

  48. @ David – gosh what a gorgeous choice of meanders … a Lily walk, autumn goodies – all of them, the birds … that Green Heron is amazing – great photos by Miriam. The toad and sparrow … fun to see! Also the bees and that one attractive and necessary Diptera …lovely Michaelmas daisies – as we know them. Black put-cat … delightful – but agree with your thoughts. The caterpillar – they are fascinating … glad it’ll survive the winter … while I was interested in checking out where the Muskoka region of Ontario is. I’d love to explore more of Canada, as too parts of the States … a dream and living vicariously I suspect. Thanks – love the eye-spy visitations … Hilary