Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Local Sightings During COVID Restrictions

      There seems to be no end to the degree of backtracking, mind-changing, and the sewing of confusion by our abjectly inadequate provincial government, but one over-arching fact is clear, we are restrained from freedom of movement in one way or another. So I will continue to post about events that are occurring locally.

19 April 2021
Waterloo Corporate Campus, Waterloo, ON

     This location is a busy retail/commercial venue, with a large grocery store, drug store, restaurants, other retail establishments and offices, a dental practice, and all the vehicular and pedestrian traffic that goes with it.
     We found it nothing short of astonishing that a Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) has selected it as the best site for its nest!

     The area is quieter than usual due to COVID lockdown measures, but that will change in about four weeks, probably close to the time when the eggs will hatch, so I am not sure whether the nest is viable in the long term.

     Potential nest robbers such as Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) and American Crow (Corvus brachyrynchos) are frequently seen here, leaving eggs left unprotected even briefly, exposed to risk. Foxes, coyotes, raccoons and skunks also scavenge in the area.
     Someone has had a sign made to caution people about the presence of the goose at its nest, and we applaud this attempt to afford whatever protection is possible.

     If the eggs do hatch, as we hope they will, there is no body of water anywhere close, and given that newly hatched goslings are led to the relative safety of a pond or lake soon after hatching, one wonders what will happen in this case.
     It will be very interesting to keep an eye on the progress of the nest, all the while hoping for a successful outcome.

RIM Park, Waterloo, ON

     We are permitted out for exercise purposes so a visit to RIM Park, a large area alongside the Grand River, seemed like a great choice.

     A few other people were visiting the park, but mostly we were not in close proximity to anyone else.
     Several Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) were circling on the thermals, at times descending to barely treetop height.

     The object of our quest was Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), absent so far this year from familiar spots closer to home, and it was not long before we spotted our first bird carrying nesting material.

     It is generally the smaller male that delivers the building materials to the female who arranges them according to her preference. 
     All around us, the world is greening up, a little more each day.

     American Beavers (Castor canadensis) have emerged from their winter sojourn beneath the ice, and set to work immediately.

     We spotted a Raccoon (Procyon lotor) emerging from a hole in a tree, where it had perhaps been enjoying an afternoon nap.

     It climbed up the tree, showing considerable versatility and skill as it shimmied up vertically.

     It kept a watchful eye on us, but seemed unconcerned, knowing no doubt that it had the upper hand, secure on the tree, and able to escape its human observers if it needed to.

     We were quite entranced and enjoyed about ten minutes of observation before the Raccoon came back down to the hole, inserted itself in, rear end first, and glanced back at us before disappearing from view.

     Miriam is always behind the camera, but today I grabbed it, and she posed for a picture.

     At the entrance/exit to the park there is a working farm and recently the fence has been replaced around the orchard.

     That is a serious fence! Seems to me it would keep out a herd of bison!
     RIM Park is a large complex and in addition to the natural areas is home to skating rinks, other sports facilities and multi-purpose rooms of various kinds. The parking area for the buildings has for several years hosted a couple of pairs of breeding ospreys.

     And when two birds get together at this time of the year, anything goes!

     After all there has to be a reward for delivering those sticks!

     Better scan the area for more branches and earn a repeat performance. 
     We concluded that we saw at least three birds, possibly four, but we were unable to determine the makeup of the pairs. This male came in with a fish and perched a short distance from the nest.

     As often happens, it began to devour the head.

     Miriam managed a shot showing the zygodactyl feet of this species, equipped with a reversible outer toe permitting the fish to be held with two toes forward and two toes back, and spicules on the soles to lock into slippery, thrashing prey.

     When the male was sated the fish was delivered to the female on the nest, the male descending into the wind.

     We had just witnessed one male leave the female at the nest following copulation, and one wonders about a second male delivering food, and what clandestine rewards awaited him. Fish with benefits perhaps is the maxim at this nest! We did not tarry to find out! 

Conestogo, ON

     In nearby Conestogo a pair of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) has successfully nested for several years, and it appears that they are raising young again this year.

     The nest is a considerable distance from the road, and the pictures reflect this.

     We assume that by now the young are in the nest and are being fed by both parents.

     It is always a thrill to see this magnificent raptor.

Any Day in our Front Yard

     The moment we leave the house, the joyful sound of a male House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) rings in our ears, from high atop the American Linden (Tilia americana) that dominates our front yard.

     The song has been described as a "slow or disjointed jumble of musical notes". I am not persuaded that it is a "disjointed jumble" but it is without question musical, and very appealing to my ears, evoking intense pleasure on hearing it,
     When I hear birds sing, I am reminded of the words of Charles Hartshorne, American philosopher and bird lover who wrote:

"..... birdsong is recognizably musical by all basic human standards. It has nice bits of melody, charming rhythms, even bits of harmony (for birds, unlike us, can sing contrasting notes simultaneously); it has obvious examples of theme with variations, near examples of accelerando and rallentando, crescendo and diminuendo, internal inversion, even change of key and tempo contrasts, as, for instance, when the same pattern, e.g., a trill is given at half or double speed."

    Pay close attention next time you hear a bird sing and perhaps you will note some of this. A concert awaits you at the dawn of every day. And it won't cost you a cent. Encores are guaranteed!


  1. Your photos are so beautiful, David - and it was interesting to read. It is really astonishing that the Canada Goose has selected the road as the best site for its nest!

  2. I totally love the spring bird songs! It just perks me up!
    That poor goose! I guess if it isn't viable, she'll figure it out. Quite the mystery.
    Amazing photos, as always. Miriam, give yourself a pat-on-the-back!

  3. I've definitely been serenaded by a house finch, totally enjoyed it. Had to laugh at "fish with benefits" for that osprey!

  4. It's intresting to read about the bevers, David. They have awakened here too. They live near by here.
    Nice to see Miriam for a change.

  5. I wonder what will happen to the nest, it seems a very unfortunate place.
    The house finch is beautiful!

  6. To my mind, David, a Raccoon has to be one of the cutest-looking mammals on the planet. I have, however, no idea as to whether their behaviour is as endearing.

    Your Osprey sightings make me feel quite nostalgic as I am relatively certain that I will, for yet another year, not be volunteering on the Rutland Osprey Project due to Covid concerns. I missed virtually all the 2019 season due to my health, and all the 2020 season due to the Covid situation. I might not even see an Osprey this year!

    Lindsay and I are off for our second Covid jabs tomorrow (A-Z), and greatly looking forwasrd to it.

    Best wishes to you both - - - Richard

    1. It is really too bad that you will have to forego the Osprey season again, Richard. COVID is unrelenting in terms of disruption to our lives. Good luck with the second needle. At least you will soon be 100% protected.

  7. That's a good hiding spot for a raccoon.

  8. Hi David, interesting report from the spring. I see you have ospreys too and managed to take better photos then I did :)
    That canada goose is nesting on a very special place, wonder hoe that will be. Interesting to follow !
    Regards from western Sweden

  9. Hari OM
    Quite a lot happening locally, then!!! Now you got me worried about a goose thousands of miles away from me... YAM xx

  10. What a place to have a nest! I guess it will be more challenging when the little ones comes out.

    1. I have my doubts whether it can get to that stage.

  11. Thank you for these marvels - and for the rare photo of Miriam.
    I have my doubts about that goose's choice of a nesting location - but would be very, very glad to be wrong.

  12. ן'm quite impressed by the sign: 'Caution Goose Nesting'.
    I'm also impressed by the log fence. I find it fascinating.
    Miriam is not only a talented photographer, but also a beautiful woman1

  13. Hello Both,
    Another super post, the Canada Goose with her nest sign was a find but your Racoon has such a cute face, not sure as to what their nature is like. The Osprey nest on the lighting column is very similar to one seen in Alaska but those birds had the lights and the aircraft to contend with, and then your Bald Eagles. I have yet to see my first Osprey this Year which is so disappointing, I have not registered as a volunteer on the Osprey Project again this year as last ,I feel this damn virus is not going away without a fight and the thoughts of mixing with people in a hide I find terrifying, plus I don't think my gamy knee would enjoy the walk ,once I have the new one and Covid has gone I will return reinvigorated. Good to see Miriam.
    You stay safe.

  14. It is surprising to see just how much at home the Canadian Goose appears to be sitting there hatching her eggs. My fear for her will be when the young appear with roads on either side of her to navigate. Let's hope that she hatches them out before the road gets too busy again when your freedom of movement is relaxed.
    I do like that little racoons sweet face. He/she appears to be keenly observing you too.

  15. A great capture of the raccoon, it's pretty.

  16. So good to see Miriam in front of the camera! I'm sure your government can't be worse than ours! You saw some great birds again. That goose has certainly chosen a strange place to nest. Have a great afternoon, hugs, Valerie

  17. The Osprey are back here as well this week. I hope the goose fares ok there. It doesn’t sound good though. I’ve only ever seen one raccoon. Interesting animals. Great photos as always, David.

  18. Always thrilling to see raptors nesting.
    The goose young may have a terrible start, though. I wonder if you will find out what becomes of them.

    1. I will do my best to keep track of the nest. I will go up and check on it tomorrow.

    2. So glad to hear that. Thanks!

  19. Querido amigo me quedo sorprendida con el nido del ganso, me temo que no es un lugar muy adecuado. El Mapache es hermoso al igual que las demás aves. Aquí en la ría que está más cerca se ve alguna Águila pescadora, pero son escasas. Preciosas fotos y Míriam muy guapa. Un fuerte abrazo para ti y para Míriam. Besos.

  20. Thank you for sharing your sightings, I always enjoy seeing your photographs.
    I must say that goose has chosen a strange place to nest, I do hope all will end well.

    All the best Jan

  21. What a line: "Fish with benefits."

    As for the goose, no wonder we use the adjective, silly.

  22. A lot to think about today; osprey, eagles, finch, raccoon like a toad in the hole. And that silly Canada goose. Someone will stop traffic to rescue her and the fluff balls.

  23. Hi David, you are so lucky you can see all the beautiful ospreys, eagles and animals. Greetings Caroline

  24. L'oie a fait son nid à un endroit très insolite.
    Les balbuzards sont beaux, vous avez fait beaucoup de jolies photos.
    Le raton laveur s'est trouvé un petit nid douillé.
    Bonne journée

  25. Hello David,

    I am happy to see the Osprey returning to their nest. Nice photo of Miriam! I hope the goose and the young are safe in that spot. Great series of photos and sightings. Take care, enjoy your day!

  26. Hi David – yes we might all feel restricted – yet there are gems to be found … one just hopes that these little gems are allowed to stay … that sign is good – let’s hope. Wonderful to see the Turkey Vultures thermalling; so pleased ‘your’ Osprey came into view … and yes the world is sprouting forth … amazing work the beavers do.
    The Raccoon … excellent photos … especially of Miriam – shy creature that she seems to be … this is delightful!
    Wonderful looking fence though – really smart split poles … love the story about the ospreys … I wonder if more than one male fertilises her eggs? So pleased to see the eagles are bringing up another family …
    While the delight of being at home and seeing your local avian family … I love hearing the blackbirds sing in the early morning … while Hartshorne’s words are brilliant to read … I didn’t know much of that … wonderful post – thank you - Hilary

    1. Yes, I thought Hartshorne really nailed it, Hilary.

  27. Hi David.

    What a special place for the Goose to make a nest.
    And you will be right later with more crowds, dangerous and too busy.
    How beautiful the Osprey with twigs.
    How beautiful that Raccoon.
    I think the fence looks solid and looks good.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  28. First, David, your rant at the start of this post is well taken I am sure by so many, myself included. That said, taking a closer look at things close to home does yield benefits as you have shown in this post. That goose has selected an unfortunate nesting spot especially with the lack of nearby water, and makes us wonder “what was she thinking?” Hopefully, the goslings will hatch out safely. Please keep us posted if possible. The raccoon is a great photo subject and how nice to see Miriam in front of the lens.

  29. I so hope Mother Goose and her family will make it. It is an odd place for a nest. Fingers will be crossed -- keep us posted. For me the other highlights are the raccoon photos (so cute till they get in your chimney) and Miriam, who doesn't need a chimney or tree to be cute -- but what a great, happy pink coat! Have a lovely rest of the week!

    1. A few years ago we had one in the attic. We paid $1,100 to have it safely removed and everything sealed up. Then we had our roof shingles replaced and the roofers didn't close it up properly and we had to repeat the whole process. Raccoons have been expensive for us!

  30. Buenas tardes amigo David, una belleza de entrada empezando por el nido en tan singular zona del Ganso de Canadá, hasta llegar al último del Pinzón doméstico con su bello canto. Todo un fiel reflejo de cuanta vida transcurre en las cercanías de tu casa. Por un momento pensé habían levantado el confinamiento, pero ya veo que aún se siguen con ciertas medidas de seguridad que algunos hacen oídos sordos como en tantos otros lugares.
    Miriam está muy juvenil, y con buena pinta de ser una autentica fotógrafa como lo demuestran sus bellos reportajes.
    Recibir un afectuoso saludo y abrazo de vuestro amigo y compadre Juan.

  31. I can’t get over the surprise that goose built a nest where she did. The goslings will surely need human protection to survive and get to a pond. Glad if your bald eagles are successfully raising some eaglets. The pair I watched virtually near here weren't successful for the second year whereas the hummingbirds have been much more so.

  32. La historia de este ganso, me ha llamado mucho la atención. Me gustaría uqe terminara bien y podamos ver esos ppollitos saliendo del huevo y creciendo con seguridad.

  33. I love the song of the House Finch and they are generally present in my yard to serenade me. Perhaps one of the "benefits" of the pandemic is that it has forced us to concentrate more on our localities with opportunities to become better acquainted with our neighbors in Nature.

    That's a lovely picture of Miriam.

  34. Hi Mr. David,

    Miss Hilary Melton-Butcher sent me to your blog because she knows I love raccoons. The pics of the raccoons are great. I love the one of him peeking out of the hole in the tree. We had a pet raccoon, Rowdy, who lived with us her whole life. Smart and fun little critter.

    The goose sure picked a poor location to nest. Is there an organization or agency that can move the goose, nest, and all, to a more secure location, preferably near a pond or lake?

    I love birds. For sure they sing cool songs. We had a pair of Wrens that got into the house through a small hole and made a next in a hanging plant in our kitchen. We named them Wrenée and Wrenoir. Lol. Every morning they would sing before going out. They raised three chicks in the nest. They never came back inside after the chicks left the nest.

    Thanks for a neat post and nice pics.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks to Hilary for recommending that you do.

  35. Querido amigo, me encantaron todas las fotografías ¡ Miriam está muy guapa ! Espero que el ganso saque su nidada y salga todo bien. Abrazos para los dos.

  36. Hola! Hi David, good night!
    despite the covid you are
    achieving very beautiful posts,
    as much as Miriam. I see in she
    a very
    a happy and sweet woman,
    that is why the birds sing so happily in your garden!
    I send you both a lot of air kisses.

  37. Your raccoon is adorable! And your nesting goose reminded me of the time I was coming home on one of our freeways and found traffic stopped. Somehow, a mother Mallard had ended up atop a flyover with her ducklings behind her. They were a long way from any water! Someone had called the police, who came and stopped traffic and managed to get the family safely off the freeway and down to a park not far away!

  38. hello David
    the nest with the goose is definitely worth watching, if necessary you would have to bring them to the water ... raccoons always look very curious when you catch them, they are nest predators but also cute to look at again ...
    Greetings Frank

    1. I checked on her yesterday, Frank, and she was still sitting tight.

  39. Great photos but I really enjoyed how you have described things as well - brought a smile to my face several times :))

  40. Spring continues to raise your spirits. Nature has that healing effect.

  41. As always, stunning photos, David!

    I especially love that little racoon's face!

  42. David - Your story about the goose nest reminded me of a goose pair that chose our work parking lot in Oakville as a nest site. We had to block off part of the lot to protect the geese (and even more so the employees!) I also recall a momma raccoon that had a "nest" in a tree next-door to us, and she raised three babies in that hole until they got too big! Nice to see a picture of Miriam!!!

    1. In my experience, Mallards tend to make their nests in this kind of situation, but I have not previously encountered geese doing it. Makes me wonder if the land there was originally wetland until it was developed so many years ago, and whether the goose has some hard-wired code to return there.

  43. I would like to know the reasons that have motivated the goose to choose such an unusual place for the elaboration of its nest. Regarding the photos of the osprey are a spectacle without forgetting that beautiful raccoon. Greetings David

  44. Hi David,
    What a post, your widlife world is so much different to mine. I would be so busy with my camera I would never get any sleep. Lovely post. Stay safe,

  45. I'm very concerned about the goose and her eggs. When we lived in Maryland, a mama duck laid her eggs in an unusual spot, but not one as isolated from a natural habitat as that. After the babies arrived and were old enough to follow mama, a road was shut down so mama and babies could be led to a pond.


  46. Hi David,
    Covid-19 influences the daily life also in the Netherlands. Fortunately the restrictions are not as severe anymore as before although the number of infected people is still too high. Vaccinations slowly but surely show their effects. Still, the actions of the government are sometimes mysterious.
    You had your walk with a few remarkable moments. The behaviour of the goose is a miracle. Interesting to find out how what's coming next. To see the huge eagles is always special. Let's hope their breeding efforts are succesful.
    Greetings, Kees
    Greetings, Kees

  47. Hello David,
    It is unimaginable that the Canada goose will breed on that spot, it seems dangerous to me with all those cars so close by.
    I enjoyed your photos.
    Greetings Irma

  48. Hello David,

    I think my favorite on this post is the Osprey. They are cool birds. The bird songs are a happy sound for me, I enjoy a walk in our local forest listening to the birds as I go. I hope the goose stay safe, it is a weird spot for a nest. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, enjoy your day! Happy Weekend! PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

  49. Hello.
    In the spring it is wonderful to observe nature, birds and other animals. Thank you for sharing.

  50. Miriam is very photogenic...and very beautiful! I always like to see what hikers are wearing too. I love her hat! The Goose doesn't have a very good location and I sure hope everyone survives. The sign should help. We are still staying close to home too!

  51. Ese ganso del canadá seguro que tiene éxito con sus crías. Me gustó ver a Mirian. Y bien que os alegra con sus cantos el pinzón. También el pájaro que tienes en la cabecera es una belleza. Gracias David por tan variada entrada.
    Buen fin de semana. Cuidaros.
    Un abrazo.

  52. Wonderful set of photos considering you have restrictions. We still have a full lockdown with date not given as yet for when it will be lifted! I love the Racoon what a cute little face.
    Wonderful to see Miriam as well, thanks for that shot.
    Have a good Sunday, Diane

  53. Love your critters, as always, but am surprised at the goose in the road!!

    Your link at 'My Corner of the World' this week is a wonderful addition!

  54. o, dear, that goose made a very bad choise for the nest. :(
    Beautiful nature shots and loved to see the Osprey and Raccoon

  55. Cada vez es más común ver escenas como esas barnaclas anidando en medio de la calle o las águilas pescadoras haciendo su nido el una farola, estamos antropizando la naturaleza. Buen reportaje David, me ha encantado. Un abrazo desde el norte de España.