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Monday, 10 May 2021

Interesting Discoveries All Around Us

     It sounds as though the record is stuck on the turntable I know, but due to government-imposed lockdown in the Province of Ontario, we are not venturing far afield. There is much of interest to be found locally, however, so please join me to look at what we have been seeing in the Kitchener-Waterloo area.

03 May 2021
In our backyard, Waterloo, ON

     American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is an exceedingly common species, and it is rarely that we glance out the window without seeing up to three individuals in the yard, including this interesting bird displaying signs of leucism. 


     It seems to enjoy our company for it puts in an appearance several times a day - or do you think it might just be for the food?

04 May 2021
Laurel Creek Reservoir, Waterloo, ON

     The marshes are filled with Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus), with ardent males competing with each other to woo more than one female, for this is a highly polygynous species. I suspect that the handsome fellow below will do well in the courtship games.


04 May 2021
Wilmot Township, Region of Waterloo, ON

     While driving, I spotted a couple of Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) in a field, evidently keenly interested in something, likely carrion. I was unable to detect what captured their attention, but when I stopped to take a picture one bird moved off a short distance while the other stayed put.


     Clearly it was a prize that outweighed any impetus to flee from a prying human.

05 May 2021
In our backyard, Waterloo, ON

     A male Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) is a regular at our feeders, generally stopping for a quick snack before moving on.


     It is always a male that visits and we assume that it is the same bird each time.

05 May 2021
Conestogo, ON

     A pair of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) has bred successfully for several years in a large nest in a large tree alongside the Conestogo River, almost in town, in fact.
     We were unable to view any activity at the nest, which becomes harder to see as the trees leaf out, but one of the pair was perched on a nearby snag.


     Caspian Terns (Hydroprogne caspia) have returned to grace our waterways and we saw our first individual of the year patrolling up and down the river, plunging in to capture fish, to great success based on our observation.


05 May 2021
RIM Park, Waterloo, ON

     Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus), unlike most woodpeckers, feeds primarily on the ground, searching for ants.



     It is not often that we see Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) on the ground but this male seemed to have business there.


     I suspect that a juicy beetle or some other equally appealing snack had caught his eye.
     As sometimes happens, Miriam and I had no sooner finished saying to each other that we had not seen our first Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus), when, as though on cue, we heard one sing - and there it was!


     Our skills as botanists are rudimentary, but improving, happily, and you will indulge me I am sure while I present a few woodland plants.
     Is a Downy Yellow Violet (Viola pubescens) not guaranteed to put a smile on your face?


     Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia), also known as Wooly Blue Violet, is found in colours ranging from purple to white.



     There are several species of Wood-sorel (Genus Oxalis) dotted throughout the woodlands of southern Ontario, and this is one of them. Based on the many references I have consulted I think it is Oxyalis griffithii. Confirmation would be welcomed.


     Canada or Wood Anemone (Anemone canadensis) adds a touch of beauty wherever it is found.


     Fawn Lily (Genus Erythronium) was not hard to spot, and is a delightful component of a woodland stroll.



     Cut-leaved Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata is a classic plant of moist woodlands, always a joy to locate and emblematic of the habitat.


     My trivial and superficial journey into the world of plants will bring you pleasure, I hope; it does for me as I search, discover and learn, but if you wish to get to know a talented botanist, overflowing with knowledge, a dedicated environmentalist with a first rate blog, please visit my great friend Juan Tarrero Sarabia here
     Some of you will perhaps remember the impressive fence I featured on an earlier blog. I think a male Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) found it equally impressive as a perch from which to serenade any passing female whose interest he might be able to capture.



     Or perhaps a dais in a tree is better platform after all.


07 May 2021
In our backyard, Waterloo, ON

     All winter long we were visited by both White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) and Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis). The white-breasted seems to be seeking its fortune elsewhere, but the Red-breasted Nuthatch still comes to our feeders, often flying off with food, so perhaps there are young mouths to feed.


     Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata) are nothing short of ubiquitous this year and at times there are as many as ten in our yard.


     I am sure you will vicariously share in our joy at having so many of these wonderfully attractive birds visit us.


     A couple of days earlier we had set out oranges and grape jelly in anticipation of the arrival of the first Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) so we were elated to see this handsome male arrive.



07 May 2021
Hillside Park, Waterloo, ON

     This is one of the several colour variations of Common Blue Violet.


    Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea), sometimes called Gill-over-the-ground is common throughout our area.


     Birding was in general a little slow, but this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) surveyed the world from a loft perch.


     The most disappointing, but very predictable, facet of our walk was to observe, over and over again, the impact of that highly destructive animal Homo ignoramus disgusticus
     Hillside Park is a lovely place, a sylvan urban oasis with a creek running through it. But Homo ignoramus
can fix that in a hurry. Who wants pristine when a shopping cart can be chucked into the stream?


     The cart has to be deliberately taken there and equally deliberately tossed into the water, so nefarious intent is clear from the outset.
     And let's have a little more trash long the banks.


     That coffee was delicious, steaming hot and bold in taste, but it's all done so let's get rid of the cup and its plastic lid.


     There are houses alongside the creek through one section, all well-maintained, with pride of ownership visible for all to see. One homeowner had replaced his fence, only to have it bedaubed with graffiti mere days later.


     Why the idiots in our society think it's okay to vandalize the property of others is quite beyond my level of understanding. And what satisfaction they derive from doing it I am incapable of figuring out.
     By any reasonable measure, by even the least reasonable measures in fact, humans are disgusting, and we are sewing the seeds of our own destruction as we continue to pollute without end, fill the oceans with plastic, decline to mend our ways, and trash every green and pure place we have. We pay taxes for our cities to create and maintain parkland and immediately set about to despoil and degrade it.
     I despair that we have shown time and again that we are incapable of change. We know what is happening, we understand the science, the implications are clear, yet we do nothing to mend our ways.

08 May 2021 
Lakeside Park, Kitchener, On

     Song Sparrow is common as you will have come to realize, but it is a wonderful little bird, and males pour their heart into song, their whole bodies shaking with the excitement of it all.



     I never tire of hearing them announce their presence to all who care to know.
     White Spruce (Picea glauca) has male and female trees, and this female is producing a heavy crop of cones.


     Several Myrtle Warblers (Setophaga coronata) were flitting around gleaning insects, and it was hard to focus the camera on them before they moved again. This is not a very good picture but it was the best that I could get.


     Had Miriam been with me I am sure she would have done better!
     Our lockdown continues until 20 May, but whether to open up again will be debated before the restrictions are lifted, so look for more local news rather than from any forays farther afield. Oh to be able to travel again!

66 comments:

  1. What a fab post I really enjoyed seeing your wild flowers as well as the various birds. Ground Ivy is the bane of my life spreading everywhere, along with Geranium robertianum, they both take over everywhere. Pretty flowers, but in the wrong place in our garden! Hopefully you do not have the latter as well!

    We still do not know when our restrictions will be lifted, though it seems with the lighter evenings the 7pm curfew might be lifted to a later hour in June. Photography in the garden is getting to be a bit boring! Tomorrow we have an appointment in Angouleme late, and it will be impossible to get home before the curfew hour. Forms for each of us will have to be filled in and signed with the hours of leaving home and why!

    Enjoy being able to get out, even if it is not very far. Best wishes to you both. Diane

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    1. The speculation is rife that our lockdown will be extended.

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    2. Sounds as bad as us! :-(

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  2. Joy. Awe. Wonder. And shared disgust and shame at our species' behaviour.

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  3. Hari OM
    Oh my - so much of beauty - and then the trash... I sigh and shake my head also. YAM xx

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  4. Hello David,
    What a great post, you have wonderful local birds to see there. I see so many favorites, one is the Oriole. The wildflowers are beautiful, lovely variety of sightings. Have a great day and a happy new week!

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  5. It's great fun to see your bluejays, and the photo of them 'posing' with the blue flowers is especially nice.

    I was caught by your reference to the Conestogo River. Of course I thought immediately of the Conestoga wagons that carried early settlers westward, and wondered if there was a connection. Indeed, there is. The wagons were named for the Conestoga River/Township in Pennsylvania. In a twist of history, it seems The Conestogo River was named by Mennonite settlers after the Conestoga River in Pennsylvania. The venerable Wiki says that in the 1800s there were several different spellings of the name of the river and of the nearby settlement of Conestogo, Ontario, but the name ending in "o" eventually became the official one. So interesting!

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    1. Miriam's ancestors migrated to southern Ontario from Pennsylvania.

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    2. How about that! What an interesting history it is.

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  6. I'm very impressed about the flowers you show David. I love to see them all. I guess Anemone canadensis is very similar to Anemone nemorosa who grows here. Thank you for showing my favoritebird, Blue Jay. I would love to see them in real life :)
    Hugs from Marit

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    1. All you have to do, Marit, is get on a plane as soon as the pandemic is over, and I will show you Blue Jays - and take you to the Royal Botanical Gardens too.

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  7. The three blue birds share their hunting areas.

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  8. I am sure the address of your backyard is regarded as a hot tip for 5 star bird food. No wonder they all visit you! You have certainly seen some wonderful species there and on your walks. Graffiti and damage to other people's property is very common here, too. And I never understand why it's so much harder to take garbage home for disposal than it is to bring bags of food and drink to consume. The world gets worse not better. Hugs to you both, Valerie

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  9. You have such a wonderful range of colourful birds right on your doorstep, and wild flowers too. However, the vandals, they are a complete mystery to me. I ask the same questions myself, why oh why do they do it? If that brand new fence was mine, I would be really angry.
    Next Monday our latest restrictions will be lifted, hotels will be open, and we have a holiday booked.

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    1. I am sure that the homeowner was too, Rosemary, but there is little or no remedy once the deed is done.

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  10. What a variety of beautiful birds David.

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  11. J'aime beaucoup les fleurs sauvages que je laisse au jardin, elles sont bien résistantes et appréciés des insectes.
    C'est très joli comme oiseau l'Oriole et les geais bleus magnifiques.
    Quel dommage pour la clôture... C'est partout pareil, ici des gens ont emménagé et ont rempli les poubelles de tri sélectif de leur déchets et plein de gros sacs plastique!
    Bonne soirée

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  12. Your "backyard" (Patch) is quite a lovely place to be in semi-lockdown. All except for the homo ignoramuses -- but sadly they are everywhere; hard to get away from. Best wishes that things improve soon and travel again become possible for you. Sallie

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  13. The first time I saw a blue heron in a tree, I was surprised. I hadn’t associated them with trees, always having seen them around shorelines. Love these birds you feature.

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  14. I totally and completely agree with you on Homo ignoramus disgusticus!!!!

    But your wondrous pics of the birds and flowers make up for them. ;)

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  15. 'Homo ignoramus disgusticus'. That captures it perfectly!

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  16. Maravillosa esa colección de plantas y aves. Me encanta todo. Un abrazo.

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  17. This was excellent. The birds that I heard in the Midwest are among the ones your showed. So many stories could be told.

    We have seen western blue birds flitting around. This is the first time! Thanks for catching me.

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  18. Your description of the Song Sparrow and the photo of the 'singer' makes it my favorite in this post.

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  19. Even during lockdown, you find beauty in your back yard and in your immediate area. I loved seeing the cardinal and the robin, because I see them in my yard, too. But the other, more exotic birds really made me smile. I had to see what they were, since I had never seen them before.

    Of course, the Homo Ignoramus is what keeps those of us who care about the land and rivers to schedule clean-ups. It's sad, but some people don't care. What bothers me is when people walk their dogs and their dogs decide they like my yard and the owner doesn't bother to clean up the mess his/her dog has left me.

    Thanks for dropping by my blog today, David. I appreciate the visit and loved that I was able to return it with this incredible view of your area.

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  20. Good night Professor! how are you!
    you are clearly taking advantage of your surroundings;
    i found majestic birds, beautiful and tender wild flowers
    and blue birds, the carolinensis divine! lol
    this is one of the most profound and talented post! always playing
    the most intimate fibers of the beauties of life.
    Post data: I was in the round of the blue birds
    ┊ ┊ ┊ ┊
    ┊ ┊ ┊ ✯
    ┊ ┊ ★
    ┊ ✯
    ★ Many greetings and a big hug my dear and loving friend ✷ ·

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  21. Such a trying time with lockdowns. Shopping trolleys in the water there, not a pretty sight at all but some people just have no respect.
    The birds are beautiful as always and a delight to see.

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  22. Hi David.

    Beautiful flowers and birds show you.
    The White-tailed Eagle, superb.
    Beautiful the Woodpeckers and the American robin.

    Greetings from Patricia.

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  23. We also have a resident population of Homo ignoramus disgusticus who are particularly busy in our wetlands, too. There's no excuse because there are bins and even if there weren't carrying their rubbish away with them would be no great effort. My little granddaughter is very annoyed by such things so we now carry a bag with us and collect what we can.

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  24. Your place is blessed with so many different types of pretty birds and wild flowers. We are 2 days into our 3rd lockdown nationwide because of the increasing number of covid cases.

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  25. Loved all your photos, except those showcasing the moronic activities of homo ignoramus disgusticus.
    The photo of the heron in the tree is especially spectacular. What a shame more people cannot appreciate the beauties of nature as you both do.

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  26. I'll never tire of seeing the wonderful wildlife in your local area that you so kindly share with us, David, and the botanic addition is very welcome too, although botany is not a science that I intend to delve into myself to any degree!

    I really do not know why the human race is so desperately trying to destroy itself and take the planet down with it, and I have no idea as to what the solution might be other than another mass extinction and letting Mother Nature start afresh. It's all extremely depressing.

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    1. That's the answer, Richard, mass extinction and a fresh start!

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  27. I love to see your photos of the birds and I don't think we have any of them here in Denmark.
    Oh you have also have trash and shopping carts in nature  - and graffiti.

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  28. Most of the time, we don’t have to go far in order to enjoy the beauty Nature displays every day for our enjoyment and pleasure. Then… homo sapiens becomes homo ignoramus and part of that beauty is momentarily faded.

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  29. Buenas tardes, estimado y apreciado amigo David, sin recorrer grandes distancias nos traes hoy, todo un fabuloso y esplendido reportaje de cuantas maravillosas criaturas te rodean. Es una bendición poder contemplar tanta maravilla y esa gran variedad de aves, no conforme con ello, nos presentas toda una buena serie de plantas silvestres de tu zona que son otra de las maravillas de la que poder disfrutar, alguna de ellas nueva para mí. Tus conocimientos en botánica están creciendo a pasos agigantados amigo mío.
    Creo, estimado amigo, no ser merecedor de tan gran elogio vertido sobre mi persona y mi blog, pero viniendo de ti amigo y profesor te lo agradezco enormemente. Siempre, me he considerado un aprendiz de jardinero y eso creo es lo que soy, ir más allá, podría poner en peligro una profesión para mí de las más dignas y prestigiosas, la de servir a la naturaleza, palabras mayores.
    Recibe un afectuoso abrazo de este tu amigo y compadre español mediterráneo Juan

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  30. The redwing blackbird pic is a sure fire winner. I wold love to take that photo.

    Yeah, humans can be pretty awful. I don’t understand vandalism in particular. And dumping garbage willy nilly.

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    1. I am quite sure that with your skill and superior equipment you could do much better.

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  31. There are so many treasures that we may tend to overlook simply because they are common in our neighborhoods. The pictures of birds and flowers are just amazing. The pictures of trash and vandalism are absolutely infuriating.

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  32. It's a delight to see all the beautiful birds in your area. You sure do have a nice variety. Humans do know how to ruin things. The writing on the person's new fence is mind boggling. What's the purpose, I'll never understand.

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  33. Oh, to see those four jays together! That's pretty remarkable -- I've seen two before, but never a whole crowd! And that rose breasted grosbeak is a gem. I'd love to see one of those. Beautiful flora and fauna too. The only dark spot? That graffiti on the fence. I will never understand... (Oh, and by the way the heron -- I'd LOVE to see Harry in the tree!)

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    1. Well, Jeanie, if ever you are here on an auspicious day during fall migration, I will show you hundreds, if not thousands together.

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  34. You do have some beautiful birds in your area, lovely photographs you've shared.

    So upsetting to see all the rubbish around and the graffiti on that fence. Sometimes humans are so difficult to understand.

    All the best Jan

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  35. Good evening, Professor,
    i came back because yesterday I forgot to bring up the subject of vandals. I wanted to say that this behavior is also incomprehensible to me.
    I must assume that they are empty people who enjoy doing harm. They enjoy knowing that someone will feel bad about their actions. They are "medium hair" sociopaths, narcissistic psychopaths to say the least, dear friend.
    We will meet around 60 of these despicable beings throughout
    our lives. Open or covert. there are of all kinds and fur, unfortunately;
    and some are usually very clever, slick people.
    Hugs from Buenos Aires to Ontario.

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  36. enjoy to see your very beautiful photos of birds and flowers....

    my favorite birds are woodpecker and bald eagle, lovely critters.

    Have a wonderful day

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  37. I find vultures fascinating.

    People dismay me. I find that animals are far better company than most people. Littering is disgusting, and I despise graffiti taggers.

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    1. Living in Ottawa, the vultures no doubt remind you of our politicians, although that is doubtless an affront to the vultures.

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  38. Good morning dear David,
    Fantastic photo's from the birds and flowers around you. And I am just like you asking myself what happened with the respect of people. The tulipfields are in bloom now. But I don't go theire anymore because of the behavior of other people. Running trough the fields breaking down the flowers only for the likes on Instagram. I think the same reason why we are still have to battle the terrible virus. People make theire own rules.
    Have a wonderful day
    Marijke

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  39. Hi David,
    Covid-19 is still influencing our daily life, but slowly but surely it looks like things are going back to a more pleasant and relaxed life without all kinds of restrictions. Unfortunately people have discovered our surrouding nature and are showing their gratitude by polluting it, unbelievable. We certainly have to choose our moments to go to the dunes for instance. During weekends it is simply overcrowded.
    You have a pleasant surrounding nearby, looking at the wildlife you show us here: a great variety of birds and flowers. But, I agree with you, it would be nice to travel again although it doesn't have to be far way.
    Greetings, Kees

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  40. Interesting post as always David, despite showing us common species for you, several of them are beautiful and totally new to us Europeans. What else can we say about homo ignoramus, that I can't agree more with you. An affectionate greeting

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  41. Unfortunately Homo ignoramus is found around the world.

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  42. What a fabulous post. The Bluejay is a bird I would love to see especially but really must say that all of the birds you see on your walks or in your garden are fascinating. We too are horrid how much harm homo ignoramus do to or beautiful surroundings. We are looking forward to more outings now that restrictions are slowly being lifted, hoping to get to my SIL's in France - I hope the Hoopoe is still there in September. I've been meaning to visit your blog for a while, this will mot be my only visit, Chris

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    1. Thanks very much for your visit. I will be sure to reciprocate.

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  43. Piękne ptaki są wszędzie. Uwielbiam zajrzeć tu na bloga, bo obserwować ptaki razem z Wami. jednakże widzę, ze i śmieci też są wszędzie. Nie wiem, dlaczego ludzie tak postępują. Skąd ten pomysł, żeby wrzucić cos do rzeki albo w krzaki?

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  44. What fun. We have all of these here except the Oriole...which would be a rare occurrence even though we are just south of Baltimore.

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  45. Sadly, humans are damaging the environment in a worrying way. This occurs around the world. An effective environmental education campaign is essential to change the direction of these actions. Greetings!

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  46. Hello David,
    Wonderful post, you put into words everything I like to say. The replies are interesting and cover everything that I would like to say. Keep going so we can all enjoy. Stay safe.
    Mike.

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  47. The birds are beautiful...the plants and surrounds are beautiful. Why some idiot humans willing destroy and litter...is beyond my comprehension.

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  48. Wow, David - where to start? I have to say that the "convention" of blue jays made me laugh out loud - fabulous! We don't normally see blue jays here, but last year we did, and about this time of year -- so I am waiting patiently. This week several evening grosbeaks returned to our feeders - grosbeaks of all kinds are such handsome specimens! This is the second year that I have put out an oriole feeder - last year I did not see one, but I remain forever hopeful! It was a treat to see the one in your photos! Hope you will get to travel soon!

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  49. Hi David, I like your header. beautiful post with beautiful birds. I like the blue jays. Last week I have received my first covid-19 vaccination. In June the second. Greetings Caroline

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  50. Hi David... What a beautiful birds... I like very much to see others species... Have a great week... Be safe...

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  51. David, your local forays are so interesting and you have an abundant amount of birdlife to keep it from being anything but boring. The blue jay group was more than I used to see in our VA backyard. I'm sure that all your blog readers agree how sad it is that so many people are ignorantly disposing of trash on the ground and in waterways instead of taking it to the proper receptacles which might even incur a bit of a walk.

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  52. Fantastic entrance, beautiful diversity of species, both of animals and plants, all of them beautiful, make you want to go and observe them, for me they would be all new, except for the odd migrant or with a wide range of distribution such as the Turkey vulture.
    From what I see, there are also people who make dirt and graffiti, both of which I deeply detest; it's a sign that human idiocy is cosmopolitan; I always find some residue around here, sometimes in certain sectors many of them.

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  53. Hi David, I am always delighted watching your photos that, as usual, show us an incredible diversity of wonderful birds.
    I loved the Blue Jays meeting in your backyard.
    If today I had to choose one bird I liked the most, it would be the Baltimore Oriole, for its extraordinary color.
    Unfortunately vandalism and bad people seem to proliferate everywhere.
    All the best for you and Miriam

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