Sunday, 16 May 2021

Nature During COVID Lockdown

      As the seemingly interminable restrictions on free movement continue, we find ways to enjoy nature, and content ourselves with what we can do rather than bemoaning what we can't. 
13 May 2021
Our backyard, Waterloo, ON

     There is habitat, food, water and shelter in our yard and the variety of birds that visit us is adequate testament to this fact.
      White-throated Sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis) generally put in an appearance spring and fall and this year has been no exception.

     Its kissing cousin, White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) can also be counted on to entertain us, and recently there have been as many as five individuals at a time feeding on the ground.

13 May 2021
Lakeside Park, Kitchener, ON

     This location has become a bit of a favourite for us. It is close by and on a good day when there is an extensive parade of migrants it is a great place to see birds.
     And the variety of plants should not be ignored either. 
     American Black Currant (Ribes americanum) is quite beautiful and is in the full flush of its inflorescence.

     Bitter Wintercress (Barbarea vulgaris) is in the same family (Brassicaceae) as the watercress one buys at the greengrocer, but as far as I know is not widely consumed in the same way, its leaves having a bitter taste.

     Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is a plant that can cause the mildest of people to curse, swear, hiss and spit! It was introduced by early European settlers and is highly invasive. It often dominates the understory of native forests, seriously reducing biodiversity.

     Attempts to eradicate it have all failed; the best one can hope for is to keep it at bay.
     Birds are not the only animals with breeding on their agenda and we found this family of Grey Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) beyond delightful.

     Soon these youngsters will acquire independence from their parents and will be causing mayhem and mischief in the forest as only squirrels can.
    Eastern Kingbirds (Tyrannus tyrannus) find exposed perches from which to scan for passing insects.....

     ..... and sally forth to snag each morsel that comes in range.

     A small party of Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) moved through and many cameras were aimed in their direction as this photogenic favourite posed obligingly.

     The black bib on a male House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) is prima facie evidence of fitness, so it would be a reasonable conclusion that this bachelor should have no difficulty attracting female companions.

     A male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) .....

     ..... is quite different from the female of the species.

     We always derive great pleasure from seeing a Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) and this was Miriam's fist sighting this spring.

14 May 2021
Mill Race Trail, St. Jacobs, ON

     A male Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) seemed to be finding juicy grubs of one kind or another on this stump.

     American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) is a diminutive rodent that punches far above its weight, not hesitating to rout the considerably larger American Grey Squirrel if they are disputing over food resources.

     In fact, one could be forgiven for concluding that they just don't like each other, for rarely do their paths cross for even a minute or two before a chase breaks out.
     It is difficult to tell from this picture, but the Midland Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta marginata) in the picture below was quite tiny, barely attaining 10 cm I would estimate.

     Does one ever tire of a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)? 

     I think not!
     Wet swamps and marshes are glowing with Marsh Marigolds (Caltha palustris).

     It evokes memories from childhood when I would pick them and put them in a jam jar of water on the window sill. And in those same wetlands I would catch newts (Family: Salamandridae) which I used to keep in an old ceramic baby bath, into which I had added mud and swamp water, with a few plants from the pond too. That was a long time ago!
     White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) is Ontario's floral emblem and I confess to being a huge fan of this flower, which blooms for such a short period each spring.

     Part way along the trail we began to hear the persistent (and loud) noise made by amorous American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus americanus) and it was not long before we came upon the orgy that was underway.

     Males fought vigorously for the chance to mount a female and hang on at all costs. The rites of spring were the driving biological force;  nothing else mattered, the urge to mate and perpetuate the species trumped all else.
     American Toads come in a variety of colours and every variation seemed to be on display.

     Soon it will be quiet again and the toads will have returned to dry land. The brief interlude of unrestrained lust will be over for another year.

15 May 2021
Two Storm-water Management Ponds, Waterloo, ON

     I could hear the liquid notes of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) piercing the morning air, as this ardent male sang from a lofty perch.

     To claim that a Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) possesses a song would be to stretch the limits of how one defines song. This male quietly probed the banks of the pond.

     There will be more local news in the next post. A couple of observations yesterday were quite exciting and I will look forward to bringing those to you. Lockdown continues for humans, but for nature the world proceeds as it should. I hope to share it with you.


  1. It's nice that you have nature around you, David. Despite the pandemic we are all in, we both have fliwers and birds to watch. Lovely trilliums!

  2. You have wonders on your doorstep. Thank you (so much) for sharing the joy. A big sigh on the introduced species front though. They (and I include us) do a heap of damage.

  3. That's a great collection of the normal birds that are found here in the Great Lakes area; we see most of the same ones as in your wonderful photos.

    best... mae at

  4. Hari OM
    Nature, it might be said, is one winner out of all this lockdown malarkey!!! Thank you once again for all these delights. YAM xx

  5. It seems Nature stays the same, it's us humans that suffer and struggle during a pandemic. They say that even in Chernobyl, with its high radiation, the flora and fauna have greatly improved over the years since the disaster. The humans, however, won't be able to live there for lots of years to come.
    The flower emblem of Ontario is very delicate and beautiful!

  6. "content ourselves with what we can do rather than bemoaning what we can't."
    I think your viewpoint here is excellent and makes perfect sense.

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful array of photographs, each one so lovely to see.

    Stay safe and well.

    All the best Jan

  7. Tienes mucho para ver en tu patio trasero y cerca de casa, todo maravilloso. Me encantó la flor blanca Trillium grandiflorum. Abrazos para Miriam y para ti.

  8. Such wonderful photos and details about the wildlife surrounding you. I envy your beautiful surroundings. Enjoy.
    Happy May Nature.

  9. Cedar waxwings always seem to me to have been an art deco invention.

  10. The restrictions imposed by the pandemic have at least given us increased opportunities to learn about and enjoy Nature close to home. It is good to see that you are making the most of those opportunities.

  11. Hi David, wonderful photos - to enjoy nature is the best thing to do under restrictions on free movement.

  12. Your property is a gorgeous wildlife haven! I love the plump and beautiful little White Throated sparrow, he is so cute. I am not familiar with most of the plants. I always thought that the Red-winged blackbird calls sound like rusty door hinges. These baby squirrels are black! I have never seen ones this color.

  13. You have seen a lot of wonderful species even while staying close to home. Love the squirrel family on the tree trunk, and those frogs are gorgeous. As is the turtle! And thanks for the look at young David's hobbies! Have a great day, take care, hugs, Valerie

  14. Free movement. A friend asked if three of us could meet in the park for a chat. Sadly. it seems that we can't. Perhaps after June 02, but perhaps not. Time will tell.

  15. Hello David,
    Wonderful report on your outings and your yard visitors. I love all the birds, frogs, turtle and the flowers. Nature does relieve some of the covid stress. Beautiful photos! Take care, have a happy new week!

  16. Hi David.

    How beautiful all.
    Beautiful the flowers and the birds.
    But I love the Gray Squirrels.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  17. You are absolutely right, I also think that experiencing nature is our dream now that we are making it a reality. The storks are there, walking across meadows and fields and occupying the nests. It is wonderful to watch all the birds now. Thank you for your wonderful photos.
    P.s. I planted black currants in the garden in autumn :-))) Greetings to you. Have a great week. I have them ... in the forest :-) with the great spotted woodpeckers :-))

  18. Awesome pictures, David!

    Under the circumstances, enjoying nature is the best thing to do.

  19. You are so lucky to have a place nearby that you can get to see so many different birds. We have nothing close by and I am lucky if I see anything much different if I go out for a walk. Love all your variety, and of the course, the only one I really know is the House Sparrow of which we have no shortage in the garden.

    I am not sure how we would have survived the last 15 months (and more yet to come) without a garden and nature. Keep safe and have a good week, Diane

    1. We are, Diane. I am about to go for a walk down the Benjamin Park Trail, which is literally five minutes from my front door.

  20. I’m glad you have such a variety of nature so near you. Lovely to see the trillium in bloom and enjoy vicariously all your bird life.i think Rose-breasted grosbeaks are one of the most stunning North American songbirds. They do pass through here but we have never had one visit our feeders and I wish they would.

    1. I will have a stern talk to them and see what I can do!

  21. Thanks for sharing the beauty of nature with us. The photos are always a pleasure to see. I like the toads, we don't see many here. I used to love watching them when I was a kid. Enjoy your day!

  22. Nosotros paramos amigo pero la naturaeza sigue su ritmo y nunca se detiene. Variadas y fantásticas fotos.

    Thank you David. I finished the weekend fed up with the computer, until it was fixed. There were 40 who erased me at once. I sent them an email asking for explanations of why I was breaking the rules, they did not answer me. But they restored the 40 entries that they deleted. I had to republish them.
    Buen lunes. Cuidaros.
    Un abrazo.

  23. Loving the pictures David. The birds and other critters are fantastic. Thank you for sharing.

  24. David, I appreciate your reflection on appreciating what we have instead of regretting what we don't have, I share that way of looking at life.
    I liked seeing the birds and especially meeting that emblematic flower of Ontario (Trillium grandiflorum) that brings such good childhood memories.
    Many kisses.

  25. I like seeing that Cedar Waxwing. Are those squirrels black? Not something I would see here.

    1. Hi Michelle: Great to hear from you. You are the second one to comment in the colour of the squirrels. There is a black morph here, quite common in fact, not found farther south.

  26. The catbirds, cardinals, turtles and toads catch my attention. I saw a White-throated Sparrow a few days ago while we had lunch. It dropped by to say hi.

  27. You two are lucky to have so much wondrous nature so close to home. Love your posts! :)

  28. Buenas noches David, que tal!
    yhe birds in your garden are surely happy, i think so!
    I am fascinated by the severe countenance of the Grackle,
    it is remarkable but i love the squirrel carolinensis more Jaja
    and the northern cardinal is so grandly beautiful as the toads are
    terrifying, panic alert to me!!
    but the White Trillium appears to bring calm again
    to my troubled fairy wings.
    I like the memories of the attractive flower, they are simple scenes of life and your childhood and you do everything with a touch of humor and tenderness for Mother Nature.
    🧚‍♀️ Soon the Covid will be over and the walks will return, I think!
    anything can happen, as long as there is faith, trust,
    and pixie dust. All you have to do is believe in fairies, dear friend o´mine.

  29. You have showed us all the beautiful fantastic critters and flowers.
    It is fun to see the quiet toads.
    Enjoy your day.

  30. I had heard of but never seen photos of cardinals before. What lovely birds they are.

  31. Great shots! What would we do without nature?

  32. interesting shots all over the place :) Love the Grey Catbird, so simple in coloring yet elegantly beautiful. And the White-throated Sparrow is gret. I think I have seen it on any of my travels.
    A fine collection. Nature keeps you busy. :)

  33. So sorry you are still under lockdown David. Beautiful photos, specially the flowers and of course the squirrels were my favourites :)

  34. Buenos días apreciado amigo David, tienes un patio lleno de vida y los alrededores rezuman gran belleza a todos los niveles. Haces bien en no quejarte, lo tienes todo a mano y cerca, simplemente es disfrutar en toda su plenitud. Te felicito migo.
    Recibe un afectuoso abrazo de este tu amigo y compadres Juan. Cuidaros y os deseo una formidable semana.

  35. We don't have toads here, that I've seen. Such a different habitat in the wetland.
    I love the waxwing best!

  36. the local highlights keep getting better ...
    Greetings Frank

  37. Thank Heavens most birds remain free and unconfined...where would we be without them...?

  38. You always have so many treats I don't know where to look! I did pay special attention to that garlic mustard. A friend from New York has complained bitterly about it; we have a native mustard here, but your invasive seems truly pestilential. I have to say that you've really increased my appreciation of the sparrows, too. I used to see them as an undifferentiated brown mass, but slowly, slowly, I'm learning to distinguish them -- even if I can't yet ID them all.

  39. Thanks David - I love Miriam's Meganser header - stunning ... as are all the photos and I'm glad you've featured some plants too - they add to the mix of life around us carrying on. Enjoy your walks out ... despite the dreaded restrictions ... cheers Hilary


  40. Oh, I feel sorry for the little bird :(.
    Beautiful photos and interesting information. I like the dandelion is like the sun :)

  41. Hi David,
    Wow, love ik all!!!