Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Staying Local is Not So Bad After All

      We continue to explore the riches of our local area, bound as we are by COVID restrictions, but life is far from dull.

10 May 2021
Waterloo, ON

     At least some of you will recall that I told of a Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) that made its nest in a busy commercial plaza.
     I am happy to report that the outcome was successful.

     People had obviously warmed to this goose and some well-intentioned person left a tray of fresh vegetables, keen to ensure the goose ate a balanced diet, I suppose!

     One gosling did not even make it out of the nest, but death in young birds is a reality and if the others made it to safety this family did well.

Martin Creek Road, Woolwich Township, Waterloo, ON

     I have never quite understood how the Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) became so universally despised. The flower is beautiful, requires no care, and the leaves make a tasty salad.
     Perhaps the next time you are ready to foam at the mouth over dandelions, keep the following image in mind.

     It is nature's beauty writ large.

St. Jacobs, ON

     A male Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) waited for us in the graveyard of a church where we often see this species.

     We noticed a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) foolishly (or so it seemed to us), tangling with a couple of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus).

     It was impossible to get all three birds in the same frame, but here are the two eagles.

     The red-tail had a couple of gaps in its primary feathers so its maneuverability was compromised perhaps, and wisely it broke away from the tussle.
14 May 2021
The Mill Race Trail, St. Jacobs, ON

     I was attempting to calculate how many times we have walked this trail and I came up with an estimate in the order of four hundred times. But it still holds secrets that we have not uncovered, and we stand little chance of knowing more than a small fraction of the wonders of nature occurring there in every season. 
     It remains one of our favourite spots.

     A Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) is predictable and it is rare that we do not see at least one individual and most frequently several. This male is probing for insects and their larvae in the dead wood and hollows of this rotting trunk.

     It was Miriam who first spotted a large concentration of what we initially assumed were Water Striders (Gerridae) but a closer examination revealed a mass of Whirligig Beetles (Gyrinidae), in the genus Dineutus if I am not mistaken.

     Whirligig Beetles are interesting from many angles, not the least of which is that their swimming legs have been modified into unidirectional paddles. These beetles are actually in the water, not on it.

     We were excited to find them.
     Three male Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater) were perched high above us. 

     Not for them the rigours of parenting. Their sole purpose in life is to provide sperm for the female; once that deed is done, the warm, balmy breezes of summer are to be enjoyed. One might be inclined to recall George Gershwin's immortal words, "Summertime and the livin is easy"!
     A female Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) will never rival the male for ostentation, but she is certainly lovely.

     I am quite sure that you will agree.

      Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) surely ranks as of one of nature's great troubadours, clad in finery to match his golden voice.

     It is a not uncommon bird in spring and summer, but it is a joyous event whenever one is seen.

     And it could sing to me without end and I would still find it enjoyable.

     Two-leaved Toothwort (Cardamine diphylla) has attracted its share of insects.

     A species of maple (Acer) is about to burst into full leaf, but at this stage I am not sure of the species.

     Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) can still be found fluttering through the woodlands, often alighting with wings outspread.

     Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma) was equally cooperative.

     We saw a couple of Palm Warblers (Setophaga palmarum), but never in the open, and difficult to photograph.

15 May 2021
Grass Lake and Area, Cambridge, ON

     Much of the wetland component of the area known as Grass Lake, ancestrally known as the Paris Cranberry Bog, has been invaded by Common Reed Grass (Phragmites australis) and is unfortunately slowly filling in. 

     Nonetheless, it remains a spot to see species not easily viewed elsewhere in the region.
     Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) is guaranteed to be there, with males seeking fenceposts and bushes as vantage points to sing in proclamation of territory, and to lure females to join in a tryst to assure the survival of the species.

     Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) is a classic grassland species, and the expanse of uncut meadow provides perfect habitat for this visitor from the pampas of South America.

     Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) is an easy species to find in winter, but far more difficult once breeding is initiated. It is a safe bet that this individual gathering grit from the road, is a member of a breeding pair.

     Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) still nest in natural cavities when they can find them, but most breeding now takes places in nest boxes provided by humans.

     Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) is an interesting plant, thriving in cold, wet meadows and swamps.

     Heat generated by Skunk Cabbage can melt  surrounding snow and may help to release the foul smell of decaying flesh that helps it to attract pollinators.

     If you would like some to plant in a wet spot in your garden, be sure to let me know and I will ship it immediately!
     Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator) are  majestic  birds, and have been reintroduced to Ontario, (with great difficulty I might add), having been extirpated many years ago. And their population is expanding.
     Last year we found a pair nesting locally and were ecstatic to find them in the same spot again this year.

     Pure euphoria overcame us when we saw them.

     Yet it was about to get better.
     Miriam was busy photographing the swans, having scampered across a busy road I might add, when I saw a pair of Sandhill Cranes (Antigone canadensis) with a chick, on the far shore of the wetland.

     It's hard to jump for joy strapped into a car seat at the side of a busy road, but mentally that's what I was doing.

     It was so encouraging to see this, to say nothing of inspirational, and gob-smackingly entrancing.

     The combination of the swan sitting on eggs, with a pair of Sandhill Cranes with a young baby, is probably going to remain the highlight of the year.

      It's hard to beat exultation like this. To hell with COVID, I say. Pandemic or not, scenes such as this are eternal.
     There is more, but I think we will save that for the next post. Until then stay safe, and be thankful for nature in your life. Nothing beats it!


  1. Your local area is not in the same galaxy as dull. Thank you and Miriam for sharing the wonder and the joy.

  2. Yes, David - nothing beats nature ! And we’re all learning to appreciate local charms as well...

  3. Sad to see the little chick die but when I think of the millions of chickens (bird version of dandelions) we serve at dinner tables, it does make one wonder why we prize one thing over another.

  4. The lark, the swans, the crane--bonanza. My father told me that moths wings are spread flat at rest and butterfly wings are closed at rest. Is this true?

  5. Love those cranes! And a chick! Great! I haven’t been able to photograph a butterfly yet this year.

    The eighth photo is so pretty. Our leaves aren’t out yet.

  6. Hari OM
    OOOOHHHHHHH all baby critters are to be euphoric about David - and that wee crane is just 'gawjuss'!!! (And dandelion root dried and roasted then brewed, makes a very passable and healthy drink, too!) YAM xx

  7. Buenas noches, que tal Mr David! how are you!
    Beautiful the swans and the intense blue bird!
    Such a a perdurable beauty!
    Always surprising nature, with or without covid this beauty remains
    in our eyes forever!
    Have a nice day my friend, stay safe. 🌸🌸

  8. You certainly have a beautiful array of birds and wild life there in your area.

  9. The world of birds is free. Nature is not affected by covid. Only people no longer want to be free.

  10. The cranes are a spectacular sight! How lucky you were.

  11. I'm so impressed of the variety of birds in your area, David. Yes, the Red-winged Blackbird is very beautiful.

  12. Oh yes, nature is the best artist. You saw so man wonderful species of birds and plants again, it's a joy to see them. The cranes were a fantastic sighting, and the swans, too. I have always loved dandelions, and can never understand why so many gardeners want to get rid of them. And thanks for the kind offer, but I don't have space on my balcony for skunk cabbage! Have a great day, hugs to you both! Valerie

  13. Ohhh le bébé grue est très mignon!Super pour les cygnes, malgré les restrictions les belles observations continues!
    Ici les terrasses ont été ré ouverte et le couvre feu est à 21H. Je suis allée poser du courrier et plus personne n'a de masque et les terrasses des cafés étaient bondés!!!PFFFF
    L'oie a quand même réussi à élever ses petits, triste pour celui qui est mort mais c'est comme ça.
    J'aime bien le champ de pissenlits
    Bonne journée

  14. What a great moment, to find the Swans and to then add the Cranes, pretty much 'perfect birding'! I'm with you on the dandelions, I have a lot in the garden at the moment, the House Sparrows love them!

  15. Hello, David

    Wonderful sightings, I would be thrilled with the Trumpeter Swans and the Sandhill Crane family. Great capture of the Eagles. The Bobolink and Orioles are a few more favorites. Great collection of photos. Take care, enjoy your day!

  16. Hi David.

    How good to read that the Geese made it.
    Nice field with dandelions.
    Beautiful flowers show you and a lot of beautiful birds.
    I always think the Woodpecker is one of the most beautiful.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  17. Buenos días amigo mío, ¡Maravilloso! Es todo lo que puedo decir, tan cerca y tanta belleza, como bien dices, al diablo con el COVID, con instantáneas como estas poco más se puede pedir.
    Autentica belleza al natural.
    La imagen del diente de león común es una preciosidad. Por mucho que lo intento, no puedo comprender como existe gente tan reacia a admirar estas bellezas naturales que nos aporta valga la redundancia ¡La Naturaleza! Y como puede ser maltratada e ignorada.
    Maravilloso reportaje.
    Un fuerte abrazo de tu amigo y compadre Juan.

  18. Thanks for the good news about the geese David! Mother nature was surely there to fill your heart and soul at Grass Lake. I see a trip in my future. Miriam was at her finest in the photo department again! Be well.

    1. Good luck at Grass Lake, Carol. Tell Franc someone posted on Facebook - two Virginia Rails walking around there. We didn't find the rails, but we did find a Common Gallinule, but it was well out of photographic range and moving in and out of the reeds.

  19. Hi David - so good to see your photos ...
    Hi David – I’m so pleased the Goose with her goslings survived, except the one. Dandelions are fascinating aren’t they … they make drinks too – can’t say I’m a fan! But can understand the salad aspect … and lots of clocks to watch later on.
    The Eastern Bluebird is beautiful … amazing shots of the eagles … the Mill Race Trail does look so beautiful to be a part of … the Downy Woodpecker is intent upon its job; Those beetles are delightful to see; the blackbird is also delightful … gosh the Oriole is brilliant isn’t he … and I’m so pleased you get to enjoy his song … beautiful butterflies …
    The Grass Lake looks amazing … but I hope the invasive grass can be removed sometime … the Savannah Sparrow – lovely photo, despite the difficulties; Bobolink looks fascinating too; the horned lark … and those tree swallows – don’t they shine. Skunk cabbage … foul smell, I so agree.
    Trumpeter Swans, those Sandhill Cranes so appropriately named …
    So pleased I could connect today ... cheers Hilary

  20. As far as I can tell, I have never actually seen an oriole or a sandhill crane, and probably many others, but those stand out.

    1. It shouldn't be difficult to locate an oriole where you live. If you have an old, well treed cemetery try there.

  21. I almost jumped for joy with you at the sight of that Sandhill chick. How exciting to see it. Your pictures of Bobolinks always remind me of my first sighting of that bird - a vast flock of them on spring migration in a meadow in East Texas. It was an unforgettable sight and sound. I've never seen such a field of dandelions, but I always welcome them in my garden and I do have a few every year.

  22. Plenty to show us! Thank you!
    I have never seen beetles in the water.

  23. Hello Nature loving friends!How i like your sentence "Staying Local is Not So Bad After All!You have a way of speaking that I like!

    Very nice to see all those birds..From people giving salads to the baby crane!wow!what a n


    stay cool and happy the wind will soon change to the better

    Best regards wish for an happy week!

  24. From the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) I make a wonderful syrup, salad, honey.
    I was interested in beetles floating in the water. Icterus galbula is lovely. I have never met him in nature.
    I send greetings.

  25. What an awesome display of nature. Glad you shared with us your love of nature, we all can appreciate it that much more.

  26. What a marvelous post. Those sandhills are gorgeous. They would be my highlight, too. And I never knew beetles could swim! That's fascinating. Such wonderful things I see here!

  27. What awesome nature scenes you spotted, David and Miriam, first with the nesting swans and then the sandhill cranes and chick. It was unfortunate that the gosling at the start of the post did not survive, but survival of these young is not always a given as you explained.

  28. Dandelions are not only beautiful and edible, but also useful in the natural supplement medicine.
    I love the 'troubadour' with the golden voice.

  29. I can just imagine your exhultation on seeing the Trumpeter Swans and Sandhill Cranes! Oh the joy and excitement!

  30. Beautiful birds!
    I have never seen so many dandelions in one place - a beautiful scene! I have often wondered who decided that certain plants are flowers and others are weeds

  31. That is exciting to see the nesting and young one! Glad the geese made it away--except the one. I have always loved dandelions. :)

  32. Impressive assortment! Yes, nature has been a great comfort for the past year.

  33. What a fascinating variety of birds and other creatures with excellent photos, welcome commentary. Thanks!

  34. agree with you that we may observe many things locally... and you proved it with a lot of interesting birds and plants....

    # Love woodpecker

  35. Me encanta recorrer esos caminos contigo, una preciosidad todo lo que puedes observar. Abrazos para Miriam y para ti.

    1. Come on over, Teresa, and we will take you!

    2. Gracias David, tal vez algún día.

  36. Hi David, wonderful photos!
    Oh you have also the beautiful yellow fields.
    Like you we also think that staying local is not so bad after all!
    Thanks for the good news about the geese. I am impressed of the variety of birds in your area.

  37. Que bueno que las barnaclas canadienses de la plaza comercial sacaran a su prole adelante, era un trabajo complicado y lo han resuelto con éxito, solo un pollo muerto no es un mal dato. David enhorabuena por el reportaje, me ha gustado mucho. Un fuerte abrazo desde el norte de España.

  38. You are so lucky to have such a place close by. Sadly, although we have some fabulous walks and views, the wildlife is not that great and there is so little water around us other than a fast running stream which is quite small except when we have rains like we are getting at present. I would also have been over the moon if I had seen those Sandhill Cranes, and what a bonus that they had a chick with them. Wonderful set of photos and I like that you are also taking shots of nature around you other than birds.

    Keep safe and well. Cheers Diane

  39. Hi David - I am coming to your blog for the first time, after finding the link to this in the comment you posted on my blog.
    It's so wonderful to see the pictures of so many birds and short writeups about them. Life has been hard but nature is still so pleasing!

  40. We have very strong winds and rain at the moment, so it was a joy to sit quietly at my computer and read through your post and admire the fabulous photographs. Thank you.

    All the best Jan

  41. Wow! Those Sandhill Cranes are amazing!

  42. Poor little baby. That family has been on my mind.


  43. What fantastic photos! I'm thankful you visited my silly blog to lead me here. Sad to say, my husband is not the outdoor type these days. It's hard to believe he and a friend once hiked the Appalachian Trail (!) before we met. Maybe I can convince him to go camping this autumn.


    The skunk cabbage reminds me of the five amorphophallus konjac blooms near my front door. They are fascinating, but the stench is atrocious. LOL The garden center where I bought a single little pot just called it 'snake plant' due to the patterned stems and didn't warn me about the flowers. And they're spreading. ~shakes head~ The summer foliage is lovely, though.

    Be well!

  44. What an incredibly uplifting post, David!

    Spring exuded from every image and word. What better way to rinse our spirit of the worries of the world and renew our hope than to be outdoors observing Nature proceeding with the rituals of life?

    Nesting swans and a crane family. The very essence of "joy".

    (Apologies for being absent. Dead computer. New system took awhile to set up.)

  45. Alegra saber que algunas crías del gansos nacieron bien.
    Como me gustaría hacer una excursión con vosotros. Es una maravilla lo que nos compartes ee ilustras. El Clorofonia nuca azul de la cabecera es precioso. Gracias David
    Que paséis uen fin de semana. Cuidaros.
    Un abrazo.

  46. Boa noite, David!
    Um leque de fotografias muito fascinantes!
    Continuação de dias alegres
    Um doce beijinho!
    Megy Maia🌻🌼🌻

  47. so much beautiful wildlife. I envy you! Strange to see those beetles in the water.
    Take care!

  48. David - we spend a lot of time around national parks and other wilderness areas, and it always shocks me when people say they have not seen any wildlife. They must not be using their ears or eyes, then! Personally, I was delighted to see the Oriole and the Bobolink. Birds I have not seen in the wild. Sandhill cranes are quite common here, and we frequently see the "colts" since several pairs nest near here. So glad to see that the swans have returned!

  49. Hello David,
    You have some great places for birding locally! I enjoyed all the birds and photos. The pretty views, butterflies and the field of dandelions. Your header photo and bird is beautiful. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend! PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

  50. Hello.
    This is an interesting post and wonderful photos.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Take care.

  51. Hi David, I like your header with the beautiful bird. Poor little goose. Beautiful photos of all the birds in your country. Greetings Caroline

  52. Hi David,
    Indeed you can often see beautiful birds in your own environment. Wunderful encounters, Birds that I can only dream of! Beautifully captured.
    Regards an stay save

  53. What a delight to see those whirligig beetles! I have a photo of what I'm sure now must be the same. I've only seen one, and it was a pretty blue, but the shape and the action are the same. Now, I have a clue to follow in the search for an identification.

    Too bad about the one babe, but how good that the other goslings (presumably) survived. Every spring we watch the baby mallards decrease in number, but that's not altogether bad. A mother who begins with 10-20 ducklings is happier when they become 5-10, and the herring gulls, gar fish, alligators, and osprey get dinner from the deal. I hate to actually witness the event, but I've learned to look even at the things that sadden me.

  54. hello David
    I don't get that many pictures together in a month, a huge variety of species, the cranes are my top pictures
    Greetings Frank

  55. Excellent post David, with numerous birds observed, but like you, I am left with the observation of that family of cranes with their chick, that undoubtedly made your adrenaline rise to incredible limits. Life is still beautiful despite the covid. Greetings Julio

  56. You sure spot them. I am happy staying home, at this point!

  57. It is always good to explore the surroundings where one lives, your area for what I see in photos seems to be very interesting, I would be traveling a long time if I could. These restrictions do not allow us to go out a lot but instead make us appreciate what we have more.
    Around here there is a huge increase in cases and at any moment it will not be possible to travel; I am one of those cases. I was infected at work, perhaps from people who rejoined, so just today after 10 days I am visiting and commenting on blogs. In my case it was very mild but constant, and it bothers a lot.