It looks as though my posts will be from home and local jaunts for a while to come. Our current lockdown, due to end on 20 May, was just extended to 2 June. I am really starting to wonder whether "normal" is something we will ever see again.
08 May 2021
Our Backyard, Waterloo, ON
A Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) paid us a brief visit just one time. Fortunately, Miriam had her camera handy and was able to fire off a few shots.
We have seen a few others out on the trails, but there have been no further visits to the garden, at least not observed by us.
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) by contrast has an been agreeable regular.
Rabbits are the bane of a gardener's existence and Miriam was not amused to see three of them hopping around in the backyard.
The squirrel in the background is not entirely benign either, being quite capable of digging up bulbs, chewing the bark off the maple tree and generally rearranging things as it sees fit - often on a mere whim, without apparent purpose or malice, all the while chasing birds, other squirrels, chipmunks and any visitor considered persona non grata in squirreldom.
The rabbits, on the other hand, are selective diners with high standards, accepting only the finest new shoots as they emerge above the soil. There appears to be a direct correlation between their discriminating palate and the desirability of the plant. Our favourite flowers are always selected first, at their tender succulent best, and are chewed down until nary a sign remains that they ever existed! If we acquire a new plant and cherish it, that is tantamount to issuing a dining card to a rabbit! I am quite sure we could plant weeds and they would ignore them.
09 May 2021
Lakeside Park, Kitchener, ON
Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus) is a species I am used to seeing in migration, moving through southern Ontario to occupy breeding territories a little farther north. It was with great pleasure, therefore, that this individual was spotted at Lakeside Park.
Families of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) are seen throughout the region, with adults frequently chaperoning their babies across busy roads, where traffic comes to a standstill to permit safe passage.
The irony is not lost on me that concerned motorists who will go to extraordinary lengths at times to help the goslings, will in a few short weeks be cursing these same individuals when they leave their droppings at golf courses and parks.
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) is not infrequently seen on lawns and other grassy areas in search of ants which it captures with a very active tongue, and dines with great gusto, all the while improving the chances for humans to have a picnic without risk of hordes of stinging insects.
11 May 2021
Hood Century Farm, Flamborough, ON
It was a cold, blustery day, with a biting wind. The temperature never climbed above 5.5 degrees and I am sure that the wind chill took it down to freezing or lower.
Aerial insectivores have a difficulty time under such conditions, and Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) were uncharacteristically resting on the ground to conserve energy.
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) is the default sparrow of this grassland haven and we had no difficulty seeing several.
The signature bird, however, is Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) and we were there to scout them out in preparation for a visit the following day with a friend who is writing a book, which will include a chapter on this species at risk.
It is a magical experience to watch ardent males making display flights across a meadow, uttering their joyful, burbling song.
Given the cold conditions and the intensity of the wind, most seemed resigned to trying their luck from a perch in the grassland.
11 May 2021
Lakeside Park, Kitchener, ON
We were back at home by lunchtime following our Bobolink expedition, and while Miriam busied herself with other matters, I decided to go down to Lakeside Park.
Warblers and vireos are almost constantly in motion and are difficult to photograph, and I make no claim that the pictures below of a Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius) are anything but mediocre, but I offer them so that you have the pleasure of seeing this delightful little bird.
12 May 2021
Our backyard, Waterloo, ON
If I had to predict the first bird in the yard every day, even before it is completely light, Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) would be it.
As mentioned above, White-crowned Sparrow has been a daily visitor of late and we are always very happy to see this perky, energetic species.