Thursday, July 15, 2021

Odds and Ends - and Lily

     We have not been out and about as much as usual of late, due to atrocious weather at times, and Miriam had an adverse reaction to her second COVID vaccination, so this post is a combination of odds and ends.

05 July 2021

     The Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) colony at SpruceHaven has had a banner year, and young birds are to be seen everywhere, with many second clutches now being incubated.
     These nestlings are about ready to fledge.

     Time to lose a little weight and learn how to catch your own food!

06 July 2021

     This attractive Green Stink Bug (Acrosternum hilare) was a very welcome visitor to our backyard.

     On balance, stink bugs, are probably beneficial in a garden, keeping weeds under control. They may attack tomatoes which look like they have been pricked, but stink bug numbers are seldom high, so they are not a significant problem.
     We have no tomatoes, and we are happy to share the yard with this individual. It is welcome to chew on all the weeds it wishes!

10 July 2021

     We had the sad duty of attending the funeral of our good friend, Betty Cooper, who illuminated this Earth for ninety-three years. In addition to many diverse interests Betty was dedicated to nature in all its richness. 
     We will miss her.
     Last October, she walked the entire length of the Mill Race Trail and back, and this picture of the two of us walking together is one I will treasure forever.

12 July 2021

     Our Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) is doing splendidly well and bringing us much pleasure.

     It appears not to be well patronized by Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) but other insects, including this Cuckoo Leafcutter Bee (Genus Coelioxys), are not reluctant to exploit it.

     Our Red Hot Poker (Family Asphodelaceae) is not native, but produces copious quantities of nectar and is known to be visited by Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilocus colubris) and Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula).

      The plant is to the side of the front porch, so we seldom see it other than coming and going. Perhaps we need to pay more attention!

13 July 2021

     If I go to look out the window right now I can almost be assured that there will be a Mourning Dove (Zenadia macroura) or two in the backyard.
     No matter how many times I see it, I am never immune to its beauty. 

     We are often drawn to birds by their bright colours (and who can not react to multi-coloured tropical species?), or their extravagant behaviours, but there is a time to appreciate subtleties too.
     Every movement by a Mourning Dove seems measured and deliberate, its plumage a model of subdued hues, but it is possessed of a rare beauty all its own. 

14 July 2021

     Is anything quite as peaceful and quintessentially pastoral as a field of cows?

     A Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) was taking good care of her family on the pond.

     At this farm a couple of Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) are rented each year, and their presence may afford a little extra protection for these ducklings. 
     This Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) would not hesitate to carry off one them to feed his own growing brood.

     I am woefully ignorant about cereal grains, but I am assuming this is some kind of wheat, and there seems to be a bumper crop.

     We spotted five Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) in one location and are quite sure that carrion was in the vicinity.

     We didn't take the time to try to find it - rotting carcasses are not our favourite things to discover!

    We are so accustomed to seeing Turkey Vultures soaring on currents of air, it always adds a touch of extra excitement to view them perched.

     They have an impressive wing span.


     Under the new COVID guidelines of the Province of Ontario, we are allowed to gather in our house - up to five people, so Heather and Lily payed their first visit.
Lily is almost thirteen months old, happy, curious and very mobile. She will attempt several steps provided you hold her hand; the moment you release it she sits down! Any day now, I predict she will take her first unaided steps.
     It was exciting to have her play with us in the house and interact in ways not possible when she is confined to her stroller on a walk.
     I am showing you all the pictures Miriam took, and I think that any commentary from me would be superfluous.

     It makes no difference at all, but Blogger in its own inimitable fashion rearranged the sequence of the pictures.
     The weather in various parts of the world seems to be causing great distress for many. Stay safe everyone, but get used to it. Climate change is already here.
David M. Gascoigne,
David M. Gascoigne,

I'm a life long birder. My interests are birds, nature, reading, books, outdoors, travel, food and wine.


  1. Finally you can meet Lily again, and I'm sure you are happy about it David. She has grown a lot since last time I saw her. She is very cute, and nice photos of you both.
    I think the grain is beautiful. The yellow plant is named Kniphofia.
    Yes, the climate change has already come. Today we had 31 C here, and it was terrible to stay outside.
    Stay safe you too.

  2. Well, Lily could not be cuter and it appears she loved her visit as much as you did!

  3. Beautiful pictures, but the ones of Lily steal the show! Yes, climate change is certainly here. We have been having an extremely wet summer in the northeast of the US; and when the sum does shine, it is too humid to go outside.

  4. Speaking of climate change we have just seen clips of flash floods carrying cars off in Arizona.

    And we are experiencing similar weather to yours. I’ve barely taken a photo. In almost a month.

    1. And a tornado smashed into Barrie this afternoon.

  5. I am sorry to learn about your friend Betty - for someone who was 93 years old she looked vigorous, fit, and well in charge of all of her faculties. She appears to have had a good life that was well spent.
    Lily always looks a very happy little girl and is obviously enjoying spending time with you.

    1. There is no need to shed tears for Betty. She had a wonderful, full life. She was a quilter, a member of a choir, a dedicated naturalist, an avid walker. She did not linger long with a debilitating illness. We should all have such a life.

  6. Lily's "almost" thirteen months have flown by. What a happy little girl.

  7. What a lovely life to celebrate.
    Poor Miriam. I was knocked out for 5 days.
    I love those vultures, but the baby is so sweet!

  8. Betty sounds to have lived a fine and full life. Which is wonderful. Of course she will be missed.
    I am sorry to hear that Miriam reacted badly to her second shot - and hope that reaction is disappearing quickly.
    And thank you (always) for the myriad of beauty and wonder you bestow on us. All of it.

  9. Ah, the beauty of nature and the joy of the visit of Lily, make for another wonderful post.

  10. Hari OM
    I add my my condolences but admiration for a life well lived... and then to see the new one so well establishing and filled with smiles - wonderful! YAM xx

    1. Indeed, both ends of the circle of life, YAM. Betty would have loved this.

  11. Beautiful photos. They bring joy. Thank you so much for sharing

  12. That was a Lily fix.
    Betty, gone, but certainly filled her life well.
    Turkey vultures are amazing. They roost on dead, naked branches. They laid their eggs on the flat roof of the township road garage and let the heat of the asphalt incubate the eggs.

  13. . ∧∞∧
    。゚゚・。・゚゚,(・∇・* )ββ
    ゚,   。゚⊂⊂__⊃
      ・ ゚*。・゚♡。・
         ゚。  。゚
          .・Ohhh, happy summer, how nice it is to live,
    sunny days and lots of laughter with Lily, a girl radiant like an extreme sun, i adore her! ..!
    Greetings to Miriam, I hope she feels much better soon and I am sorry
    for Betty's passing, may she rest in peace;
    you two together look so wonderful ..!
    On the other hand, here in my humble home in the forest i am frozen jajaja
    Greetings and happy evening dear friend!゜

  14. Bellas fotografías y Lilt es muy bella Te mando un beso

  15. 93 years is a life well lived. Lily looks adorable.

  16. Lily has certainly grown up since last time we saw her.

  17. My how Lily has grown, looks a delightful little one.
    Sorry to read that Miriam is not the best - hopefully soon fully improved.
    Photos are lovely.
    Your friend lived to a good old age.

  18. Wonderful wild life photos, but Lily definitely wins the prize, what a cute little girl she is! Glad you have such a nice photo of yourself with Betty, she was a great old girl! Here the floods are really bad in many places. Have a great day, hugs, Valerie

  19. Buenos días querido amigo, como siempre un placer ver tus esplendidos reportajes, me encantó ver ese nido de golondrinas y me alegro que haya sido un buen año de reproducción.
    Mi más sentido pésame por la señora Betty.
    La encantadora Lily está para comerla a besos, y tú buen amigo estás hecho un espléndido abuelo con ella en tus brazos.
    Un fuerte abrazo querido amigo y compadre David y cuidaros que esto se vuelve a poner feo de nuevo.

  20. Hi David - she is a delight ... please thank Miriam for the photos ... delightful range. Lovely to see a variety of photos - nature at its best ... and then Betty - as you say a life well lived - I remember her walking the Mill Race Trail last year - so pleased you had that time together. Thank you - cheers Hilary

  21. Hi David.

    Sad to lose a good friend.
    You have made a nice serie.
    Lily this is so nice, sweet and then the world looks happy again.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  22. Beautiful Lily!
    Condolences on the death of your friend.
    Great wildlife photos!

  23. Gorgeous pictures as always. Yes, even the Turkey Vultures. I am a great admirer of vultures. I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. How lovely that she was able to be active even near the end of her long life. The picture of you two together is marvelous. And of course Lily is a treasure and a comfort.

  24. I'm so sorry about your friend Betty, David. It sounds like she was quite a woman. And I've never seen a yellow stink bug -- just the brown ones. It's about their time again. Lily gets prettier with every post!

  25. David - have you heard about this in the news? I know you're in Canada, but you're one of my "go to" bird people, and this is very troubling news.

    Mysterious Bird Deaths in the Mid-Atlantic [United States] region
    Jun. 28, 2021

    In late April, scientists and the public noticed something odd about the birds in the mid-Atlantic region — a surprising number were exhibiting strange symptoms, such as crusty eyes or shaking heads. The birds were often sick or dying. Smithsonian scientists need your help to figure out why.

    More info at the Smithsonian Institute:

  26. Sorry to hear about your good friend Betty. Lily is sure getting big. Thanks for sharing your wonderful series of wildlife photos.

  27. I hope that Miriam is feeling better now, I was lucky no problems with Pfizer first or second jab. Nigel had a headache after the first AZ but no problems with the second. So sorry to hear about Betty but you have some great memories and they are so important. Wow Lily has suddenly become a little girl and not a baby any more.

    I can never tell the difference between wheat and barley, very confusing.

    A great set of photos, birds, flowers and bugs. we have a good supply of stinkbugs, only one year did we have too many that caused a problem, I just let them be.

    Keep safe and I hope all is well. Diane

    1. She is fine thanks, Diane. It lasted for twenty-four hours after which she returned to normal.

  28. hello David
    Lily has grown up, however, it is very nice to watch how a little person changes in a short time. Yes, climate change is there and has been there for a very long time, especially with us storm catastrophe, many deaths and great damage, very sad for all involved and relatives ... and what will change afterwards ... nothing that is just as sad ..
    Greetings Frank

  29. The girl grows up beautiful.

  30. You 90+ year old friend who walked the trails into her nineties was so fortunate to be able to continue that lifestyle. May she Rest In Peace. And on the other end of the spectrum, Lily gets cuter if that is possible.

    Love the vultures. I’ve never seen any but they look fascinating.

  31. ...for not getting out much you sure saw a lot of great things. That looks like wheat to me. And Lily sure is a cutie, we don't have any tiny ones anymore.

  32. Betty vivió feliz, con 93 años se veía espléndida. Lily cada vez se ve más linda, se te ve feliz con ella. Me alegra que Miriam esté bien y, sí el cereal es trigo. Abrazos para Miriam y para ti.

  33. Hi David, I am so sorry to hear from your friend Betty. I hope Miriam is feeling well again. Lily is growned up to a beautiful girl. Beautiful serie photos. I like swallows. Have a nice weekend!

  34. Hello, David
    So sorry for the loss of your friend, You have a great photo of the two of you walking together. Love the cute swallow on the nest. I have never seen a green stink bug. Lily is adorable, cute photos. I hope Miriam is feeling better! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend. PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

  35. For once I was able to recognise a few of your specimens from personal experience. I agree about the quiet beauty doves and pigeons. They may be birds-of-little-brain (though huge navigational skill) but I welcome them (in smallish numbers).

    I often wonder what today's babies will think in later life about their exposure to social media from birth.

    1. I doubt they will think about it much at all, Graham, it will just be the way that they grew up.

  36. Lily is a beautiful child. Great photos. Better than birds (though the birds and outdoor photos are also great).

    best... mae at

  37. Your nature photos are awesome, but when I scrolled down to Lily ... oh my! She's a beauty. My grands are all grown up now. Sure miss the babies. I'm sorry to hear about your friend passing. She was a lucky lady to live so many years and remain active.

    1. Betty had a full and active life and I suspect that she had few regrets.

  38. So sorry for the loss of your friend. Nice photographs. Lily looks as though she thoroughly enjoyed her visit.

  39. I'm sorry to hear about Miriam's adverse reaction to her second COVID vaccination. I've had a few issues from it, myself. I'm also sorry to hear about the loss of your good friend Betty Cooper. Nice assortment of photos. Turkey Vultures are huge and impressive when seen up close, although as you pointed out, if they are down near ground level, something unpleasant is nearby, too. Lily looks very happy. Once she is more sure of herself, she won't be sitting down anymore while she's walking. :-) I saw about the horrible flooding in parts of Europe. How awful. And last week, some of the subway stations in NYC were flooded due to heavy rains. The weather makes wild swings. Last year, Connecticut US was facing drought conditions in the Summer. This year, we've had a very rainy July.

  40. Hi David,
    I am very sorry about the death of your friend Betty. The important thing is that we always leave a positive footprint when we leave and for what you said, so I think that's what your friend left behind.
    How fabulous is your Butterfly Milkweed, what an incredible color, I didn't know about this beautiful plant.
    The wheat field reminded me of my childhood days when I went to my grandfather's house.
    As time goes by so quickly, how big and wonderful is your little princess Lily. Thank you for sharing these dear photos.
    Hugs and all the best for you for your family

  41. I'm sorry to hear about the death of your friend. It is good to have that memory of walking the entire trail last fall (and I am sure you have many more), but that has to be a special moment. And Lily is just adorable. It's good you can visit. I've heard about things in Canada not opening up as fast due to lack of vaccine. I hope Biden sends some your way. I know many people here who have family in Canada and are waiting to visit. I hope Miriam recoups from her second shot quickly also. And lovely photos too. I ordered those 2 bee books you suggested in a comment to me and The Bee a Natural History arrived. It is a fantastic book so thanks so much for the recommendation. Hope you have a great weekend but not too hot.

  42. As someone has pointed out, Maria, it is great to have Betty and Lily on the same post, to represent the continuation of life. Betty was an example for us all, and perhaps Lily will be too. Heather is giving her the very best start in life.

  43. A lovely post, David.

    Many in some parts of the world would be over the moon to be able to enjoy some of your "odds-and-ends". Our perspectives are flavored by our own unique life experiences.

    Who would think a Stinkbug could grace an internationally viewed internet blog? (Well, besides you and I, that is.)

    Hope your weekend is peaceful and filled with joy. We also hope Miriam is feeling much better.

  44. That Butterfly Weed (as we have always called it) is just glorious! I would never choose anything Orange to wear myself, but in nature it’s wonderful. Love Lily’s little topknots and how fun to have climbing around your house … and right into your lap!

  45. Hi David! Lovely photos! I'm so sorry to hear about your friend Betty...and I do hope Miriam is feeling better.

  46. Your stinkbug is a right handsome one: the ones I see here are brown and gray and not nearly so eye-catching. I share your affection for the doves. Ours have begun cooing for the first time this year, and there are a lot of them doing a lot of cooing! It's a lovely, peaceful sound that makes me wish I could open the windows to listen. Unfortunately, getting humidity out of the house is a battle as it is, so I just listen to their faint coos, or go outside.

  47. Hello Both,
    So sorry to read of your friend Betty's death, old friends stay in your mind for ever. Also hope Miriam is feeling better, Several people have had a bad reaction to the second vaccine,. my youngest daughter being one, she had to crawl around the house until she felt better.
    Good to see the Barn Swallows about to fledge and I always find vultures impressive birds with such a wing span.
    My Lily has really come on, I had forgot how old she was, how lucky she could visit you.
    All the best.

  48. Waaa Lily a tellement grandit, elle arrive déjà à se tenir debout, le temps passe trop vite.
    Il y'a de bien jolies fleurs, très vives. Et les oiseaux sont aussi nombreux, très chouette les vautours! Bonne soirée

  49. Some of the insects, though might not be very friendly to us, are so beneficial in the gardens.

  50. Yes - (first, sorry for the side effects of the vaccine!) - we have little grey baby-birds everywhere here now, I´ve never seen that and we live here since 2011.
    They are so tiny and quick, it´s amazing!

    A "Stink Bug", ewww. Looks cute, but why the name?

    Sorry you had to let go of a loved person.

    "Red Hot Poker"?! You have funny names there :-)
    And sad ones - why is the bird called "Mourning Dove"?
    The crop makes me a bit sad, showing summer will be over soon.
    And, by golly, we had only a couple of summer days so far!

    The Turkey Vultures look... not really pretty. Nature can be mean!
    Lily is super-cute! I hoped for that name for one of my Nieces - no such luck.
    Oh, blogger, yes. Why did they change a system that ran well...

    1. The stink bugs do emit a bit of an odour. In the UK they are usually referred to as shield bugs, and I have to say that their bodies do resemble shields. The Mourning Dove has a call that is doleful and sad-sounding, like someone in mourning.

  51. I'm so sorry to hear of the passing of Betty, David. It seems she was a very special person, and I'm sure you will always cherish memories of her.

    We have a number of species of Stink Bug in UK and I do like to photograph them. Here, they are more commonly known to nature lovers as Shieldbugs.

    How wonderful to see and photograph perched Turkey Vultures.

    I never cease to be amazed by Lily's progress. She has a real sparkle in those eyes!

    I see that you too are plagued by the vagaries of Bloggers editor - photos in the wrong order, inexplicable changes to font size, and random spacing between images and between paragraphs. It's getting beyond frustrating, especially with the ongoing header image problems.

    Best wishes to you and Miriam - - - Richard

    1. Hi Richard: If ever the expression "celebration of life" had meaning it is as it relates to Betty. I will miss her, but I stand in awe of the pace of life she maintained right up until the end. As for blogger, I tried to change my header picture, but after an hour of frustration I gave up!

  52. Having to deal with an adverse reaction to the vaccine, I'm sure, was no fun. Sorry about the loss of your friend...sad. But, I'm sure she alone made it a full, productive life.

    Beautiful nature series AND!!!...loving precious Lily.

    Sharing this with us, along with great photos is much appreciated at IRBB this week, thanks!

    1. We should all have Betty's stamina and multiple interests in life.

  53. I am sorry for your loss of your friend - and happy to see that Lily thrives.
    The dove is elegant and I hope it sings nice for you.

  54. A diverse post showing what can be seen in your area of ​​residence, with birds, insects and plants. Some like the turkey vulture that there is no where I live but in most of my country, you always see them perched near a dead animal; the mourning doves so similar to their fellows that we have here and I always enjoy seeing them.
    You also show us the unfortunate departure of a friend with whom you shared outings but at the same time the liveliness of little Lily, who knows if she won't follow in her mother's footsteps

  55. Betty appears to have lived a very full life, I think that is wonderful.
    Sorry to read that Miriam had a bad reaction to her second vaccination.

    I enjoyed seeing all of your photographs but have to say Lily stole the show, what an adorable little girl she is.

    My good wishes.

    All the best Jan

  56. Hello!
    I really like the way you post on your blog. My condolences for the death of your friend.
    I like the swallows family! Lily is a beautiful baby, my grandson is the same age.
    Greetings from Galicia.

  57. Lily is lovely, but you already know that. I wonder if the stink bug can alter his color a bit to maintain camouflage, because in your photo, he is the most perfect shade of green to match his surroundings.


  58. My condolences on the loss of your friend. At least Lily looks to be a happy child and is obviously a delightful distraction. How nice to be able to spend time with her. I hope Miriam is now recovered. I currently have a sore arm from my second vaccination but I'm grateful that it's nothing more. It's a small price to pay in the middle of a pandemic.

    The lizard book sounds fascinating. We have a large number of resident lizards of all kinds in our yard and they are a continual delight.

  59. those Turkey Vultures seem to have a chatting party going on :)
    And sweet Lily is soon walking. :)
    Have a great week.

  60. What lovely photos of Lily and it must be so good to be able to interact with her more now. I hope Miriam is recoverd well, I was quite knocked out by the second jab but thankfully not for long. I'm sorry to hear about your friend, the photo of you both is certainly one to treasure.

  61. I admire Lily because she is an extremely cheerful, smiling child. Her visit made you very happy. Miaram took great pictures of her.
    Vultures are very ugly birds.
    Hugs and greetings.

  62. Sweet pics of young Lily and she certainly does like the camera lens.She looks to be a happy, cheerful child and glad you were able to visit in your own home, at long last!


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