Friday, July 02, 2021

Our Backyard and Beyond

 17 June 2021
Our Backyard, Waterloo, ON

     Our backyard continues to remain a safe haven for a range of wildlife, with food, water and shelter present, and native vegetation aplenty.
     I cannot think of a day when at least a couple of Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura) are not there from first light until the end of day, and at times in the winter there have been more than twenty.
     Its familiarity does not detract from its delicate beauty.

     Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) is blooming prolifically at present and delights us when we sit out on the patio.

     Common Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) are regular visitors to the feeders, and it is not surprising that they have been bringing their young to visit.

     The fledglings lack the iridescent sheen and the yellow eyes of their parents.

     They are fully capable at this stage of taking care of themselves, but waste no opportunity nevertheless to cadge from mom and dad - usually with great success.
     A regular visitor is a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) seemingly in the process of moulting his head feathers.

     We call him Scruffy - in the most affectionate way I hasten to add!
     This fledgling cardinal was constantly begging from its parents.

     And it worked every time!

     His patient, long-suffering and devoted mother is seen below.

18 June 2021
Laurel Creek Conservation Area, Waterloo, ON

     Other than for a few very common species, it was difficult to find birds; and the fact that the park was quite busy did not help the situation, so we applied our energies to insects primarily.
     The is a Hover Fly in the genus Cheilosia, commonly known as Blacklets.

     That's as far as I can get with the ID. There are almost 500 of these creatures worldwide, and they all look very similar to the uninitiated eye, and many of them are impossible to identify visually.
     Similarly, I am unable to name the species of the following Sweat Bee in the genus Lasioglossum.

     A very familiar Virginia Ctenucha (Ctenucha virginica) gave us no trouble at all.

     This is the larva of a Leaf Beetle in the family Chrysomelidae. A handsome little creature, don't you agree?

     Spotted Grass Moth (Rivula propinqualis) is quite common at this time of the year, but easily overlooked.

     Herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum) does not seem to host many insects or their larvae; in fact the odour of its crushed leaves is claimed to repel mosquitoes.

     This American Robin (Turdus migratorius) was gathering food to take back to the nest to feed its young.

     It is conventional wisdom that most bird species find the Gypsy Moth caterpillar distasteful but this individual seems to have included them on its menu. Miriam and I have also witnessed Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) battering Gypsy Moth larvae against the ground and either consuming them or flying off with a beak full.
     We were very happy to find a cooperative Hobomok Skipper (Poanes hobomok),

     Northern Crescents (Phyciodes cocyta) can be seen flitting everywhere.

     The caterpillar of the Gypsy Moth is quite beautiful but its impact on a deciduous forest is devastating.

     Following is a picture of a Long-legged Fly in the family Dolichopodidae.

     Shown below is a pond spreadwing in the genus Lestes , but I am unable to extend the ID beyond that.

     Spotted Spreadwing (Lestes congener) would be my educated guess, but if anyone feels confident to confirm or refute this supposition I would be happy to hear from you.
     Clemen's Skeletonizer (Acoloithus falsarius) is an impressive name for a tiny insect!

     This species is known from wineries, but I am not sure whether it is a great hazard to the grape crop.
     There are over 35,000 Long-horned Beetles (family Cerambycidae) in the world, and identification other than by an expert in this taxon is extremely difficult. I am fairly confident based on the research I have done, and on probability, this individual belongs in the genus Oberea.

     As I have mentioned in previous posts, Bluets (Genera Coenagrion and Enallagma) are also difficult to identify as to species without having the insect in the hand, and sometimes under a microscope.

     Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron pulchellus) is widespread and attractive.

     We caught movement out of the corner of our eye and were happy to find a Common Carpet Moth, also known as White-banded toothed Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata).

     It is not often that we see American Yellow Warbler (Setophaga aestiva) on the ground.

      It has a bill full of food, no doubt to be relayed back to hungry nestlings.
     Calico Pennant (Celithemis elisa) is an exceptionally handsome dragonfly, and Miriam captured a couple of great shots of a male.

23 June 2021
RiverSong Banquet Hall, St. Jacobs, ON

     After a long hiatus when COVID restrictions prohibited lunch on the patio, it was finally possible to resume this very pleasant activity.
     I am quite sure that this newly fledged Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) was very happy to see us.

     Better it get up off the ground and into the dense bushes where it will be appreciably safer.
     A Red-spotted Purple (Limenthis arthemis astyanax) went about its business unconcerned, although it too would be wise to be vigilant. We saw both Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) and Eastern Wood Pewee (Contopus virens), both of whom would find a large butterfly a very tasty treat.

     Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) was quite common, and this is a male in prime condition.

Much of the Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) was brown and withered and has been subjected to a full frontal attack by a beetle of some kind. I am unable to identify the larvae. (See YAM's comment below).

     The cheery song of the House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) was seldom out of earshot, and it was a delight to be in the company of this ebullient musician.

26 June 2021
A drive through the country, Region of Waterloo, ON

     It was hot and sticky, not the kind of weather to go for a walk, so we decided on a drive through the country.
     And what could be more pleasant than this?

     This foal was sticking close to mom, but when the mare approached Miriam at the fence, obviously hoping for a carrot or an apple, the foal was not reluctant to make friends too.

     Scenes such as this are the stuff of pure delight.

     A Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) signified its approval.

     As might be expected in late June, young birds are popping up everywhere.
     This recently fledged Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) was waiting patiently for devoted parents to fly by and stuff an insect into its waiting bill.

     Looks like mom is coming right now!

     And young Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) were no less anxious to be fed.

     This Common Starling, bashing a Gypsy Moth caterpillar into submission, no doubt had hungry mouths back at the nest to take care of.

     Until the next time, be sure to get out and enjoy nature. There is nothing quite like it!   


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. Hi David, you're right, there is nothing like nature, I always enjoy my walks here and with you and Miriam. The photos are fabulous again, all of them. I've been watching the birds feeding their young here, too, the little'uns keep them busy. They seem to like 'Hotel mama' as much as many human children! My fave photo today is that tussled cardinal, scruffy is a great name. My dog was called scruffy, too! Lovely to meet up with friendly foals, too! Have a wonderful day, take care, and hope it is cooler for you now. Hugs to you both, Valerie

  2. What a wonderful visit, you bring us on such a wonderful adventure, my eyes my not let me see the photos but your words bring me there just the same! Thank you for this!

  3. Being able to get out in nature has kept us sane through the pandemic. This time of summer, the succession of wildflowers has been fascinating. From the smallest blossom to the largest tree, there is much to take it. One need ever be bored in nature.

    Great photos again today and great variety of birds!

  4. Buena colección de aves y de insectos. me gustan sobretodo las aves de tus últimas fotografías.

    Que tengas un excelente día.

  5. I fully agree with you David, the nature is great. I work in the garden for many hours every day, and I can watch a lot of insects and birds in my garden.
    It's lovely to see your lovely photos. I enjoy them very much.
    How is the temperature at your place? I have read the news about terrible temperatures in Canada.
    Have a wonderful weekend!
    Hugs from your gardenfriend in Norway!

    1. We are okay here, Marit. The terrible temperatures are in western Canada. The town of Lytton, BC which recorded a temperature of fifty degrees just burned to the ground, the whole town. And climate change is only just getting started!

  6. Hari OM
    As always, a most delightful feast for the eyes and great descriptive narrative!!! I think the ID of the larvae is likely to be Mordellistena Convicta. The larvae may predate the larvae of the fly Eurosta Solidaginis, that makes the goldenrod galls. YAM xx

  7. Hi David :) We have Mourning Doves, like you, pretty much from morning to dusk. I love those birds. And the Common Grackles too, though their squawking annoys the heck out of me at times! Scruffy reminds me of my dog Jack...he is perfectly capable of everything, but begs me constantly for anything - and it works every time too lol! Interesting note here...I have not seen ANY Robins on our property! Once in a while I'll hear them, but never see them. I wonder if it's our soil (clay and gravel)...not earth worm-friendly maybe. It's weird because we had so many of them in the Laurentians where I lived before, I kind of miss seeing them! That American Yellow Warbler is a beauty! Oh those horses...I'm such a wuss for those animals, they are so sweet and beautiful! Great post! :)

  8. It is a wonderful time of year. The mourning doves are my faves!

  9. Querido amigo estoy de acuerdo contigo en que la naturaleza es muy muy hermosa y nos llena de alegría. Las aves son preciosas y los insectos me encantan, son especiales para mi. Fotos realmente bonitas. Vi en las noticias que Canada sufre una ola de calor, espero que estéis bien. Besos y abrazos Par ti y para Míriam.

  10. Estamos bien gracias, amiga Lola. El calor extremo está en el oueste del país.

  11. As always you have beautiful photos and a sharp eye for even little things in nature.
    I am glad to hear that you are not near fifty degrees. Poor Lytton.

  12. Fascinating pictures as always but my favorite is the Mourning Dove, truly one of the best-loved birds of my entire life. I remember their songs from my earliest childhood. I never found them mournful - just comforting - and I love that sound still.

  13. The foul is adorable and so are the newly born baby birds. Your back garden seems to be a wild life heaven. We have seemingly nice temperatures at the moment in Finland, but it is way too dry. I’m watering the garden and have to go to move the sprinkler!

  14. Love the lakes - and the Hover Fly - and the blue one.
    The Yellow Warbler is very, very cute.
    The Catbird seems to ask, "where have you been?!"
    And the foal..... amazing and cute!

  15. Wow what a cute baby horse nose!!Muah muah xxx :))

    Lovely to visit you again David-nice birds and insects..maybe insect summer these year?Good for the birds :))

    Hope you do well in the heat wave..It is hot here the bay of west Norway

    See you soon and happy weekend to you and family :))

  16. Hi David. Lovely journey through Waterloo Region. I am excited to know that the Robins and Starlings have acquired a taste for the Gypsy Moth! I see hundreds of them gathered together on some trees, so they should be an easy find!!

  17. A wonderful collection of photos. I love the Common Grackles showing their young where the goodies are so they can visit too. There's so much to enjoy and you are right in the middle of it. How nice is that and thanks for sharing the beauty you see.

  18. Nature is solace and heart balm for me. Thank you so much (both of you) for spreading that beautiful soothing balm.

  19. hello David
    Nature offers the best material, you can see that there are beautiful things to marvel at everywhere, I was now able to observe several young animals, just look, but that alone is worth being out early ... pure deep relaxation
    Greetings Frank

  20. Buenas tardes apreciado David, que esplendido reportaje nos dejas, un poco de todo y para todos los gustos. Desde tu patio donde tienes abundantes amigos y vuestro precioso recorrido lleno de bella naturaleza. Las imágenes son todas preciosas, la buena mano de Mirian se nota, es una estupenda profesional. Me encantó toda la entrada y como bien dices no hay nada como poder disfrutar de los placeres que nos brinda la Madre naturaleza.
    Un fuerte abrazo apreciado amigo y compadre David y buen fin de semana.

  21. We have three young mourning doves that have taken up residence in our tray feeder too, from dawn to dusk. We put up a second feeder for the rest of the birds! It isn’t that they chase the other birds but that they fill the whole thing with their presence! You have a nice variety of babies to keep you entertained, as do we. It’s such a busy and exciting time of year!

  22. A most enjoyable read,David, and I'm pleased to hear thet things are starting to open up for you in Canada. I have particularly delighted in the remarkable insect photography. Those dragons are fabulous!

    I was disappointed to read about people over there tearing down statues fo Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II. I'm no royalist and nor do I condone the the historical events which were, supposedly, at the root of these protests. However, history should be learned from, and not denied or re-written. If there are strong feelings about past injustices, far better to publices the events with clear explanatory notices than try and remove any reminders that these things happened. It's even worse over here. They're even trying to remove references to certain children's authors from my own childhood days - it's time people realised that these things, although now (rightfully) considered unacceptable were 'of their time'.

    Sorry - I've banged on a bit! My very best wishes to you and Miriam - - - Richard

    1. It's an issue fraught with emotion, Richard. The indigenous leaders claim that it is akin to making Jews observe statues of Hitler, Goebels and other Nazis. They also claim that many are more upset about the defacing or destruction of a few statues than they are about the entire history of injustice to the aboriginal peoples of this country. The residential school system was a complete abomination ad I fear there are more graves to be uncovered. Emotions are not going to be calmed any time soon.

  23. I have moved into a suburb where nature is what I consider sparse, even though there is plenty of it around, it seems minimal after living on a lake for 15 years. So, I have to say, I enjoy your outings and your deep knowledge of things that I adore (yes, even the insects). I doubt that I will remember any of the scientific names, but I can always come back and reference them if I need too, right? Your pictures are delightful and uplifting ... always glad to come over here to see you :)

    Andrea @ From the Sol

  24. Fabulous selection of photographs.
    Nature sure is wonderful.

    All the best Jan

  25. Thanks for the tours. I must add, as a former avid photographer (hindered by shaky hands), Miriam is a crack photographer. Another problem I had even in the best of times was finding the subject against the bright light. Miriam seems to have overcome that. Thanks to her for all the beautiful pictures.

  26. * ╔ • ═ • ⊰❉⊱ • ═ • ⊰❉⊱ ••••• ⊰❉⊱ • ═ • ⊰❉⊱ • ═ • ╗ *Hi Miriam and David! these are really good days with beetles, pigeons and dragonflies and even a foal ...! what else can we ask for! I can't help but admire the simple and extraordinary things that make your summer so special. A bright green Canadian summer made of nothing but wonderful things.
    With much affection, i send you hugs and roses.
    * ║🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹 🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹║ *
    * ║🌹🌹║ * ║🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹 🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹║ *
    * ╚ • ═ • ⊰❉⊱ • ═ • ⊰❉⊱ ••••• ⊰❉⊱ • ═ • ⊰❉⊱ • ═ • ╝ *

  27. David - another fine collection of photos. I deeply enjoy these virtual tours of your beautiful area! My favorite photos are the series of the young swallow and its mother.

  28. Agreed David! There is nothing quite like nature. Love all your photos :)

  29. How wonderful to come across the horses. The photo of the red-cheeked bird is so close up and beautiful I feel as if I can reach out to touch him.


  30. There's so much wildlife (and "tamelife", in the case of the horses) to get out and appreciate at this time of year. Beautiful photographs.

  31. “Spend time in Nature...” yes, good advice anywhere....

  32. Birds, bugs and flowers all beautiful to see.
    The mare and her foal, just beautiful and lovely to go for a drive on a hot day.

  33. Hello David,
    Your post is an inspiration, for us all to get outside and enjoy nature. Beautiful captures of the birds and insects, wildflowers and pretty views. I love the horses and the cute foal. Wonderful series of nature photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend! PS, I appreciate the comment and visit.

  34. Beaucoup de petites bêtes, il y'a tant à voir lors des promenades. Il est joli le poulain.
    Il y'a beaucoup de bébés oiseaux en ce moment. Ici il pleut. Bon weekend

  35. So many wonderful creatures! I like the Virginia Ctenucha moth.

  36. Nature has actors who enjoy the sun.

  37. It is quite remarkable how you folk are able to capture so many good photos of such difficult subjects.

  38. Young horses are beautiful and fun to watch too. And it's amazing to get up close and see all the bugs and bees, etc on the leaves and enjoying the flowers! Have a good weekend!

  39. Lovely to see your photos, David!  Isn't it wonderful to follow the young birds in the backyard? We have young blue tits begging from its parentsall the time.
    It's a gift to have  a safe haven for a range of wildlife.
    I read about the temperatures in western Canada and that Lytton  burned down. It's terribly sad.

    1. Unfortunately, I don't think it's over yet. There are still many fires burning, some threatening other communities.

  40. Hi David, beautiful serie photos of the birds, insects, flowers and other wildlife. I like the grey catbird and the house wren. Have a nice weekend.

  41. Great shots! I adore the colt.

  42. Great photos of the birds and flowers. I can't claim so many bird visitors to our garden, but we have daily visits from lots of doves who will come up to the front door or the back patip to claim their daily dose of seeds :)
    Those black caterpillars are a menace in the garden, they devour our veggies.

  43. Interesante y atractiva entrada. Bien sabes captarla y compartirla David. Precioso el potrillo acercándose. Gracias por tus buenas lecciones de naturaleza.
    Que paséis un buen domingo. Cuidaros
    Un abrazo.

  44. Hi David
    Wow stunning images of beautiful birds, butterfly and dragonflies. The young barnswallows are adorable! And the Leaf beetje is amazing!
    Hugs and kisses, Maria

  45. I read Yam's comment first!
    Such a wonderful, fabulous, array of nature! You fill our senses in so many directions. Yes, I DO like all your young birds & parents of them, but I must be honest...the colt has captured my heart.
    I'm happy to be here and thank you for sharing your blog with us today at IRBB!

  46. Hi David.

    I enjoyed all the beautiful nature photos.
    Beautiful flowers, I love the Cardinal bird.
    That horse is really sweet.
    Wonderful series.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  47. Well done David, fabulous post and I love have having the mixture of insects and birds, not forgetting my favourite domestic animal the horse. I find bees and flies very hard to ID so you have done very well. As you say there is so many of each species and they are (to my eye) very similar.
    Hope that all is well, tale care Diane. P.S. I have never seen Arret on a stop sign here!!!

  48. The Calico Pennant is particularly pretty. I admire anyone who can catch a dragonfly with some detail in a photograph … the wings are almost invisible and constantly moving. And what could be a better expression of life just beginning than an exuberant foal.

  49. Wow! Beautiful photos!
    Have a wonderful day!

  50. Hi David – stunning photo of the Mourning Dove … lovely colours; the name ‘grackle’ is delightful … thanks for the number of insect species … so interesting to see and to learn about (albeit briefly) … the Virginia Ctenucha is pretty special too, as the Leaf Beetle; the Clemen’s Skeletonizer sounds to be like hazard little critter – its name leads me in that direction. Isn’t the American Yellow Warbler rather handsome, while the Calico Pennant is beautiful.

    ‘Your’ RiverSong Banquet Hall looks so restful and relaxing … while Yam’s ‘discovery’ of one of the ‘tumbling flower beetles’ – such a fun name; what a fabulous picture of the wren … and the sticky ride out generated some wonderful shots … gorgeous pony and Mum … and the Savannah Sparrow – handsome chap … with other excellent photos you’ve shared.

    Thanks so much – all heart-warming … Hilary (PS I have yet to come up with a ‘last line’ … it will happen!)

  51. Wonderful assortment of birds and bugs. You're great at being able to identify the young birds. I don't think I ever see any of them: I only notice adults.

    With regard to your comment about the US Congress: I am in the small percentage of people who realize they are the Uni-Party: Republicans and Democrats are all playing on the same team, they just pretend they aren't. I won't try to convince you, though. Until one sees it for oneself, one won't believe it.

    1. Now that sounds like a grand conspiracy theory if ever I heard one.

    2. I'm sorry you feel that way. William Binney wasn't believed until the Edward Snowden leaks proved he was telling the truth. But like I said: I'm not going to try to convince anyone of anything. I enjoy visiting blogs, especially yours, so the last thing I wanted to do is possibly alienate you. If I did that, I apologize.

  52. Hello David, some amazing things to be seen in your backyard. Birds, Dragonflies, Butterflies, most wonderful. The season for Butterflies has started late this year in our reagion because of a cold start in Spring. But now slowly slowly they are showing. Dragonflies as well. I am impressed with the Calico Pennant. So exeptional!
    I am always happy to see the young birds. It means for me that the parents succeeded this far with bringing up those youngsters.
    Take care and my compliments for the photos Miriam Took.

  53. Your birding looks incredibly successful for this time of year, when no migrations are happening and the nesting season is winding down. Your baby bird images are especially nice.

    best... mae at

  54. loved the photo of the Mourning Dove.
    You have so many beautiful and colorful insects. I would be thrilled walking in your part of the world. :)

  55. Everywhere I look there are hungry baby birds hopping about following their mothers. Some of the babies are so funny I can't help laughing.

  56. You took us on such a delightful adventure, David.

    Stunning photos of nature as always!

  57. Hi David,
    What wonderful photos, I can't even choose which one is prettier, because they all have something special. Nature is absolutely fantastic.
    Greetings and all the best

  58. The Virginia Ctenucha is beautiful, i've not seen anything quite like that before. I enjoy seeing all smaller side of the wild, though I agree on the ID, they're not easy espcecially when there are so many species of certain things!

  59. David, as much as I always enjoy the bird images and others, the foal was my favorite in this post. Glad that you and Miriam have been able to get out more with lifted restrictions. It certainly is a wonderful feeling.

  60. Maravilloso reportaje estival, con todos esos pollos de aves en proceso de sus primeros vuelos, me ha encantado. Un fuerte abrazo amigo mío y feliz verano!!!

  61. Hi David,
    Covid restrictions are getting so much less with us, that can almost say you can go everywhere you want to. Somestimes you have to obey certain rules, but by using your common sense you won't get into trouble.
    You amaze me time after time with a enormous variety of wildlife. No chance to get bored!
    Enjoy your possibilities.
    Greetings, Kees

  62. Różnorodna ciekawa seria zdjęć z terenu. Z zainteresowaniem obejrzałam zdjęcia owadów. Też uwielbiam fotografować motyle i ważki. To chyba trochę łatwiejsze niż fotografia ptaków.

  63. Bonjour David,
    Les petits coins refuges des particuliers sont de vrais sanctuaires pour la faune, si peu qu'il n'y ait pas de chats !!!
    Les tourterelles, toutes familières, sont toutes très jolies et délicates.
    Les balades "beyond" son riches en biodiversité, tant mieux !
    les voyages nous manquent, merci pour ces espèces indigènes.
    À bientôt mon ami.

  64. Siempre feliz de ver tus entradas y está me alegra muchísimo.( está entrada se me había pasado sin verla ) Abrazos para Miriam y para ti.

  65. This post is a sample of the abundance typical of the late spring and early summer, with so many flowering plants, a large number and diversity of insects and also the new generations of birds, of which you have been able to register in good number.


Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that the land on which we are situated are the lands traditionally used by the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Neutral People. We also acknowledge the enduring presence and deep traditional knowledge, laws, and philosophies of the Indigenous Peoples with whom we share this land today. We are all treaty people with a responsibility to honour all our relations.