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Sunday, 17 October 2021

The Mill Race Trail with Staunch Naturalists of Waterloo Region Nature

      Slowly, but equally surely (at least for now) the restrictions on assembly made necessary by COVID-19 are being relaxed.
     With great elation I have welcomed the opportunity to lead outings for our nature club again, starting a recent series with a visit to the Mill Race Trail in St. Jacobs. More field trips will follow right through until the end of the year, and I will be sure to report on them all.

13 October 2021

Leader: David M. Gascoigne

Participants: Miriam Bauman (effectively a co-leader), Karl Malhotra, Pauline Richards, Andrew Wesolowski, Adrienne Zoe

     Three others who had signed up for the walk were sidelined by medical issues of one kind or another

Andrew, Karl, David, Pauline, Adrienne

     A friendly Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) came to bid us "Good Morning" before we even set foot on the trail.


     The Mill Race Trail is beautiful at any time of year, but in the fall, bedecked with leaves, it is perhaps at its most charming.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Wesolowski

      Pannicled Asters (Symphyotrichum lanceolatum) continue to delight a curious naturalist right into October.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Wesolowski

     On a typical outing the participants have a wide range of skill levels and for some the opportunity to see a White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) at arm's length is a singular pleasure.



     I can tell you that the pleasure does not diminish with familiarity!
     If anything is as certain as death, taxes and conniving politicians, it is that Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) will come to secure their just reward almost from the moment when you first enter their realm.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Wesolowski

     They repay you with joy at every step along the way.



     It would be an odd day when chickadees and nuthatches were not spotted along the Mill Race, and the third "reliable" would be Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens).



     In recent years Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinensis) has become almost as predictable as a downy.


     I am quite sure that we notice this tree on every visit to the Mill Race, wondering when the next fierce wind will bring it down.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Wesolowski

     I think we have been looking at it for at least ten years, however, so it is perhaps better anchored than it appears. The winds of November will soon be shrieking, however.....
     How charming the surface of the water looks with a covering of autumn leaves.


     American Beavers (Castor canadensis) have been busy and the water is backed up behind their dam.

Photograph courtesy of Andrew Wesolowski

      There were lots of Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) busy flycatching from the treetops.




     October weather has been unseasonably warm and there was no shortage of flying insects.
     Ripe Japanese Barberries (Berberis thunbergii) would normally beckon them, but today they seemed indifferent to the fruit shining brightly in the foliage.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Wesolowski

     An American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonius) was making inroads into a Black Walnut (Juglans nigra).


     Eastern Chipmunks (Tamias striatus), the darlings of the rodent world, were scurrying everywhere, busily gathering winter storage, and chattering to every human interloper who passed by.


     Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) and a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) were content to share the resources of the Conestogo River, both probing for their food of choice, without competition.


     There is little quite as peaceful as Mallards (Anas paltyrynchos) outside the frenzy of spring courtship, a time when raging hormones dictate aggressive behaviour. Fall is the time of easy living and relaxation and togetherness is the order of the day.



     The presence of several Ruby-crowned Kinglets (Regulus calendula) was highlighted by one especially cooperative individual who, contrary to all kinglet protocols, permitted portraits to be taken!


     Fungi, as a general rule, do not attract a great deal of attention, but on this walk several discussions were held as we observed different types, so it was fitting that our outing ended with a fine stand of Velvet Foot (Tapinella atrotomentosa).


     Thank you Karl, Pauline, Andrew and Adrienne. What engaging companions you were on a balmy October morning. 
     Let's do it again!

16 October 2021

Would have been participants: Christine Alexander, Miriam Bauman, Dog Brunton, Victoria Ho, Jennifer Leat, Geoff Moore, Tracey Rainer, Colleen Reilly, Zach Stevens, Roger Suffling, Selwyn Tomkun

Guests: Meghan Singaraja with her son, Gabe.

     My plan is to run the entire series of walks mid week, with a repeat on the weekend for those who work.
     Unfortunately, rain dashed our plans and we had to cancel this outing. 
     Some things we can control - the weather is not one of them.  


71 comments:

  1. As always beautiful photos David. Loved to see the little chickadee eating out of your hand, how cute is that!
    The carpet of autumn leaves is so pretty.

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  2. Autumn begins to color the landscape beautifully.

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  3. Hi David, it sounds like you all had a great nature walk and got to see a great variety of birds, trees and plants. The photos are all wonderful, as always. The tits here seem to be 'related' to the chickadees, and they are always the first visitors when I put food out. Love the red fungi in the last photo, and I always love to see the chipmunks, as we do not have them here. Enjoy your Sunday, rest and relax! Hugs, Valerie

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    1. The tits in Europe are indeed in the same family, Valerie.

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  4. Hari OM
    A joy shared is magnified beyond the ordinary - and there is great joy in even an 'ordinary' bird eating from one's hand! YAM xx

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  5. Thank you very much for a beautiful autumn walk. Beautiful pictures as always. Melanerpes carolinensis and the tit eating from the hand delighted me.
    Happy, successful week:)

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  6. Very good photos. Good to be able to see a ruby-crown kinglet from the comfort of my chair.

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    1. Yesterday we had two Golden-crowned Kinglets in the Sugar Maple in the backyard.

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  7. Beautiful walk. The wet leaves on the path, hearing and seeing such beauty, would be wonderful.

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  8. What a nice fall hike. It's been a while since I've been in an area chipmunks inhabit. I think I'll try your chickadee feeding routine, and see if I get a nibble before my arm falls asleep. It's worth a try.

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    1. Patience is the only requirement, but once they become accustomed to it they will be on your arm even before you have food for them in your hand.

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  9. How I love your walks. Your 'reliables' are exotica to me. Exotica in beautiful surroundings.
    Thank you for sharing the joy, the beauty, the wonder.

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  10. It must feel great to be leading your group on a birdwatching outing. Beautiful photos!

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  11. The friendly Blue Jay in my favorite bird. I would like to feed a bird from my hand, but I have never tried it.
    Many hugs, Marit

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  12. The Mill Race Trail does look beautiful.
    I enjoyed seeing all of your photographs.

    Here's to more outings :)

    All the best Jan

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  13. Hello David,:=) I enjoyed seeing all the beauty of the creatures you saw, and the autumn colours of the leaves floating in the water was a beautiful sight. I particularly enjoyed seeing the chickadee. A young Coal Tit once ate out of my hand, and it's a memory I will always cherish. The Eastern Chipmunk is a lovely creature, how I wish I could see it in real life, what a treat that would be, and also to see a White Breasted Nuthatch at close range. I will look forward to your next outing David, and have enjoyed every minute shared here.
    All the best

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  14. Yes, We are relaxing with covid just a bit. We went out to eat for the first time last week and will go to our first, well-spaced exercise class tomorrow, with our new vax passes in hand.

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  15. Hi David
    Great collection of pictures and commentary. As always I appreciate walks with your expert eyes to pick up those little and big creatures.
    Thanks
    Karl

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  16. Beautiful photo of the Mallard and I love that little chipmunk :)

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  17. How wonderful restrictions are being relaxed over your way.
    Lovely birds and animals plus scenery.

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  18. You all had a wonderful and interesting walk. Wow! I would be so excited to have a bird come feed from my hand. That would be a great experience for me. Wonderful sightings of beautiful creations. Awww .. isn't the squirrel cute? Such a hardworking squirrel.

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  19. I think the photo of the water with the leaves would make for a good (frustrating) jigsaw! The photos of the birds are great, it looks like they are posing for you!

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  20. Buenos días, amigo David, Precioso reportaje. Eso está bien, retomando las excursiones que quedaron paralizadas por el maldito COVID19.
    Los castores han hecho bien su trabajo. Buena empalizada.
    Las aguas están preciosas arropadas con esa multitud de hojas.
    Dentro de poco ya tienes las nieves y todo se cubrirá de blanco, otra belleza más.
    Un fuerte abrazo de tu amigo y compadre Juan.

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  21. WOW - a bird eating from a hand... :-o
    I think that fallen leaves on a path or pond mean real autumn and I like those photos a lot.

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    1. With a little patience, Lisbeth, you can get Blue Tits to do it where you live. On trips to Europe I have had both Blue Tits and Crested Tits take food from the hand.

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    2. Really... :-o I must try. Blue Tits breed in some bird boxes in my garden.

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  22. Lors de mes dernières balades j'ai remarqué que beaucoup de champignons moisissaient, ils étaient devenus tout blanc et feutrés.
    C'est toujours extraordinaire de voir les oiseaux venir manger dans la main.
    L'automne est une belle saison.
    Bonne journée

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  23. Hi David.

    I enjoyed all your beauty.
    It's nice to be able to go out into nature with others again.
    Beautiful hiking trails.
    Lots of beautiful Ducks and Birds.
    The Woodpeckers are super, also the White-breasted Nuthatch.

    Greetings from Patricia.

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  24. Great photos...all. You have most of the same we have, except our waxwings have not yet arrived. We have something called (common name) frost aster that looks like that. I have forgotten the scientific designation...sorry.

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  25. How I wish I could join you on these walks, you see so much, and so many kinds of birds. Fabulous photos. Out walking here I find it very difficult to get bird shots, they are shy and very distant! We have been delighted over the past fortnight to have seen a Nuthatch visiting our garden, the first in 16 years. On a 3 night trip to Arcachon last week we were also delighted to see many Spoonbills. Sadly there is nowhere close by to bird watch!
    Keep safe and stay well, long my your walks last. Cheers Diane

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  26. I would have loved being on that walk, David, for the birds and the companionship. These days, all my bird watching/wildlife excursions are solitary, apart from the few souls that I meet along the way and have a chat with. I still keep my fingers crossed that maybe, one day, you and I will meet up again - hopefully in this life!!

    My very best wishes to you and Miriam - - - Richard

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  27. It must be fun to do this with other people rather than going alone. Sharing in the beauty is a blessing.

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  28. Looks like a productive walk David. Too bad about the rain on Saturday:(

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  29. hello David
    it is good that we cannot influence the weather ... would not be good for mankind .. but your trips are very good for mankind closer to nature is not possible ...
    Greetings Frank

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  30. Beautiful photo gallery of an autumn outing, I really like the light that the images have. The fauna is very beautiful too, I like the Blue Jay, the squirrels and especially the Red-bellied Woodpecker. Nice looking also has the beaver dam with all those fallen leaves
    Saludos desde Monte

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  31. You led another great walk David with lots of interest for yourself, all of your companions, and for us too.
    Am I right in thinking that a balmy October day would have been quite unusual when my eldest brother first went to live in Canada during the mid 1960s?

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    1. You are quite right, Rosemary. For almost a week in October the temperature was in the low twenties.

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  32. Thanks for all the photos taken along the way of your beautiful outing. So much to see. It must have been terrific getting out there with your friends again. Just love the cute little bird eating from a hand. That's an experience to remember.

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  33. Blue rays were just beautiful, and the trail with its flowers and fall leaves. We have so few blue birds here. The chikadees seem very friendly, I have never had a bird come to my hand. We have a neighbour here we call Ms. Chikadee (that is I never even knew there were real birds call chickdees). It was a nickname I gave here as she had 3 roosters for pets and in the city, this was highly unusual. Chipmunks have stripes and squirrels (says Mr Google) don't but they sure look very alike. So here we have squirrels. The red-bellied (?) woodpecker is red on the head, not on the belly, but it is a handsome bird.

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  34. Glad to hear things are normalizing a bit. That tilted tree does look scary, although I’ve seen similar on my walks and wonder how they stay pinned down for years and years. The red-bellied woodpecker is also familiar and in my neighbourhood, one in particular seems to love hanging around the little wooden birdhouse I put up under the roof for smaller birds like chickadees.

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  35. I enjoyed the nature walk, David.

    The photos are all fantastic as always.

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  36. What a lovely walk the Mill Trace Trail provided!
    This collection of outstanding images "oozes" autumn. Granted, such an opinion is from a dweller of the sub-tropics whose memories of actual "autumn" have faded as much as leaves in winter.

    Of course, the main interest for my selfish purposes is all those gorgeous birds soon to be in the process of migrating our direction!

    Here's to more such walks in your near future!

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  37. I thoroughly enjoyed tagging along on your walk via this post. Lots to see and admire. Thank you for your very kind comment on my blog.

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  38. I'm glad your covid-19 restrictions are relaxing a little bit there. Beautiful place to walk. And I love how the birds land in one's hand, to eat seed. (I wish there was a place around here that they did that.)

    I thought of you the other day, on one of my outings. I saw some little birds flying around, went charging forward to try to get closer, and in so doing, startled a Great Blue Heron that I didn't realize was there too. I thought to myself, "If David were here, he would've known to proceed slowly forward, knowing there could be birds of interest down by the water." :-) Anyway, I did manage to get a few good photos, before it flew off.

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  39. Wonderful pictures..The Chickadee is one of my favorite birds they have a very recognizable chirp.What a fun walk..Packed with photo ops.Thanks for taking us along..Fungi is running amuck around here this year..Lots of different types to see..Have a happy week..

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  40. Lovely photos as always. Being able to get out again with fellow enthusiasts must be wonderful.

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  41. What beautiful photos of the outing with your friends.
    It would be a lot of fun to go out together I think.
    Great that the birds eat out of hand, I love it.
    Greetings Irma

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  42. Looks like you are a fun group and the Jay.... good start!
    And a bird really on the hand!
    Our Squirrels say hi.

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  43. Hello,
    What a great walk, I would enjoy feeding the birds. Awesome collection of photos. Take care, enjoy the rest of your week!

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  44. Gorgeous photos, boo on medical issues!

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  45. ...Berberis thunbergii is bright and a popular plant, but it's a horrible pest!

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    1. You are right, Tom, but we introduced it - and now we are paying the price.

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  46. What a perfect day out and beautiful collection of creatures, David. It had to be great fun to be walking with others as enthusiastic as you are and you were well rewarded by good spottings!

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  47. Querido David es un placer poder visitar de nuevo tu blog y me alegra ver que de nuevo podéis salir a disfrutar de la naturaleza. Las fotos son muy bonitas. Me encanta ver a los Carboneros comiendo con toda tranquilidad de tu mano. Un paseo precioso. Un enorme abrazo para ti y para Miriam.

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  48. buena excursión, en la que todos los que la integran van perfectamente equipado para caminar. Los colores del otoño están presentes de ellas y además unos buenos ejemplares de hermosas aves , que integran la mayoría de las fotos.

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  49. An absolutely stunning day and such incredible birds. You have a magical eye with your camera, too. Even the little squirrel is fascinating.

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  50. Me habría encantado estar en ese paseo tan especial. Abrazos amigo David.

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  51. I would like to be there :-) It's nice that you can lead excursions again and that it is possible to travel together.
    Thank you for the tour here on your blog.
    Many nice greetings to you. Viola

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  52. I just read the sweet comment you left on today's Friday Smiles. First, I prefer to use fresh rosemary when I cook. That's why my rosemary plant is so important to me. It makes a great garnish, too. Second, you said you didn't create. That is NOT true. You have an amazing eye for photography, which in itself is an art form. Granted, having a good camera is important, but the camera doesn't create the composition or frame the image beautifully. You truly are a great artist, David, and your photos prove it.

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  53. Gusta siempre entrar aquí David. Aprendemos y vemos especies que nunca lo haremos donde vivimos. Gracias por compatir vuestras salidas y lo que véis. También empiezan a salir setas por aquí.
    Que paséis buen fin de semana.
    Un abrazo.

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  54. The russet tones of autumn, friends both human and feathered, makes for a walk that can oft be repeated with joy.

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  55. Hi David,
    Once again it is clear that this type of outings interests people. Others prefer to wander in nature on their own. Most activities have their advantages and disadvantages. Your initiative is rewarded by the reactions of regular participants. It is not surprsing, because you show them attractive examples of wildlife.
    Greetings, Kees

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  56. Nature is incredible and is now showing that autumn has arrived, with its golden colors and beautiful carpets of leaves. Thanks for this beautiful tour through your photos, all of them are wonderful but my favorite was the 2nd photo of Blue Jay, it's fantastic.

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  57. Hi David – stunning blue jay … and so pleased you were able to enjoy some company, especially with your reliable avian friends to award your visit. That tree is hanging happily on – isn’t it …
    Fascinating to see the beaver dam in full divisive mode … yes, we too have warm weather for October; I went out for supper last night (late dusk time) and as I walked along I was accompanied by very loud bird song – delightful.
    Wonderful picture of the Red Squirrel with its walnut … when I was young we used to have red squirrels, but also had a walnut tree in the garden – apologies: memories came to the fore! Beautiful chipmunk … and all other photos setting off your post – thank you and cheers Hilary

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  58. Hello David,
    I read here with you that the measures will gradually be relaxed with you. Here in the Netherlands, the infections are rising again and next week Monday (1 November) we will hear which corona rules will apply again.

    How nice that you now also give excursions. Some unfortunately couldn't come and that's a shame because I see beautiful photos passing by. The woodpeckers and the little squirrels are so nice to see :-)))) I also see beautiful forest paths and autumn colors passing by. This is really enjoying David.
    Big hug from the Netherlands

    Dear greetings,
    Helma

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  59. Hi David! So nice to read you are out and about. The photos are lovely, and so is that path! Reminds me a lot of the Laurentian mountains where I used to live. We have so many Blue Jays this time of year and the Chickadees are back. I need to record all of these sightings because I have noticed so many birds here and there. One thing that is constant is the enormous number of Mourning Doves year round! The Mallards are gorgeous!! :)

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