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Saturday, 27 November 2021

Hillside Park with Waterloo Region Nature

     There are few things I enjoy more in life than leading a bird walk, and when I can do it under the auspices of my favourite naturalists club the pleasure is magnified.
     A group of enthusiastic participants took part in my two latest outings to Hillside Park in Waterloo. In the first contingent the youngest participant was seventeen months old and the oldest a mature eighty-three years. Birding does have its allure!

24 November 2021

Leader: David M. Gascoigne

Members: Miriam Bauman, Lynn Conway, Pauline Copleston, Lisa Den Besten, Beth Hobson, Jen Leat, Graham Macdonald, Marg Macdonald, Karl Malhotra, Geoff Moore, Heather Polan (with Lily), Pauline Richards, Rog Suffling, Kathy Waybrant, Andrew Wesolowski. 

Jen, Kathy, Karl, Lisa, Geoff, Beth, Pauline C, Marg, Rog. Graham, Pauline R, Lynn, Andrew, David

     Heather has to get not only herself ready, but Lily too, so they were a few minutes late arriving.


     Lily looked a little askance at all the people present, but exercised a good deal of curiosity too.
     A Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) came to greet us at the start of the trail - probably a female judging from its size.


     I don't know whether you can tell from this picture, but there was a thin film of ice on still water.


     The beat of every proud Canadian heart pulsed a little faster as a skein of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) coursed overhead, calling out their greeting.


     Meantime, on the ground, Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis) and American Tree Sparrows (Spizelloides arborea) captured our attention.



     We saw many American Robins (Turdus migratorius) feeding on berries;  most no doubt having decided to spend the winter here rather than migrating.


     We were a jolly group out enjoying nature on a warm, (for the time of year) pleasant day.


     People got to know each other and doubtless new friendships were forged.


     A Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is a very familiar bird, but no less stunning for all that.


     Miriam spotted this interesting pattern made by ice on the ground.


     Perhaps the idea for a new quilt pattern was surging through her head!
     Andrew is ever alert to interesting observations and did not fail to record a few.



     Dead fall for one is an artist's palette for another.
     We saw several House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus), the males in varying shades of red.


     The deep scarlet of a bunch of berries of Guelder-rose (Viburnum opulus) did not escape Andrew's sensitive eye.


     Once they attract the attention of robins or waxwings they will vanish quickly!
     Laurel Creek meandered along at our side.


     It is a thrill for everyone to see White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus).


     They are beautiful creatures, but are becoming problematic in many locations where, free from predation, since we have eliminated wolves, they are sometimes starving to death and completely preventing the regrowth of vegetation.
     No such thoughts occupied our minds, however; we oohed, aahed and clicked!
     We were witness to that age old drama of hawk versus crow as several American Crows (Corvus brachyrynchos) ganged up on a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) and harassed it without mercy.



     Jen has a bigger lens than Miriam and was able to capture more detail on the hawk.


     It was a gripping spectacle, enjoyed by everyone.
     When the drama was over we resumed our meanderings.


     I am quite sure that Lily was wondering why she had not been lifted out of her stroller to play, and looked quizzically several times.


     Heather had to take her home for lunch and a nap before we finished the walk, and she missed the Mallards (Anas platyrynchos) she loves so much.


     The males are surely amongst the most handsome ducks in all the world, yet they receive scant attention due to their familiarity.


     I think that Jen wished she were a female Mallard as she became entranced with this handsome fellow!


     With head sheen and curly tail who can resist an appreciative word or two?
     We wandered back towards our cars, feeling well satisfied with our morning's walk, with the beauty of a cardinal in Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) to bright our journey home.

Photo courtesy of Jen Leat

     It had been a great walk!
     To cap it all, Miriam and I had lunch with Graham and Marg. Now that's hard to beat!

27 November 2021

Leader: David M. Gascoigne

Members: Miriam Bauman, Bob Fraser, Ross Getsinger, Victoria Ho, Curtiss MacDonald, Bev McBride, Anne Morgan, Tracey Rayner, Andrea Smith, Selwyn Tomkun, Mary Ann Vanden Elzen, Judy Watson

Bev, Ross, Anne, Tracey, Miriam, Mary Ann, Andrea, Bob. Selwyn, Victoria, Curtiss

     Judy Watson was a little late arriving and missed the group picture, but you will get a glimpse of her in a shot taken along the trail a little later.
     Industrious children (I assume) have been hard at work constructing a woodland shelter, to live out their fantasies of a life in the wild perhaps.


     I suspect they would quickly long for grilled cheese sandwiches and iPhones, but let's not dampen the enthusiasm of their young imaginations.
     Common Reed (Phragmites australis), beautiful though it may be, is a huge problem, having invaded wetlands throughout the province. Once established it dominates and is extremely difficult to eradicate.


     What is more inviting than a trail ahead of you with the promise of discoveries to be made?


     I took everyone on a side trail so that they would know where we had discovered a Barred Owl (Strix varia) last winter, and in the picture below you will catch a glimpse of Judy off to the left between two trunks.


     Curtiss' sharp eyes picked out the male Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) that has taken to spending the winter here, and uncharacteristically it perched for us in full view.


     For a brief interval a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) came to occupy the branch with it.


     Red, white and blue - a flag designer's dream!
     There were many House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus), generally in small flocks, not especially photogenically situated, however.


     Here is a picture from my files of a striking male.


     Red-tailed Hawks have provided drama on these visits to Hillside Park and two birds flying above our heads calling to each other provided a thrilling spectacle. We were unable to get pictures (on this excursion no one but Miriam had a camera), but reaching into my archives again, here is an adult bird.


     Miriam had already gone ahead to the car when we came upon the "bird of the day", rapidly and decisively eclipsing Curtiss' kingfisher. A Northern Shrike (Lanius borealis) was perched in full view - with nary a camera amongst us.
     Once again I am delving into my folders for a picture.


     As always, I am struck by the rare privilege that is afforded me to have so many eager naturalists take part in my walks. It is a pleasure that I would not trade for anything.  



70 comments:

  1. Always a pleasure to go on your walks with your crew. Lily is a cutie. Someday, she'll put on her wellies and race along with you.

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  2. Wow, wow and wow. Thank you for taking us all (near and far) along with you.

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  3. hello David
    Such moments are to be enjoyed, to lead a large group twice, I could feel the fun reading, hope it goes on like this for you, here is the next lockdown on the way ...
    stay healthy
    Greetings Frank

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    1. They were great companions, Frank. Come on over and join us!

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  4. What a wonderful series of photos David.
    I think it would be great to go out with a lot of people and to be able to photograph birds.
    The Northern Cardinal's Goshawk and the Male Belted Kingfisher are my favorite.
    Greetings Irma

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  5. As always lovey photos, David. Lily was very good wrapped in clothes. I am happy for you that so many participate in your birdwalks. I saw a little Red Robin here this morning. It always comes around when we get snow. Last night we got a few centimeter with snow, and this time I think it will stay.

    Many warm hugs, Marit

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    1. We have the first serious snow here today. Happens every year at some point!

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  6. Your bird walks are very interesting for many reasons: sharing the interest with other persons, bird watching, spending good time inside the nature and .... not only. All the best.

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  7. Hi David,
    As long as people are enthousiastic to talk part in the walks you organize for them it must be a pleasure to accompany them. And after all, you offer them attractive parts of the Canandian nature so I understand these walks are popular.
    Greetings, Kees

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  8. Good Morning David. Lovely to sit here drinking coffee and see your wonderful birding adventures unfolding in front of my eyes, with Princess Lily as a bob-bon on top of it all. Great photos of the hawk mobbing, I have seen that here in the 'bird tree' behind the back garden. Lovely to see the cardinal and the kingfisher on one branch, and astonishing capture. Glad you and your friends enjoyed your walks. Have a wonderful Sunday with good books and good food, hugs, Valerie

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    1. It's snowing today, Valerie, so a good day to stay indoors as you say.

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  9. What a lovely collection of photos are birds. The birds are beautiful and it's good to see a few different ones. That reed similar to Pampas grass which is banned here.
    Everyone is happy not too sure about Lily though.

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  10. A wonderful walk where you admire the beautiful birds. You cannot take your eyes off each photo because they are so beautiful
    The fourth picture looks like a painting painted by a great painter.
    Have a nice sunny Sunday :)

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  11. Hello,
    Wonderful reports on your outings. Miriam's photos are all wonderful, great captures of the nature scenes and birds. Some of my favorites are the Hawk being chased by the crows, cute shots of Lily, the Northern Shrike and the Kingfisher are cool birds. Enjoy your day, have a great new week!

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  12. Your habitat and species are very similar to ours. Our kingfishers only pose when it is mating season and even then, I have to put on a sports mode to attempt to capture them. You had some happy people!

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  13. Hi David – these are great … and now to read it's snowing – you picked a good couple of days to get out and about. Gorgeous photos – at least Heather looks happy to have arrived … one very young lady … suddenly realising there's other people in the world! She is a cutie though …

    I love the following: Cooper's Hawk, the Dark-eyed Junco photo looks as though it could be a card (Christmas card) … wonderful leaf colours …, I remember the robins on Vancouver Island coming in one huge 'swarm' descending gorging themselves and then disappearing . The Cardinal and Kingfisher are such a delight to see … Jen's love of the Mallard gives us beautiful photos.

    Fantastic post reminding us of the beauty of nature that surrounds us … cheers and have an excellent week ahead. Hilary

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  14. It's always great to be among fellow bird lovers sharing the wonders of Nature.

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  15. Two great outings.such great captures too. The path sure invites us to follow! Fabulous photos, Miriam.

    Lily gets cuter each week.

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  16. Bonsoir,

    Quel plaisir de lire et d'admirer cette très jolie publication... Vos photos sont sincèrement magnifiques.
    Tous ces emplumés sont merveilleux !

    Bises

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  17. A fantastic outing. Lots of beautiful bird shots. I love the Belted Kingfisher, he's a beauty. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your day, David.

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  18. Ces sorties sont vraiment chouettes. Il y'a les oiseaux mais aussi de très beaux paysages.
    La nature est tellement jolie, et Lily aussi!
    Bonne soirée

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  19. Lily has a little bit of that sad puppy dog eye expression she is trying to perfect :) Beautiful walk to follow you on.

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  20. I love the splashes of color -- cardinals, jays, Lily's pink parka! What a great walk.

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  21. Two nice outings for you. Lily is going to be an accomplished birder, way ahead of her class. I hope the kingfisher can find sufficient food for the winter if he has decided to stay so far north. He’s going to bump his head on a dive into the ice very soon.

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    1. Hi Cynthia: More and more frequently kingfishers are remaining here for the winter. Fast moving streams always have open water and they seem to have no difficulty coping. It always used to be males remaining to maintain and defend a territory in preparation for the return of the females the following spring, but females are now staying too. Migration patterns for many species are changing.

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  22. Lots of birds, but deer are the queen of travel.

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  23. Hi David, thank you for visiting my blog. I am painting a watercolour book of UK birds 49 done 11 to go, than onto some colourful birds from around the word. I love all your bird photos and trips, found you on Valeries blog. I am an avid bird watcher and stood for 5 minutes today watching a young sparrow hawk sitting on our fence at the back eight feet away. All the small birds were round the front as that’s where all the trees and shrubs are.

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    1. Great to hear from you, Wendy. Maybe you'll include a Canadian bird or two!

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  24. That hawk is a nice way to kick off a walk.

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  25. You are still seeing some fantastic varieties of birds still, considering it is November. Of course, I get used to seeing a small variety at my house, and if I travel a short distance to a different environment I often see a few others. The kingfisher is a handsome guy. I love when I spy them. They have such an interesting flight pattern too. Thanks for the book recommendations. I've read his book on nature in winter, and the ones about the Covids sound great. I'm going to drop a hint for a Christmas gift. Have a great new week.

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    1. I have "Winter" and several other books of his. He is a great biologist and an equally great author.

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  26. A happy group...enjoying time well-spent together. :)

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  27. I love that you share your walks and briding with us. It always looks like a nice group of people with you.

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  28. I'll confess I was stunned to see ice. While it seems early, I consulted the calendar and found that we are, indeed, nearly to December! The first closeup of the ice really intrigued me. The circles reminded me of orange or lemon slices. And don't I envy that Kingfisher photo. I hear them from time to time, or see them flying high and fast, but I've yet to find one perching in range of my lens.

    Of course it was fun to see Lily again -- I've missed her!

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  29. David, I wish I could go on one of your bird walks! Bird watching helped me keep my sanity last year during Covid, most of it done in my backyard or local parks. The photo of the cardinal and the kingfisher is fantastic!

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    1. Well, Amy, you are a traveller, so if ever you find yourself in this part of the world, you will be welcome to join us.

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  30. Two more wonderful walks
    How I wish I could accompany you and your delightful group. I am surprised by the variety of birds that you see and photograph as I would have expected many to disappear when they hear a group of people walking nearby.

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  31. Hi David.

    it's always a pleasure to see your blog.
    I see so much beautiful nature, birds and ice this time.
    Lovely to see Lily too.
    The deer is beautiful too.

    Greetings from Patricia.

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  32. Hello David, these people are a verry happy and fortunate group they have you to show them all the beauty of nature.
    Regards,
    Roos

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  33. Without a doubt, it has to be a privilege to be able to take one of those walks in search of birds with you as a guide. A big hug David.

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  34. A couple of lovely walks David, the deer is a beauty! There is a Belted Kingfisher causing a stir in the UK at the moment, too far for me to try and go see it (and also the fact you seem to have to wade into river to spot it!) but gosh what a bird!

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    1. Keep fingers and toes crossed, Pam, and perhaps it will move a little closer to where you are. It's already come a long way - what's a few more miles?

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    2. Wouldn't that be great!

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    3. Even better, plan a trip to southern Ontario, and I will show you a kingfisher and a whole lot more!

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  35. Your enthusiasm, knowledge and love for nature are great, so it's no wonder that you have many companions on your walks.
    As always, there are great photos - although it was a shame you were short of camera a few times.
    Greetings from Lisbeth

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  36. Hi David, I think you are a good leader for birding walks. Beautiful photos. Lily is a beautiful girl.

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  37. That kingfisher has to be the prettiest bird of the bunch! Just love it! Great to get some exercise and see some interesting fauna and flora.

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  38. Once again, your account of your wonderful walks reminds me how wildlife-impoverished our local countryside is compared to what it was ten years ago, David. I see far more birds looking out into my garden than I do during a couple of hours stroll in the wild in these parts.

    Looks like we're having more snow than you at the moment. We've had more snow in the past 36 hours than I've seen locally in a couple of years or more!

    Best wishes to you and Miriam - stay safe - - - Richard

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    1. The thing that really makes these walks so agreeable, Richard, is the enthusiastic participants.

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  39. Buenas tardes amigo David, como siempre un placer contemplar tus bellos reportajes. En esta agradable caminata gran afluencia de amigos entusiastas de la naturaleza, siempre resulta gratificante y acogedor. La encantadora Lily como siempre de bella y curiosa a toda cuanto le rodea.
    Un gran placer acompañarte en esta excursión virtual.
    Ya pronto llegarán las nieves y los días se volverán más duros.
    Un fuerte abrazo querido amigo y profesor.

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  40. Nice photos as always, David. I love one of the Junco hyemalis. What a beautiful bird!
    Lily is growing rapidly and takes part in your walks. I see that you do not have winter yet. We've got snow here and the temperature is -7C.

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  41. It's nice to see so many enthusiastic birders and nature lovers on your walks David.

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    1. It's great, Carol. I hope you are enjoying walks with the Audubon Club down there,

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  42. A lot of birdlife for what looks like a chilly day and so many birders out, too. Lovely to see. We, on the other hand, have had our first taste of hot weather - hitting the mid to high thirties Celsius over the weekend - and after yesterday and today's respite with temperatures in the high twenties it's heading up again to the mid thirties for next weekend.

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    1. On the coldest day in the winter I can dress accordingly and stay warm. Oppressive heat, however, is impossible to escape. That's why I don't visit Australia in the summer.

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    2. Fortunately we mostly have dry heat here which is more tolerable.

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  43. WOW, what glorious pictures. I love the birds - all of them in their individual colours. Wish people can be that colourful!! Must be great to lead a bird watch but the day looks so COLD to be trekking around. Here, we go for our bird watch in shorts and T-shirts and caps/hats and lots of sun block. I will quickly freeze during your walks and you will nevertheless faint from heat stroke in mine. Mallards with that fluorescent green must be a magnificent sight - I hope to see one.

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    1. I have birded in Malaysia and the people I birded with all wore long-sleeved shirts and long trousers.

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  44. Great bird walk! I'm impressed that you continue into winter. The local birders here stop having group walks when the weather gets cold.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. Winter birding is great fun, Mae. Pretty soon we will be hunting for Snowy Owl and other winter specialties.

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  45. Oh that such things were common here.

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  46. What a nice gang of birdwatchers!so nice to be out and see the different creatures

    Wish you all good Lilly is becoming more and more pretty!

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  47. Preciosos como siempre tus paseos. Yo pensando en ir con vosotros a ver esos pájaros y naturaleza preciosa. Abrazos y besos para todos y, especialmente para Lily.

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  48. What a lovely outing, I enjoyed seeing all of your photographs.
    Lily always makes me smile, she is such a cutie.

    All the best Jan

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  49. I always enjoy your walks with your fellow birdwatchers.

    Lily is a darling!

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  50. great variety of wildlife and nature shot :)

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