Sunday, November 14, 2021

Outing for Waterloo Region Nature to Linear Trail and Riverside Park, Cambridge, ON

The latest in the series of outings conducted for Waterloo Region Nature saw us visit two local birding hotspots in Cambridge, ON

10 November 2021
Linear Trail, Cambridge, ON

Leader: David M. Gascoigne

Members: Miriam Bauman, Lynn Conway, Lisa DenBesten, Bob Fraser, Karl Malhotra, Curtiss MacDonald

Lynn, Miriam, Bob, Curtiss, Lisa, Karl

     A couple of last minute cancellations occurred - additions to those registrants seen above. The midweek sessions are run primarily for people who have retired, so the average age of the participants is higher, with increased chance of nagging medical issues precluding the walk.
     One of the first sights to greet us was this dazzling spider's web - nature's jewelry of the highest order.

     If I could weave like that I would be off to buy a loom!
     From the moment we entered the trail there seemed to be woodpeckers everywhere, principally Red-bellied Woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus), that most handsome of species.

     As might be expected Downy Woodpeckers (Dryobates pubescens) joined the party too.

     Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris), a highly invasive species, seems to be making inroads into southern Ontario.

     Such is the way with invasive species, and once established it becomes almost impossible to eradicate them.
     Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) has gone from being a rarity in Ontario, to a fairly common species, and it is no longer a great surprise to find them in Waterloo Region. It was no less delightful, however, to discover two of them singing joyfully as we continued with our walk.

     Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is a hardy species and persists as long as open water remains.

     I doubt that this individual took time from looking for lunch to admire its reflection.
     The Speed River looked tranquil on a fine fall day.

     We were quite distressed to find a Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) dead at the side of the trail.

     It had none of the earmarks of a fight with a congener or another species and its pelage was glossy. It appeared to have been a healthy animal and it aroused our suspicions that it might have been poisoned. Bald Eagles (Pandion haliaeetus) are quite common here and any opportunistic bird feeding on the carcass would ingest the poison. The authorities  were notified and we were left hoping that the body would be removed quickly. 
     This mushroom, fruiting quite high on a deciduous tree is, I believe, Hypsizgus tessulatus.

      The confluence of the Grand and Speed Rivers looked appealing in the bright sun of mid morning, but hosted few birds.

     A Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) perched nearby was a model of delicacy.

     I have been trying of late to improve my tree identification skills, especially deciduous trees when the leaves have been shed, and one is left to deal with the bark.
     The rough ridges of an impressive Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) make it less of a challenge than some others.

10 November 2021
Riverside Park, Cambridge, ON

     Old or young, healthy or not, dedicated birder or casual observer, there is no joy quite like hand feeding a Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus).

     We wasted no time in joining the fun!
     House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) is nowhere as common as it used to be, but at Riverside Park, secure in the knowledge that humans will bring food, there are substantial flocks.

     Don't think for a moment that Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata) aren't quick to find chance a fine thing!

     It seems to me that November is late to be seeing Midland Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta marginata), but see them we did.

     High overhead skeins of migratory Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) were winging their way south, a sight that stirs me as much today as the first time I ever saw it. 

     I am always given to wondering how many hatch-year birds are undertaking their first migration, and how much they have to learn from the adults that have made the journey before. May they fly high, well outside the range of the battery of guns that await them at every stage of their odyssey.
     Tell me that you don't say "Aah" when you look at the next picture!

     If there were awards for rodent couture, Eastern Chipmunks (Tamias striatus) would win, hands down.

     Nature is always available at no cost, but if there were a charge it would be worth every penny to see White-breasted Nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis) up close.

There are silly Americans who figure that White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) sings a chorus of "Old Tom Peabody", but we know that it sings "Sweet Canada, Canada, Canada", especially on a northern bog where it raises its young.

     A Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is a handsome bird any way you approach it, male or female, take your pick.

     Even from the rear the lady looks good!
     As a fitting end to our outing several Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus) cavorted and played for us, swam, dived, postured, captured fish. They know how to be the centre of attention. 

     And rightly so!
     As we all parted company after another ramble through the woods, along field and stream, through tangles, brambles, ferns and forbs, I was moved to think that it is indeed a fine thing to be blessed with such companions. I love them all.

13 November 2021
Linear Trail Cambridge

Leader: David M. Gascoigne

Members: Miriam Bauman, Raffaele Camasta, Victoria Ho, Lisa Horn, Sandye Moores, Jen Okum, Janet Ozaruk, Tracey Rainer, Selwyn Tomkun, Mary Ann Vanden Elzen

Very special guest: Barbara Geernaert

Barbara, Sandye, Jen, Tracey, David, Lisa, Raffaele, Victoria, Selwyn (front row)
Queens of the castle at the rear: Mary Ann, Janet     

     We were joined on today's outing by Barbara Geernaert of Cambridge Today, an online news organization. We were delighted that Barbara wished to write an article on Waterloo Region Nature (simply the best nature club in the universe) and we were happy to to provide her with more than a little inspiration! 
     I would be remiss if I did not add that Barbara was scintillating company and added greatly to our enjoyment of the day.
     The Linear Trail was quiet and still, in total contrast to just a few days earlier when it had been hopping.

     Such are the vagaries of birding!
     The lack of birds provided an opportunity to expound a little on breeding biology, nomenclature and other such esoteric topics, and enjoy each other's company on a sunny, crisp morning.
     A Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) simply went about its business.

     A dense stand of Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) revealed the subtle beauty at our feet.

     But this was a birding expedition after all, so we decided to head back to our vehicles and move over to Riverside Park where action is guaranteed!

     We picked up their distinctive sound and a couple of Belted Kingfishers (Megaceryle alcyon) clattered by us.

     Perhaps they came to apologize for the absence of feathered creatures, but I suspect they really wished to say hello to Barbara.

13 November 2021
Riverside Park, Cambridge, ON

     Selwyn made the astute observation when our feet had barely touched the ground, and birds flitted, zipped, dived, perched, walked, hopped and fed, that we had already seen more birds than during all the time spent along the Linear Trail.
     A male and a female Northern Cardinal were mere metres away in a tree.

     I don't think I can count as high as the number of White-breasted Nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis) I have seen in my life, but their delicate beauty never fails to register the impression that I am confronted with one of nature's marvels.

     If one had received a dollar per chickadee seen today, a fine dinner would be in the offing.

     Indeed, to know that these confiding little creatures will alight on your hand, is one of the reasons that a visit to Riverside Park is always special. 

    For Barbara this was her first time to experience this particular brand of otherworldly pleasure. Do you think she is enjoying the moment?

     Sandye was a great cheerleader for her.
     Tracey is a pure child of the earth, a woman for whom all of nature is a continuing source of joy, an ongoing marvel. Judge her reaction to communing with a chickadee.

     Janet, our laconic President, she of the bons mots and droll humour, has done it all before, but she is paying serious attention to that bird on her hand.

     We are a bit of a motley group, don't you think?

     I'm not sure we would readily be granted admission to the marquis tent at a hoity-toity garden party!
     We'd rather be surrounded by snags anyway.

     And keep company with Downy Woodpeckers (Dryobates pubescens).

If you can throw a Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa) into the mix, so much the better.

     We ambled along the river, where a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) patiently waited for a snack to pass within striking range.

     As if on cue, a huge number of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) surged up from a nearby playing field and flew right over our heads.

     It was wise not to look up, and especially not to open one's mouth.
     Our quest along the river was to find Hooded Mergansers, surely among the most appealing ducks in all the world. We were not disappointed.

Hooded Merganser (♂)

Hooded Merganser (♀)

      Several Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis), those darling birds of winter, kept us company on our way back to the parking area.

     Janet was occupied for a while providing Barbara with information for her article, and you see that she (Janet) takes it seriously. Her face is a study in concentration, no doubt esoteric thoughts rattling around in her head.

      Now take a look at those funky shoes. That's the kind of president I want to have!
     We spent a very enjoyable morning together and I am very grateful to all the fine naturalists - observant, curious, anxious to learn and supporting each other - who come out on my walks. It adds greatly to my life to be associated with them.
     Miriam is always there with her camera to help me record the event for posterity, and along the way shares her knowledge, finesse and enthusiasm with everyone.
     Most of all, on this outing, I am deeply appreciative of Barbara's involvement in helping to spread the message that we need to take care of the Earth, despite the diluted commitment at COP26. 
     I know that I speak on behalf of everyone when I say that I hope she will join us again - if for no other reason that to renew her acquaintance with a chickadee.
     You don't need more motivation than that!     
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. Encore de belles balades, je trouve jolie les pattes de la tortue :D
    Pauvre renard... J'en ai souvent vu des renverser par les voitures ici :(
    Le troglodyte est bien mignon.
    Bonne soirée

  2. The spiderweb was very beautiful, David. It is so nice to read about your outings. You are a great leader!
    Big hugs, Marit

  3. I had a wonderful time on Nov 10 -unfortunately I had to leave before Riverside ,but as I live close by I will push myself to be more diligent to go to Riverside. Wonderful to meet fellow members of WRN-Thanks for the photo, of the Carolina Wren and Golden - Crowned Kinglet

    1. I am not sure whether this is Raffaele or Lisa, but thanks for joining us for part of the outing. Hope to see you out again soon.

  4. The diluted commitment at COP26 was disappointing re: China and India, but at least it now feels as if more countries are finally biting the bullet and taking climate change more seriously, but are we running out of time?
    Always lots of interesting birds to be seen on your posts David. A similar situation applies here regarding House Sparrows and Wrens. House Sparrows have been on the decline since the 1970s but Wrens are extremely common even though they do tend to evade observation by scuttling around beneath the shrubs and plants.

  5. Yet more delightful outings. Thank you.
    And thank you for alerting the authorities about the dead fox.
    I delight in the things that you share and would LOVE to be able to attend one of these walks. Someday. Perhaps.

  6. Thanks, as always, for sharing these outings with photos and descriptions of all the sightings, birds and humans alike. How fortunate to be able to enjoy nature walks with a like minded group of people. It was sad to see the dead fox and hopefully the carcass was removed before posing a danger to other wildlife.

  7. Nice hike David!Beautiful pix of wild birds and animals, but poor little foxHope the eagles that may feed on it dont get poisoned

    Agree with those nice hike shoes.Perfect for a day out :))

  8. The spider web is an ephemeral but great masterpiece with water drops on it.
    I'm sorry about the fox. He has beautiful fur.

  9. Hari OM
    It is always sheer delight to read your descriptions and view Miriam's (mostly) photos - always something to find when out and about!!! YAM xx

  10. The birds are all wonderful, as were the fungi, but that spider's web took my breath away. Glad you had good company on your walks. I thought the Canada geese were all over here! Have a great day, thanks for sharing, hugs, Valerie

  11. It is great to see so many people who spend time in nature observing the animals and plants. Those mergansers are so beautifully marked. Great photos, Miriam. I love the turtles especially.

    1. i don't think you have turtles on PEI do you?

    2. None here. Nor in Newfoundland. I have lived a turtleless like. I missed out when it came to turtles.

  12. Lindas aves me dio pena el zorro te mando un beso

  13. Querido David muchas gracias por tan maravillosa entrada, creo que sois un grupo maravilloso. Me encanta ver tantas aves, hongos, ardillas etc...Las fotos son espectaculares y me encantan. Y me gusta que un sapo hembra se llama Lola, sin duda es un honor. Un fuerte abrazo para ti, Miriam y todo el grupo.

  14. What a good team you had -- and a glorious day to enjoy with them. That spider web is out of this world -- and fabulous sightings, too.

  15. Great eye to catch some beautiful photos! You caught my favorite cardinals.

  16. Looks like you had two great outings David. The weather couldn't have been better.
    Miriam's photos are fabulous and really bring your narrative to life!

  17. That beautiful "lace" must have been woven by Arachne herself.


  18. Happy people looking for birds and at the scenery.
    Love the Northern Cardinal probably because it stands out being red.
    Makes me wonder how quiet are you all when walking along looking for birds - no noise or chatter in the open areas where you don't expect birds I guess.

  19. Delightful walks and what a treat to hand feed those birds. The faces of your fellow walker's just exude joy.

  20. Great series, love especially the red birds, but, oh. The poor lille fox. Reckon that´s life, huh.

    1. That's life if it died of natural causes, Iris, or as a result of a fight over territory or food, but not if some jerk poisoned it.

  21. Hi David – I so agree that cobweb is just extraordinary … love that it is so bejewelled. Gorgeous shots of all the birds and the various 'crews' … but yes muddy boots would not be welcome in the marquis tent! But a delightful group to see – happy birders – so pleased you were all able to meet up so convivially under such wonderful blue skies.

    I too must start paying attention to our trees – you've set a good example … have a good week – with more walks I hope. Cheers - Hilary

    PS - wonderful post to read and learn from ... Miriam really enhances your words - thank you both ...

  22. Querido David aquí estoy de nuevo para comentarte que el sábado llegaron a Asturias mi tierra dos Búhos nival, es algo curioso porque dicen que es la primera vez que se ven. Los dos se avistaron en tejados de casas y cerca del mar, por eso dicen que llegarían en un barco. En cambió llego otro a Cantabria que es la comunidad vecina a nosotros, este parece que llegó en estado grave y aunque se traslado al centro de recuperación no pudieron hacer nada. Es muy curioso y preocupante, no se que pasara con ellos, espero que no se mueran. Parece ser que el que murió no estaba anillado. Un fuerte abrazo para ti y para Miriam.

  23. That spider's web with the morning dew on is wonderful, David. You managed some great birds and, between you and Miriam, some excellent photography, even if the offerings of the Linear Trail were a little disappointing.

    The dead fox was a very sad sight. There is currently a huge ground-swell in UK against the barbaric attitude of the hunting brigade to foxes and other wildlife, and even their own charges (horses and hounds).

    These days, I find myself wearing dark clothing in 'natural' colours when out looking for wildlife, in the hope of blending in to my surroundings. I have even taken to wearing a hat in order to eliminate the glare from my bald pate! However, seeing those shoes, I am full of admiration and may now need to change my views!

    The most impressive thing that emerges from this post, however, is your dedication to spreading the word about wildlife and the future of the planet - I take my hat off to you!

    1. As you know, Richard, I am similarly follicle-deprived. I reach for a hat automatically as I leave the house, in the summer as a barrier to the sun and in the winter to keep my aging brain warm!

  24. Hello David, :=) It's thrilling to see so many beautiful birds you encounter on your outings. The good company clearly enjoyed feeding the chickadees. I also would have been delighted to share such an experience, and loved every bit of your adventure. No, I don't think You are a motley group, you are sensibly dressed for such an outing. Shame about the fox you found, but you wisely informed the authorities to deal with the situation. Please tell Miriam, how much I enjoy her photography.:=)

  25. Hello David,
    It is great to see your group of nature and bird lovers. Nice reports on your outings, Miriam's photos of the birds are beautiful. Have a great day and a happy new week!

  26. Querido amigo David, buenos días, dos excelentes salidas como ya viene siendo costumbre y habitual. Estoy seguro que, todos disfrutaron de lo lindo y máxime dando de comer en la mano a los precisos carboneros, no tardaran en repetir aventura.
    Ya nos compartirás la publicación de Barbara de la que creo disfrutó de todo el entorno y sobre todo del carbonero en su mano.
    Un gran abrazo amigo y compadre David.

  27. Hi David.

    I enjoyed all the beauty you show.
    Nice that you can take walks with nature lovers.
    The Spider Web is fantastic.
    Beautiful the Woodpecker and Tortoise and Mergebill.
    How sad to see that fox.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  28. Hi David, beautiful photos of different birds. I like the photos with the little bird on the hand. Beautiful header. Poor fox. Was he old ?

    1. Hi Caroline: For obvious reasons I didn't handle the body, but it appeared to be in its prime.

  29. I loved that woodpecker, which I have never seen in person. Such birds don't show up here in Hawaii. And how I love the sight of those flying geese in formation. Awesome!

  30. Again a wonderful trip on a beautiful day with a friendly group. Can't ask for more. The chickadees still land and eat off our hands, despite all the food spread out on the logs all around, because they want to show us people gratitude and appreciation. They know that it pleases us when they do so by observing our patience; the serious picture taking; and all the crazy excitement!

    1. It's always great to hear from you, Selwyn. I am already looking forward to our next outing together.

  31. Friend David, it is a delight to continue your walks, to see the group enjoy a good day and see the birds, the squirrel, the ducks. Being able to feed them by hand is so beautiful!
    Many kisses.

  32. So sad to see the dead fox, I hope she was not poisoned.
    A beautiful trip with a nice group of friends to spend a great day with the animals.
    I love to see the nets of the spiders, they are masterpieces. I made many photos of them.
    I continue not to understand how people can kill them for pleasure or sport (???).
    Thanks for sharing the photos.

  33. Wonderful post, though for me it it takes sometime to download with so many photos. I hope soon we may see some improvement but things move very slowly here!

    The spider web is amazing and sad about the fox. So many birds are killed with the reckless use of poison on wild life, particularly mice and rats

    We have had our first Eurasian Nuthatch visit this year in the garden and I have now seen it a number of times which delights me.

    I wish our birds would land on my hand, but need I say how frightened most of our birds are thanks to the long hunting season here; anything seems to be fair game 😖

    Have a good week and take care. Best wishes to you both, Diane

  34. Looks like you had a great turnout for your bird outing. Sad about the fox, hope it wasn't poisoned. I thought you might enjoy this 5:30 minute video about "A year in the life of Acadia National Park's birds"

    1. Thanks, Bill. I am sure I will enjoy it, especially since I birded there several years ago.

  35. Hey David - these funky shoes were made for walking and that's what they're gonna do. One of these days these shoes are going to go on another walk with you. Thanks, Dear Leader, for such a fun outing!

  36. So many wonderful bird and nature photos. It looks like you had some successful walks. And thanks for the good vacation wishes.

  37. Great critter photos. How come chickadees don't come to ME?

  38. The great blue heron is stunning and of course the cardinals are brilliant. I have not seen such brilliant reds in birds before and I think meeting a cardinal would be on my bucket list although I have seen the human cardinals - just as handsome in their brilliant red gowns! The gossamer of the web is a necklace of jewel diamonds

  39. Udane wycieczki! Mieliście piękną pogodę i ciekawe obserwacje! Piękne zdjęcia ptaków, innych zwierząt. Bardzo lubię do Ciebie zaglądać.

    1. Any time. We will be here to help you - including a Polish-speaking friend.

  40. You write wonderful posts because you recount it all with much love and gratitude.

  41. Hi David,
    What a wonderful post!
    That is so called good quality of life and great encounters.
    Stunning bird. I'getting a little jaloers..
    Big hug, Maria

  42. You so make me want to be a birder.

    1. If you lived locally I would take you for a walk to feed the chickadees and that would seal the pact!

  43. WOW! That spiderweb capture is INCREDIBLE!

    Glad you had great company on your walks.

    Yet another fabulous series, David.

  44. Goodness me! That spider's web is amazing.

    Lovely post and photographs.
    I am so pleased that you are able to get out and about to enjoy nature and share it with us here in blogland.

    Thank you.

    All the best Jan

  45. Hi David! If we lived closer I would bring you cheese mix everyday. LOL I love this post. The photos are simply amazing. Yes, the fox looks healthy and with now visible reason for the death. Poison is a very good probability. It happens to winged ones and 4 legged way to often. Thank you for sharing your group and the wondrous world we live in.

  46. David - a delightful set of outings! From bedazzled spiderweb to the Golden-crowned Kinglet, I enjoyed being on tour with you. Sad about the fox, but I brightened up to see that type of mushroom growing on a tree! Fascinating. Enjoy your weekend!

  47. Llegar aquí es casi hacer esas caminatas con vosotros e ir descubriendo cuanta vida hay en la naturaleza. Gracias David por enseñarnos lo que nunca veremos en por aquí. Preciosa esa joya natural que tejió la araña.
    Un abrazo.

  48. Great assortment of photos. Every time you show the birds landing in people's hands to feed, I wish there was someplace around here like that. And the male Hooded Merganser is looking dapper, as always. Very sad about that fox.

  49. Hi David,
    Nature is amazing, I especially loved the photo of the spider's web and I was saddened by the death of that beautiful fox. How amazing the birds come to eat in people's hands.

  50. Hi David,
    As long as people like to take part in these walks I think you are enthousiastic enough to organise these events. Everytime there is enough to observe. The variety of birds is obviously attractive and the environment is simply a pleasure to walk through.
    Greetings, Kees

  51. ¡ Me encantan esos paseos ! Abrazos.


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.