Friday, December 17, 2021

Odds and Ends

      Winter has been a strange affair so far, with snow and relatively cold temperatures one day, followed by above freezing conditions day after day thereafter, with precipitation in the form of rain. The regular species  have been active at the feeders, including a very welcome Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus). 

     More often than not a male has graced us with his presence, so we were especially happy to see this female.

23 November 2021
Grande Allée - Ancient Woods, Cambridge, ON

     On a fine snowy day, a classic of a southern Ontario winter, we spent a couple of hours at this property owned by the rare Charitable Research Reserve.

     It was lovely, off in the distance, to hear and then to see a flock of Sandhill Cranes (Antigone canadensis), a species that has made itself at home in Waterloo Region in recent years.

     No sooner had the Sandhill Cranes thrilled us than we were charmed by a couple of male Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis).

     We trudged along, happy to live in a northern climate. Grande Allée leads directly into an old forest formerly known as Indian Woods, now renamed Ancient Woods in deference to contemporary sensibilities.

     Bruce Spanworm (Operophtera bruceata) is a late-occurring moth, and for a few days each year, in the waning days of fall, it may be commonly seen - an enchanting sight as it alights on snow.

     Bauman Creek flows through Ancient Woods and how could we resist according pride of ownership to Miriam!

     Strange creatures inhabit those waters; what this might be is anyone's guess!

     Several moths darted and flitted as we made our way out of the woods. 

     "Until next year", they seemed to say.

30 November 2021
Grand Trunk Trail, Cambridge, ON

     It was back to rare for a walk along the Grand Trunk Trail. 
     The old slit barn looked like an impenetrable fortress on a winter's day.

     The trail was an inviting place to walk, but bird activity was relatively sparse.

 Perhaps the presence of a Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) had something to do with it.

     Bracket fungi always make for a pleasing sight.

09 December 2021
The Mill Race Trail, St. Jacobs, ON

     We met Heather and Lily for a walk along the Mill Race. It was snowy and delightful.
     The beavers have laid in an adequate stock of food to see them through the winter.

     Judging by the way Mallards (Anas platyrynchos) along the Mill Race immediately approach humans as soon as they appear, one would conclude that they are used to people bringing food. I will try to remember to take some cracked corn with me next time we take Lily to see them.

     Lily is filled with excitement every time they come close.
     Her hands were snug and warm inside the pouch that forms the end of her snowsuit, so we placed our hands close to her, with seed for the Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus).

     They were all around and Lily was keeping a keen eye on a couple in order to follow their path to my hand. 
     A Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) perched nearby too, but we could not attract it. I will have to remember to buy some peanuts in the shell, which they seem incapable of resisting, and they will swoop down to pluck a peanut from outstretched fingers.

     I can only imagine Lily's expression if and when that happens!
     She was thrilled to see a White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis), a very handsome bird.

     Lily decided that she wanted to walk for a while, but equally quickly it seemed she wanted back in her stroller.

     I am sure that the chickadees were happy to see her.

     We spotted several Muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) and were astounded to hear Lily say "Muskrat" perfectly. She is getting the hang of more and more words, but this was the clearest I have heard.

     How many children her age do you know who can say "Muskrat" and know what they are talking about? 
     She is our little naturalist in training!
     A White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) is a bird she has seen and heard many times.

     Lily chatted to us all the way back to the car, bundled up, and toasty and warm. 

     She knew what she was saying and we kept up a lively back and forth!
     As always, it's eventually time to say goodbye.

     See you again soon, Lily.    


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. Another beautiful and informative post with lots of birds and beautiful nature. The moth is beautiful, I've never seen a winter moth here. And nice to see Miriam on her estates! Glad you had a fun time with little Lily again, it's a great chance for her to learn about nature. And muskrat is a big word for a little girl! Have a great weekend, hugs to you both, Valerie

  2. Moths in snow... how strange.
    oh how I envy Lili to grow up in such close contact with nature. She is adorable, and the grown ups are too.

  3. Lily is always so sweet, and she looks warm and safe out in the snow David. The weather is strange here too with warm/cold temperatures every day. Warm hugs, Marit

  4. Would love to see sandhill cranes! Can't say I miss the northern winters, but I am enjoying your snowy walks from my very own tropical perch. The best of both worlds.

    1. On the other hand, Wilma, after two or three weeks in the tropics, I can't wait to get back to some cooler weather! In the winter I can dress up and stay warm, but oppressive heat is impossible to escape.

  5. Olala moi je vois encore Lily bébé et elle parle déjà!
    De nombreux jolis oiseaux pour la faire rêver, elle en sera sans doute tout les noms, c'est tellement mieux que toutes ces consoles et téléphones! Bon weekend

  6. Yet another delightful post. Thank you.
    The snowy scenes were particularly welcome to me (we are launching into the sweaty season and some areas of Oz are expected to reach 50C this weekend).
    And other course the flora, the fauna and Lily (not to mention Miriam) are an ongoing delight.

  7. I always enjoy your excursions and especially when they include Heather and Lily. If we let the cold stop us, we’d be inside all winter.

    1. I am not quite sure how much we will be seeing of her in the New Year when Heather goes back to work.

  8. Hari OM
    Such evocative winter images, a visual feast to match your always excellent descriptions! Cooeee Lily!!! She is becoming quite the natural naturalist &*> YAM xx

  9. Lily is fast becoming a bird watcher and admirer. She has some great teachers.

  10. It's nice to see a bit of snow. Around here, we haven't even had our first frost yet and temperatures on many days - like today - have been above 80 degrees F. I foresee a Christmas where we are all dressed in shorts. Bummer!

    1. Bummer and shorts seem to go together, don't they?!

  11. Lily's quite the trooper, cause it looks COLD!. Wonderful pictures as always. I had exciting thing happen here at the house the other day. Was working in the kitchen looking out out my large kitchen window when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. A bird landed on the ledge of my deck, very close; but not a bird I generally see. I stared at it awhile...wanted to grab my phone to get a snap shot; but afraid to move fearing it would take flight. So, I just stared for quite a while, then decided it was perhaps a Blue Bird. I knew it was a Blue Jay; so after it flew away looked on google and sure enough it was a Blue Bird, more blue than the one you caught. But, we don't see Blue Birds here in Ohio. However, that stats sorta said they were pretty prevalent which confused me. Was thinking I go buy a Blue Bird House, but then read lots of negative things about them, that that's not what draws them. We don't see many different types in residential areas here.

    Sandy's Space

    1. Hi Sandy: congratulations on your bluebird sighting. There are many bluebird trails in Ohio, and you could get information from the Ohio Bluebird Society which is active in promoting and maintaining bluebird trails. You are correct in stating that Eastern Bluebirds do not favour residential areas. They are more likely to be found in meadows and pastures. I am surprised that you have heard many negative things about bluebird houses. We maintain a very successful bluebird trail here with about two dozen boxes correctly installed and monitored, and we have tremendous success, with many pair fledging two broods each year. This experience is replicated throughout the continent and it is this very assistance that has enabled bluebird populations to recover from levels that threatened their continued existence.

  12. Sandhill cranes are always exciting to see, especially when you live in an area that doesn't have them. I've seen them flying in New Mexico and you can hear them sometimes too. They are gorgeous. Lucky you to have them close by. And its great to see Lily back at her birding. And especially since she can say muskrat perfectly. Your weather sounds like ours too. Snow tomorrow though. Have a great weekend!

  13. it's looking very wintry there, but Lily always warms the heart.

  14. I wonder how it is like walking in the snow and on the snow. Nice to be able to see the birds and moths even though there is so much snow. Beautiful scenery. It must be fun for everyone to have Lily with you and for her too.

  15. Hello David,
    Wonderful reports on your bird walks. As always the photos are beautiful. I wish I could see the Sandhill Cranes here, only a rare sighting once every couple of years. Lily is a trooper all bundled up, enjoying nature. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, enjoy your weekend! PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

  16. This post has given me the urge to walk down snowy trails again, David, and preferably ones without any previous footprints. I shall be keeping my fingers crossed for some snow as I have a pretty good idea as to where I will head for - and it won't be far from where the Yellowhammer photo that I recently showed was taken!

    A Blue Jay in the hand is the stuff of dreams for me - I hope that your idea is carried through to wonderful results. I can visualise an image of Lily holding out her hand with a Blue Jay sitting on it!

    As for Muskrat, are you REALLY sure that wasn't wishful thinking?!

    1. You might be excused for doubting befuddled old me, Richard, but not Miriam and Heather who both heard it too.

  17. Those all look like wonderful places for a walk and a birding search. Your photos are lovely. Little children just love to learn words and it's great of you to share this moment!

    best... mae at

  18. Wonderful walks with snow and cold and still enjoying the landscape and the birds.
    I wish Miriam and you a very happy holiday season and that you enjoy it with the family, including little Lily.
    Merry Christmas!!

  19. Lovely woodpecker! I hate winter rain...

  20. Hello David, Winter wonderland, most wonderful and the Woodpecker stands out with the red and black and white. Love those birds in such a abundance and their colours. Lily looks wonderful as well in here pink suit. Dressed warm for that snow. Here we only have fog, wet drizzel, and rain. Not the plessant weather to go out. But we do and hope for some frost to come our way.
    Warm regards, Season greatings and all the best and health for 2022.

  21. Hoi David.

    Very nice series.
    Beautiful birds and lovely snow.
    And enjoyed lily.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  22. Beautiful!
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  23. There is not a single question about the beauty Lily is and will become. I love watching her grow.

  24. She sure is a cutie! I would need a snowsuit like hers to get out in the weather but I would love it! The Sandhill Cranes are'll be happy to know they made it here yesterday. We saw a flock of them when we hiked! lol Happy weekend!

  25. Another interesting post. I am enchanted to see those winter landscapes where wonderful animals live.
    Lily is so sweet.

  26. I don't think I've seen a photo of fungi in snow; that was especially pleasing. The sight of moth in snow simply astonished me. If someone had asked, "Is there a moth that lives in Ontario winters?" I probably would have said 'no,' even though I've seen enough oddities by now to know that 'odds' are plentiful out there.

  27. Precioso paseo así como algunos avistamientos de los que pudo disfrutar la pequeña, hermosa, y simpática Lily, es una maravilla de niña, su madre tiene una verdadera joya. Dentro de poco será ella la que avise de los avistamientos.
    Un gran abrazo queridos amigos y compadres de vuestro siempre amigo Juan.

  28. Isn’t she a beauty? I’ve never seen one!

    1. I assume you are talking about the woodpecker. Yes she is!

  29. Wonderful post! Looks like Lily is going to be a birder!

  30. hello David
    the snow changes the landscape and it looks different and it makes everything quieter, if 10cm of snow falls here, a state of emergency is declared ;-)) ... how do other countries do that, I ask myself .. nice post also nice to see Lily curiously explore everything
    Greetings Frank

  31. This is such an awesome post. Some very interesting bird and moth sightings. Nice to see snow and your cute Lily.

  32. Exiting post...loved the birds and the little one..

  33. Hi David,
    Lovely Post!
    I am in love with the Blue Jay! Gorgeous winter landscape and family photos!
    Happy sundag,

  34. Hi David - so good to see Miriam's Creek and Miriam looking in fine fettle. The Reserve looks very special ... excellent notes, photos and beautiful scenery and birds - then the littlie Lily ... also totally delightful. Wonderful to know her 'dictionary' is expanding - Muskrat is a fun word to add in!!!! As the Woodpecker is gorgeous to see ... so glad you have a female living nearby ... cheers Hilary

  35. El arrendajo azul es precioso. No solo los carboneros se alegraron de ver a Lily, también nosotros. Que grande y guapa está.
    Os deseo una Feliz Navidad David 🎅🎄⛄ Que lo paséis bien.
    Buen domingo.
    Abrazos 🤗🤗

  36. Hi David,
    so surprised to see a picture of a moth in the snow...
    I enjoyed also all your other snowy pictures a lot. And offcourse your little birdlover.

    Best regards, Corrie

  37. What beautiful photos David.
    Lovely snow, we have not seen any snow here yet.
    I love the White-throated Sparrow and the Blue Jay.
    Your granddaughter is really a sweetheart, enjoy them because they grow up so fast.
    Greetings Irma

  38. Life has an intense rhythm, even if it has snowed.
    The little girl looks curious about the snow.

  39. It's all about blue for me today. My favorites are the bluebird and bluejay!!

    Have a blessed holiday season, be safe and healthy! Thanks for linking in this week. And, from me to sweet Lily a big Christmas hug!!

  40. It's a nice photo report of your walks David.
    Wonderful to see all those beautiful birds and wonderful snow.
    That immediately gives a winter feeling.
    It's great that Lily enjoys being outside so much, that's how she immediately gets the love for nature.
    Wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
    Greetings Tinie

  41. Great photos. And I was hoping to see photos of a smiling Lily. I was also wondering if your weather had been taking a few swings, the way it has been where I am to the southeast of you. No snow here (yet). But it got very cold, after a few nice warm(er) days.

  42. A very nice 'Odds and Ends' post full of lovely photographs.
    ... and I always enjoy seeing Lily, you had a lovely time with her.

    All the best Jan

  43. Hi David, beautiful photos. We have no snow and frost here. We have a heavy lockdown, everything is closed. Merry christmas and a happy new year !

  44. All that snow! Brrr. and here I am complaining about temperatures in the 60s.

  45. Loved seeing the woodpecker and the blue jay. Lilly is growing so fast, talking and walking...
    It can't be easy to walk with that snowsuit for sure :)
    Interested fungi on that tree.
    Hope you have a wonderful Christmas David and Miriam.

  46. Tus paseos siempre geniales. Me encanta que Lily ya sepa decir rata almizclera ¡ será una gran naturalista ! Abrazos y besos para todos.

  47. Hi David,
    All the photos are fantastic, I especially loved the ones of Lily, the Blue Jay and the one from the barn, which really looked like a fortress.
    I wish you a Happy Holidays with your family and friends.
    Hugs and all the best

  48. What a great looking Woodpecker. Have a great Christmas.

  49. The detail on that blue jay's beak is exquisite. And is the property related to Miriam? That's fun. Love each and every bird and muskrat and Lily -- well, that goes without saying!

    1. No, Jeanie, although Bauman is a very common Mennonite name around here and I suspect that way back they were all related.

  50. Hoi David.
    Ook ik wens jou Fijne Kerstdagen en 'n gezond 2022.

  51. You will make your little Lilly famous if you keep this up. And a naturalist seems to come naturally to her, no surprise. Your pictures are, as always, wonderful and I am so jealous of your beautiful snow (we are struggling with the gray days of winter here). Have a wonderful Christmas, David ...

    Andrea @ From the Sol

    1. We went for a walk with her yesterday, Andrea, and she now say "chickadee", not perfect, but that's a three syllable word after all. She certainly knows the bird well and loves it when they come close.


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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.