Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Focaccia Bread and the Mill Race

     Miriam made focaccia bread! David is happy!

      To claim that it is wonderful is to understate the very meaning of ecstasy! When it is fresh out of the oven the bread by itself is a tasty treat, but a sandwich takes it to even greater heights.
     We usually have a combination of the following ingredients - ham, cheese, tomatoes, sweet onion and lettuce, in various combinations and sometimes all together. If our taste buds are on high alert we even caramelize the onion. Just spread a little mayonnaise, or lightly drizzle olive oil, pile on your ingredients and you are set for a gourmet's delight.
     If I have prosciutto, capocollo or mortadella to replace the plain ham it gets even better. 
     Viva la focaccia! Grazie Italia per questo regalo.

16 August, 2023
The Mill Race Trail, St. Jacobs, ON

     Just as we were parking, a handsome Carolina Grasshopper (Dissoteira carolina) landed on our car, and showed no inclination to move on.

     The following hoverfly is known by the attractive name of Sedgesitter, found in the large genus Platycheirus, many species resembling wasps and bees.

     Someone had strewn a little birdseed on a bench and a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) was quick to take advantage of it.

     Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) delighted us with their cheery ways.

     European Paper Wasps (Polistes dominula) were not hard to find.

     We agreed to bid each other a cordial hello and have no further engagement than that!
     This is a species of Bot Fly in the super family Oestroidea, so difficult to narrow down to species level.

     Fish, other than familiar species caught by anglers, and even those seen in the fish market, are a bit of a mystery to me. These are True Minnows (family Leuciscidae) and there were lots of them, mostly swimming close to or at the surface of the water.

     A Canadian Potter Wasp (Symmorphus canadensis)
was a special delight for us. It is very handsome as you may see.

     The following flower is located in the genus Anemonastrum, which means "somewhat like anemone", and I think you can see why.

     This a European Paper Wasp viewed from a different angle.

     An Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis) has become like an old friend, patrolling up and down its territory; procreation is uppermost on its mind.

     Many species of Amber Snail (family Succineidae) are very similar in appearance, so I am erring on the side of caution and not naming this one as to species.

     A Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans) seems very visible in the picture below; and it is - until you take your eyes off it, that is, and then you lose it as it blends into its surroundings.

     Calyptrate Flies (Zoosubsection Calyptratae) are numerous and resist identification to all but those who specialize in them - and often, even for them, specific ID is difficult without laboratory examination.

     You have to agree that it looks pretty on the flower though!
     A Two-banded Petrophila (Petrophila bifascialis) looked a little ragged.

     This is a very interesting species, inasmuch as the female crawls down the side of a rock in a fast moving stream, sometime two or three metres down, to lay her eggs, which ultimately become aquatic caterpillars!
     The caterpillar of the Brown-hooded Owlet (Cucullia convexipennis) is surely as gorgeous a larva as you will ever see.

     Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striata) is very common along the Mill Race Trail. It is both brash and very approachable and generally delights everyone who sees it.

     The colourful Blow Fly seen below is found in the family Calliphoridae.

     Giant Mayflies (genus Hexagenia) are found in the wonderfully named order Ephemeroptera - ephemeros (lasting only a day) and ptera (wings).

     I am reminded of the old joke about a man presenting himself at the gates of heaven to hear St. Peter say, "Congratulations, Mr. Smith, you have been reincarnated as a mayfly. Have a nice day!"
     Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma) does not have a long life either, but much longer than a mayfly.

     Summer Azure (Celastrina neglecta) personifies the carefree days of summer, flitting around and hardly ever landing. Patience is sometimes rewarded, however.

     Stream Bluets (Enallagma exsulans) were preoccupied with producing the next generation - sometimes with admirable success.

     We glimpsed a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) on the opposite bank of the Conestogo River, peering at it through the dense foliage of mid-summer extravagance, and I think that Miriam got an excellent shot.

     She makes focaccia bread and get pictures like this. Is it any wonder I am a happy guy? 
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. An aquatic caterpillar is new to me. Thank you both for the education and the delight that you posts bring. And some of Miriam's foccacia would be icing on an already rich cake.

  2. The focaccia bread and topping sounds yummy. As always beautiful collection of photos. I love that cute chipmunk. Great outing and report. Take care, have a great day!

  3. Hari OM
    Your lady has skillz!!! YAM xx

  4. An other beautiful post with lovely birds, insects, squirrel and yummy focaccia !
    Have a nice day !

  5. Love focaccia bread - well done Miriam. Artisan breads have really taken off, seemingly everywhere, during the last few years.
    Love the colouring and design of the Brown-hooded Owlet caterpillar. I could imagine a designer being influenced by its bold colours and patterns for a fabric.

  6. You are indeed a lucky guy, David. The focaccia bread are very tasty. Beautiful photos.
    Hugs and kisses, Marit

  7. That shot of Miriam's focaccia bread has made me feel quite hungry, David. It doesn't help that my nostrils are also being tantalised by the aroma of the ingredients for chicken soup that Lindsay is preparing. With luck, I will not have to wait too long for relief!

    I was much amused and charmed by the images of that chipmunk stuffing its cheek pouches with food.

    I guess that joke about reincarnation would be lost on most people, maybe even me if you hadn't mentioned the 'ephemeros' aspect.

    The Brown-hooded Owlet caterpillar is fabulous. The red spot on the head is the icing on the cake.

    I had been aware of aquatic caterpillars, and was pleased to be reminded of this very strange aspect of the the life-stages of a few moths. I now feel inclined to investigate further.

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

    1. I hope the chicken soup was good, Richard. I am betting that it was.

  8. Focaccia is one of my favourites :-)) I love it topped with olives though. That Eastern Chipmunk looks so cute!

    1. Actually the last time she made it she chopped olives and added them to the dough.

  9. The bread looks so good. The bread, the photos, the shared enjoyment of nature? Perfect match I’d say!

  10. That bread looks amazing, and you are making me hungry talking about your fixings with it. Smile. You are a lucky guy David! hugs-Erika

  11. Oh that bread tho! Daughter makes a GF version of this and I drool.. I stick to a spelt bread myself which is accommodating in that I can throw anything into the basic mix and it always comes out kind of gourmet.

  12. since fourlegs/fur critters are my favorite of all things nature, guess what my favorite photos are today. the chickadee is my favorite of the brids, the grasshopper is pick of the bugs, all excellent photos. Saturday morning a bee, like a honey bee, rode home on my windshield right in my line of sight all the way home. it rode into the garage and I left it there and came in the house, checked later and it was gone, so it must have been ok. that bread is divine in my book and all that you described to use on it is also divine and YUMMY

  13. J'ai vu deux papillons azur chez moi mais impossible de faire une photo.
    Miam le pain focaccia! Je n'en ai jamais fait mais j'en avais déjà acheté.
    Bonne journée

  14. From focaccia to caterpillars, today this was a full service blogpost! Thank you for all of it. I must find a recipe now..

  15. That cardinal is beautiful. It's hard to beat homemade bread for something delicious. You are a fortunate man to have a beautiful wife who bakes. I have had a lot of butterflies float through my backyard this summer, which has made me happy. They are lovely.


  16. Focaccia is a delicious Italian delicacy. It also often appears on our table. It's wonderful with olives, tomatoes and herbs! As usual, beautiful photos and animals. The eastern red squirrel stole my heart.

  17. The bread looks delicious and the photos are beautiful as always.

  18. Nice pictures of the Eastern Chipmunk! I also like olive oil on the Italian "focaccia".

  19. Hello, happy David :-D,
    Miriam's focaccia bread really looks perfect! And yes, the photo of the Great Blue Heron is great. You are really a happy guy. What's particularly nice about it is that you RECOGNIZE it and appreciate your wife so much - that speaks for her, but also for you :-)
    Your walk on the Mill race trail once again resulted in many animal encounters, which makes me happy for you. I didn't know there were European Paper Wasps in Canada. On the other hand, in our country there are, for example, Asian lady beetles and hornets. Unfortunately, they were introduced and are harming our native insects. Is this also the case with the European Paper Wasps? I hope not! The caterpillar of the Brown-hooded Owlet is truly a very special beauty. The Eastern Chipmunk is already VERY busy collecting for the winter.
    Keep having such a great time.
    All the best, Traude
    🌺🪶🍂 🪶🌺

  20. Oh my that bread ooozes deliciousness! Lucky you! 😁

  21. : ))
    Yes, that bread is really, really good.
    Your wife takes fabulous pictures!
    You are a very lucky man, indeed!

  22. Con los ingredientes que lleva ese pan, hay una buena alimentación para tener fuerzas para una gran caminata.
    Muy buen reportaje fotográfico. Un abrazo

  23. Beautiful photos, all lovely. but my fave today is the focaccia bread! I loved the colourfull caterpillar, too. my auntie used to have a sofa striped like that! Have a great day, hugs, Valerie xxxxx

  24. Bread, bugs, birds and all kinds of beauty! What an enjoyable post.

  25. Thanks for the walk and the wonderful pictures as always. That bread makes my mouth water!

  26. The focaccia has my mouth watering, maybe I will be energetic tomorrow 😊

    That Brown-hooded Owlet caterpillar is spectacular. and the chipmunks are so cute.

    Bisou mon ami, Diane

  27. Hello David, I agree, the best taste of food is for me from Italy and so, focaccia bread is part of that. Great that Miriam can make it her self. Your photos of all the insects, Damselflies, butterflies are wonderful but the Eastern Chipmunk is my favorite this time.

  28. The focaccia bread looks simply delicious!
    My favorite are definitely that of the heron and the chipmunk.

  29. Focaccia bread truly is a gift, and wrapped around the sandwich fixin's you describe, a double gift. But the heron, even more. Thank you, Miriam.

  30. Today the entrance is friendly, calm and... delicious! i loved the snail, the squirrel, the dragonflies and the great blue heron, they are very pretty... but i can't wait for the focaccia, mamma mia! suddenly i'm hungry! uhhh how much love it produces in me!
    My grandmother sometimes does it and disappears in two seconds, although now that I think about it she hasn't done one in a while... i'm going to ask her to bake one right now!
    Greetings dear friends, big hugs and bon appetit!

  31. hello David
    A partner who bakes you such delicious bread and shoots great pictures, the most beautiful one is the frog through the bushes... that can only mean deep connection.
    Greetings Frank

  32. That bread looks so delicious. I would have it eaten before leaving the house. What a wonderful array of creatures you show us. That caterpillar is definitely dressed to impress.

  33. The bread looks delicious.
    I love the male Northern Cardinal and the Black-capped Chickadees.
    The caterpillar of the Brown-hooded Owl is also really special, I have never seen this species before, the Eastern Chipmunk is really nice and funny, I hope to be able to photograph the red squirrel again soon.
    Greetings Irma

  34. The bread seems lovely, always good the smell of really fresh bread. Love the Northern Cardinal. All the photos are good.

    1. You are right, the smell of fresh bread is incredible. Apparently it is one of the most difficult odours to reproduce synthetically.

  35. Well, David, as much as I admire your bird and insect photos, I'm swooning at Miriam's foccacia and your sandwich description. Since I'm on a bread hiatus for a bit, it looks all the more mouthwatering!

  36. The focaccia bread is making my mouth water if only served with olive oil....yum.
    There's no better smell than something baking in the oven and what a delight to enjoy it while still warm..
    Wonderful critter photos as always..Love the chippies!!

  37. Fantastic photos. I like a lot foccasia. Nam.

  38. Nice to see what’s blooming, creeping, crawling, and hopping in your neck of the woods. Wow, that focaccia bread sure sound delicious!

  39. Good evening David.
    It's interesting to see how butterfly and Hymenoptera species sometimes look the same from one continent to another without having the same taxon.
    The caterpillar of our Machaon is even more beautiful 😜

  40. The little chipmunk is a cutie.

    Never had foccacia until my parents retired to Muskoka. There's this bakery where they lived that made it.

  41. Ohhh that bread looks so darn good. I will have to make some now. Have a great day.

  42. I like focaccia bread, and the ingredients for a sandwich sound wonderful. Lucky you!

  43. Thoroughly enjoyed your nature photos, and the bread!

    1. It really is perfect when we make a sandwich to take with us when we go birding and we eat surrounded by nature.

  44. I was thinking as I was reading and being amazed at the pictures that Miriam is a very multi-talented woman indeed!

  45. The focaccia bread looks delicious and the photographs are all wonderful, a delight to see :)

    All the best Jan

  46. Excellent photos! My favorite is the chipmunk.

  47. Rico rico se ve ese pan, Miriam de hizo un gran regalo. Me encanta el cardenal por aquí no se ve. La oruga del mochuelo es una belleza, preciosos colores tiene. Gracias David por compartir.
    Que paséis buen fin de semana.
    Un abrazo.

  48. A very enjoyable post. Thank you.

  49. How nice that you are still seeing good diversity of flowering plants and insects. I like birds, of course the cardinal and the squirrel with cheeks puffed with seeds. Saludos amigo

  50. Hi David,
    When you are patient enough to take your time to observe insects a new world will open for you. I have to admit that they are not the first subject I am paying attention to in nature but every now and then insects will get my full interest. Especially dragonflies, butterflies en spiders belong to my favourites. You show us here a couple of interesting examples.
    I can imagine that after an distracting walk in the nature foccacia will taste marvellous.
    Greetings, Kees

  51. The chipmunk is so cute! And I love focaccia bread too and haven't made it in awhile! It's time! Happy weekend!

  52. Hi David,
    The Focaccia bread looks delicious!! And the Millwalk is great. Beautiful insects en flowers. Love the squirrel and of course the male Northern Cardinal! Last but not least the great caterpillar. Gorgeous colours.
    Greetings, Maria

  53. Todo me gusta especialmente ese pan, me comería ahora mismo un trocito. Abrazos para Miriam y para ti.

  54. The focaccia looks amazing....congratulations to your wife....focaccia is a type of bread that not only belongs to Italy.....you can find fougasse in Southern France and they are so so delicious......Abrazotes, Marcela

  55. Hi David - totally not ... just very happy to read up and think about baked focaccia, and then look at the magnificent photos - the heron one is fun to see. Great post - thanks ... Hilary


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