Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Pond on Platinum Drive and The Mill Race Trail

26 August, 2023     

     There is a pond on Platinum Drive in Waterloo, seemingly awaiting the ever expanding housing developments that continue to gobble up land for wildlife, but for the moment it harbours many gulls and other species.

     As you may see, every plumage stage is represented here, and for those who take delight in teasing out the ages of gulls, the challenge awaits you.

      Ring-billed Gulls (Larus delawarensis) predominate, with American Herring Gulls (Larus smithsonianus) in the minority.

American Herring Gull (Juvenile)

American Herring Gull (adult)

Ring-billed Gulls (juvenile)

27 August, 2023
Mill Race Trail, St. Jacobs, ON

      What could constitute a more delightful start to the excursion than a Monarch (Danaus plexippus)?

     Well, a Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice) might have something to say about that.

     It looks so captivating, probing for nectar on Red Clover (Trifolium pratense), an image of exquisite sublimity if ever I saw one.
     A Common Eastern Bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) teamed up with Chicory (Cichorium intybus), each synergistically enhancing the beauty of the other.

    The ever reliable Slender Spreadwing (Lestes rectangularis) was our companion for much of the time we spent along the trail.

     I was recently having an online discussion with a fellow blogger about clades. Bees are found in the clade Anthophila, containing over 16,000 known species. Some are extremely difficult to identify, especially from a single photograph, and this is the case with the individual below.

     Once in a while it's good to contemplate the familiar aspects of life and to acknowledge how much you love their very familiarity, the constancy of their presence. So it is for me with Mallard (Anas platyrynchos).

     Eastern Black Carpenter Ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus) prefers moist woodlands where soft, rotting wood is easily chewed, but it has the potential to cause structural damage to buildings.

     Most people are familiar with Harvestmen (order Opiliones), but they are often confused with the superficially similar Crane Flies (superfamily Tipuloidea), all being referred to as Daddy Longlegs! I knew a woman once who called them Harry Longlegs in a rare overture of personification.

Genus Leiobunum

     In the picture below you will see a Small Carpenter Bee (genus Ceratina) on the left and a Canadian Potter Wasp (Symmorphus canadensis) on the right.

     My knowledge of  Gastropoda is sadly limited, but I enjoy them nevertheless, and embrace every opportunity to learn a little more about them. I am quite confident that the example below is found in the genus Trochulus, a genus of small air-breathing land snails.

     I don't have much in the way of reference materials for Mollusca, but I find the now ancient book, The Eastern Land Snails, John B. Burch (1962) very useful.
     This sparklingly attractive fly is found in the suborder Brachycera - Brachyceran Flies.

          Cluster Flies (genus Pollenia) are big enough that they might be able to escape the sticky clutches of its web, but better to stay clear of it in the first place.

     Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) is prolific, long lasting and easily found.

     These leaves of Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) have already turned a deep red, but I suspect this is a result of stress rather than a true advance into fall.

     For regular readers of my blog, Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens) is becoming an old friend.

     Common Water Striders (Aquarius remiges) hold a fascination for us that is hard to explain, but is nonetheless true.

     Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis), yet another invader from afar, has become extremely common.

     It was initially introduced in North America to control aphids and scale insects, but the usual adverse knock-on effects followed. It overwinters indoors, often in human dwellings, in large numbers, and readily bites humans. It has a voracious appetite and easily outcompetes native species, sometimes consuming them.
     Well established now, it is probably a permanent part of our landscape, yet it represents another case of humans interfering with nature, without taking account of the long-term consequences.
     Who would dare to challenge the belief that Goldenrod Leaf Beetle (Trirhabda canadensis) is one of the Jim Dandies of the insect world?

     A Hairy-banded Mining Bee (Andrena hirticincta) was hard at work.

     The undeniably attractive Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is highly invasive. Its high nectar content allows it to outcompete native species for pollinating services.

     Marsh Snipe Fly (Rhagio tringarius) is not a species we often see.

     Canadian Petrophila (Petrophila canadensis) is a striking diurnal moth.

     Common Eastern Bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) lives up to its name; it is common!

     The wasp below is in the genus Ectemnius in the family Crabonidae.

     They excavate nest tunnels in dead wood, sometimes in quite large aggregations.
     A Traverse-banded Flower Fly (Eristalis transversa) is very attractive.

     During the summer months a local tourist train runs between St. Jacobs and Waterloo and it happened to pass by as we were walking along the trail.

     We exchanged cheery waves with the driver. (is that what you call him?)
     Cross Orbweaver (Araneus didematus) is a pretty common spider.

     Common Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) and Red Clover (Trifolium pratensis) growing together are exceptionally appealing.

     When I see Ichneumon Wasps (tribe Ichneumonini) my thoughts often turn to Berndt Heinrich, that most consummate of naturalists, who cut his teeth even as a young boy collecting them for his father. Here we see one with a carpenter ant.

     At the parking lot we came across this scene.

     Talk about the old and the new!

28 August, 2023
The Pond on Platinum Drive, Waterloo, ON

     Once again there were gulls aplenty.

     The stars of the show this time around, however, were Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura).

     What truly interesting birds they are.

     One was feeding on the desiccated carcass of a long dead bird; a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) perhaps, but it's hard to be sure.

     A few Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) and Mallards rounded out the crew.

     It's always worth stopping there; you never know what you might find.
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. Hari OM
    Oh yes, this Gull champion loved your post today! I am actually grinning...😁 YAM xx

  2. Yet more delightful peregrinations. Our Daddy Long Legs is a spider - a European import that is now I suspect the most common spider we have.

  3. Another great outing and report. Love the series on the gulls. The plants and insects are wonderful too. Take care, have a great day!

  4. That's a lot of gulls. Sometimes you find huge flocks like that. And this is definitely an entomology post. :) The bees have been buzzing in my yard lately. Not only the honey bees, but various wild bees too. I like to sit and listen to them buzz. My poor honey bees were a bit confused yesterday as I added the mouse guard to keep mice out of the hive this winter. The ladies who were out and about came back and had to figure out how to enter the hive. They figured it out though. Have a super mid-week. hugs-Erika

  5. love the leopard frog! and trains are at the top of my I love list. I rode trains from 3 months old until my last ride in 1969. I miss them. we have hoards of the dreaded house flys and until your blog had no idea how many different species/types there are. all i know is they are the bane of our existence here in Florida. since 2020 they are constant and we rarely had them before unless around cattle or horses. maybe they came to town because we have paved their paradise.

  6. ...stress is causing early color here too.

  7. Hallo, Leopard frog, good to see you again :-)) And lots of gulls! I have only seen the white one over here..

  8. I enjoy the flocks of gulls around this time of year. They have great entertainment value if people stop to watch. The immature ones are a challenge to identify but I always appreciate their dark appearance and patterning. I’ve only ever seen a vulture in flight so the photos are incredible. Thank you for sharing.

  9. I always think you are so "lucky" to find such creatures -- but then when I really think about it, luck it only part of it. A huge part is looking and actually seeing it. Love the buggy photo!

    1. That’s why it sometimes take us a half hour to cover 50 metres!

  10. You know more insects that I could dream of.
    Love the buggy and bikes photo!

  11. so many lovely things. I had to laugh at that first picture of the bumblebee with those little wings on such a big body. I have daddy longlegs out the wazoo in my garage, the one pictures, not crane flies which we get in the very early spring which we call mosquito hawks. if only they did actually eat mosquitoes but they don't eat at all, just hatch, mate, and die.

  12. I think you see more than many others when you are out walking. The turkey vultures are fascinating, we don't have them here. And the monarch butterfly is my fave today! Hugs, Valerie xxxxx

  13. Of all those insects, I love the Clouded Sulphur the most, something I don't see in Hawaii. What an odd name for such a beautiful yellow butterfly!

  14. Lots of interesting gulls, a great capture of the Leopard frog and wonderful shots of the insects. You had many great sightings on your outing, thanks for sharing, David.

  15. Tiny geese have a very busy time. The weather is helping them.

  16. Gulls are something I very rarely see and certainly non at all around where we live. A lovely set of photos, but my two favourites are the bumblebee in the chicory and the fabulous Leopard Frog.
    I am living in the kitchen at present with a few hundred quinces on the tree and I have only so far worked my magic on about 60 fruits to date. The apple tree will have to wait and the figs thankfully have almost finished. The meddlers will just have to fall on the ground (sigh), I only have two hands and the days are getting shorter!
    Best wishes to you both, bisous mon ami, Diane

  17. 💐☀️🌿🎀 Nite nite, dear friend o mine!
    how I loved these two entries, they are pure poetry, even the little train that winds through the forest 💗 the blue bay and the seagulls that represent freedom... I can't take it anymore with so much beauty, this is an earthly paradise. Even adore snails, i love them so much, I don't know why, only know that i have liked them since i was little.

    Sending you hugs and wish beautiful autumn days to come. 🐝✨💛🌻⭐🌙🍯🍋

    1. Thank you for these poetic good wishes, Carolina. xo

  18. You have more varieties of gulls than I usually see in Michigan. This is some beautiful territory and as always, the blooms, bugs and bee photos are just exquisite.

  19. Love your pics of those various gulls and of course all the rest of your glorious captures. I am educated every time I visit you.

    1. I am always at my happiest when people say they learn from my blog.

  20. Dear David, the species introduced intentionally or unintentionally... you can really fill novels about them - whether it's the Asian lady beetles or Himalayan balsam or whatever. Luckily, the world STILL has a lot of joy to offer, and you're sharing some of it with us. The Common Eastern Bumblebee on the Chicory blossom is truly a particularly wonderful sight. So does the monarch butterfly. The turkey vultures remind me of Costa Rica, where we saw a lot of them. Your walks are always very productive, both when it comes to the small and larger animals (and not only animals) and I enjoy being out and about with you.
    All the best, Traude
    🍁🌾🌻🪶🍂 🪶🌻🌾🍁

  21. I love the way the photos provide a perspective I usually don't get to see. The insects truly are beautiful.

  22. What a huge number of gulls.
    Magnificent captures, I especially loved the photo of Bumblebee in the blue chicory flower.

  23. We used to call Gulls the pigeons of the shore..Love the photo of the Chicory and the Bumble bee..Beautiful colors..Tis the season for fungii around here..They are plentiful in our woods..
    I think the "driver" is known as the "engineer"..Nice picture..
    Where was the horse for the Amish carriage? Off grazing??
    Turkey Vultures....not the best looking birds...
    Enjoy the rest of your week...

  24. Another enjoyable outing with lots to see.
    As well as the wildlife, birds, critters etc it was good to see the train :)

    Thank you for all the wonderful photographs.

    All the best Jan

  25. Your posts with so many insects remind me of the days spent with my brother who is very much a lover of insects and the like. I can never remember names but walking with him was like walking with an encyclopedia. I just admire their beauty (or otherwise!).

  26. Me encanta ver tus reportajes, ver las aves, insectos, plantas, para comprobar si también los hay por aquí y sí, hay bastantes iguales por aquí. Gracias y abrazos de tu amiga Teresa.

  27. Hi David,
    Great observations and superb images. Yesterday I was look at my photos from serveral Gulls of different ages...I needed three books for the determination, but it was fun! I love your Ring-billed Gulls ( juv). Lovely insects and flowers. with the highlight: The Monarch. And than... Turkey!!!
    Happy week ahead,
    Hugs, Maria

  28. Dear David So sorry I'm late in commenting. It's been a mammoth task visiting everyone and in doing so my arm and shoulder have become very painful. I always enjoy the insects you share, as I am also fascinated by them and have been since I was a child. Lovely post with lots of interest.
    My best wishes
    Hugs and xxxxxx

  29. The turkey vultures are fascinating.


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.