Sunday, October 22, 2023

WRN Outing to Mike Schout Wetlands Preserve, New Hamburg, ON

15 October, 2023

     This outing was originally scheduled for 14 October when in excess of thirty enthusiastic naturalists had signed up for the event, but rain cancelled our plans, and the walk was shunted to the next day. Inevitably, that didn't work for some, but a good group joined me anyway.

Leader: David M. Gascoigne

Members: Miriam Bauman, Linda Bree, Sharon Dillon-Martin, Mike Duchene, Beth Hobson, Roddie Hornby, Vashti Latchman, Curtiss MacDonald, Anne Morgan, Audrey Nichols,  Tracey Rayner, Andrea Smith, Sophie Wilson, Kathy Waybrand  

Guests: Carolyn Hay, Felix Lawson, Calvin Mills

Tracey, Andrea, Sophie, Beth, Calvin, Sharon, Felix, David, Anne, Mike, Kathy, Curtiss, Linda, Carolyn, Reya, Roddie, Vashti

     We are at that time of the year when most of the migrants have departed and many of the winter species have not yet arrived, or have barely put in their first appearance, so the birding, while satisfying, was not terrific. The visit was always intended, however, for people to become acquainted with the wetland, and that goal was certainly accomplished.
     Mallards (Anas platyrynchos) were the only ducks on the water.

     It is undeniable that Common Water Hyacinth (Pontederia crassipes) is uncommonly beautiful, with lavender to pink flowers in season, but it is aggressive and invasive, and the people who manage the wetland will have to be vigilant to ensure that it does not take over.

     Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) were present in substantial numbers, forming large flocks and preparing for migration. 

     I don't think we need to be reminded that this is an exceedingly handsome bird, (familiarity does not breed contempt), and we are very lucky to share our world with blackbirds.
     An adult Bald Eagle (Haliaetus leucocephalus), high overhead, pleased everyone - eagles have a way of doing that!

     I am not especially tall, but this gives you a good idea of the height that Late Goldenrod (Solidago gigantea) can attain.

     Enjoying each other's company, we ambled slowly along the boardwalk, stopping to talk about anything that captured our interest.

     A snoozing female Mallard very kindly showed us her iridescent purple-blue speculum, boldly bordered in white.

     Even on a mostly dull fall day, a wetland pond is both interesting and possessed of its own beauty.

     Curtiss looks quite pensive; contemplating the meaning of life perhaps.

     I am sure he will let us know if he comes up with an answer!
     Myrtle Warbler (Steophaga cononata) was seen quite frequently, but rarely well.

     This is the hardiest of all the warblers and the one that lingers with us after most others have departed.
     On the odd occasion when the clouds parted to permit the sun to shine through, the colours of fall seemed quite splendid.

     An American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) probed at the water's edge for seeds.

     A little farther on, a Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) was no less industrious.

     The work of the Goldenrod Gall Fly (Eurosta solidaginis) was on display for all to see.

     As a fall adornment on a trunk, Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is exceptionally pleasing to the eye.

     Several times we saw migrating raptors overhead, all very high, however, and beyond the range of our cameras. This Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) was the lone exception.

     American Robins (Turdus migratorius) were either migrating, or checking for a sheltered winter territory. These days, it's hard to tell.

     We proceeded onwards, nearing the end of the wetlands (the trail is a loop).

     It was just as well, as the clouds were beginning to look quite ominous.

     These pods of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) have still not burst open to disperse their seeds; no doubt it will happen soon.

     A few late-blooming Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) still radiated colour in a predominantly dun landscape; who could not feel a sense of joy in the presence of such enduring beauty?

     And a single Wild Carrot (Daucus carota) stood proud and tall, the very last of its kind to bloom this year (at least that we saw). 

     Its alternative common name is Queen Anne's Lace, and perhaps it's more fitting to refer to it by that name on a day like today. To have been bid farewell by Queen Anne's Lace seems altogether grand to me. Perhaps it does to you too!
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. ...they sure did a fabulous job on that sign!

  2. Hooray for wetlands, and walking through them in congenial company. As always, thank you for taking us along.

  3. Dear David, even if your originally planned date didn't work out, even if not all friends could be there, even if it is that time of the year when most of the migrants have departed and many of the winter species have not yet arrived, it was a nice trip. Red-winged Blackbirds look really pretty, and to me they're not even commonplace. We only have black (male) or brown (female) blackbirds here - without any red. I was particularly impressed by the wonderful red color of the foliage, which doesn't exist in this intensity here in the wild. (Sometimes in gardens, because trees and bushes are planted there that have an extremely beautiful autumn coat, such as maple or serviceberry). I don't know the name Queen Anne's Lace for the wild carrot, but it sounds nice. I'll still stick with "carrot" because the roots actually taste like it. (Have you ever tasted them?)
    All the best and a happy week!
    🍁🌻🍂 🌻🍁
    PS: I had problems getting to your blog via Eileen's linkup. I received the following message:
    " uses a security technology called HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) which only allows Firefox to connect to the website over secured connections. Therefore, no exception can be added for the website.
    Most likely, the problem is caused by the website and there is nothing you can do about it. You can notify the website administrator about the problem."
    What I did with this...

  4. Hari OM
    What a wonderful outing, yet again - flora and fauna bringing joy... and contemplation! YAM xx

  5. Certainly looks a wonderful outing and I always enjoy seeing Autumnal colours.
    Wishing you a good week ahead.

    All the best Jan

  6. Hi David,
    It's wonderful to get along with your outing. I love to see all the lovely birds and late flowers.
    The fall colors are very beautiful too.
    Hugs and kisses, Marit

  7. We’ve seen some goldenrod here along the Rotary Trail which is huge as well. The trails here are at peak colour now. Not for long though as the wind is high.

  8. Querido David a pesar de la lluvia y el cambio de día disfrutasteis de un paseo maravilloso, las fotos son espectaculares y el color precioso. Un abrazo enorme para ti y para Míriam

  9. A pleasant walk and plenty to look at.

  10. I had a whole flock of robins in the woods behind the woods behind the house last week one day. They were chirping up a storm. I haven't heard or seen them since, so they might have been on their way south. Now I'm just waiting for my bird feeders to start seeing some birds. You look like you had a great walk. Anytime you see an eagle makes it a good day. Happy new week. hugs-Erika

    1. Honestly, Erika, we only have good walks. Some are just better than others.

  11. What a great fieldtrip....I love the season when the trees start changing colors.......Abrazotes, Marcela

  12. It comes as quite a surprise to find that the pensive (but not I am sure "vacant" - WW quote) Curtiss doesn't warrant parentheses after his name containing a Latin tag. But I suppose it would be ineffably tedious to include homo sapiens individually after the names of all the members of the group.

    I learned :Latin at prep school for a couple of years and - given the ornithological environment I find myself in here - I feel I may break the habit of a professional lifetime and include a cliché: yes. I "took to it like a duck to water".

    Later I found a reason for dropping Latin. Peter Fleming, the highly adventurous brother of James Bond author, Ian, used to do a column about country matters in the venerable weekly The Spectator. Typically for someone educated at a UK public school (ie "private school" in North America) he affected a Latin nom de plume, Strix, which I believe denotes "owl". You might have read his column had The Spectator been handy but I imagine you would have dropped it when you learned his interest in birds included blowing them out of the sky. Very unsportingly when it came to ducks, for which he used "a punt gun" which I will not detail.

    However he did admit he'd yearned to attach Latin names when he referred to birds in the books he wrote (Highly entertaining, I fear, about impossible journeys on foot). Thought it might impress readers. But that was up to the moment when he discovered the harlequin duck carried the sobriquet histrionicus histrionicus and thought he might be laughed at. Strange, I'm working from 70-year-old memory here and felt sure there was a third histrionicus but - old habits die hard - I decided to check. Only two.

    Not that I'm poo-pooing the practice. One thing that bedevils casual taxonomy is the emergence of locally born names which can confuse exact identification. Latin has certainty. But you have given me a blogging idea. No reason why Tone Deaf shouldn't be contrived by someone with a Latin sub-title. And I do still have a Latin dicker.

    1. Your eruption and wit, as always, are on display here, Roderick.

    2. That should of course read “erudition” not “eruption” and I will not go into the potential Freudian implications of that slip!

    3. Eruption and/or erudition, it doesn't matter, as a mere retired hack I'm not used to compliments and either will do. I have responded to your comment on limericks back at Tone Deaf.

  13. Lovely photos, gorgeous colours in those trees, well the leaves.
    The birds are pleasing to see too.

  14. Nice series of photos from this excursion David.
    I think the red-winged blackbird is beautiful, and the white-tailed eagle in flight is also very beautiful.
    The autumn colors are very beautiful, the autumn colors are not yet that beautiful here.
    Greetings Irma

  15. A great outing David. I especially love seeing all the fall colors. Great captures of the Bald Eagle. As always beautiful collection of nature photos. Take care, have a wonderful week!

  16. I like the photos of the water and algae and the blackbird is my favorite today. it is the season here that thousands of black birds, in the am fly East over our home and in the evening fly west, we know they are coming becuase of the noise. it is amazing. there is an island that they roost on and go back to, only this time of year. we never tire of hearing/seeing them because it is amazing to see. the golden rod reminds me of 1963, newly wed, i decorated our rental with golden rod... who knew hubby was alergic to it. like really allergic. about the Virginia Creeper, it is the curse of Florida, if you move out of a home and no one touches it for 6 months to a year, it will cover that home. it climbs our power poles, and trees and bob is allergic to it. it can cover the fence in under 30 days. rampant growth and grows year round...

  17. Hi David.

    Nice to go out with such a group.
    Lots to see.
    I think that Red-winged Blackbird is very beautiful.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  18. Ambling is just my speed. I so often see Queen Anne's Lace mentioned in books. I don't know if it's because the mention calls something picturesque to mind or if it's because the name itself sounds lovely.


  19. Great observations and beautiful autumn colors.

  20. Some gorgeous fall colors in places. Fall has a whole different atmosphere, but still beautiful. :)

  21. This looks like a good walk, David. That's just a fabulous shot of the red-winged blackbird!

  22. Glad that so many people joined in your tour. The autumn colouring is beautiful. My favesy today are the blackbird and the bald eagle. Have a great week, hugs, Valerie xxxxx

  23. A wonderful outing with some fantastic shots of the birds and the autumn colours.

  24. It was a shame that some of the participants couldn't go, as from the photos it was a fantastic outing.
    I especially enjoyed seeing the beautiful American Goldfinch and Black-eyed Susans, what a vibrant yellow color they have.

  25. looks like a lovely place. I note y'all are bundled up as I sit here barefoot in a sleeveless tank top and shorts, sweating.

  26. Such a colourful group you had with you, David - I refer to their apparel, rather than their characters! It made me wonder if bright clothing is as detrimental to birding as I have always taken it to be. I always try to go out in dark colours, but stop shot of camouflage. I'd be interested to know your expert views on this matter.

    The timing and conditions might not have been the most auspicious for your walk, but the results clearly made it worthwhile. I'd have been delighted to be a participant.

    Best wishes to you and Miriam - - - Richard


    1. I tend to dress in muted colours, Richard, but I suspect that the need to do so is a little overstated. Birds see in a different spectrum anyway. Some of the people on an outing like this are general nature lovers, or people just enjoying an outdoor hike, and are not all dedicated birders.

  27. Una excursión muy numerosa y todos unidos por el amor a la Naturaleza. Me han encantado las fotografías de tu reportaje.
    Un abrazo

  28. Hi David, Great walk! Beautiful coulors of the Fall. I love the American Goldfinch and the Red-winged Blakbird !! Thank you for sharing al these beautiful photos.
    See hello to Miriam, Big hug,

  29. Another wonderful walk..Thanks for taking me along..Lovely pictures to remember it by!!

    1. One day you’ll have to come up here and do it in person. You’re not that far away.

    2. Sadly, Walking is not one of my better skills these days....but thanks.

  30. Que tal, good evening, dear David!
    I see that a walk through the wetland was an enriching experience, despite the changes in plans due to the rain, you decided to explore anyway.
    It`s a wonder the presence of a bald eagle added a touch of excitement, guau!
    the colors of autumn are so relaxing, it's inspiring, plus the goldfinch, the ducks and the sparrow and all the friends made the day unforgettable and Queen Anne's Lace, was the cherry on this autumn walk; sometimes is the most subtle that amazes us the most. Sending hugs and kisses, have a nice week ahead!

  31. Thanks for a wonderful tour, as always.

  32. What a wonderful and informative excursion! Looked like a lot of fun!

  33. Hi David!
    Nice tour, with lovely birds and a beautiful coloured nature. The red winged blackbird has to be my favourite, have never seen it. We only have blackbirds but they are one of my favourite birds.
    Have a nice day /Marika

  34. Il y'a de jolies couleurs sur les arbres, ici les arbres ont déjà perdu leurs feuillages depuis un moment à cause de la sécheresse. Bonne soirée

  35. 👌👍👍⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "Thank you for this enlightening, uplifting start to my day!" - how funny your comment about my serene post Jajaja XD

  36. Such a wonderful outing, David.
    I enjoyed seeing the lovely birds and gorgeous fall colours.

  37. Another very beautiful walk, like all of your walks actually. The bald eagle is very majestic - I know there are some here, but so far I haven't seen any. I was told there is a pair at the lake. The red-winged blackbird is a beautiful bird and I love when they're all together making quite some noise. Just recently I heard them at a smaller lake (close to "my" lake) toegther with some grackle - it was quite the racket!

  38. hello David
    what a large group, there was a lot to see and everyone had fun in nature, very beautiful
    Greetings Frank

  39. Hello David :=)
    Wetlands have always been my favourite places to enjoy the wonders of nature. If only I could do that now. I used to dress in browns black and green so as to disguise myself, but when I look at the bright colours being worn by your group, I wonder whether it is entirely necessary I'm so pleased you were able to go on your outing the next day with a good turn out of eager enthusiasts. The Blackbird is an elegant bird with all black feathers, but the Red.winged Blackbird is exceedingly attractive, and a good sighting was also had of the American Goldfinch and Bald Eagle..The Mallard is always a great pleasure to see, and also the magnificent colours of the trees in all their autumn splendour.
    Thank you for the tour David.
    All the best Hugs and xxxxxx

  40. Too bad all 30 couldn't make it, but you still got a good group. It looks cold over there. Over here, it's in the 80s.

  41. I always enjoy introducing people to new areas and especially seeing common birds through the eyes of those who've never encountered them before. I was interested in what you said about people wearing bright coloured gear; I've always thought that birds are pretty smart and sharp eyed and would be likely to spot a six foot tall biped, no matter what colour they were wearing. It's not loud colours that need to be avoided so much as loud voices.

  42. Eventually, botany became identical almost everywhere in the world. Fortunately, ornithology still has its endemisms.
    Thank you for this marble.
    Gros bisous à vous deux David et bonne journée.

  43. A nice group to make the adventure. Wonderful photos.

  44. Bardzo lubię Twoje reportaże z terenu. Są różnorodne tematycznie, są ciekawe zdjęcia. Dla mnie to przyjemność oglądać, bo botanika i pejzaże jak najbardziej mnie interesują. Gratuluję także organizacji spotkań, my zazwyczaj jedziemy sami lub najwyżej 2 pary.

  45. The shades of autumn can be seen discreetly.

  46. Como siempre me encantó el paseo. Sabes que a mí todo me gusta, todo lo que tiene que ver con la naturaleza, el mirlo de alas rojas es precioso, como sabes por aquí solo es negro el macho y marrón la hembra, pero me encantan y cantan tan precioso ¡ que tal canta el de alas rojas ? Abrazos.

  47. Looks like you had a good day for fall colours.


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.