Sunday, November 26, 2023

A Walk on the Wild Side with Lisa

10 November, 2023
F.W.R Dickson Wilderness Area, North Dumfries, ON 

     It's always a joy to go out with Lisa, and a morning at the F. W. R. Dickson Wilderness Area seemed just the ticket. 

     Fungi seem to have been quite sparse this year, so it was encouraging to see these handsome Shaggy Manes (Coprinus comatus).

     These mushrooms are edible and were in prime condition, but we resisted the temptation to take them home.
     One does not have to proceed far along the trail when a boardwalk traverses the swamp, and a jaunty Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) was perched on a post to greet us.

     Last winter there was a good deal of excitement when three Tufted Titmouses (Baelophus bicolor) put in an appearance at Dickson Wilderness and stayed for the winter. 

     I am convinced that this charming little bird is undertaking a range expansion and we saw five birds together today. Perhaps this is bona fide evidence of breeding, and within a few years Tufted Titmouse may be quite common.

     One may hope!
     Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) is to be expected, of course, and this individual seem to be trying to stand as upright as a pipit!

     A male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is a marquis performer at any time.

     How about another picture of a Tufted Titmouse?

     Well, just one more. There are always a number of photographers present, carrying between them a king's ransom in equipment, and they liberally distribute seed along the rail of the boardwalk as enticement to the birds - who are quite happy to take advantage of a free meal as you might imagine.

     This Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) has perhaps visited the avian hair salon for the latest in biker bird coiffure!

     Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata) looked exceptionally lovely, I thought.

     The Tamaracks (Larix laricina) have turned to gold and their reflected glory was breathtaking.

     What would a morning in southern Ontario be like without Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) passing overhead?

     Grey Dogwood (Cornus racemosa) is bearing fruit.

     I think the following mushrooms are a type of Oysterling (genus Panellus) but they are a little degraded and not easy to identify.

     Round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica americana) will bloom again in spring when the woodland carpet will be a riot of colour and new growth.

     This location is evidently ideally suited to Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) and it was frequently encountered.

     The leaves can achieve an impressive size.

     It was curious to see this fungus in the hole at the base of a tree, but I have been unable to identify it.

     Intermediate Wood Fern (Dryopteris intermedia) was dotted here and there, pristine green against the browns and beiges of fallen leaves.

     Running Strawberry-Bush (Euonymus obovatus) is very beautiful, and was quite prolific.

     Here is the story of the landscape.

     As we walked around the trail we heard the very loud, incessant sound of a woodpecker, with an excavation type of cadence rather than drumming. It took us a while to find the source, but it was a Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) creating one of the trademark cavities of this species.

     Miriam was able to capture the above picture when it poked its head out,  just before flying off.
     We were delighted to come upon this Orange-fruited Horse Gentian (Triosteum aurantiacum), yet another woodland delight.

     The soil conditions seem especially favourable to oaks here and there were many of them. I am pretty sure this is a Northern Pin Oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis), asleep for the approaching winter.

     A Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) was also preparing for the cold season ahead.

     The conventional mnemonic for Black Cherry (Prunus seratina) is Burnt Cornflakes, since that is what the bark resembles, and I think you can see how this is an effective device.

     Not surprisingly, American Beavers (Castor canadensis) have been busy - and like humans, they don't always finish the job!

     The lake looked tranquil on a beautiful fall morning.

     What was I just saying about oaks?

     We found several small branches of Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra) like the one shown below, severed by squirrels, I assume.

     To continue with our morning's woodpecker success, a Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) put in an appearance.

     And Lisa, she of the keen ears, had heard a Hairy Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus villosus) earlier.
     While we were looking at the Red-bellied Woodpecker Lisa (she also of the keen eyes) spotted a Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) hitching its way up a tree. The photographs below are hers, and while not terrific they do illustrate how well this bird can camouflage.

      Nature does not operate with photographers in mind.
     There was a considerable amount of invasive buckthorn in places, laden with berries, and American Robins (Turdus migratorius) seemed at times almost as numerous as the berries!

     As we were preparing to leave, a male Downy Woodpecker graced us with his presence and we felt suitable honoured I can assure you.

     Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) no longer bears its perfectly formed yellow flowers, yet the green of its leaves is a wonderful sight against a carpet of brown.

Bannister Lake, North Dumfries, ON

     While at FWR Dickson Wilderness Area we heard Sandhill Cranes (Antigone canadensis) flying over, and Lisa (there go those sharp eyes again) caught a brief glimpse of "a couple of dozen." They were heading in the direction of Bannister Lake and we called in there before leaving for home. Lisa was especially perceptive as it turned out - we counted twenty-four!

     There were even more Ring-necked Ducks (Aythya collaris).

     And, as you might expect, Canada Geese.

     If Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky had not already composed a sublime Swan Lake I might have been inspired to do it myself!
     There were Mute Swans (Cygnus olor).....

     ..... and Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator).

     Until the next time.....

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. Great outing and beautiful nature photos! I love all the bird photos, well done!
    Take care, enjoy your day and have a great new week!

  2. Hari OM
    Sublime! The first phot of the Tufted Titmouse is one for the wall, I reckon... YAM xx

  3. Hi David,
    The Tufted Titmouse is very cute! I want more photos of it :)
    Hugs and kisses, Marit

  4. The Three Tufted Titmouses are so gorgeous and I had to laugh at Blue Jay's hairdo...both she and I need to go to a hair salon soon.

  5. ...David, thanks for taking me along on this fabulous nature walk. Beaver rarely finish the job, they let the next wind storm complete the job.

  6. so true about the kings ransome of equipment. I miss my DSLR and a few weeks ago thought I wonder what one cost now! I nearly fainted at the cost. way beyond my purse strings. I like small cute birds the most and the tufted titmouse and chickadees melt the heart in the cute category. I saw a bird this morning that i have never seen before, if i can't figure out what it is will have to ask you. its still in my cell phone. I think of you each morning and have for over a week, this is the time of year the black birds go to the island at 6 pm and leave the island at 6:30 am, and there are thousands of them over our heads as we walk, loud noisy and i often wonder why we are not bombarded with bird poop. the sky is black with them, fly west in the evening and east in the morning.

  7. I love seeing all the "usual" birds as few of mine have returned to my feeders. I'm sad as I miss seeing them. And we didn't have a lot of mushrooms here either, and it was the rainiest summer and early fall on record. Happy new week to you david. hugs-Erika

  8. Canada geese are the only birds I have seen in the last few weeks. So, I am glad I passed by... : )

  9. I think that the Blogger gremlins maybe getting busy again as I see that my comment on your last blog post, made within minutes of you publishing it, never came through, David. I hope that this one does not share the same fate.

    I think that I need a Tufted Titmouse in my life - what a delightful looking bird. My only disappointment is that you stopped at four photos.

    Winter is upon us and we're now getting sub-zero temperatures and a forecast of snow in this coming week. This is already bringing interesting birds to the garden for which we will keep our fingers crossed in the hope that they do not fall victim to the Sparrowhawk.

    Best wishes - stay safe - - - Richard

  10. Just loved all the birds pics especially. That Tufted Titmouse is so cute! Juncos and Chickadees always make me smile, too. So many charmers. Plus mushrooms and ferns and fall leaves and all the rest. Lovely post. :)

  11. Thanks for the great photos. The birds are really amazing.

  12. Love the photos of the Tufted Titmouse - what a gorgeous little bird, and beautifully complimented by those surrounding red twigs.

  13. Thanks for the walk and the WONDERFUL pictures! I truly feel as though I were there. It's hard to pick a favorite but I think it might be that Pileated Woodpecker picture, a marvelous capture of a bird that is not always easy to photograph in my experience. And that lovely little Dark-eyed Junco! I'm eagerly awaiting their arrival here which is usually in early December.

  14. Un hermoso paseo por la naturaleza, con buen avistamiento de animañes, que habita en ella.
    Me ha encantado tu reportaje y tus maravillosas fotografías.
    Un abrazo.

  15. Love the variety of plants and mushrooms you shared in this p post, David. A great variety of birds too. The cranes were a great shot. There were a few made their way here this year! That was a busy beaver!

  16. I always love walking with you - and this morning is no exception. Thank you all - and I will admit to a bit of envy for Lisa's keen eyes and ears.

  17. Awesome pictures. I LOVE LOVE the Miriam got of the bird poking it's head out! I've not seen the same type of fungi you've seen; but think I've seen more this year in general. I don't know if I have, or I'm just paying more attention on my walks. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
    Sandy's Space

  18. Bravo pour la photo du pic qui sort de son trou!
    Les couleurs de la nature sont très belles, cela donne de jolis fonds pour les photos des oiseaux, il y'a tellement de belles couleurs! Bonne soirée

  19. Wow the Tufted Titmouse......and the Dark-eyed Junco, the gorgeous woodpeckers , great landscapes...fantastic walk on wild side.
    Regards, Maria

  20. Espectacular paseo David por ese otoño precioso, que también tenemos por aquí
    Como me gusta ir conociendo los pájaros que no vemos por aquí. Me gustaría ver alguna vez el cardenal y el carbonero copetudo dos aves preciosas. Gracias y a seguir, que nos gusta lo que compartes.
    Buena semana.
    Un abrazo

  21. Que belleza ese lugar, cuánta variedad de hermosas aves, y las plantas le aporta bellos colores al ambiente. Coprinus comatus también crece por acá. Buena semana. Saludos

  22. Five Tufted Titmouses! I've only ever seen one, up here.

  23. Just recently I had to escort a tufted titmouse out of the house. So very tiny and light! Your photos are perfect.
    There were two white swans on our small lake the other day, but I could not get close enough to get a photo through the brush and trees. Such beautiful birds. I envy you the Sandhill cranes! Have never seen one...yet.

  24. I've fed and enjoyed most of the birds you visited this time, and I've seen a great pileated working on a tree, but never one emerging from a tree. Great picture.

  25. Those beavers do make a mess of the trees by the look of it, not good but that is what they do. Love the birds, good pictures of them.

  26. Fantastic observations, I loved the titmouse, you do have such an amazing diversity of birds in North America!!

    Take care, greetings from Spain.

  27. What great photos these are David.
    I love the Tufted Titmouses (Baelophus bicolor) and the male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), species that we don't see here in the Netherlands, you are lucky if you can still see them in a zoo.
    I also think the Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is beautiful to see, you saw a lot during your walk, wonderful to walk like this.
    I enjoyed your blog again.
    Greetings Irma

  28. Beautiful walk into the wild !
    Beautiful pictures as well David ! Nature is indeed beautiful...
    Have a nice week !

  29. Hi David.

    Beautiful birds pass by.
    That woodpecker with its head out of the tree is great.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  30. A very productive nature excursion that undoubtedly makes those of us who were not able to participate in it healthy envious. We greatly appreciate you sharing your interesting observations with us. A big hug David.

  31. That woodpecker popping out of a tree -- fabulous photo and wonderful capture. I do love the titmouse -- they're such charming and sweet-looking birds. It looks like a good walk, David. We saw less fungi this year at the lake (and you don't ever see much in the city) but what we did see came later -- more October than the usual mid-September. What splendid finds -- those woodpecker varieties are wonderful!

  32. You saw many beautiful birds, flowers etc. The brown creeper has a wonderful 'disguise' on the tree bark. Have a great week, hugs, Valerie xxxxxxx

  33. Awesome pictures.
    Great shot of the woodpecker, it's not easy to see him hidden into the hole.

  34. The Tufted Titmouse is just adorable! That Pileated Woodpecker is wonderful. I saw one once here and never again!

  35. Our woods are full of Fungii...Great picture of the Pileated Woodpecker...I've never seen one up close and personal..The beavers have done their thing on that tree...Interesting..What a fun walk you had!! Happy December...soon

  36. A nice variety of photos and birds. The Downy Woodpecker is nice to see.

  37. Que maravilloso paseo querido David, todo es precioso y me encanta. Las fotos son espectaculares. Abrazos para ti y para Miriam.

  38. Another wonderful walk with you. I love the shot of the woodpecker peeping out. The Titmouse is adorable.
    Suddenly it has got very cold here so I am sure you will be colder now as well.
    Garder au chaud. Bisous mon ami, Diane

  39. Good ev´ning Miriam and David!
    Canada looks & must feel like heaven ❤️🕊️🙏😇 🕊️❤️🕊️😇🕊️ so magical 🕊️❤️🕊️ thank you dearest friends for showing us good landscapes of your world 🌎🌍🌏 birds and swans are gems of heart of gold 🐾❤🐾🙏🕊️😇🕊️😊👍❤️🙏🕊️😇🕊️
    Have a beautiful start of new week!

  40. Tufted Titmouses are just so cute looking and the Cardinal so wonderfully red :)

    All the best Jan

  41. Hello David,
    the tufted tits are a beautiful species of bird with a great hairstyle, speaking of hairstyles, the northern cardinal can keep up but the blue jay wins the race, looks like it had a hard night...;-))
    Greetings Frank

  42. Hello David, :=)
    How lovely that Lisa was able to join you and Miriam on your outing , The woods were teaming with wildlife, and the proof is in these fabulous photos. You saw so many species of Woodpecker, which surely must be an unusual occurrence. The photo of the Piileated Woodpecker poking his head out of the tree cavity is a fun photo, and one of my favourite captures, and the pretty Tufted Titmouse is another. There is plenty of variety in your post about plants and fungi and I also have a few favourites, such as the beautiful Running Strawberry-bush, the Grey Dogwood with white berries, and the beautiful golden colour of the Tamaracks. Lisa took a much better shot of the Brown Creeper than I. I saw a Tree.creeper for the first time in years creeping up a tree very near my balcony but I didn't manage to focus in time before I lost sight of it. They can move pretty quickly up a tree, so I'm not sure they are aptly named. :=) Loved your knowledgeable and interesting commentary, and your love of nature that is evident in every word written. Thank you so much.
    Hugs and xxxxx.

  43. Hi David,
    A Walk on the Wild Side always remembers me of Lou Reed. His song has nothing to do with nature, I also don't know whether he was a nature lover or not. Anyway, you and your company are fond of wildlife as the pictures make it very clear. The richness of the nature is obvious there, it must have been a pleasure again to see it all around you.
    Greetings, Kees

  44. This is absolutely a beautiful post. When I lived in N. Id. I gathered mushrooms and had a secrete place for Morels. I have eaten Shaggy Mane many times. Right now, in Oregon, the mushroomers are here from all of the world. In some towns mushroomers set up white wall tents to buy from the pickers. Have a very nice evening.

  45. What a beautiful walk! I hope nobody gets hurt when the tree that was eaten by the beavers falls down.........Abrazotes, Marcela

  46. Another super collection of wildlife photos - and I know how difficult such shots can be. I had an uncle who was like that beaver and would often leave a job just before completing it. "It'll give me an easy start next time" was his explanation.

  47. Dear David, a few days ago I left a comment on this post but it hasn't appeared so far, I think there must have been an error on Blogger.
    The birds you saw are amazing, the Tufted Titmouse is so cool!! I wish I could see it. I don't think I will be able to travel to N America for a few years as my wife and I are becoming parents soon. I hope you are having a good time.
    Best wishes for you and your family.

  48. Encantada de ver tantas bellezas, todo me gusta. Abrazos fuertes.

  49. Fabulous photos! The pileated woodpecker is quite a character, and I love the sandhill cranes.


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.