11 June 2017
Last week we had a very productive outing to the Linear Trail in Cambridge, ON and covered about half its length. This week we decided to begin at the opposite end and work our way towards the point where we turned around last week. The weather was a little foggy, and the light far from ideal for photography, but we enjoyed a great walk filled with wildlife of different taxa.
In the parking lot, before even embarking on the trail, we saw this Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus), a stunning species. We initially thought that a woman parking her car had inadvertently run over it, but it was fluttering, and the driver of the vehicle, filled with remorse, carried it over to a tree. Without further ado it flew back towards us, so no harm seemed to have been done.
In high spirits, we set out along the trail.
We had not gone far, no more than four or five hundred metres, when our walk was abruptly brought to a halt.
Quite what happened to the bridge is open to speculation, but it appears that someone attempted to drive over it with equipment exceeding the load-bearing capacity of the structure.
Had we been children, we would have taken our shoes and socks off and waded across, but being a conservative bunch, and no doubt older and wiser (or is that less adventuresome?) we headed back to the parking lot.
Common Whitetails (Plathemis lydia) were common. Here is an adult male...
...........and here is a juvenile male with its characteristic brown abdomen and pale diagonal dashes along each side.
On the way back to our vehicles, Franc and I ventured off into a bushy area, filled with tangles and saplings of various heights, and plagued with mosquitoes unfortunately. In any event, we made our way down to the river and were rewarded with a great range of species.
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) is rare around here, but this year I have seen as many as three individuals at the Hespeler Mill Pond, and today Franc and I were treated to the delightful spectacle of seeing a delicate Common Tern, in superbly choreographed flight, alongside the bruiser of this family, Caspian Tern (Hydroproge caspia).
The scientific name of Common Tern translates to Swallow Tern, and you can judge for yourself from the pictures below that it is aptly named.
Franc had never seen a Common Tern before and was thrilled to be presented with such great opportunities for photographs.
The powerhouse Caspian Tern was a study in contrast.
A male Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) was perched just over the water, a little farther away than we might have liked, but photogenic nonetheless.
A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) stalked its prey, patiently waiting for every opportunity to make a lightening strike.
Kildeer (Chardrius vociferus) is our most common shorebird and is frequently observed in large numbers, especially as we approach migration time.
As we picked our way back through the tangles, Grey Catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis) were frequently seen and heard, gurgling their delightful, cheery song, with a little mimicry thrown in for good measure, and ending on the miaow exclamation point from which the bird derives its name.
Having donated our share of blood to the ravenous female mosquitoes we rejoined Miriam, Judy, Mary and Carol in the parking lot, and set off to park adjacent to the trail around its midpoint, so that we could traverse it back to the defunct bridge which had stopped us in our tracks.
The birding was terrific. Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), no longer subjected to idiotic and obscene levels of persecution, have made a resounding comeback across the continent and are now fairly common in the Grand River watershed. It was with enormous satisfaction that we saw two adults perched at the river's edge, quite far away, but close enough for a record shot.
One of the birds flew a little closer and perched at mid height in the trees along the riverbank. It is indeed a majestic species.
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) is a skillful and opportunistic feeder and this individual had caught a catfish, a fine meal indeed. It is amazing what a bird can swallow!
After all that exertion, and with a full belly, perhaps it needed to rest for a while.
We have a watermelon in the fridge and I think that to match the feat of the gull I would have to swallow it whole!
American Herring Gull (Larus smithsonianus) is less common at this time of year and this is the only individual we saw.
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)is a prolific breeder and often has three broods in a single season. Juveniles are seemingly everywhere.
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) is common along suitable watercourses and we saw several of them.
It is always interesting to watch them zoom across the water with their typical rapid wing beats.
There were several small flocks of Northern Rough-winged Swallows (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) and we were fortunate to have one perch for a picture.
This male American Yellow Warbler (Setophaga aestiva) has lost his tail somehow. Perhaps sacrificing it saved him from a predator bent on making a meal out of him.
House Wrens (Troglodytes aedon) were spotted several times, often announcing their presence by their rollicking song.
Birds need to keep their plumage in prime condition and bathing is an important part of feather maintenance. This male American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) is drying off after immersing at the river's edge.
Japanese Beetle (Popilla japonica) is a serious invasive species, with adults damaging leaf tissues and ripening fruit of more than two hundred plants. This pair seems intent on making sure that we have more of them.
Maybe Song Sparrows (Melospiza melodia) will eat a few!
Warbling Vireos (Vireo gilvus) have a robust population along the Linear Trail.
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) is a very common species, of course, but this is an interesting shot.
I always think that Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is like an old friend that you never tire of seeing, no matter how often it happens.
Another great Tuesday ramble. Now we have to think about next week's destination.
All birds species: Canada Goose, Mallard, Great Blue Heron, Western Osprey, Bald Eagle, Sandhill Crane, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Ring-billed Gull, American Herring Gull, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Mourning Dove, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Warbling Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Tree Swallow, House Wren, American Robin, Grey Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow. Total: 39 species.