Jul 242017
 

Today, July 22, at the Nonquon lagoons in Port Perry, there was an interesting mix of life and death struggles. Lots of sights of successful breeding as Mallards, Wood Ducks, Hooded Mergansers and Trumpeter Swans showed off their new families. Very few shorebirds but the habitat is still not good for them ? Water is too high.

However two Soras were in full song and a Virginia Rail showed off her two offspring. 5 Common Gallinules and an American Coot were new arrivals as they haven’t been here all summer. The show stopper was the feeding frenzy by the Cedar Waxwings. Fifteen+ birds were feeding at eye to ground level chasing and catching a huge new hatch of bluet damselflies. For the dragonfly/damselfly afficionados out there this is the time be here .. crazy numbers of these insects. Also a large hatch of Monarchs must have occurred as they were everywhere.

Sora (rail) – Wikimeda

Lots of herps – Midland Painted Turtles, Northern Leopard Frogs, Green Frogs and my second (dead) Red-bellied Snake at this site this year. Lots of other butterflies and myriad other insects to amuse. A groundhog and a muskrat represented the mammal clan. Adjacent fields had several Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer and Spotted Sandpipers – so they are here .. you just gotta look further afield.

Geoff Carpentier
Avocet Nature Services

(via Ontbirds – Bird Alert – Click here for information on how to subscribe to alerts)

DIRECTIONS: The lagoons are located one road north of the transfer site on Concession Rd. 8 [don’t get confused as, despite the fact that these roads are both numbered “8”, they are two different roads – one is a regional paved road, the other a dirt concession road.]. Access to the lagoons is from the east end of Conc. 8 only as the bridge is out west of the lagoons. Please remember to close the gate behind if you go as it is not self-closing.

How to Obtain a Nonquon Sewage Lagoon Permit

Permits must be purchased in advance of entering the lagoons. Permits can be obtained from 605 Rossland Rd., Whitby, or at the Scugog Waste Transfer Station, 1623 Reach Street, Port Perry. An electronic version of the Nonquon Sewage Lagoon Birder Permit is available in PDF format at http://www.durham.ca/finance.asp?nr=/departments/finance/financeinside.htm. Nonquon Sewage Lagoon Birder Permits are available for $10 per permit. Cheques will only be accepted at Regional Headquarters. Payment by cash only at the Scugog Waste Transfer Station. Completed Applications should be forwarded to: Finance Department – Insurance & Risk Management, 605 Rossland Road E., Whitby, ON L1N 6A3

 

Jul 242017
 

On Saturday, July 22, I saw a Great Crested Flycatcher, a bird we have never seen before. The sighting was brief, with no time for a photo, but the tricoloured front view of light grey, soft lemon yellow and orange was unmistakable.

Another first this year is a family of Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks. The female has been feeding her two young at the sunflower feeder.  There are also at least three males coming to the feeder. In previous years, these birds have just stayed around for a few days.

Stephenie Armstrong, Sawmill Road, Warsaw

Great Crested Flycatcher – Dick Daniels

Grosbeak family at feeder – July 22, 2017 – Warsaw – Stephenie Armstrong

 

Jul 232017
 

Update re: John Deyell’s sighting (July 14, 2017) of Trumpeter Swans nesting in Sandy Creek Bay near Woodland Camp Site. Apparently, this same pair had 2 cygnets last year, unbeknownst to most people (saw photos from October last year taken by camp owner). This year they have 1 cygnet. I’ve attached a picture. Woodland’s owner, Cathy, told me a representative came into the camp from the Trumpeter Swan Society and advised that this pair of swans have been named Smokey and the Bandit. One adult swan is tagged J07 and the other has no tag.

Barb Evett

Trumpeter Swans with cygnet – 2017 – Woodland Campsite on Buckhorn Lake – Barb Evett

 

Jul 222017
 

The average North American child can identify over 300 corporate logos, but only 10 native plants or animals – a telling indictment of our modern disconnection from the natural world. Even though children are born with an innate interest in nature, our society does little to nurture this predisposition. It is largely for this reason that Jacob Rodenburg, Executive Director of Camp Kawartha, and I decided four years ago to sit down and write a book to help address this problem.
Released just last week by New Society Publishers, “The Big Book of Nature Activities: A year-round guide to outdoor learning” sets out to answer the question “What can you do outside in nature?” In response, the book provides nearly 150 activities, including games, crafts, drama, and stories. It will also help young and old alike to become more aware of how the sights, sounds, smells, textures and tastes of the natural world change from one season to the next. The book is aimed at parents, grandparents, classroom teachers, outdoor educators and youth leaders of all kinds. Much of the information – and many of the activities – will also be of interest to adults, especially if you need to brush up on your own nature skills. Adults should also be interested in the extensive background information on evolution, citizen science projects, nature journaling, nature photography and how to make the most of digital technology,

The Big Book of Nature Activities

The Big Book of Nature Activities

Introduction

We begin the book by discussing the disconnection from nature that characterizes so much of modern society. In an increasingly urbanized world, our children are much more likely to experience the flickering a computer screen or the sounds of traffic than the rhythmic chorus of bird or insect song. And sadly, they can more easily identify corporate logos or cartoon characters than even a few tree or bird species. We therefore ask the questions: Where will tomorrow’s environmentalists and conservationists come from? Who will advocate for threatened habitats and endangered species? What are the impacts on one’s physical and emotional well-being from a childhood or adulthood spent mostly indoors? We then go on to discuss some of the consequences of what the environmental educator Richard Louv calls “Nature Deficit Disorder”.

The activities, species and events in nature, which are described in the book, cover an area extending from British Columbia and northern California in the west to the Atlantic Provinces and North Carolina in the east. This includes six ecological regions such as the Marine West Coast and the Eastern Temperate Forests. In other words, the book applies to most anywhere in North America where there are four seasons.

The introduction also provides ideas on how to raise a naturalist (hint: take your kids camping!), how to get kids outside, how children of different ages respond to nature, how nature can enhance our lives as adults and the importance of being able to identify and name the most common species. We provide lists of 100 continent-wide key species to learn – everything from birds and invertebrates to trees, shrubs and wildflowers – as well as about 50 key regional species. We also introduce the reader to three cartoon characters, namely Charles Darwin, Carl Sagan and Neil DeGrasse Tyson who will tell stories of the wonder of evolution and the universe throughout the book.

Charles Darwin cartoon character - Kady MacDonald Denton

Our Charles Darwin cartoon character gives examples of the wonder of evolution throughout the book – Kady MacDonald Denton

Basic Skills

Connecting to nature is easier when you have learned some basic skills. In this section, we provide hints for paying attention (be patient and slow down), how to engage all the senses (learn to maximize your sense of smell), how to lead a nature hike (have some “back-pocket” activities ready to go), nature-viewing and traveling games from a car or school bus (do a scavenger hunt), how to increase your chances of seeing wildlife (try sitting in one place), how to bring nature inside (set up a nature table), how to get involved in “citizen science” (start at scistarter.com) and how to connect with nature in the digital age (make the most of your smartphone and social media). The latter section is especially detailed. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, there are actually many ways in which digital technology can inspire people of all ages to explore nature and share their experiences with others.

We also provide information on the basics of birding; insect-watching (butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies and moths), plant identification, mushroom-hunting, getting to know the night sky, nature journaling, nature photography, and nature-based geo-caching. Additional basic skills are covered in the activities in the seasons chapters themselves. These include fish-watching, mammal-watching, amphibian- and reptile-watching and tree identification.

Key Concepts

The third chapter in “The Big Book of Nature Activities” deals with four important concepts, which help us to more fully understand and appreciate nature. We start by explaining why we have seasons, and how the tilt of Earth’s axis makes all the difference. This is followed by a discussion of phenology, which is the science of observing and recording “first events”- such as spring’s first lilac bloom or frog song. Next, we talk about how climate change is affecting different habitats and species, and why a connection with nature is so important in light of this threat. Finally, we discuss the importance of understanding evolution and how it is manifested in even the most common backyard species. Armed with a little knowledge of evolution, we can learn to appreciate the wonder that resides in all species, not just the charismatic ones. We also want children to know that science is just beginning to unravel many of the mysteries of evolution and the incredible stories it has revealed. Our Darwin cartoon character tells many of these stories. The good news for young scientists-to-be is that there’s so much we don’t yet understand

The book explains the basics of evolution and natural selection, without getting into the details of genetics. We then provide a story for young children on how evolution might work within a population of imaginary sand bugs. For older children and adults, we go on a “field trip of the imagination” in which we visit our ancestors, starting with our self, our grandfather, our great-grandfather, etc. and ending up at our 185-million-greats-grandfather who, by the way, would have been a fish! This section concludes with a shortened version of Big History, the evidence-based story that takes us from the Big Bang to the present, in which we humans are “star stuff pondering stars”.

The book contains over 400 illustrations.

Hundreds of drawings

 Seasons’ chapters

The four seasons’ chapters make up the heart of the book. Each begins with a summary of some of the key events in flora, fauna, weather and the sky. This includes events that occur across North America as well as happenings that are specific to each region. Most of the activities in the chapter relate to these events. This is followed by a seasonal poem to enjoy and maybe memorize; suggestions for what to display or collect for the nature table;

ideas about what to photograph or record in your nature journal; a short seasonal story called “What’s Wrong with the Scenario” in which you try to spot the mistakes; the story of Black Cap, the Chickadee, which takes you through a year in an individual chickadee’s life and includes activities; and ideas for what to do at your Magic Spot, a special nature-rich area close to home.

The final and largest section of the seasons’ chapters is called “Exploring the season: Things to do.” It comprises 50 or more activities to activate your five senses, keep track of seasonal change, explore evolution, and have fun discovering fascinating aspects of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, invertebrates, plants, fungi, weather and the night sky. We also offer up suggestions on how to make nature part of seasonal celebrations like Thanksgiving. Some of the activities include making a scent cocktail and touch bag, using a roll of toilet paper to create a history-of-life timeline, meeting the “beast” within you, a non-identification bird walk, a woodpecker drumming game, mammal-watching with a trail camera, observing spawning salmon, a frog song orchestra, exploring seaside beaches and tide pools, a “bee dance” drama game, conducting a pond study, “adopting” a tree to observe over an entire year, dissecting flowers, a fungi scavenger hunt, a classroom “hand-generated” thunderstorm, going on a night hike, making tin can constellations, creating your own moon phases, celebrating the winter and summer solstices, ideas for Earth Day, and more. Scattered throughout the activities are suggestions for getting involved in citizen science projects. The book concludes with an appendix with blackline masters for photocopying and a detailed index.

There are 16 pages of colour photos that link to some of the activities.

Sixteen pages of colour photos that link to some of the activities.

The book also contains several hundred drawings, most of which were done by talented Lakefield artist, Judy Hyland. Others were contributed by Kim Caldwell, Kady MacDonald Denton, Jean-Paul Efford and Heather Sadler (drawings by her late father, Doug Sadler). In the middle of the book, you will find a 16-page block of colour photos by the authors and others.

“The Big Book of Nature Activities” is available at Happenstance Books and Yarns at 44 Queen Street in Lakefield (705-652-7535), at Camp Kawartha (1010 Birchview Road, Douro-Dummer), at Chapters (Landsowne Street west in Peterborough) and online at Chapters.Indigo.ca and Amazon.ca. It would make a great end of school year gift. The cost is $39.95. A book launch hosted by Happenstance will be held on July 24, from 2-4 p.m. at the Camp Kawartha Environment Centre at 2505 Pioneer Road. For more details and regular updates about the book, please go to drewmonkman.com. The authors can be reached by email at dmonkman1@cogeco.ca and jrodenburg@campkawartha.ca

 

 

 

 

Jul 222017
 

Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) (1)
– Reported Jul 20, 2017 14:50 by Ian Sturdee
– 5997–5999 Highway 7, Havelock-Belmont-Methuen CA-ON (44.4328,-77.8960), Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist:
– Comments: “Flew over road while I was driving. Identified by shape, size and overall colouring including streaked underparts. Had a good look under the scenario. ”

NOTE: Jeff Teller found a dead Least Bittern on the roadside on June 27, 2017. It was 100 – 200 feet east of the gate to the Cavan Monaghan Transfer Station on Syer Line, which is the line that runs west off County Road 28 at Fraserville. He took a photo of the bird.

dead Least Bittern – Jeff Teller – June 27, 2017 – Syer Line at Transfer Station

 

Jul 212017
 

This spring (2017) I had a unique opportunity to photograph a Snapping Turtle that was unaware of my presence and as a result I was able for the first time to capture one with its neck fully extended and travelling at “top speed” (for a turtle). For years in the past I have taken lots of pictures (especially laying eggs), but every time I approach them they will lay down and pull their neck into their shell. I often noticed them at a distance stopping to “periscope” in long grass before they travelled along. Close-up shots had always eluded me, until now.

Rick Stankiewicz, Keene

Snapping Turtle – Rick Stankiewicz

Snapping Turtle 2 – Rick Stankiewicz

Jul 172017
 

I had a great day in the field on July 7. I was in the Lily Lake area and found a Green Heron NEST with three fuzzy herons, as well as eggshells. Later, I found what I think is a Porcupine den.

I also collected a few sedges and a rush from various locations in the Kawarthas. The species have yet to be identified.

Erin McGauley

Green Heron nest – Lily Lake area – June 2017 – Erin McGauley

Green Heron (Don McLeod)

Porcupine den in tree – Lily Lake – Erin McGauley

 

 

Unidentified sedge – July 7, 2017 – Erin McGauley

Unidentified sedge – July 7, 2017 – Erin McGauley

Unidentified sedge- July 7, 2017 – Erin McGauley

Unidentified sedge – July 7, 2017 – Erin McGauley

Unidentified rush – July 7, 2017 – Erin McGauley

Jul 142017
 

This is a series of photos from Rick Stankiewicz of a Common Green Darner emerging from the nymphal case. Enjoy!

Common Green Darner nymph which has just climbed up out of the water – Rick Stankiewicz

Adult emerging from nymphal case – Rick Stankiewicz

All the way out now!  – Rick Stankiewicz

Think I’ll stretch a bit! – Rick Stankiewicz

Now, let’s let these wings dry! (Note: This was a different individual, hence the different background) – Rick Stankiewicz

 

Jul 142017
 

In the spring of 1940 the countryside around Invermay, Saskatchewan, had an historic Forest Tent Caterpillar infestation.  I was 11 years old and have very clear memories of that time.  By the end of May the leaves in all the trees, almost all white poplar (aspen), and all bushes had been eaten.  It looked like fall.  Two memories stand out.  On the way to town with my dad, we saw telephone poles black with caterpillars.  I remember there were so many on the train tracks that the huge steam engine had to use sand normally used in the winter, when the tracks were icy because the drive wheels were slipping on the caterpillars.

One of my chores was to ride horseback to find the milk cows to bring them in the night milking.  It was raining and when I got home my mother put me in the washtub to wash the caterpillars out of my hair, and all my clothes were put into the washing hamper.

In June the trees and bushes all budded and put out new leaves, and we had spring all over again.  I don’t know what happened in 1941 because we sold the farm and moved to Ontario.

Keith McKerracher

Forest Tent Caterpillar defoliation of aspens – Government of Manitoba

Forest Tent Caterpillar (separated “snowmen” down the back) – Wikimedia

Jul 142017
 

For three years now, I have had these Trumpeter Swans across from our home in a bay near Woodland Camp Site on Buckhorn Lake. I know that they have been reported in previous years to your site. They have been here for at least the past 1 1/2 months.  I took these pictures on May 31st 2017.
I have attached a few of the pictures. The one with a yellow tag was here last year, J07.

NOTE:  In July, we spotted the swans with one cygnet. Unfortunately too far away for a picture.

John Deyell, 705 657 3568

Trumpeter Swan – May 2017 – John Deyell – Woodland Campground

Jul 142017
 

I recommend calling Pelee Wings 1-877-326-5193 in Leamington, Ontario,  and speaking to one of the sales people (true experts!). They will recommend a pair and ship them to you. If you don’t like them, they can be returned and they’ll ship another model. I like the Nikon Monarch series of binoculars but there’s lots of other great makes. This is where I bought mine. They have a huge selection and the prices are the best you’ll find anywhere. Usually they have some models on sale.

 

Jul 132017
 

Our very “skittish” and shy Red-headed Woodpecker has returned. I saw it for the first time this years on July 9, but didn’t have a camera handy. However, on July 11, I was ready. This picture was taken looking through our window into our backyard. The feeder hangs from the eave of our porch.

Red-headed Woodpecker – July 11, 2017 – Northey’s Bay Road – Dennis Johnson

Jul 102017
 

I live in Ennismore on 4 acres in a century home. The article you wrote about declining bat populations and White Nose Syndrome is old but I thought I’d reach out to you since I found it interesting and I’ve got bats – Little Brown Bats, I think. They’re living in my barn which is probably typical for this area, but I’ve also got them in my soffit and behind a pillar at the front of my house. I’m a nature lover and don’t want to hurt them, I wouldn’t mind building a few bat houses if that would entice them out of the soffit.

David Hrivnak (Dave@prismdev.ca)

Note from Paul Elliott, a local bat expert: “Bats very rarely cause any damage to the structure of a house. They only use available access points and spaces and are incapable of gnawing through stuff and so on. Their droppings are very dry and they produce only small amounts of urine because their opportunities for drinking are limited. The only circumstance in which the droppings may become a problem is if the space they are in is not watertight. A leaky roof can cause the guano to become moldy and smelly. As long as your roof is sound, you should not have any problems. Thanks for caring about bats.

Little Brown Bat with White Nose Syndrome (US Geological Survey)

 

Jul 092017
 

We had a pleasant surprise on Canada Day. A Snapping Turtle laid her eggs in our graveled turning circle in full view of the house windows. We watched her for about 50 minutes starting about 9:30 am though we don’t know how long she had been labouring. Interestingly, once she had covered the nest she proceeded to walk round the site, closely resembling a figure of eight movement, seemingly sniffing the air a few times before heading off back to the river. Had she briefly lost her sense of direction after her long labours and was searching for the scent of water? The nest is now well covered with chicken wire held firmly in place by a line of rocks. Later that day, around 6 pm, what looked like a doe and a juvenile male White-tailed Deer with sprouting antlers also paid us a visit.

Stephenie Armstrong, Warsaw

Snapping Turtle – July 1, 2017 – Stephenie Armstrong

Snapper nest protected with chicken wire – Stephenie Armstrong – July 1, 2017

White-tailed Deer – Stephenie Armstrong – July 1, 2017

Jul 082017
 

I captured these photos during an early morning kayak outing on Lower Buckhorn Lake on the weekend of June 24. The Eastern Kingbird kept tossing the dragonfly (a skimmer) into the air, seemingly to kill it. I was struck with the size of the dragonfly.

Robin Williams Blake

Eastern Kingbird tossing skimmer dragonfly into the air – Robin Blake – June 24, 2017

 

Jul 062017
 

I have been watching two dark brown juvenile Bald Eagles for three mornings now, sitting on and beside a high nest  in a white pine in Wolf Island Provincial Park on Lower Buckhorn Lake.  They glared at me for about 15 minutes but never left. One of them was in the nest, then sat on the branch with the other one for 10 minutes, then back into the nest, which was getting nice morning sunlight around 9 am. I was in a canoe.

The nest has been there for two or three years. I’ve dropped a Google maps pin in the nest location, and hope it shows you the right spot (big white pine). I can watch the nest from the lake side, and from deep in the bay on the north side, but lakeside is better.

There is now a heronry with three Great Blue Heron nests on Three Islands (west of the eagles) where Ospreys used to nest.
Janet Duval, Deer Bay Reach Road

Juvenile Bald Eagle – Drew Monkman

 

Jul 062017
 

Do you have a pollinator garden? Would you consider registering the garden in the Peterborough Pollinators 150+ Garden Challenge? Our goal is to register 150+ gardens in Peterborough and area. This is a celebration of both the importance of pollinators and of Canada’s 150th birthday. If you register before the end of August 2017, you will also receive a free sign (see below) and a 2017 Peterborough Pollinators calendar. The calendar is a treasure-trove of information on pollinators and local garden resources.

Be sure to register your pollinator garden in the Peterborough Pollinators 150 Garden Challenge – Drew Monkman

Cover of Peterborough Pollinator’s new 2017 calendar (photo by Ben Wolfe)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A pollinator garden is simply one that takes into account the needs of pollinators – bees, moths, beetles, butterflies and hummingbirds – by providing nectar and pollen. In doing so, the garden should be pesticide free, include plants of different colours, shapes and sizes, offer species that bloom from spring through fall, include a variety of native plants and provide some other habitat features such as a water source, bee nesting sites and larval plants such as milkweed for Monarch Butterfly caterpillars. If you feel that your garden meets at least three of these criteria OR you are willing to work towards meeting three or more criteria, please register at peterboroughpollinators.com/register

After you register, you can pick up your sign and calendar at GreenUp Ecology Park (weekends 10 to 4 pm & Thursdays 12-6 pm), located next to Beavermead Park on Ashburnham Drive. You will also receive a 10% reduction on the purchase of native plants. Alternatively, we can deliver them.

For more information, please visit peterboroughpollinators.com or send us an email Thank you for doing your part to help protect pollinators, and we look forward to seeing the sign proudly displayed in your garden.  Please invite friends with pollinator gardens to participate, as well!

Common Eastern Bumble Bee nectaring on apple blossoms – Margot Hughes

Green sweat bee on sundrop blossom – Drew Monkman