Jan 282018
 

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) (1)
– Reported Feb 02, 2018 15:30 by Iain Rayner
– Ptbo – Hannah Rd, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Media: 7 Photos
– Comments: “Cracking views of Adult flying over road near Hwy 28. Watched for 5 minutes as it was kiting to the S and then slowly glided to the N not too far above trees. Golden nape visible, long tail-short head. No white at base of tail or at base of primaries. For the first few seconds I thought it was a dark RLHA as it was kiting, the golden head looked pale in the light, the dark carpal marks contrasted with paler flight feathers, and the tail looked like it had a broad terminal band…but then it turned showing size and broad eagle shaped wings(although not as barn board like as BAEA). It proceeded to put on a fantastic show for 5 minutes and came close enough for decent pictures.”

Adult Golden Eagle photographed at Petroglyph Provincial Park (Tim Dyson)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Feb 01, 2018 09:11 by Donald A. Sutherland
– Peterborough–King St just W George St, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S42415089
– Comments: “adult, unsuccessfully chasing around a dozen pigeons low over King Street Parking Garage and 150 and 151 King St; flew W landing on communications towers atop Charlotte Towers (245 Charlotte St.).”

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Feb 01, 2018 08:03 by Iain Rayner
– Peterborough–Millennium Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S42407446
– Comments: “Sitting on antenna atop Charlotte Towers”

Peregrine eating Rock Pigeon – PRHC – Jan. 13, 2015 – Loree Stephens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) (1)
– Reported Jan 28, 2018 16:45 by Dave Milsom
– Peterborough–Harper Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “seen flying out of giant white pine near auto wreckers yard.”

Great Horned Owl – Fleming Campus in Peterborough – Drew Monkman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) (2) CONFIRMED
– Reported Jan 28, 2018 15:39 by Kim Zippel
– Peterborough–Harper Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “We listened to 4-5 sessions of calls at dusk each lasting 1-3 minutes, separated by about 3-5 minutes. During one session a second owl joined in so there were definately two. A saw-whet was reported very close to this site within the past few days.”

NSWO – Warsaw – Tim Dyson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My wife, 3 kids, 3 dogs and I just moved to Buckhorn from Toronto at Christmas. We live in the bush on a slab of Canadian  Shield nestled in a gorgeous forest. My dogs discovered on January 10 of this year that we share the forest with numerous animals including (unfortunately for my curious pointers, who discovered her the hard way) this big Porcupine out of her den taking in some milder weather.   Justin Michaelov, Buckhorn

Porcupine – Buckhorn – Jan. 10, 2018 – Justin Michaelov

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, Jan. 28, I captured a picture of these two Trumpeter Swans on my lake today. The milder weather seems to be bringing out more waterfowl.  Laurie McLaughlin-Maveal, Lake Katchewanooka

Trumpeter Swans – Jan. 28, 2018 – Lake Katchewanooka – Laurie McLaughlin-Maveal

Jan 262018
 

Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2018 16:15:21 -0500
From: Fred Helleiner <fhelleiner@trentu.ca>
To: ontbirds birdalert <birdalert@ontbirds.ca>,
“webcomm@friendsofpresquile.on.ca” <webcomm@friendsofpresquile.on.ca>
Subject: [Ontbirds] Presqu’ile Birding Report for Week Ending January
25, 2018.
Message-ID: <80e03963-2d64-95e2-e222-26808819d78c@trentu.ca>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8; format=flowed

Most of the birds seen at Presqu’ile Provincial Park in the past week
are species that one might expect in winter, but as usual a few that
have normally migrated further south have also appeared.

Whereas in previous years MUTE SWANS are in Presqu’ile Bay by the
hundreds, recently there have been only a dozen or so even when there is
plenty of open water. REDHEADS have been coming and going according to
the ice conditions, with over 100 on some days and none on other days.
Last year a few CANVASBACKS wintered at Presqu’ile but the first
significant increase in their numbers occurred on January 27 after three
days of mild weather. Perhaps a few will arrive this weekend. A few
(up to half a dozen) WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS can usually be found between
Salt Point and the lighthouse. Seven COMMON MERGANSERS were off the
government dock on Sunday. Not unexpectedly, many of the relatively
uncommon birds that have kept showing up in recent weeks have also been
sighted this week. They include WILD TURKEYS, BALD EAGLES (up to six at
once), SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, COOPER’S HAWK, SNOWY OWLS (at least three on
the offshore islands and one near Salt Point), RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS,
PILEATED WOODPECKERS (three in one day), NORTHERN SHRIKE (at the calf
pasture), BROWN CREEPERS, and COMMON RAVENS (up to four in one day).
There was a report of a NORTHERN FLICKER, which is not a common bird in
the Park in winter. A lone HORNED LARK was again seen on Gull Island on
Friday, this time in the company of the usual flock of SNOW BUNTINGS.
Singles of the long-awaited PINE SISKINS have finally arrived. The
feeders at 83 Bayshore Road have attracted a few welcome over-wintering
birds in the past few days: SONG SPARROW, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW,
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD.

Male Redhead – Wikimedia

White-winged Scoter on Otonabee River – Tom Northey – Feb. 2, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To reach Presqu’ile Provincial Park, follow the signs from Brighton.
Locations within the Park are shown on a map at the back of a tabloid
that is available at the Park gate. Visitors to Gull Island not using a
boat should be aware that the ice between Owen Point and the islandmay
or may not support the weight of a human. They may also encounter
aslippery coating of ice on the rocks. Ice cleats are recommended.
Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird
sightingsboard provided near the campground office by The Friends of
Presqu’ilePark and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed
there.

Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu’ile may be
directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA <mailto:FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA>.

Jan 222018
 

On my way home from a friend’s this evening at dusk (Jan. 27 – 4:45pm) while driving through pouring rain on Co. Rd. 38 between the Dummer-Asphodel Road and Webster Road south of Warsaw, an immature Snowy Owl suddenly appeared flying along beside me at about hydro line height. It then turned and crossed the road ahead of me and came to land briefly on a utility pole, before taking flight gain and heading far out to the west until it finally disappeared from my view. This was my third of the winter and first of 2018. The one photo I snapped off doesn’t show much of anything good enough for posting. Hmm… three Snowies and still no good pictures. Will keep watching and hoping! Tim Dyson, Warsaw

Immature Snowy Owl (Karl Egressy)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bird chatter when filling feeders

I was filling my bird feeders this morning (Jan. 25), and I noted that once I had started there was a good deal of bird chatter.  Would they be communicating with each other to say “she’s filling the feeder, let’s eat”?  I’ve experienced this a few times now.  The chatter stops, lasting maybe 10 seconds or so.  Once I close my door, I noted that the birds wait, and once they feel I’m gone they go at the feeders. I have the usual birds – chickadees, finches, cardinals, etc.  Sue Ramey

NOTE: Please send me an email if you’ve noticed this phenomenon yourself. D.M. (dmonkman1@cogeco.ca)

Northern Cardinal – by Ruthanne-Sobiera

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) (3)
– Reported Jan 24, 2018 12:45 by Scott McKinlay
– 120 Fradette Avenue, Peterborough, Ontario, CA (44.287, -78.311), Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Continuing birds along this stretch of the Otonabee. 2 males 1 female.”

Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) (1)
– Reported Jan 24, 2018 16:40 by Basil Conlin
– Peterborough–Harper Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “giving tremolo call frequently for ten minutes near entrance to park”

Eastern Screech-owl – red phase – 9th Line of Selwyn Twsp – March 11, 2017, Kathy McCue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) (2)
– Reported Jan 24, 2018 16:40 by Basil Conlin
– Peterborough–Harper Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “very vocal pair”

Great Horned Owl at dusk (Luke Berg)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) (2)
– Reported Jan 24, 2018 16:40 by Basil Conlin
– Peterborough–Harper Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “two individuals, one calling very loudly from cedars near Holy Cross, another calling loudly from cedars near trail head. Both birds could be heard hooting back and forth for 35 minutes beginning at 5pm”   LISTEN HERE

Saw-whet Owl banding – Wikimedia

Northern Saw-whet Owl – Kelly Simmonds – March 24, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On January 21, I came across an immature Red-tailed Hawk eating a Gray Squirrel on the side of Golfview Road, beside the Kawartha Golf and Country Club and right behind the Clonsilla Ave. fire station. It sure scared the jogger who happened by! The hawk wouldn’t give up his squirrel and flew off with it into the woods. Mark Scriver

Immature Red-tailed Hawk eating Gray Squirrel – Jan. 21, 2018 – Golfview Rd. – Mark Scriver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have two Sandhill Cranes that I’ve seen twice and heard once in the past week. I have cranes here every spring, summer and fall, but am surprised that they’d be around at this time of the year.  Leo Condon, 947 Douro 4th Line 

Sandhill Cranes – Wendy Leszkowicz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Jan 23, 2018 07:49 by Scott Gibson
– Downtown – Robinson Place roof, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “feeding on pigeon on corner of roof”

Peregrine perched on steel girder – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) (1)
– Reported Jan 22, 2018 08:50 by Ben Taylor
– Peterborough–Beavermead Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S42155983
– Comments: “Continuing bird,”

Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) (2)
– Reported Jan 21, 2018 14:12 by Chris Risley
– Peterborough–Little Lake Cemetery, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S42151124
– Comments: “Continuing birds: male and female”

Female Red-breasted Merganser (Karl Egressy)

Red-breasted Merganser on Otonabee River -Tom Northey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) (1)
– Reported Jan 21, 2018 14:20 by Chris Risley
– Peterborough–Otonabee River (Lock 19), Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S42151121
– Comments: “Continuing bird. Only male seen, among mallards just below lock on west side of river”

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) (2)
– Reported Jan 21, 2018 16:15 by René Gareau
– Peterborough–Harper Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Heard an owl calling, and 20 min. later located two great horned owls approx. 50 ft up a tree in north-east portion of Harper Park (south of Holy Cross school running track) at approx. 5:00 p.m. on Jan. 21.” 

Great Horned Owl – Karl Egressy

Harper Park in the south end of Peterborough is a natural treasure – Drew Monkman

Jan 212018
 

Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) (1)
– Reported Jan 20, 2018 14:00 by Alexandra Israel
– Lang Area, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S42106339
– Media: 1 Photo
– Comments: “Alerted by mobbing chickadees. Only general location given.”

Northern Saw-whet Owl (Dave Heuft)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gray Jay (Northern) (Perisoreus canadensis [canadensis Group]) (1)
– Reported Jan 20, 2018 10:14 by Kenneth G.D. Burrell
– Kawartha Nordic Ski Club trails, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S42093450
– Comments: “Called a few times, Lill spotted it along Trillium just north of Wolf Pond(?). Pretty unexpected!”

Gray Jay -Tom Northey Algonquin Park – March 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had 16 Purple Finches on my property on January 19.  Don Munro, Campbellford

Purple Finch (male) – Karl Egressy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White-winged Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera) (4)
– Reported Jan 18, 2018 11:00 by Scott McKinlay
– Kawartha Nordic Ski Club trails, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S42053565
– Comments: “On the Adam Scott trail. They were singing the varied pitch song from spruce trees next to the trail before flying off.”

White-winged Crossbill (female) – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) (2)
– Reported Jan 18, 2018 11:00 by Scott McKinlay
– Kawartha Nordic Ski Club trails, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Good views of a male and female that were responding to pishing by calling continuously and flying back and forth between three white pine trees that surrounded me. There was no white at all for either bird on the solid dark wings. The gip gip gip calls were in groups of 2 to 6. These were located about 1/3 of the way along the PT trail, travelling east to west.”

Red Crossbill – male – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) (2)
– Reported Jan 19, 2018 12:30 by Tim Haan
– 158 George Street North, Peterborough, Ontario, CA (44.299, -78.318), Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Both male and female near the train bridge”

Pair of Northern Pintail – Karl Egressy

 

 

 

 

 

Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) (3)
– Reported Jan 16, 2018 08:07 by Daniel Williams
– Peterborough–Beavermead Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41958892
– Comments: “Males. Flyover. ”

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) (1)
– Reported Jan 16, 2018 09:44 by Scott Gibson
– 288 Scriven Road, Bailieboro, Ontario, CA (44.146, -78.313), Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41959644
– Media: 2 Photos
– Comments: “top of hill in tree beside rd. pics.”

I had a couple of firsts today: first time skiing and first Snowy Owl of the winter. I saw an eBird posting at 11:15 this morning (January 16) and immediately twitched out to see the bird at 11:30 on Scriven Line. I also, watched about 100 Snow buntings for 20 minutes but couldn’t find one Lapland Longspur. Michael Gillespie

Snow Bunting (from Crossley ID Guide)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) (1)
– Reported Jan 15, 2018 09:05 by Chris Risley
– Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Black head and back with barred sides, hammering on and peeling bark from a red pine. Spotted about 300 meters beyond the park gate.”

Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) (3)
– Reported Jan 15, 2018 15:17 by Toby Rowland
– Peterborough–Otonabee River (Lock 19), Peterborough, Ontario
– Map: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=p&z=13&q=44.2879468,-78.3082509&ll=44.2879468,-78.3082509
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41943549
– Comments: “Continuing three slightly worn males just below the lock”

Red-breasted Merganser (male) – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) (1)
– Reported Jan 14, 2018 16:00 by Colin Jones
– Peterborough–Little Lake, Peterborough, Ontario
– Map: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=p&z=13&q=44.2965341,-78.3105472&ll=44.2965341,-78.3105472
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41908174
– Comments: “Sitting on the water fountain structure in the middle of the lake. Found earlier in the day by Warren Dunlop.”

Ruffed Grouse: I read your recent column on the winter bird counts. What you say about grouse is accurate. I saw one grouse today, whereas normally I would scare up six. The most I have ever seen in one group decades ago was 18 on a rainy day because they don’t like to fly when they are wet. Mel Fee, Cavan

Ruffed Grouse – Parry Sound – via Rob Moos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruffed Grouse: I wanted to comment on the grouse mystery. Growing up on a farm in the 50 & 60s we did hunt locally and there were always an abundance of grouse, hares, jacks and cottontails. Habitat has been reduced in some areas but not in others so what has changed? Coyotes have arrived in great numbers all across southern Ontario. We continually have tracks in our yard. Along with a very healthy Red Fox population I believe that anything nesting on the ground doesn’t have much of a chance. Would be interested to know if other ground nesting birds such as the Killdeer have seen declines. Always enjoy your columns and just to let you know I stopped hunting 50 years ago.  Al Mace, Westview Dr. Omemee

Jan 192018
 

Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2018 21:10:57 -0500
From: Ron Tozer <rtozer@vianet.ca>
To: ontbirds <birdalert@ontbirds.ca>
Subject: [Ontbirds] Algonquin Park Birding Report: 18 January 2018
Message-ID: <9EB826CE-F822-457A-BD69-C0D6961B2718@vianet.ca>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”UTF-8″

As an ?old guy? myself, I was pleased when the male Spruce Grouse that was colour-banded in 2009 and is now at least 10 years old was photographed at Spruce Bog Boardwalk on January 14. According to Birds of North America, the estimated annual survival rate of male Spruce Grouse (canadensis subspecies) is just 38 to 44%. The oldest recorded age for a Spruce Grouse is 13 years. Readers may also recall that a Northern Goshawk successfully preyed on at least one Spruce Grouse at Spruce Bog Boardwalk in January last year, so living there for 10 years or more is quite an accomplishment.

January 19 will be this winter’s first Bird Feeder Friday when feeders at the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre are broadcast live on the internet from 9 am to 4 pm. Multiple views allow you to watch for common bird and mammal species. This live video feed is brought to you by The Friends of Algonquin Park. A special thanks to Wild Birds Unlimited Toronto for providing bird feeders and seed for the Visitor Centre. To see the broadcast, click HERE.

 

Here are some locations where birders observed the listed species during the past week:

-Spruce Grouse: three or four were in large conifers near the start of the first short boardwalk at Spruce Bog Boardwalk.

-Ruffed Grouse: continue to be seen along the Visitor Centre driveway and under the feeders below the viewing deck.

-Wild Turkey: up to nine are still coming daily to the Visitor Centre parking lot feeder, and two continue in Mew Lake Campground.

-Black-backed Woodpecker: a female was reported along Opeongo Road on January 15.

-Gray Jay: Opeongo Road, Spruce Bog Boardwalk and the Logging Museum are the best places to see them.

-Boreal Chickadee: the only report was of one heard briefly on Spruce Bog Boardwalk, January 14. They have not been utilizing the suet feeder there this winter.

-American Marten: two continued to come to the Visitor Centre feeders fairly regularly.

Winter finches remain widespread, with most species being seen regularly but in moderate numbers.

-Pine Grosbeak: the only report this week involved two on Opeongo Road, January 14.

-Purple Finch: regular but not numerous, although 29 were counted at the Visitor Centre on January 16.

-Red Crossbill: about six have been regular off the Visitor Centre viewing deck early each morning, with some larger flocks often seen on the highway.

-White-winged Crossbill: typical observations were of five or fewer birds, but they are seen regularly. Listen for their distinctive calls.

-Common Redpoll: no reports received this week.

-Pine Siskin: up to 15 at the Visitor Centre feeders, and some larger flocks seeking grit and salt on the highway.

-American Goldfinch: flocks frequently noted on the highway, and up to about 20 were regular at the Visitor Centre feeders.

-Evening Grosbeak: up to 35 continue to come to the Visitor Centre feeders daily.

Ron Tozer, Algonquin Park Naturalist (retired), Dwight, ON.

DIRECTIONS: Algonquin Provincial Park is three hours north of Toronto, via Highways 400, 11 and 60. Follow the signs which start in Toronto on Highway 400. From Ottawa, take Highway 17 to Renfrew, then follow Highway 60 to the park. Kilometre markers along Highway 60 in the Park go from the West Gate (km 0) to near the East Gate (km 56). The Visitor Centre exhibits and restaurant at km 43 are open on weekends from 9 am to 5 pm, and are also open with limited services through the week from 9 am to 4 pm. Get your park permit and Information Guide (with a map of birding locations mentioned above) at the East Gate, West Gate or Visitor Centre. Locations are also described at: www.algonquinpark.on.ca

Jan 192018
 

We have been getting a pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers for the last 2 years. We also had a sighting of a Red-headed Woodpecker this past September (2017). I feed all year so we get a lot of different birds here. I also sighted a pair of Sandhill Cranes in September. We are just north of Millbrook on Fallis Line. Ab Parsons

Red-headed Woodpecker – May 28, 2017 – Buckhorn Lake -Nima Taghaboni

Virginia Opossum in Ennismore – 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virginia Opossums: We have 3 opossums living in our garage/hut –  a father, mother and baby. The male is a big white one; the female is grey and the baby is grey. The baby is about half the size of the mother. We live near Rice Lake on Wood Duck Drive on the north shore of Rice Lake. They are wandering around probably in the wooded area behind us which is owned by Southview Cottages. Sandy Kirkland

Virginia Opossum – Rice Lake – Jan. 2018 – Sandy Kirkwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) (1)
– Reported Jan 10, 2018 10:30 by Ryan Hill
– Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “just off main road, a bit north of the gate”

Black-backed Woodpecker – Wikimedia

 

 

Red_Crossbill – male – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) (3)
– Reported Jan 10, 2018 10:30 by Ryan Hill
– Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

White-winged Scoter (Melanitta fusca) (1)
– Reported Jan 10, 2018 14:48 by Toby Rowland
– Lakefield- Lakefield Marshland, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41807307
– Comments: “Continuing female WWSC from the report yesterday. Amongst mixed male and female COGO – will add photos ”

White-winged Scoter on Otonabee River – Tom Northey – Feb. 2, 2014

Male Red-breasted Merganser (Karl Egressy)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) (1)
– Reported Jan 09, 2018 15:33 by Chris Risley
– Peterborough–Little Lake Cemetery, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41804772
– Comments: “long bill, green head, shaggy back of head, brown breast band; swimming in open water opposite Beavermead Park”

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) (1)
– Reported Jan 10, 2018 15:30 by Ben Taylor
– feeder on County Rod 6, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “continuing bird at house at 3372 County Road Six. Actively feeding at feeder”

Sparrow-like female Rose-breasted Grosbeak – Cindy Bartoli

Male White-winged Crossbill – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White-winged Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera) (4)
– Reported Jan 10, 2018 09:30 by Chris Risley
– Kawartha Nordic Ski Area, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Heard and then saw flying over trees. Distinctive chips checked with recording online. Familiar with these chips”

On January 9, we had 15 American Robins at our house in Campbellford.  Donald Munro

American Robins feeding on Wild Grape – Beavermead Park – Feb. 7, 2016 – Helen & Larry Keller –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While having morning coffee, this Cooper’s Hawk swept down to the deck and caught a Mourning Dove having a drink at the heated bird bath. Took over an hour for her to finish her meal and leave.  Sue Paradisis 

Cooper’s Hawk eating Mourning Dove – January 2018 – Sue Paradisis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-winged Blackbird, male, spotted in the morning on January 12th, at my feeder on George Street in Lakefield. Don’t usually see these until March! John Dandrea

Red-winged Blackbirds – Dec. 23, 2017 – Fife Line _ Michael Gillespie

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker – Campbellford – January 2017 – Donald Munro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-bellied Woodpecker: (Observed Jan. 7, 2018) We live at the corner of Centre Road and County Rd 32, aka River Road. This is the first Red-bellied for us. Luba Klama

Jan 182018
 

Exploring the characteristics of twigs and buds is a great winter pastime     

After the dramatic reds, oranges and yellows of fall leaves, it’s easy to think that the seemingly barren trees of winter offer little of interest. Fortunately, for those of us who enjoy winter botanizing, the trees are anything but barren. A closer look reveals that they are adorned with buds, tiny jewels that harbour the promise of spring. Better still, they provide a surefire way to identify the tree. All that’s needed are observant eyes – a curious nose can help, too – and some knowledge of what species grow in our area.

Although we tend not to notice them until autumn when the leaves have fallen, the buds of most species have been present since summer. Stored within three kinds of buds, the tree’s entire future lies in waiting. Leaf buds contain embryonic stems and leaves – miniaturized, folded and pressed together like the tiniest and tightest of parachutes. They are biding their time, waiting for their turn to capture sunlight and manufacture food. Flower buds, as their name suggests, contain one or more flowers. We often forget that trees are flowering plants in the same way as roses and tulips. As such, they produce flowers whose goal it is to produce seeds and assure a new generation. Flower buds are generally larger than leaf buds, sometimes differently shaped (e.g., red and silver maples) and often located at the tip of the twig (terminal bud). Finally, trees also have mixed buds, which house all three structures – undeveloped stems, leaves and flowers. It’s usually necessary to dissect a given bud to know exactly what is hidden inside.

Bud biology

Although trees can usually be identified by their overall shape and by characteristics of the bark, buds provide a much more reliable means of identification. The starting point for understanding buds is to be able to recognize the twig, the part of the branch where the buds are located. The twig is the section at the end of each branch that constitutes the previous year’s growth. A twig’s point of origin is marked by a distinctive, ring-like node around the branch and a change in the colour and smoothness of the bark. The node is where the scales of the previous year’s terminal bud fell off and left several lines encircling the twig. For this reason, it is called a bud scale scar. To see how much the twig grew last year, measure the distance from the tip of the twig to the first bud scale scar. You can usually find the bud scale scars from two and three years ago, as well.

Bud arrangement is critical information in species identification. Because buds form in the angle between the stem and the stalk of the leaf, both leaves and buds have the same arrangement on the twig. In opposite arrangement, the buds on the sides of the twig (lateral buds) are located directly across from each other. In alternate arrangement, they are staggered singly at intervals along the twig. Only a few genera of trees and shrubs have opposite buds and leaves. This makes their identification easy. They include honeysuckle, ash, maple, lilac, viburnum, elderberry and dogwood. Just about all of the other tree and shrub species are alternate. The following mnemonic (memory aid) that I devised – which unintentionally sounds like a rallying call for animals rights – may be helpful in remembering these seven groups: HAM LIVED! Each genera or group corresponds to one letter in the mnemonic; lilac corresponds to LI. Start by learning the opposite buds, especially maple, ash and dogwood, and then move on to some of the common and distinctive alternate species like poplar, elm and willow.

Opposite buds (H=honeysuckle, A=ash, M=maple, LI=lilac, V=viburnum, E=elderberry, D=Dogwood) Alternate Basswood buds on far right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you take a closer look at a bud, you will notice that it is covered with scales. These structures, which are usually leathery and sometimes hairy, serve to protect the embryonic leaves and flowers from the elements. The number, shape and arrangement of the bud scales are different for each species of tree. Beneath the scales, you will sometimes find tiny hairs, which provide additional protection to the bud’s precious cargo. Pussy willow buds are a well-known example of this feature.

Leaf scar and bundle scars of horse-chestnut – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below each bud, you will also see a leaf scar. It marks the location where last summer’s leaf was attached. The scar therefore corresponds in shape to the base of the leaf stem. Each tree species has its own characteristic leaf scar, almost like the tree’s fingerprint. In red maples, the scar is U-shaped, while in white ash there is usually a deep notch in the scar. You may need a small hand lens to see this. If you look carefully at a leaf scar, you will see tiny markings known as bundle scars where veins passed from the stem of the leaf into the twig. These veins carried water into the leaf and food – made through photosynthesis – back out into the twig and to the rest of the tree. In some species – black walnut, for example – the leaf scar looks like a little face.

Flower bud opening on Norway Maple – Drew Monkman

Leaf buds of Manitoba Maple opening up – Drew Monkman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A primer

Let’s look at the buds and twigs of some familiar, easy-to-find species. You might want to go outside and gather these or use Google Images as a visual reference.

1. Sugar maple: Shiny, reddish-brown twigs with opposite buds. Buds are brown and conical, almost looking like upside down ice-cream cones, minus the ice cream. Covered by 6-8 pairs of scales, which are arranged in staggered rows. Large terminal bud. V-shaped leaf scar, containing 3 bundle scars.

2. Red oak: Reddish brown twigs with alternate buds. Buds are reddish-brown with 10 or more bud scales. Terminal buds form a cluster. Leaf scar is a semi-circle with numerous, scattered bundle scars.

3. American basswood: Light-brown, smooth twigs of zigzag shape. Buds are reddish, plump and opposite. 2-3 bud scales of unequal size. Leaf scar is semi-circular with 3 bundle scars.

4. Balsam poplar: My favourite winter buds! Narrow, long, pointed alternate buds with 4 leaf scales. Terminal bud larger, up to 25 mm, with 5 scales. Leaf scar roughly circular with 3 bundle scars. All buds are resinous and exude the smell of spring when rolled between your fingers.

Numerous guides for winter tree identification can be found online. Just Google “winter tree identification Ontario”. I especially like “Appendix C Winter Tree ID”, which should come up first in the search results.

Activities

1. What’s inside? Try opening some buds to see what’s hidden below the scales. Lilac and horse-chestnut buds work especially well. Using tweezers or just your fingers, try peeling back the scales and unfolding the contents. Count the tiny leaves inside. A hand lens will come in handy. Can you already see what shape the leaves are? Children are often amazed to see so many miniscule leaves are hidden inside such a small object. Large lilac and horse-chestnut buds may have tiny, pre-formed flowers inside. For small children, try cutting open some Brussels’ sprouts, which are actually large, immature leaf buds containing tightly overlapping leaves.

2. A twig collection: Collect the twigs of the most common trees and shrubs of your area. Attach these to a piece of cardboard with a glue gun, grouping them by opposite and alternate. Make sure you include twigs with both side and terminal buds. Cutting the twigs at an angle will expose the pith (the inside of the twig), which can also help in identification. Label each species.

3. Sneak preview: If you just can’t wait for spring to arrive, try forcing twigs for indoor blooming and leafing out. I’ve had especially good luck with dogwood, forsythia, crabapple, silver maple and birch twigs, but any species is worth trying. Head outside and cut off foot-long twigs with big, healthy buds. Make an angled cut at the base. Strip away buds and twigs that will be under water. Smash the woody bases with a hammer to enhance water absorption. Place in a water-filled vase in a cool, dark spot. Once the buds start to open – usually 7-12 days – move to a window, but out of direct sunlight. The cooler the spot, the longer the leaves and blooms will last. You might want to photograph or sketch the leaves, stems and flowers as they emerge. Try to identify which buds produced leaves and which produced flowers – or both!

Spring’s promise

Knowing these finer details of our trees and shrubs opens up a whole new world of winter beauty and adds immeasurably to any outing. Keep in mind that by March, sap will flow upwards from the tree’s roots, directing water and minerals to the buds and causing them to swell. With the warm days of late April and May, a new generation of leaves, shoots and flowers will emerge. The new growth will provide food for legions of insects, which in turn will become fuel for the rest of the food chain. The song of a Baltimore oriole on a May morning is directly linked to the buds of the winter forest.

Baltimore Oriole by Karl Egressy

 

 

 

 

Jan 112018
 

The annual Christmas Bird Count reveals the ups and downs of bird populations – and always some surprises.

Between mid-December and early January, birders in more than 2,500 localities across North, Central and South America take a break from the holiday festivities to spend a day outside, identifying and counting birds. Dating all the way back to 1900, the Christmas Bird Count is probably the longest-running Citizen Science project in the world. The information collected by thousands of volunteer participants forms one of the world’s largest sets of wildlife survey data.

One of the most interesting trends the numbers show is the decades-long northward march of the Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Wren, Northern Mockingbird, Tufted Titmouse and Northern Cardinal. Mourning Doves, for example, were extremely rare in the northern states and Canada until the 1960s, and it was only in the 1970s that their numbers really increased. All of these species used to be restricted to the southern U.S. Their range extension northward is most likely the result of a combination of milder winters and more people feeding birds.

The counts are organized at the local level, often by a birding club or naturalist organization. The count area is a circle, measuring 24 kilometres in diameter. The circle is then sub-divided into sectors, each of which is covered by a different group of birders. The basic idea is to identify and count – as accurately as possible – every bird seen or heard.

Once again this year, two local counts were held – one centred in Peterborough and the other in Petroglyphs Provincial Park. The Petroglyphs Count circle can be viewed at bit.ly/2EfuPt8. Martin Parker of the Peterborough Field Naturalists organized the Peterborough count, while Colin Jones was in charge of the Petroglyphs count.

Ruffed Grouse – Jeff Keller

Peterborough Count

The 66th Peterborough Christmas Bird Count was held December 17 under cold but sunny conditions. Seventy-one members and friends of the Peterborough Field Naturalists spent all or part of the day in the field, while 10 others kept track of birds visiting their feeders.

By the end of the day, participants had found 13,166 individual birds of 60 species. A pair of Fox Sparrows and a Sandhill Crane were new to the count. Both of these migratory species should have left the Kawarthas well before mid-December. At the compilation dinner after the count, Scott McKinlay described his group found and identified the crane. “I saw this bird through my scope from a considerable distance – maybe a kilometre – as it flew low over an open field in full sunlight. It had broad wings and the slow, arching wing beats typical of large herons and cranes. It was clearly brown in colour. I was reluctant to call it as a Sandhill because of the distance and time of year, but nothing else fit. A short time later, I reunited with the rest of the group, who had been surveying the area in the direction of my sighting. Before I uttered a word, they yelled out, “I think we saw a Sandhill Crane!” They described it as being the size of a Great Blue Heron with an outstretched neck, long trailing legs and flying low over a field in my direction. All three were adamant, however, that it was not a heron.”

Sandhill Crane (Wikimedia)

Record high numbers were tallied on the count for Cooper’s Hawk (12), Bald Eagle (13), Red-bellied Woodpecker (16), Pileated Woodpecker (28), Dark-eyed Junco (731) and Northern Cardinal (144). Previous highs were tied for Merlin (3) and Peregrine Falcon (1). The 466 Blue Jays tallied was three short of the previous high of 469.

There were also some notable low numbers. As has been the pattern in recent years, Great Horned Owls (2 vs. 40 in 1992), Ruffed Grouse (17 vs. 82 in 1979) and House Sparrows (181 vs. 2209 in 1981) were conspicuous by their relative absence. It is well known fact that Ruffed Grouse numbers fluctuate a great deal from year to year and even decade to decade. However, the factors responsible for these periodic fluctuations remain poorly understood. Road mortality and changes in habitat, especially south of the Canadian Shield, probably play a role, as well. These include forest fragmentation and fewer early-successional, aspen-dominated forest blocks. Ruffed Grouse are only capable of relatively short flights.

The decline of Great Horned Owls is another mystery. The Canadian population has dropped by over 70% since the 1960s. Collisions with vehicles and high mortality of fledged young due to starvation are acknowledged as playing an important roles. Declines in principal prey species, such as cottontails, hares and rodents (e.g., a big drop in muskrat numbers) may be a contributing factor.

Great Horned Owl – Drew Monkman

The downturn in House Sparrow populations, however, may be the biggest enigma. This is evident across the bird’s range, which includes every continent except Antarctica. The cause or causes are not yet known. In rural areas, it may be that changes in agricultural practices have resulted in fewer nesting sites and less food availability. In northeastern North America, it also been postulated that competition with a relatively new arrival, the House Finch, is a playing a role. However, House Finches have also been declining for a number of years. Only 181 were found this year, which is about one tenth of the record high of 1197.

Finally, not a single American Kestrel was found on the count. It is estimated that the continent-wide population of this small falcon has declined by about 50% since 1966. Part of the reason may be the felling of standing dead trees on which they depend for nesting sites. Removing hedgerows and brush as part of “clean” farming practices are almost certainly having an effect, too. According to Don Sutherland of the Natural Heritage Information Centre in Peterborough, American Kestrels are still common in parts of northern Ontario, particularly in the Big and Little Clay Belts where agriculture is less intense and there is an abundance of hayfields and pasture.

 

American Kestrel – Nima Taghaboni

The total tally sheet for the Peterborough count is as follows:   Canada Goose 400,  American Black Duck 8, Mallard 964,  Bufflehead 2, Common Goldeneye 100, Hooded Merganser 1, Common Merganser 7, Ruffed Grouse 17, Wild Turkey 223, Sharp-shinned Hawk  2, Cooper’s Hawk 12, Bald Eagle 13, Red-tailed Hawk 49, Sandhill Crane 1, Ring-billed Gull 9, Herring Gull 121, Glaucous Gull 1, Iceland Gull 1, Great Black-backed Gull 1, Rock Pigeon 1680, Mourning Dove 1088, Eastern Screech-Owl 2, Great Horned Owl 2, Snowy Owl 1, Belted Kingfisher 1, Red-bellied Woodpecker 16, Downy Woodpecker 90, Hairy Woodpecker 62, Northern Flicker 1, Pileated Woodpecker 28, Merlin 3, Peregrine 1, Northern Shrike 8, Blue Jay 466, American Crow 612, Common Raven 9, Black-capped Chickadee 2065, Red-breasted Nuthatch 27, White-breasted Nuthatch 88, Brown Creeper 7, Golden-crowned Kinglet 28, American Robin 181,  European Starling 2227, Cedar Waxwing 115, Snow Bunting 143, American Tree Sparrow 439, Dark-eyed Junco 731, Fox Sparrow 2, Song Sparrow 1, White-throated Sparrow 5,  Northern Cardinal 144, Red-winged Blackbird 2, Brown-headed Cowbird 1,  House Finch 181, Purple Finch 2, White-winged Crossbill 1, Pine Siskin 99, American Goldfinch 424 and House Sparrow 181.  A Northern Harrier, Ring-necked Pheasant and Carolina Wren were also seen during the count period but not on the day of the count.

Petroglyph Count

            The 32nd Petroglyph Christmas Bird Count took place on December 27, in frigid weather conditions. The 24 participants braved temperatures of close to -30 C in the early morning and only -18 by mid-afternoon. Despite the weather, 32 species and 1826 individual birds were tallied, which is close to the 10-year average of 33.5 species and 2,248 individuals. There was virtually no open water, however, and therefore no waterbirds.

Although no new species were recorded or records broken, there were some notable results. An above-average 7 Bald Eagles, 146 Red-breasted Nuthatches, 122 American Tree Sparrows and 134 Dark-eyed Juncos were counted. A Gray Jay was also located in a bog along the Sandy Lake Road south of Lasswade. Up until 2009, this species was recorded annually but since then only observed in 2014 and during the week of the count in 2016. Two other birds of note were an immature Golden Eagle seen soaring over the Kawartha Nordic Ski Trails near Haultain and a Black-backed Woodpecker in Petroglyphs Provincial Park.

Black-backed Woodpecker – Wikimedia

As for winter finches, 41 Red Crossbills and 8 White-winged Crossbills turned up, some of which were singing! These birds will nest in any month of the year if sufficient food is available. This year, nearly all of our conifers produced a bumper seed crop. Crossbills feed almost exclusively on conifer seeds. Two Purple Finch, 114 Pine Siskin, 103 American Goldfinch and 2 Evening Grosbeak rounded out the finch count.

The total  tally sheet for the Petroglyph count is as follows: Ruffed Grouse 7, Wild Turkey 40,  Bald Eagle 7, Red-tailed Hawk 2, Golden Eagle 1, Rock Pigeon 10, Mourning Dove 9, Barred Owl 1, Downy Woodpecker 25, Hairy Woodpecker 39, Black-backed Woodpecker 1, Pileated Woodpecker 11, Gray Jay 1, Blue Jay 206, American Crow 4, Common Raven 42, Black-capped Chickadee 641, Red-breasted Nuthatch 146, White-breasted Nuthatch 40, Brown Creeper 17, Golden-crowned Kinglet 32, American Robin 2, European Starling 10, Cedar Waxwing 6, American Tree Sparrow 122, Dark-eyed Junco 134, Purple Finch 2, Red Crossbill 41, White-winged Crossbill 8, Pine Siskin 114, American Goldfinch 103, and Evening Grosbeak 2.

 

 

Backyard Count

If you are inspired by the Christmas Bird Count and want to contribute to Citizen Science yourself – and maybe introduce your children or grandchildren to birding – consider taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count. It takes place February 16-19 and anyone can participate. Simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count. You can do so from any location. Go to gbbc.birdcount.org for details. To see the results of last year’s count, visit gbbc.birdcount.org/2017-gbbc-summary/

 

 

 

Jan 092018
 

N.B. “Home” and “the yard” is between Warsaw and Lakefield.

On December 12th, a Golden-crowned Kinglet flitted about with a few juncos and chickadees in the apple trees in the yard.

Three White-winged Crossbills and a Brown Creeper were the avian highlights in the yard on December 20th.

After having read reports during recent years about Red-bellied Woodpeckers moving into the area, I recalled that the last ones I likely had seen were way back in 1984 at Rondeau PP on Lake Erie. What a gorgeous bird, and I really wanted to see one. On the morning of December 21st, I had just e-mailed Drew Monkman, thanking him for telling me of a few reliable Red-bellied Woodpeckers in the county, and for providing me with contacts, should I decide to follow up on any of them. Being four days before Christmas, however, I mentioned to Drew that perhaps I would wait until after the holidays, not wanting to interrupt anyone’s other plans at this, the most hectic time of year. I suggested to him that “I might just hold off, and see if one comes here to my feeder and pays me a visit instead”.

Well, (I later checked the time of my e-mail), less than an hour later, there was a lovely male Red-bellied Woodpecker enjoying the suet just outside my window! How does it get any better than that? Talk about a dose of old time Christmas magic!! The bird was there for a total of four minutes, and then off he went with a glob of suet in his bill. Of course, I waited, but I never saw him again that day. On the morning of the 24th he returned. Again, he was very brief, and left the yard carrying a pinch of suet and headed off in the same direction he had gone three days before. I had not seen him since… until today (January 8th) while writing up this little report. He came just before 2:30pm, and over a period of about fifteen minutes, went back and forth between the suet and an elm tree a short distance away. Finally, I was able to take some photos of his back! Too bad for the heavy overcast, (but I’ll try not to complain!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also on the 21st of December, a Northern Shrike flew through low between the feeder and the house. Nothing significant really, as I normally enjoy many sightings of the species each year, but I think this was the first I had seen this season. Typically, I notice the first one or two by mid-October.

Same day, at dusk, a large immature Northern Goshawk perched atop one of the many spruces east of the yard. She sat long enough for a few lousy photos to be taken and she then headed north into the Red Pines. A few hours later, one of the property Barred Owls called from the hardwoods. Just single “Boo, boo, boo” calls, for nearly a minute. December 21st 2017… not a bad day of “yard birding” at all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shortly after seeing the Red-bellied Woodpecker on the 24th, we headed into Peterborough just before noon. While waiting for a red light on Charlotte St. at Aylmer, I looked up at the top of the large building on the s-w corner. I began counting all of the antennas on the roof, and noticed one at the east end had a preening adult Peregrine perched on top. We made three left turns so we could come back around and have a look at the back of the bird. I had been in town many times over the past few months, and now, had finally seen Peterborough’s infamous falcon.

On Christmas morning, I watched the feeder from bed. New there that morning was an American Tree Sparrow, (finally), a House Sparrow, (quite a rarity here now), and a leucistic Dark-eyed Junco with uneven whitish areas of feathers on its face, throat, and sides of its head. The sparrows have only returned once or twice, but the junco is here now almost daily.

On December 27th I heard a Lapland Longspur uttering its calls as it flew overhead. I pished at it and it came to land briefly and poke around in the snow near the bases of some dead goldenrod stalks by the cedar rail fence for a very short while.

 

 

 

Period eagle sightings:

– December 13th a 1st winter Bald at about 1:30pm and an adult Bald at 1:55pm flying by over the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– December 16th a 1st winter Bald in flight over the house.

– December 25th (reported by Ed Heuvel over his house n-w of Norwood) one adult Bald Eagle.

– January 6th (after a dry spell of three weeks for me) finally an adult Bald Eagle soared over my house near Warsaw.

N.B. If any birders are out and about in Lakefield, please check the river north of the bridge for a female Barrow’s Goldeneye. I watched a few goldeneye there on January 4th, and one looked suspiciously like a Barrow’s. They were actively feeding, however, and I was getting only two-second looks at best in between dives. Then my ride came and I had to go. I’ve not been back since. It might be worth a search, and I’d love verification as I was not completely sure of what I saw.

Jan 042018
 

2017 saw dire environmental stories grab centre stage but all was not doom and gloom

As we shiver into 2018, I would like to take a moment to look back at 2017 and revisit some of the top environmental and climate change stories. The past 12 months represent a stark cautionary tale that our climate is changing faster and with more catastrophic intensity than ever before. Scientists also reminded us this year that it is 100 percent human-caused. In fact, if it weren’t for Homo sapiens, the planet would be cooling.

To anyone paying attention, these changes are also apparent here in the Kawarthas where extremes in temperature and other weather events have become the norm. We might not know what the weather is going to bring, but we can be increasingly sure that it will be an extreme of some sort – and that it will last for much longer than ever before.

A year of extremes

1. Stronger storms: This was a savage year for hurricanes in the U.S. Three ferocious storms (Harvey, Irma and Maria) pummeled Florida, the Gulf Coast and Puerto Rico, causing deaths and billions of dollars of destruction. A growing scientific consensus is that climate change is increasing the rainfall, wind speeds and storm surges associated with hurricanes. Many experts believe that the intensity and frequency of these events will only increase.

2. Flooding:  Ottawa and Montreal had their wettest spring on record with over 400 mm of rain falling. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, more than 5,000 residences were flooded. This resulted in 15,750 claims and $223 million in property damages. In April and May, Peterborough was drenched with 299 mm of rain, which was almost exactly double the 1981-2000 normal of 150 mm. In mid-May, water levels in Lake Ontario were their highest in 157 years.

On August 28, Windsor received 222 mm of rain in less than 48 hours. Insurance payouts totaled $154 million, which was the most expensive single-storm loss across Canada in 2017. This occurred less than a year after a record $153 million flood hit Windsor and Essex County in 2016.

Peterborough Flood 2004 – Janine Jones photo

3. Wildfires: British Columbia saw its longest and most destructive wildfire season ever. The BC Wildfire Service reported 1,265 fires that charred 1.2 million hectares of timber, bush and grassland. This represents an area twice the size of Prince Edward Island. It shattered the previous record for burned land by 30%. Fighting these fires cost the province more than half a billion dollars, while insured property losses approached $130 million. In California, too, the wildfire season was the most destructive in recorded history. This included the 20 most destructive fires ever seen in semi-urban areas. With climate change fueling more and bigger blazes, the Western wildfire season in the U.S. is now 105 days longer than it was 45 years ago.

4. Record heat: Planet-wide, 2017 will likely go down as the second-warmest year on record. What is most astounding is that this occurred in the absence of an El Niño, which drives up global temperatures. The hottest year ever was 2016, which broke the record set in 2015. The ten hottest years have all occurred since 1998. In eastern Canada, we saw “summer in September”. From September 22 to 27, over a thousand heat records fell. The mean monthly temperature in Peterborough was 2.6 C warmer than the 1971-2000 normal, while October temperatures soared an amazing 3.2 C above normal. To put this into context, the goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit planet-wide warming to well below 2 C.

5. Record cold: This December and January have been unbelievably frigid – once again thanks to the polar vortex. The mean December temperature in Peterborough came in at 3.2 C below normal – in other words, as much colder as October was warmer. It’s not just the severity of the cold, however; it’s also the duration. Outbreaks of cold weather almost never last this long. Bone-chilling Arctic air is projected to be with us through at least January 10.

So, doesn’t the cold mean that global warming is nothing to be concerned about – maybe even desirable? It’s important to remember that this is a short-term weather event and not a long-term climate trend. In fact, warmer-than-average air is dominating the rest of the planet right now.

The polar vortex is influenced by the temperature difference between the Arctic and more temperate regions to the south. In recent years, the Arctic has been warming at twice the global rate as sea ice melts. Many scientists now believe that the narrowing of the temperature difference between the Arctic and more southerly regions has caused the jet stream to weaken and become more wave-like. This weakening appears to have allowed Arctic air masses to spill southward and remain in place longer. In the past, a robust jet stream usually impeded Arctic air masses from spilling southward for more than a few days.

6. Donald Trump: From his announcement to exit from the Paris climate accord to appointing climate change deniers like Scott Pruitt to key environmental posts, the U.S. president did his best in 2017 to undo any environmental progress President Obama had made. Protected land was an easy target as he sought to weaken bans on industrial activity. He appears committed to gutting Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

Dire warning

In November, more 15,000 scientists from 184 countries issued a warning that the ongoing destruction of the Earth’s ecosystems is putting the very future of humankind at severe risk and leading to catastrophic biodiversity loss. It stated that humankind must take immediate action to reverse the effects of climate change, deforestation, unsustainable agriculture (especially ruminants for meat consumption) and species extinction. The alert came on the 25th anniversary of a similar warning in 1992. This time, however, 10 times as many scientists were signatories. The warning states that we have unleashed a mass extinction event – the sixth in the past 540 million years. The scientists provided a number of broad solutions: They include moving away as quickly as possible from fossil fuels; using energy, water, food and other materials much more efficiently; promoting a diet of mostly plant-based foods; reducing and eventually eliminating poverty; ensuring sexual equality and guaranteeing women control over their own reproductive decisions. Not surprisingly, the warning generated very little reaction.

Barn Swallows have seen their population crash by at least 80% in the last two decades – Karl Egressy

According to another major study published in July, the extinction crisis is far worse than most people think. Of the 177 mammals for which the researchers had detailed data, over 40 percent have lost more than 80 percent of their ranges. In terms of individual animals, wildlife populations have decreased by 50% in just the past four decades. “The massive loss of populations and species reflects our lack of empathy to all the wild species that have been our companions since our origins,” says lead author, Gerardo Ceballos of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Good news

It was not all doom and gloom, however. There were some good news stories.

1. Canada, along with four other Arctic coastal countries, signed a 16-year moratorium on commercial fishing in an area covering 2.8 million kilometres of the central Arctic Ocean. This is roughly the size of the Mediterranean Sea. The treaty is seen as a historic victory for Arctic conservation.

2. Thanks to a DDT phase-out and reintroduction programs, the peregrine falcon has been assessed as no longer at risk by the Committee on the Status on Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Peregrines at Anstruther Lake nest – July 19, 2014 – photo by Drew Monkman

3. The ozone hole this year was the smallest since 1988, thanks to a decades-long international effort to ban ozone-depleting chemicals.

4. Monarch butterfly numbers bounced back this summer, following several years of severe declines. Tim Dyson, who lives near Warsaw, tallied no fewer than 532 monarchs in 2017, which was more than double his previous high. It is expected that the overwintering population in Mexico will increase from the 2.91 hectares of last year to 4 hectares or better this winter.

5. The evidence of a strong link between health and time spent in nature received increased attention this year – even by groups like the World Economic Forum. Human health is quickly becoming an important driver for conservation.

6. Local environmental organizations continued to do excellent work this year. The number of such groups is truly astounding for a community our size. They include Peterborough Pollinators, Peterborough Field Naturalists, Peterborough Greenspace Coalition, Peterborough GreenUp, Sustainable Peterborough, Camp Kawartha, Otonabee Conservation, Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, The Land Between Conservation Organization, Transition Town, Kawartha Land Trust, For Our Grandchildren, Leap Manifesto Group, Natural Heritage Information Centre and many more. UNESCO also recognized Peterborough-Kawarthas-Haliburton as a Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development. No small accomplishment!

Peterborough Pollinators garden on Medical Drive – photo by Drew Monkman

Values

Like me, you have probably been asking yourself for years why humans allow climate change and other forms of environmental degradation to continue unabated. Research provides a clear but disconcerting answer: for most people, the environment is simply not a priority relative to other issues in their lives. This is true even in developed, prosperous countries like Canada. We are all caught up in a complicated web dominated by material culture and values such as perpetual economic growth and our separateness from nature – the very values that have allowed industrial capitalism to flourish. However, many social scientists would argue that a deliberate shift in what we value is unlikely. An optimist, I suppose, might contend that the huge change in attitudes vis-à-vis  the rights of women, homosexuals and minorities proves that profound value shifts are indeed possible. I just wish I was more convinced.

 

 

 

Jan 032018
 

I am quite sure I spotted an Elk in an open field on Jan. 6, 2018. It was just east of the village of Warkworth on County Road 29 (north side) around 11:45 am.  Doug McNabb

Elk – Division Road east of Peterborough – October 19, 2013 – John Morrit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Horned Owl (Great Horned) (Bubo virginianus [virginianus Group]) (1)
– Reported Jan 04, 2018 14:00 by Matthew Tobey
– Peterborough–Harper Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “North end of the park, being harassed by ~12 American Crows”

Great Horned Owl – Fleming Campus in Peterborough – Drew Monkman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barred Owl (Strix varia) (2)
– Reported Dec 30, 2017 14:30 by Basil Conlin
– Peterborough–Rotary Park & Walkway, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Media: 3 Photos
– Comments: “one being mobbed by chickadees near the gate at Hazlitt, another being mobbed by crows at the same time closer to the river near the London St. bridge.”

Barred Owl – Quarry Bay – Tim Dyson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Jan 03, 2018 09:15 by Ben Taylor
– Town Ward, Peterborough, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Being harassed by 2 crows in a tree by the west side of the Holiday Inn pedestrian bridge. Flew off across the river to the point (southwest).”

Peregrine eating Rock Pigeon – Jan. 13, 2015 – PRHC – Stephanie Pineau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) (1)
– Reported Jan 02, 2018 12:00 by Iain Rayner
– PTBO – Edgewater road and Railway, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Adult on ice in front of marina with HERG. White head. Similar size and colour to HERG but primaries mostly white with some grey. (pale end of kumleini spectrum)”

Iceland Gull (Crossley Guide) First winter bird is lower left. Some are browner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trumpeter Swans (Observed Jan. 1) I was driving up Water St. today and was surprised to see an adult Trumpeter Swan swimming with 3 large immature birds. They were in the open water below the dam at the zoo. The young ones were as big as the adult.  Bill Astell

Adult Trumpeter Swans and four immatures – Oct. 14, 2012 – Bethany, ON – Paul Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pileated Woodpecker (Observed Jan. 2) This must be my lucky week; I sighted a Pileated Woodpecker at 2:00 PM in the lower part of Burnham’s Woods today. I hear them from time to time but rarely see them. Ross Jamieson

Pileated Woodpecker 2 – Jan. 1, 2016 – Mark St. Peterborough – Helen Keller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bald Eagle (Observed Jan. 2) I was driving to work yesterday morning at 8:25am, and as I was crossing the Hunter Street Bridge a Bald Eagle flew over the bridge (quite low), heading south down the Otonabee River. It was unbelievable! Thought I’d let you know in the event there were other sightings.  Sarah Gencey

Bald Eagle – Jan. 14, 2014 – in flight over Woodland Drive – Bill Astell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Observed Jan. 2 & 3) Female seen in trees at house at 85 Kelleher Rd, Campbellford. There was one all last winter, too. Don Munro

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker – Campbellford – January 2017 – Don Munro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peregrine Falcon (North American) (Falco peregrinus anatum) (1)
– Reported Jan 01, 2018 14:22 by Luke Berg
– Luke’s Yard, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Hunting pigeons over the backyard and George street. ”

Peregrine – Karl Egressy

Jan 012018
 

The 32nd Petroglyphs Christmas Bird Count was held on Thursday, December 27, 2017 during very cold conditions. It was nearly -30 degrees C first thing in the morning and only warmed up to about -18 by mid-afternoon.

Participants: 24
Total species: 32 (close to the 10-year average of 33.5)
Total individuals: 1826 (10-year average is 2248)
As a result of the very cold weather there was virtually no open water and therefore no waterbirds.

Notable species and count highs (no new record highs) included:
BALD EAGLE: 7 (slightly higher than average)
GOLDEN EAGLE: 1 sub-adult bird seen soaring over the Kawartha Nordic Ski Trails

BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER: 1 in the Petroglyphs Provincial Park (although previously recorded nearly every year this species has only been detected 3 times in the past 10 years)

GRAY JAY: a single bird was located in a bog along the Sandy Lake Rd (until 2009 recorded annually but since then only recorded in 2014 and during count period in 2016)

RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH: 146 (well above the 10-year average of 87 but nowhere near the count high of 526)

AMERICAN ROBIN: 2 (absent in most years)

CEDAR WAXWING: 6  (absent in most years)

AMERICAN TREE SPARROW: 122 (well above the 10-year average of 18; count high is 218)
DARK-EYED JUNCO: 134 (well above the 10-year average of 12 and near count high of 168)

American Tree Sparrow – Karl Egressy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Low Counts:
RUFFED GROUSE: 7 (below 10-year average of 15 and the count high of 77)ROCK PIGEON: only a single flock of 10 (well below the 10-year average of 58 and the count high of 89)
WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH: 40 (well below the 10-year average of 80 and count high of 233)
EUROPEAN STARLING: 10 (below 10-year average of 26 and count high of 114)

Winter Finches:

PURPLE FINCH: 2

RED CROSSBILL: 41

WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL: 8 including singing individuals

PINE SISKIN: 114

AMERICAN GOLDFINCH: 103

EVENING GROSBEAK: 2

Notable Misses:
SNOW BUNTING: recorded most years (has only been missed 5 times)

Colin Jones, Count Compiler

Male White-winged Crossbill – Wikimedia

Purple Finch (male) – Karl Egressy

Gray Jay -Tom Northey Algonquin Park – March 2014