Aug 312019
 

Great Egret (Ardea alba) (1)
– Reported Sep 14, 2019 10:46 by Donald A. Sutherland
– Peterborough Landfill Wetland Project ponds, Peterborough, Ontario
– Map: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=p&z=13&q=44.2334751,-78.2881452&ll=44.2334751,-78.2881452
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S59791632
– Comments: “sontinuing, 150 m SW of pond along marsh edge”

Great Egrets south of zoo (Michele Hemery)

Great Egret (Karl Egressy)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) (1)
– Reported Sep 09, 2019 16:38 by Daniel Williams
– Peterborough—Maria St. to Water St., Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Roosting in tree along lakes edge, where train tracks meet Maria St.”

Black-crowned Night heron – Carl Welbourn – May 7, 2019

Black-crowned Night Heron – juvenile – August 28, 2017 – Carl Welbourn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Butternut crop at Road’s End Farm:  As you noted several years ago, we do have a Butternut tree quite near our farm, although it is quite old and the bottom branches are succumbing to old age.  Two years ago it had a massive crop of butternuts, none last year, and some have already fallen this year although it could be that it’s too early to count the falls as ready to harvest. We also have at least one Butternut two fields over from the house, which has already dropped a great number of nuts and we’ve collected them.

I mention all of this because you or someone you might have contact with would like to have these nuts.  Both of us have hand/shoulder injuries which preclude this action for us and we would be glad to let someone else have the harvest, if and when it is ready(?) and the pile which is already down and I guess should be attended to right away…or left for squirrels?

We have a good apple showing this year after none last year, both in the back yard on the Macintosh. Also, lots of fruit on the Choke Cherry trees. As for the Wild Grape abundance…it’s quite overwhelming.  Dog Strangling Vine continues to spread all around the unploughed parts of our land each year. On the good side, we’ve seen more Monarchs this year than ever before.  Yes, we have a lot of Milkweed. We …choke?  pin?  Darienne McAuley

Nuts of Butternut – Juglans_cinerea – Necrasov (Wikimedia)

Butternut leaves and bark – Drew Monkman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) (1)
– Reported Sep 04, 2019 13:39 by Matthew Tobey
– Peterborough Airport area, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

Least Sandpiper – Wikimedia

Semipalmated Plover – Drew Monkman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) (1)
– Reported Sep 03, 2019 12:02 by Matthew Tobey
– Peterborough Airport area, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) (1)
– Reported Sep 02, 2019 08:37 by Dave Milsom
– Chase Memorial Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S59456290
– Comments: “Gave whinny call 2 times in response to playback.”

Eastern Screech-owl – Beaches area of Toronto – via Jamie Brockley

Cape May Warbler – Lakefield Sewage Lagoons – Sept. 2, 2019 – Drew Monkman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cape May Warbler (Setophaga tigrina) (1)
– Reported Sep 01, 2019 06:36 by Iain Rayner
– Lakefield–Sewage Lagoons, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 312019
 

Nighthawk migration: On August 29, Tim Dyson & I counted migrating Common Nighthawks from Back Dam Park near Warsaw from 6-8pm. We tallied 133 birds, with one “flock”comprising at least 48. Quite a sight! Tim has already had several evenings in late August with more than 100 nighthawks. Nighthawks are designated as a Species of Special Concern in Canada (COSEWIC – 2018) Their population in southern Canada has declined by 68% since 1970, but the rate of decline has slowed appreciably over the past decade, and the species appears to be quite abundant in suitable boreal habitats.

A loose flock or “kettle” of about 48 nighthawks at Warsaw on August 29, 2019 – Drew Monkman

Nighthawk soaring over Back Dam Park – Drew Monkman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Chestnut update: On my efforts to re-establish American Chestnut: Lots of good news. First, all of seedlings that I started in the Spring have survived and seem to be thriving. Of course, we still have Winter to get through. Second, for the first time, all three of my most mature trees produced catkins this Spring, although I only see developing Chestnuts on two of them. I’m hopeful that I will be able to harvest many more viable seeds this Autumn than last. Third, and maybe most important of all, I discovered an American Chestnut sapling that must be at least five years old only metres away from the three original trees that I planted. Given its height (about a metre and a half) I surmise that it was planted by squirrels in the first year that the trees produced nuts. I have attached a picture. This is the proof I needed that the trees could self-seed up there, much earlier than I expected to have it.

In other news, I have been trying to establish Walnut trees on our property up there too for about twenty-five years. Having walked the whole property, as well as adjacent properties many times, I’m confident in saying that there has been no Walnut growing on any of those properties at least over the last quarter century, although I have known about Walnut trees growing on Galway Road and farther down Crystal Lake Road for that whole time. This is the first year that I have found nuts on a tree that I planted. I have also been trying to re-establish Hickory up there too for five to ten years, but nothing to report yet.
We have been surprised by the lack of deer on our property. They occasionally show up on our game cameras, but we haven’t seen one during daylight since early Spring. That’s highly unusual. One that we caught six weeks ago on a game camera looked emaciated and I’m hoping that Chronic Wasting Disease isn’t affecting the local herd. We’ve only seen one Indigo Bunting and no Scarlet Tanagers, even though I have spent a good part of the Summer up there building a wood shed.  Michael Doran

American Chestnut sapling – August 2019 – Michael Doran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Egret (American) (Ardea alba egretta) (1)
– Reported Aug 29, 2019 10:30 by Randy Smith
– Peterborough–Television Road pond, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Media: 2 Photos
– Comments: “tv. rd. pond Peterborough , watched for 30 min feeding in center area of pond , observed large white heron type bird with yellow bill and black legs (Great Egret)”

Great Egret 2 – Carl Welbourn – Television Road – August 28, 2016

Great Egret – Karl Egressy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) (3)
– Reported Aug 11, 2019 13:00 by Matt Mair
– Trent University Nature Area, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S58917525
– Comments: “Three individuals seen at once in the silver maple swamp off the blue trail. Unmistakable fully red head, black wings with white patch.”

Red-headed Woodpecker (Karl Egressy)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 092019
 

Your enthusiasm for nature will be noticed by children

A love of nature begins in childhood; every boy and girl is a budding naturalist. This should come as no surprise. Up until the agricultural revolution and, later, the emigration into villages and cities, humans grew up and lived in intimate contact with natural environments. Survival depended on detailed knowledge of plants and animals. Although our way of life has changed drastically, these ancestral instincts and affections still live within us.

Eric Fromm, a German psychologist, coined the term “biophilic” to describe the innate need that all children have to connect with other species. There is a critical window, however, that must be respected. If children are provided with rich and repeated experiences in nature from early childhood to about 14 years of age, they are far more likely to develop a life-long love appreciation for the natural world. If children spend nearly all their time indoors, however, nature may simply become a backdrop to their lives – a green blur as trivial as billboards, strip malls and parking lots.

As Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson writes, being a naturalist is not just an activity but also a rich and honorable state of mind. It is a way of “being” in the world. An ability to recognize and classify different species is seen by many cognitive psychologists as one of the eight major categories of intelligence. We see this intelligence in the young child who can readily identify different farm animals, dinosaurs or even Pokémon characters and car models. How then can adults – be they parents, grandparents, teachers or youth leaders – cultivate a naturalist’s intelligence in every child?

Finding a salamander under a rock or log is always exciting for kids, like my grandaughter, Juni. (Drew Monkman)

 

Set an example

·       If you show enthusiasm for nature, your excitement will be noticed and copied by children. If they see you making an effort to be out in nature, they’ll want to do the same. Open doors but don’t “push them through.” Ultimately, loving nature should never be forced.

·       As adults, we often forget the power of words and body language. They transmit values. If a little girl runs up to show you the caterpillar she’s just caught and you frown and say “Put that dirty thing down”, the joy and value of the discovery are ruined. To cultivate a sense of wonder, you need to use the language of wonder. “Wow – is that ever cool. Look at all the different colours and the little hairs on its back. Where did you find it? Let’s put it in a jar and keep it for a while.”

·       Good questions inspire curiosity, which is the engine of learning. They also invite other questions. Encourage children to ask why, to marvel and to explore further. Let’s imagine you’re watching birds at a feeder. All of a sudden, a nuthatch flies in and begins feeding in their characteristic upside-down position. You might ask, “Why do you think it feeds upside down?” (Scientists think nuthatches can spot food from this vantage point that “right side up” birds like woodpeckers miss.) “Look how long and narrow its bill is. I wonder why?” (to get at food hidden deep in the cracks of bark). Encourage the child to ask why questions, too, and to hypothesize at what the answer might be. If you don’t know the answer either, admit it. Think of this as an opportunity to do some research together. And, if you can’t find the response, perhaps this is something that science cannot yet explain or has never investigated. Remind children that there are many things science does not yet know, and we need more bright young people like them to pursue a career in areas like biology.

·       Go forth with explorer’s eyes. Be amazed at what you see, but let the child “own” the discovery. For example, you might know where to find salamanders along a certain trail. Instead of saying, “Hey! Do you want to find a salamander?” you might simply ask, “I wonder what we’ll find under these logs?” In the first question, you owned the discovery; in the second, the joy of discovery belongs to the child. It’s so satisfying for a parent or teacher to hear a child bellow out, “Look what I found!”
Play

·       Play, too, is a powerful teacher, and the natural landscape lends itself to creative play. A stick becomes a magic wand or a sword; a copse of trees becomes a castle. It is through unstructured play that children cultivate their imagination. Being creative, means creating, so let children catch animals, make forts, throw rocks, climb trees, get scraped and dirty, and even disturb nature a bit, on their own and without too much coaching. These experiences are at the very heart of developing a love for the natural world. Children need to “mess around” a lot and do so as much as possible on their own. If it helps, think of the child as a little hunter-gatherer!

Children love to play in nature – and climb trees! (Jacob Rodenburg)

·       Not all parents feel comfortable letting their kids roam freely. However, you can take your children outside yourself and be a “hummingbird parent”. Just stay out of the kids’ way as much as possible, so they can explore and play in nature on their own. You can always “zoom in” like a hummingbird if safety becomes an issue. Slowly increase the distance and the kids’ autonomy as time goes by. Kids thrive on autonomy, so don’t be afraid to let them loose sometimes – with a minimum of rules.

·       Allow adolescents to undertake adventures with others such as overnight hiking and canoe trips.

·       Children have a yearning to create dens, nests and hiding places. One of my most memorable experiences of childhood was going into the woods and building small shelters or “forts” as we called them. Children can do so using found supplies from the outdoors or the garage – old branches, sticks, fallen tree boughs with leaves, conifer branches with needles, scraps of lumber, a sheet of plastic, etc. The building process is wonderful for problem solving and creativity.

·       A simple shelter can be built by propping a long pole against a tree and using branches to create a frame on both sides. Pile evergreen boughs and then leaves to cover the frame. For added comfort, pile leaves inside the hut, too.

Other ideas

·       Buy your child a good hand lens (10X), a small compound microscope and, when they are 10 or so, a good pair of binoculars. Children delight in the very small, from the cells of leaves enlarged by a microscope to the feathery antennae of a moth revealed by a hand lens. Magnified, close-up views provide an entirely different perspective on nature. Teach them how to use binoculars to view birds, butterflies, dragonflies and the night sky.

·       Set up a terrarium in your home or classroom. A terrarium is basically an aquarium that is filled with plants, soil and rocks suitable for terrestrial creatures. Allow your children to bring home “pets” for a few days – caterpillars, frogs, salamanders, insects, etc. Alternatively, buy an ant farm. Ants are fascinating to watch.

My granddaughter, Anouk, holding a garter snake that her mom helped her catch. It’s important that parents set a positive example. (Drew Monkman)

 

·       Put up several different kinds of bird feeders and keep track of the different species that visit. Give your child the responsibility of keeping the feeder stocked with seed. Make sure it’s located near a window where the family spends a lot of time. Avant-Garden Shop at 165 Sherbrooke Street in  Peterborough has a great selection of feeders, bird seed and other bird-related resources.

·       Create a collection table on which the children can display their discoveries, – feathers, flowers, seeds, cones, galls, skulls, dead insects, nests, etc. Add new items as the seasons change.

·       Encourage your child to take part in junior field naturalist activities, such as those provided by the Peterborough Field Naturalists. Go to peterboroughnature.org/junior for more information.

·       Take your child to the zoo. Pick a particular animal for focused observation instead of just wandering passively through the exhibits. Visit natural history museums, too, such as the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.

·       Go camping. Being outside for 24 hours a day allows you to see and hear things you will otherwise miss. Positive camping memories will make it much more likely your child will want to camp as an adult.

From the freedom to explore nature and the knowledge acquired largely by personal initiative come self-confidence, lifelong enjoyment of the outdoors, and a desire to protect our natural heritage. What more could we ask for our children and for the good of humanity?

Note: This column first appeared in September 2016.

Climate Crisis News

Quickly accelerating climate change is once again the story this summer. July was the hottest of any month in our planet’s recorded history. All-time high temperature records were shattered across Europe with Paris reaching a historic 42.6 C (108.7 F). On August 1, Greenland shedded a record 12.5 billion tons of melt water into the sea, enough to fill 5 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. We also learned that if the IPCC’s target of a 45% carbon cut by 2030 is to be met, the plans need to be on the table by the end of 2020. This underscores the importance of assuring Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives do not take power in October.

If there is any good news, it’s the marked increase in public interest in climate change and a hunger for solutions that people can put in place in their own lives. As Sarah Lazarovic pointed out in the August issue of MacLean’s magazine, the first rule of the climate crisis is: TALK ABOUT THE CLIMATE CRISIS. With friends, with family, and even with strangers. Share your fears about your family’s future and your desire for aggressive climate policies.