Drew Monkman

I am a retired teacher, naturalist and writer with a love for all aspects of the natural world, especially as they relate to seasonal change.

Aug 212017
 

Now’s the time to be looking for migrating Common Nighthawks. The best time to see flocks is late afternoon and evening. They feed as they fly and are often seen over water. In my experience, they often turn up after a rain event.

Here are some recent sightings from Tim Dyson who lives in the Warsaw area:

1.On the evening of August 16, I saw 41 Common Nighthawks over the Indian River just north of Warsaw. I watched for 30 minutes, just after the sun had set. They were moving along southward in groups averaging about five per group.

2. August 18th between 6:24pm and 6:27 pm, no less than 98 Common Nighthawks passed overhead where I am just n/w of Warsaw. Through a curtain of moderate rainfall, they were heading roughly s/w at average nighthawk height (100+ meters from the ground). Not really darting here and there much as is typical of them, but seemingly more intent on the direction they headed and the altitude they were keeping. Appearing as three loosely-connected bunches, it was difficult to count them at times, therefore I am glad they weren’t in whirling masses as is sometimes the case. They stretched to the eastern and western horizon, and despite my frantic searching, I could not bring the total to an even hundred birds or more. Although I have lived in a fair number of locations in the county over the past 25 years from Belmont Lake, Rice Lake, Buckhorn, and Nephton and places in between, interestingly, the Warsaw area has always yielded the highest numbers for migrating nighthawks in my experience, both now, and in the early-to-mid 1990s).

3. August 19th I got home to Warsaw just before dark in time to notice only 2 nighthawks flying past from east to west. I waited around another ten minutes or so, but saw no more.

4. On the morning of August 20th, (the date I’ve always considered to be average for observing large numbers of the species), 14 nighthawks just appeared to the north, gathered, (and very much like migrating Broad-winged Hawks will about four weeks from now), they “kettled” in a thermal and rode it straight up and out of my sight. This happened at 10:30am, it is sunny, humid, and 24 degrees outside. I find this far more bizarre than seeing more than one hundred nighthawks during an evening observation. That’s pretty normal. But a small kettle of them before noon… that’s just plain odd for me!

Common Nighthawk – Wikimedia

Nighhawks over Buckhorn Lake – Aug. 15, 2016 – David Beaucage Johnson

Aug 172017
 

Why Climate Change Isn’t Our Biggest Environmental Problem, and Why Technology Won’t Save Us
by Richard Heinberg
Published by Post Carbon Institute – August 17, 2017

Reposted with permission from Ecowatch.

Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is a symptom. Overshoot is a systemic issue. Over the past century-and-a-half, enormous amounts of cheap energy from fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing, and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution, and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity. The human system expanded dramatically, overshooting Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for humans while upsetting the ecological systems we depend on for our survival. Until we understand and address this systemic imbalance, symptomatic treatment (doing what we can to reverse pollution dilemmas like climate change, trying to save threatened species, and hoping to feed a burgeoning population with genetically modified crops) will constitute an endlessly frustrating round of stopgap measures that are ultimately destined to fail.

The ecology movement in the 1970s benefitted from a strong infusion of systems thinking, which was in vogue at the time (ecology—the study of the relationships between organisms and their environments—is an inherently systemic discipline, as opposed to studies like chemistry that focus on reducing complex phenomena to their components). As a result, many of the best environmental writers of the era framed the modern human predicament in terms that revealed the deep linkages between environmental symptoms and the way human society operates. Limits to Growth (1972), an outgrowth of the systems research of Jay Forrester, investigated the interactions between population growth, industrial production, food production, resource depletion, and pollution. Overshoot (1982), by William Catton, named our systemic problem and described its origins and development in a style any literate person could appreciate. Many more excellent books from the era could be cited.

However, in recent decades, as climate change has come to dominate environmental concerns, there has been a significant shift in the discussion. Today, most environmental reporting is focused laser-like on climate change, and systemic links between it and other worsening ecological dilemmas (such as overpopulation, species extinctions, water and air pollution, and loss of topsoil and fresh water) are seldom highlighted. It’s not that climate change isn’t a big deal. As a symptom, it’s a real doozy. There’s never been anything quite like it, and climate scientists and climate-response advocacy groups are right to ring the loudest of alarm bells. But our failure to see climate change in context may be our undoing.

Why have environmental writers and advocacy organizations succumbed to tunnel vision? Perhaps it’s simply that they assume systems thinking is beyond the capacity of policy makers. It’s true: if climate scientists were to approach world leaders with the message, “We have to change everything, including our entire economic system—and fast,” they might be shown the door rather rudely. A more acceptable message is, “We have identified a serious pollution problem, for which there are technical solutions.” Perhaps many of the scientists who did recognize the systemic nature of our ecological crisis concluded that if we can successfully address this one make-or-break environmental crisis, we’ll be able to buy time to deal with others waiting in the wings (overpopulation, species extinctions, resource depletion, and on and on).

If climate change can be framed as an isolated problem for which there is a technological solution, the minds of economists and policy makers can continue to graze in familiar pastures. Technology—in this case, solar, wind, and nuclear power generators, as well as batteries, electric cars, heat pumps, and, if all else fails, solar radiation management via atmospheric aerosols—centers our thinking on subjects like financial investment and industrial production. Discussion participants don’t have to develop the ability to think systemically, nor do they need to understand the Earth system and how human systems fit into it. All they need trouble themselves with is the prospect of shifting some investments, setting tasks for engineers, and managing the resulting industrial-economic transformation so as to ensure that new jobs in green industries compensate for jobs lost in coal mines.

The strategy of buying time with a techno-fix presumes either that we will be able to institute systemic change at some unspecified point in the future even though we can’t do it just now (a weak argument on its face), or that climate change and all of our other symptomatic crises will in fact be amenable to technological fixes. The latter thought-path is again a comfortable one for managers and investors. After all, everybody loves technology. It already does nearly everything for us. During the last century it solved a host of problems: it cured diseases, expanded food production, sped up transportation, and provided us with information and entertainment in quantities and varieties no one could previously have imagined. Why shouldn’t it be able to solve climate change and all the rest of our problems?

Of course, ignoring the systemic nature of our dilemma just means that as soon as we get one symptom corralled, another is likely to break loose. But, crucially, is climate change, taken as an isolated problem, fully treatable with technology? Color me doubtful. I say this having spent many months poring over the relevant data with David Fridley of the energy analysis program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Our resulting book, Our Renewable Future, concluded that nuclear power is too expensive and risky; meanwhile, solar and wind power both suffer from intermittency, which (once these sources begin to provide a large percentage of total electrical power) will require a combination of three strategies on a grand scale: energy storage, redundant production capacity, and demand adaptation. At the same time, we in industrial nations will have to adapt most of our current energy usage (which occurs in industrial processes, building heating, and transportation) to electricity. Altogether, the energy transition promises to be an enormous undertaking, unprecedented in its requirements for investment and substitution. When David and I stepped back to assess the enormity of the task, we could see no way to maintain current quantities of global energy production during the transition, much less to increase energy supplies so as to power ongoing economic growth. The biggest transitional hurdle is scale: the world uses an enormous amount of energy currently; only if that quantity can be reduced significantly, especially in industrial nations, could we imagine a credible pathway toward a post-carbon future.

Downsizing the world’s energy supplies would, effectively, also downsize industrial processes of resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and waste management. That’s a systemic intervention, of exactly the kind called for by the ecologists of the 1970s who coined the mantra, “Reduce, reuse, and recycle.” It gets to the heart of the overshoot dilemma—as does population stabilization and reduction, another necessary strategy. But it’s also a notion to which technocrats, industrialists, and investors are virulently allergic.

The ecological argument is, at its core, a moral one—as I explain in more detail in a just-released manifesto replete with sidebars and graphics (“There’s No App for That: Technology and Morality in the Age of Climate Change, Overpopulation, and Biodiversity Loss”).  Any systems thinker who understands overshoot and prescribes powerdown as a treatment is effectively engaging in an intervention with an addictive behavior. Society is addicted to growth, and that’s having terrible consequences for the planet and, increasingly, for us as well. We have to change our collective and individual behavior and give up something we depend on—power over our environment. We must restrain ourselves, like an alcoholic foreswearing booze. That requires honesty and soul-searching.

In its early years the environmental movement made that moral argument, and it worked up to a point. Concern over rapid population growth led to family planning efforts around the world. Concern over biodiversity declines led to habitat protection. Concern over air and water pollution led to a slew of regulations. These efforts weren’t sufficient, but they showed that framing our systemic problem in moral terms could get at least some traction.

Why didn’t the environmental movement fully succeed? Some theorists now calling themselves “bright greens” or “eco-modernists” have abandoned the moral fight altogether. Their justification for doing so is that people want a vision of the future that’s cheery and that doesn’t require sacrifice. Now, they say, only a technological fix offers any hope. The essential point of this essay (and my manifesto) is simply that, even if the moral argument fails, a techno-fix won’t work either. A gargantuan investment in technology (whether next-generation nuclear power or solar radiation geo-engineering) is being billed as our last hope. But in reality it’s no hope at all.

The reason for the failure thus far of the environmental movement wasn’t that it appealed to humanity’s moral sentiments—that was in fact the movement’s great strength. The effort fell short because it wasn’t able to alter industrial society’s central organizing principle, which is also its fatal flaw: its dogged pursuit of growth at all cost. Now we’re at the point where we must finally either succeed in overcoming growthism or face the failure not just of the environmental movement, but of civilization itself.

The good news is that systemic change is fractal in nature: it implies, indeed it requires, action at every level of society. We can start with our own individual choices and behavior; we can work within our communities. We needn’t wait for a cathartic global or national sea change. And even if our efforts cannot “save” consumerist industrial civilization, they could still succeed in planting the seeds of a regenerative human culture worthy of survival.

There’s more good news: once we humans choose to restrain our numbers and our rates of consumption, technology can assist our efforts. Machines can help us monitor our progress, and there are relatively simple technologies that can help deliver needed services with less energy usage and environmental damage. Some ways of deploying technology could even help us clean up the atmosphere and restore ecosystems.

But machines won’t make the key choices that will set us on a sustainable path. Systemic change driven by moral awakening: it’s not just our last hope; it’s the only real hope we’ve ever had.

Aug 152017
 

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Aug 14, 2017 14:14 by Dan Chronowic
– Lansdowne St. and The Parkway – Peterborough, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Hunting Rock Pigeons above the Spaghetti Factory. Caught a Rock Pigeon and landed on the top of the truck garage adjacent to the Spaghetti Factory.”

Peregrine eating Rock Pigeon – Loree Stephens 2 – Jan. 13, 2015 – PRHC

Aug 122017
 

This Great Golden Digger Wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus) was trying to set-up nests on my front walkway. It had 5 holes dug already. I was able to get a video of it. This is one pretty creature and aptly named too!

Rick Stankiewicz, Keene

Note: The Great Golden Digger Wasp is a benign, gentle wasp currently being studied by scientists for its behavioral responses.  (from InsectIdentification.org)

Golden Digger Wasp – August 11, 2017 – Rick Stankiewicz

Golden Digger Wasp 2 – August 11, 2017 – Rick Stankiewicz

Aug 092017
 

On August 5, 2017 at about noon, there was a Great Egret flying north up the Indian River just north of “The Back Dam” just upstream from Warsaw. As I paddled towards where it had suddenly spiraled downward behind some trees, I finally noticed it perched on someone’s dock. Shortly thereafter, it flew steeply upward and over the trees towards the east. Paddling from Warsaw all the way up to where the river comes out of the ground at Warsaw Caves the next day, did not produce a second sighting of this bird for me.

 

Great Egret – Warsaw – Tim Dyson – August 5th 2017

 

 

 

 

Great Egret (Ardea alba) (1)
– Reported Aug 08, 2017 08:30 by Glen Spurrell
– Millbrook, Ontario, CA, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Media: 2 Photos
– Comments: “seen by several people on millpond; it was seen roosting a tree, flying, wading and hunting”

Aug 082017
 

On July 29, my grandson and I discovered a jelly-blob looking “creature” in Buckhorn Lake. It’s about the size of a small loaf bread (or a haggis !) and seems to have some seaweed attached to it (or even through it).

Toni Sinclair, Buckhorn Lake

Note: This is probably a colony of Bryozoa (Pectinatella magnifica), a native freshwater invertebrate related to coral. The colonies can be as big as a watermelon by late summer. They are usually affixed to a stick or some other submerged object. Bryozoa are filter feeders that sieve food particles out of the water using a retractable, microscopic crown of tentacles lined with cilia. They are fairly common in the Kawartha Lakes. D.M.

Bryozoa colony – Stoney Lake – 2013 – Rob Welsh

 

Aug 072017
 

Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) (5)
– Reported Jul 31, 2017 10:00 by Rick Lauzon
– Bellmere Winds G.C., Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “very easy to see both adults and juveniles all around the golf course, looking from the parking lot, and up and down the road beside the course on the hydro poles. There are certainly more than 5 birds on this property. I reported these birds at the end of June as well, but the report was apparently never confirmed by the ebird reviewer.”

Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) (3)
– Reported Aug 01, 2017 10:32 by Drew Monkman
– Northey Bay, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Two adults and one juvenile seen by Dennis Johnson on his property. ”

Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) On July 26, Marina Kosicheck of 1635 Cedar Valley Road, Fraserville, ON, reported a Red-headed Woodpecker that had been frequenting her black sunflower seed feeder since July 19. It was still present on August 8.

Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis) (1)
– Reported Aug 07, 2017 12:06 by Donald A. Sutherland
– Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “on trail from parking lot to visitor centre”

Sora (Porzana carolina) (2)
– Reported Aug 05, 2017 07:38 by Peterborough County Birds Database
– Lakefield–Sewage Lagoons, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

Gray Jays – Nov. 17, 2016 – County Road 507 north of Buckhorn – Marie Windover

Sora (rail) – Wikimeda

Juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker – Northey Bay Road – Dennis Johnson – Aug. 6, 2017

Juvenile and adult Red-headed Woodpecker – Northey Bay Road – Dennis Johnson – Aug. 6, 2017

 

 

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

Jun 272017
 

I was observing the Common Loon family (2 adults and 2 very new chicks) on the Otonabee River just south of Lakefield today, June 27. A pair of loons nested here last year as well. As I watched, a Bald Eagle swooped by and posted himself in a nearby tree. I know baby loons have many natural predators but I had never considered eagles as a potential threat.

Gail Mclaren

Nesting loon on Otonabee River south of Lakefield – May 31, 2016 – Jacob Rodenburg

Bald Eagles – Jan. 24, 2015 – Lock 24 on Otonabee River – Tom Northey

Jun 272017
 

The Hairy Woodpecker with a yellow crown came back to my feeder on June 26 and even posed for me! I was confused by the yellow coloration on the crown, instead of a red patch on the back of the head.

Barb Logan

Note: I did some research on this and apparently juvenile Hairy Woodpeckers occasionally have an orange or yellow patch on the crown. Red on the crown, however, is more typical of juvenile Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers. D.M.

Juvenile Hairy Woodpecker with yellow crown – June 2017 – Barb Logan

Juvenile Hairy Woodpecker 2 with yellow crown – June 2017 – Barb Logan

Jun 262017
 

Regarding the Nessus Sphinx reported by Stephenie Armstrong, they are likely fairly common here in Peterborough County, though I rarely see them myself. They do, however, seem to be a day-flier, and can therefore be confused with a Hemaris species like the Snowberry Clearwing.

A few weeks ago, at my friend’s place near Warsaw, we were getting up to two dozen Gallium Sphinx
(Bedstraw Hawkmoths) at a time at her sprawling honeysuckle bush at dusk. More to follow soon about them. I got some excellent pictures!

I’ve seen 41 Monarchs now, and the first was the earliest ever for me – May 30th!
(Only one Giant Swallowtail, however, and it was on the same date as the first Monarch).

Tim Dyson

Nessus Sphinx – Note yellow bands on abdomen – Stephenie Armstrong – June 2017