May 302019
 

Cuckoos eating Eastern Tent Caterpillars: Today, May 31, I came across a pair of Black-billed Cuckoos near Burnt River  that were eating tent caterpillars. I was not aware that birds eat these caterpillars. Carl Welbourn, Kawartha Camera Club

Black-billed Cuckoo eating tent caterpillars – Burnt River – May 31, 2019 – Carl Welbourn

Black-billed Cuckoo 2 – Burnt River – May 31, 2019 – Carl Welbourn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) (2)
– Reported May 30, 2019 12:25 by Sheila Collett
– Lakefield Marsh, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Large white swans with long necks and orange/black bills.”

Mute Swans – Sept. 26, 2016 – Drew Monkman

Sora (rail) – Wikimeda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sora (Porzana carolina) (1)
– Reported May 30, 2019 11:02 by Matthew Tobey
– Peterborough–Fairbairn Street wetland, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida) (3)
– Reported May 30, 2019 08:55 by Dave Milsom
– Cavan-Monaghan–Jones Quarter Line, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Singing. Regular at this location.”

Clay-colored Sparrow – Wikimedia

Blue-winged Warbler – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora cyanoptera) (2)
– Reported May 30, 2019 08:55 by Brian Wales
– Cavan-Monaghan–Jones Quarter Line, Peterborough, Ontario
– Map: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=p&z=13&q=44.2567769,-78.5402148&ll=44.2567769,-78.5402148
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56913976
– Comments: “Pure birds. Both singing typical BWWA song.”

Gruesome discovery: I had a rather gruesome but interesting discovery this morning, May 30, at about 6:30. I went to fill one of my bird feeders and found the decapitated head of a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak in one of the feeder holes. I found the body a few feet away atop a fence row of grape vines and Virginia creeper. One wing was mangled and there looked like a puncture wound on the abdomen. The body was cold but not yet stiff, so I’m guessing she died sometime early this morning. My hypothesis is that she was feeding when a hawk or owl attacked; when there was the resistance from the head detaching, the predator dropped the body??? I don’t know, but that’s all I can think of. It’s sad, because she was probably sitting on eggs or hatchlings.  Annamarie Beckel, Lakefield

Note: I suspect an owl got the bird. Decapitation is common owl behaviour. That being said, it could also have been the work of a cat or, from what I’ve read, even a grackle. D.M.

Sparrow-like female Rose-breasted Grosbeak – Cindy Bartoli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) (2)
– Reported May 27, 2019 14:20 by Brent Turcotte
– Mather’s Corners Meltwater Pond, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

Least Sandpiper – Wikimedia

Semipalmated Sandpipers – Drew Monkman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) (6)
– Reported May 27, 2019 14:20 by Brent Turcotte
– Mather’s Corners Meltwater Pond, Peterborough, Ontario
– Map: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=p&z=13&q=44.2269157,-78.2073089&ll=44.2269157,-78.2073089
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56866100

Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) (1)
– Reported May 27, 2019 14:20 by Brent Turcotte
– Mather’s Corners Meltwater Pond, Peterborough, Ontario
– Map: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=p&z=13&q=44.2269157,-78.2073089&ll=44.2269157,-78.2073089
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56866100
– Comments: “continuing individual”

Short-billed Dowitchers – Blenheim Sewage Lagoon – May 12, 2016 Drew Monkman

Cliff Swallow building nest – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) (2)
– Reported May 29, 2019 15:16 by Olivia Maillet
– Trent University, Peterborough CA-ON (44.3577,-78.2907), Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56874182

Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius) (1)
– Reported May 28, 2019 07:30 by Roy Burton
– STEWART HALL, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56884990
– Comments: “brick red male”

Orchard Oriole – Wikimedia

male Blue-winged Teal in flight (Wikimedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue-winged Teal (Spatula discors) (1)
– Reported May 28, 2019 18:52 by Olivia Maillet
– Lakefield–Sewage Lagoons, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56851453

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) (1)
– Reported May 27, 2019 15:33 by Warren Dunlop
– Squirrel Creek–4th Line Bridge, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Media: 2 Photos
– Comments: “Calling and singing from treetops. Very active.
Have had at this location previously.”

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Karl Egressy

Red-headed Woodpecker – July 2018 – Kingsley Hubbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) (1)
– Reported May 27, 2019 08:00 by Joe Latour
– Smith-Ennismore-Lakefield, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56833702
– Comments: “Landed on our sunflower seed feeder for a few seconds, then flew up into an ash tree. Gone by the time I got my camera. First Red-headed woodpecker I’ve seen around here in over 20 years.”

Greater Scaup (Aythya marila) (1)
– Reported May 27, 2019 15:35 by John Bick
– Lakefield–Sewage Lagoons, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56814701
– Comments: “onging bird”

Greater Scaup (male) photo from Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) (1)
– Reported May 27, 2019 12:41 by Thomas Unrau
– 130–182 Fire Route 10, North Kawartha CA-ON (44.5658,-78.1252), Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56798531
– Comments: “Silhouetted on a tall dead tree calling repeatedly. ”

Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora cyanoptera) (1)
– Reported May 27, 2019 07:57 by Dave Milsom
– Peterborough–Hubble Road, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Media: 1 Photo
– Comments: “Apparent pure BWWA seen well singing typical BWWA song.”

Red-necked Phalarope: Seen May 27 on Stony Lake near the centre of Lower Stony near some islets. It was swimming in deep water (catching surface insects) and more than 50 metres from an islet. Rob Welsh

Red-necked Phalarope – Rob Welsh – Lower Stony Lake – May 27, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Chestnut project: – May 23, 2019 – Last Fall I harvested a total of six plump, seemingly viable chestnuts from two of my American Chestnut trees up near Crystal Lake, three from each tree. I put them into moist (but not wet) sawdust in the refrigerator for the Winter and then planted them in seeding medium on the Vernal Equinox. I’m happy to report that as of today (May 10, 2019), five of the six chestnuts have sprouted and I hold out hope that the last will also. I plan to harden the seedlings off and put them in the ground after the last frost. I now have proof that my trees can produce viable nuts. What remains to be seen is whether or not they can propagate successfully in the wild. My trees are now quite large and I’m hoping that all three produce nuts this year, for the first time. I will collect as many viable nuts as possible and share them with you, if you would like. I will keep some to plant as I did last year but I would also like to do the penultimate test: Plant some directly in the ground in the Fall. The ultimate test will then be to have the squirrels, etc., plant the nuts and have American Chestnut trees come up as a result.  Michael Doran, Peterborough

American Chestnut leaves and nuts (Wikimedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brown Thrasher: This morning, May 20, my wife and I noticed a bird we haven’t seen at our feeder before and after looking it up online we found it to be a Brown Thrasher. Dave Bosco, Fairmount Blvd, Peterborough

Brown Thrasher – May 20, 2019 – Peterborough – Dave Bosco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Parula – On May 20, this bird drew my attention with its lovely song. I couldn’t get more than one photo with it sitting still as it was very “flitty”. I think there was more than one in the trees of our yard. I believe it’s a Northern Parula. A new bird for me!  Nancy Cafik

Northern Parula – May 20, 2019 – Nancy Cafik

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sightings on Rotary Trail: This morning, May 18, was a busy day for birding on the Rotary Trail behind TASSS. I was able to photograph an American Redstart, Northern Parula, Blackburnian Warbler, Gray Catbird, House Wren and a Least Flycatcher. Carl Welbourn

Blackburnian Warbler – Rotary Trail at TASSS – May 20 – Carl Welbourn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Busy morning in Bridgenorth: The migration today was amazing! These are all from this morning, May 17. Jeff Keller

Yellow-rumped Warbler – May 17, 2019 – Jeff Keller

Baltimore Oriole – May 17, 2019 – Bridgenorth – Jeff Keller

Scarlet Tanager – May 17, 2019 – Jeff Keller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baltimore Oriole at feeder: Just reporting that we had a Baltimore Oriole at one of our hummingbird feeders at 7 p.m. on May 13. I couldn’t grab my camera fast enough. Wendy Marrs, Ridgewood Road, Peterborough

Baltimore Oriole on hummingbird feeder – Doug Gibson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Busy morning at the feeder: I just wanted to forward you some of pics from our backyard visitors. We have been pleasantly surprised by the number of new visitors this year.  Nima Taghaboni

Note: I don’t recall a spring in which so many people have had Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Baltimore Orioles at their feeders. I suspect that the cold weather has meant that there is little insect food available, which would make life especially hard for orioles. We had one on our feeder that was eating peanut bits! A first for me. Other people have seen them eating suet. D.M.

Baltimore Orioles – May 14, 2019 – Nima Taghaboni

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks – Nima Taghaboni – May 14, 2019

Indigo Bunting – May 14, 2019 – Nima Taghaboni

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grosbeaks and oriole at feeder: I saw some amazing birds at our feeder this morning, May 10. There were 5 male and 1 female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks as well as a Baltimore Oriole. Bet Curry

Nesting Great Horned Owl and Merlin: I went looking for the Great Horned Owl that’s been popping up on e-bird near Airport Road… and found it! I’ve attached pictures of the adult and chick that I was able to see. They were quite far so these pictures are as close as I could get. There’s also a big nest on one of the trees on the Sacred Heart Church property (across from the New Canadians Centre parking lot) on Romaine Street. At first I thought it was a hawk, but a birder friend said it’s a Merlin because of its size and calls. Reem Ali

Merlin – May 10, 2019 – Reem Ali

Great Horned Owl chick – Ptbo Airport – May 10, 2019 – Reem Ali

Great Horned Owl – Ptbo Airport – May 10, 2019 – Reem Ali

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black-crowned Night Heron – I managed to get a picture of this bird today, May 7, on the Rotary Trail. Carl Welbourn

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broad-winged Hawks: On May 5th, we saw a pair of Broad-winged Hawks perform their courtship display up over our heads while we were working outside. The pair hooked talons and spun around before flying off together. That was a real ‘WOW’ moment.   Stephenie Armstrong, Warsaw

Broad-winged Hawk – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greater Yellowlegs and Wilson’s Snipe:  I found these birds on a trip along Brown’s Line on the morning of May 5. Carl Welbourn

Greater Yellowlegs – May 5, 2019 – Brown’s Line – Carl Welbourn

Wilson’s Snipe – May 5, 2019 – Brown’s Line – Carl Welbourn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Bald Eagle shots from Lower Buckhorn Lake: I kayaked this morning, May 5, on Lower Buckhorn Lake and took these photos. Robin Williams Blake

Bald Eagle – May 5, 2019 – Lower Buckhorn – Robin Williams Blake

Bald Eagle – May 5, 2019 – Lower Buckhorn – Robin Williams Blake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bald Eagle on nest – May 5, 2019 – Robin Williams Blake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indigo Bunting at feeder: I had my first sighting ever of an Indigo Bunting.  I first spotted him yesterday, May 3, in my backyard around 6:15 p.m. and he hung around for over an hour.  He’s been back this morning and this afternoon too!  Are they common in our neck of the woods? I’m in the Old West End near Queen Mary. (Note: The bird was still around as late as May 26.) Monique Beneteau

Note: Yes, they are fairly common and sometimes show up at feeders in the spring. If you know the song, you can hear them all over the Kawarthas, especially in open, brushy areas. D.M.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 182017
 

The news about the American Chestnut trees that I have been bringing along up near Kinmount for the last 15 years is not good, I’m afraid. First: None of the nuts I planted last Fall sprouted so I had no new seedlings to plant this year. Second: I think because we had such a cold and wet Spring, only one of my three trees produced blossoms. Being dioecious (separate male and female trees), this meant there was virtually no hope of producing viable nuts this Summer, unless there are surviving American Chestnut trees nearby. Third: I hope it was due to a late frost but the new growth of leaves on all three of my trees exhibited noticeable deformation, although the remainder of the trees remained healthy-looking until they dropped their leaves. I’m hopeful that this isn’t a symptom of that devastating blight.
I am happy to report though that we saw bats at our cabin regularly through the Summer. I would say that their numbers are coming back up there. We also saw quite a few Monarch butterflies; more than in the past several Summers. We have never seen so many Moose as this summer: Two siblings (I presume) together on a game camera in the Spring, one big bull Moose in September and another, different bull Moose just a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, only two days after we saw the first bull Moose in our meadow, huge rack and all, my wife had a collision with him on Crystal Lake Road. Miraculously, and thankfully, she was completely unhurt, although the car was extensively damaged. The only other bit of good news coming from that is that the Moose ran off into the woods, apparently unhurt. The Moose we caught on camera a couple of weeks ago was younger, with a smaller rack and he appeared healthy.
We saw a Quail crossing Fire Route 397, and I believe they are considered endangered in Ontario now. For the first time ever we captured a Pine Marten (I believe) on a game camera. We also caught many does, a few bucks, several foxes, turkeys, raccoons, porcupines, rabbits, coyotes/wolves/coywolves . . . and a hunter trespassing on our property, shotgun in hand, who stole one of our game cameras. As always, notifying the police is a waste of time. He better not have shot one of our quail, or anything else for that matter.

Michael Doran, Peterborough

Pine Marten – Gord Belyea

American Chestnut leaves and nuts (Wikimedia)

Nov 202016
 

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that my American Chestnut trees produced what appear to be a few viable nuts. The bad news is that the number of viable nuts is much smaller than I had hoped for. American Chestnuts are monoecious, so although the largest tree produced many catkins and many seedcases, only one of the other two trees produced catkins, and not very many. (The second tree was topped by a moose a few years ago, setting it back a year or two.) So the second tree produced one solitary seedcase, compared with probably fifty for the main tree, and was not efficient in pollinating the main tree. I was only able to recover three viable nuts from both trees.

American Chestnut leaves and nuts (Wikimedia)

American Chestnut leaves and nuts (Wikimedia)

Not much else to report, except to say how annoyed I am with the Black Bears up at the cabin (near Crystal Lake). They have completely destroyed a beautiful hawthorn  tree and almost completely destroyed another while removing the bumper crop of haws. The 5 cm long thorns didn’t seem to be a deterrent at all. After he wrecked this tree (I have a mug shot of him – a BIG male) he revisited the yellow jacket nest he dug up earlier in the summer. No pain receptors I guess.

Michael Doran

Aug 282016
 

I have some news that I think is important. On Friday night (August 19) we were driving home from some friends’ place over at the 5th line of Selwyn near the Lakefield Highway, and coming back we saw at least ten bats flying above the road over the km or two between their place and Chemong Road. Also, we were up at our cabin in the woods on the weekend, near Crystal Lake and just south of Kinmount and there were at least two bats flying around after dusk. Although they were once plentiful up there, we haven’t seen them for several years, until this Summer. One came out of its normal daytime roost on the west gable of the house on one particularly hot afternoon and had a bit of a rest on the screen of our porch (picture attached; note the Daddy Longlegs living dangerously beside him).

Probable Little Brown Bat - Crystal Lake near Kinmount - August 2016 - Michael Doran

Probable Little Brown Bat – Crystal Lake near Kinmount – August 2016 – Michael Doran

I am also happy to say that the American Chestnut tree that I wrote to you about four years ago (See Nov. 11, 2013) that had produced a few chestnuts (but hasn’t since) is now laden with nuts. Better still, one of the other three American Chestnut saplings that I planted in 2002 also has one single nut on it. I figure that’s a good start. I hope to beat the squirrels to most of these and plant them, ultimately spreading the saplings throughout our property and beyond. With large enough numbers, I am hoping that the many nut-loving animals that are around won’t find all of them. Our trees haven’t shown any sign of susceptibility to the blight that killed off most of the trees in North America early in the 20th century (I presume they used to grow in our area up there).

I bought the American Chestnut plantings as seedlings about 30-40 cm tall from the Grand River Conservation Centre in September 2002. The tree that is now loaded with nuts is about 5-7 m tall and its diameter at chest height would be about 12-15 cm. The other two, which grow in shadier spots, are maybe a metre or two shorter and proportionately slimmer. One of them was topped by a moose a few years ago (grrr!!!!), partly explaining its stature; nevertheless, it has one single nut on it! I was told when I bought them that they were grown from chestnuts that came from trees in a small, surviving enclave of American Chestnut trees somewhere in the GR conservation area. I don’t know if that’s good news or bad; I hope it means they have a natural immunity to the fungus.

American Chestnut Tree - Michael Doran - August, 2016

American Chestnut Tree – Michael Doran – August, 2016

American Chestnut - Pennsylvania - 1914 (Wikimedia)

American Chestnut – Pennsylvania – 1914 (Wikimedia)

American Chestnut leaves and nuts (Wikimedia)

American Chestnut leaves and nuts (Wikimedia)

We have seen only one Monarch Butterfly at a time up at the cabin this Summer. I’m hopeful that the one I saw this weekend is the offspring of the one I saw earlier in the Summer. Their numbers are much reduced up there over the last decade too, sad to say.

In other news, we saw a Scarlet Tanager this summer up there (I have a grainy photo to prove it, taken through the porch screen), the first time in many years too. It has been very dry up there (no surprise, I’m sure), but it is the best year for Evening Primrose that we have seen since 1993.

Bears aren’t as plentiful as they once were, but at least they are well behaved, unlike in 2004 when a gang of four of them tried to break into our cabin while we were there.

Last year, for the first time ever, we saw three Eastern Bluebirds checking out the bird house that I put up in the meadow. Sadly (for us), they found more appropriate accommodation. We saw two again this spring, but they too moved on. I don’t think that the presence of a Sharp-shinned Hawk while they were inspecting the house helped. So I will tweak the bird house and hope for better luck next year (I used American plans; our bluebirds should be a bit bigger, it being colder here, so I will make the opening just a bit bigger).

I love your column and books. Please keep writing!

Michael Doran, Crystal Lake, near Kinmount, ON