Dec 082017

N.B. Whenever I refer to “home”, it is between Warsaw and Lakefield, south of the Sawer Creek Wetland.

Passerines and other birds and animals.

  • A Yellow-billed Cuckoo flew over my kayak as I began to paddle up the Indian River from Back Dam Park at Warsaw on September 9th. It called twice upon landing across the river.
  • This was the last date I saw the Great Egret that I had originally discovered there on August 5th.
  • Two Red Crossbills were also seen and heard a little way up the river on that day, and others were seen and/or heard several times over the course of the fall at Warsaw, at home, and spots around Stoney Lake, Northey’s Bay Road, and Nepthon. No real “flocks” as yet, but birds numbered from one to six individuals when encountered. Most recent were six at home on December 5th.
  • An American Pipit was skulking about in a pasture south of Long Lake, NW of Warsaw, on September 28th.
  • Pine Siskins have been occasional from early October to present. With the exception of 40+ birds seen near Warsaw on November 22nd, (and not unlike the crossbills that have been around), siskin numbers remain rather low.
  • On October 26th, at Nephton Ridge, I saw my last Monarch of the year. It was #532 for 2017, which is more than double my previous highest annual count since I began counting them seven years ago. Of the 532, 31 were observed as road fatalities.
  • Also on October 26th, I heard a Greater Yellowlegs call before dawn from the starry sky above at home, and another near Nephton Ridge later that morning.
  • One Tundra Swan with nine Canada Geese was seen flying overhead at home on October 27th, 28th and 30th. A lone Tundra Swan flew over the same location on November 2nd. I wondered if it was the one who had been flying with the nine geese?
  • On September 24th, I stepped out of dense cedars into a pasture and found myself very close to two Sandhill Cranes. They seemed at ease as long as I stayed in motion, just walking about as they were. Whenever I stopped or crouched, they moved away from me.

  • The loud calling of just over 300 Sandhill Cranes in two groups on Nov. 17th was heard as the birds were heading westward over my house. I photographed each entire flock at wide angle so I could later zoom the images on the computer and get an exact count. The first flock at 2:13pm numbered 173 birds and the second group four minutes later contained 128 for a combined total of 301 cranes. These birds were very likely the same, or associated with the large groups that Bill Buddle had reported at about 2:30pm the same day over Lakefield.

  • Ed Heuvel and I saw a much smaller flock of seven birds over his house between Cottesloe and Norwood on Nov. 23rd.
  • No doubt due to the warmth of early December, two Eastern Chipmunks were seen running across Round Lake Road north of Havelock on December 4th. They had all but disappeared not too long ago, and I’ve now seen five back out just this month.
  • Another warm weather sighting was of a Leopard Frog hopping across the yard at home on December 5th. I took some photos, and half an hour later, it was nowhere to be found.

  • On December 8th 2017, Ed Heuvel reported a road-killed Virginia Opossum he had just seen along Hwy 7 south of Sherbrooke Street.

   Raptors of interest

  • On September 11th, an immature Peregrine appeared amidst twenty-four kettling Turkey Vultures NW of Warsaw. The falcon harassed a couple of the vultures before peeling off on its own, heading SW.

  • As is my habit if I am out in the yard after dark during the fall or winter, I called for owls. From about the 24th of September until about the 3rd of November, Saw-whet Owls move about during their annual fall migration. The first that responded to my calls this year was a single bird on September 29th. On October 18th, however, no less than four of the little owls showed up inside of about a minute of my first attempt at calling. One was in the spruces to the east of the yard, while the other three were surrounding me, within the small grove of apple trees where I stood. With the three of them looking at each other more than at me, I found it easy to take some photos of the two that were closest to me, (about two metres away).
  • Dates later than the average “end date” of their normal migration that I have called one in this year have been November 8th, 12th, 27th and December 1st. These likely represent one or more wintering birds, and all have been at home near Warsaw.

  • Ed Heuvel flushed a Short-eared Owl from the ground on the morning of Oct. 17th on his 40 acre property NW of Norwood while out for a walk with his dog. Ed has turned what was once a sloping old field into a thriving tallgrass prairie, having seeded it with many native prairie plant species. I thought it quite fitting for such a bird to turn up in this “new” prairie grassland habitat. Good one, Ed!!
  • Paddling up the Indian River from Back Dam again on October 21st, Angela and I saw a few good raptors during our time on the water. First was an immature Northern Goshawk flying overhead, and then, about two minutes later, an immature Cooper’s Hawk following almost the exact same “path”. A while later, paddling back downstream, Angela spotted an adult male Merlin as it perched in the dead top branches of a spruce. Driving back through Warsaw, a Red-tailed Hawk soared low over the village. We headed up Payne’s Line towards home and spotted the first Golden Eagle of the season (a sub-adult bird) slowly soaring not far from the large metal tower there. We took a few photos and headed home. The next day, I saw another (immature this time) Golden Eagle fly over, east to west, from the yard at home.

  • I was accompanied by three friends, (Drew Monkman, Martin Parker, and Ed Heuvel) on Oct. 26th for a few hours of raptor watching in the Nephton Ridge/Kosh Lake area at the east end of County Road #6. My one intent for the day was to point out to Drew, his first “Ontario” Golden Eagle. Well, unless the “eagle sp.” we saw that morning was a Golden, we did not see one. However, we were treated to 8 Bald Eagles which, apart from one 4th winter bird, all were adults. At one point, four adult Balds soared together directly overhead. A while later, two adults came along together, and after that, another by itself. Since there was such a lack of immature eagles, and the fact that four adults had come from different directions, soared a while together, and then dispersed somewhat northward… we questioned how many of them might have actually even been migrants, or perhaps local breeding birds. Additional raptors for the day were five Red-tailed Hawks, and two (one adult and one immature) Red-shouldered Hawks.

  • Just after 11:00am on Nov. 11th a group of large birds caught my eye to the north of the house. On closer inspection, I could see three Common Ravens dive-bombing an immature Golden Eagle. I watched them for several minutes before the ravens went east and the eagle, west.

  • On October 29th a dark morph Rough-legged Hawk was seen perched in a tree along County Rd #6 just west of Camp Line. It was the first of the season for me, and since, I’ve seen another eight Rough-legs between Norwood and Lakefield. Of the nine seen so far, three have been dark morph birds.
  • Having had seen no immature Bald Eagles during the autumn season as yet, on the morning of Nov. 17th, two 1st winter birds, and then a 2nd winter bird appeared soaring over my yard in a ten-minute period. They all seemed to come from the west, and once a considerable altitude was reached, they each headed off in completely different directions. I suspect that they had all spent some time feeding together, and were now dispersing. It was only two days after the annual rifle deer hunt had ended, and I wondered if they had just dined on the gut pile of a deer left somewhere by hunters.
  • The great backyard birding continued on November 26th, as no sooner had I sat in the yard with my morning coffee, an immature Northern Goshawk flew from east to west. If that wasn’t enough, my fourth Golden Eagle of the season (an adult) appeared over the forest to the east, soared two circles, and headed back east just after noon.
  • Nov. 29th an adult rufous morph Red-tailed Hawk soared over the yard. I had to run in and get the scope as it looked not like a typical Red-tail. The rusty-red undersides and the dark brown back were easily seen with the optics. It had been a long time since I’ve seen this variety of the species.
  • On the night of December 01 – 02, after calling at home for Screech, Saw-whet, and Boreal Owls, (the latter, because you never know if you don’t try), I finally stirred an Eastern Screech Owl who called for quite a while afterwards. And briefly, a Northern Saw-whet Owl answered my calls with the “tew, tew, tew” call. About an hour later, just after mid-night, while bringing in some firewood, the pair of Northern Barred Owls that live on the property year-round, began calling with hoots which soon morphed into their monkey-like “whacka, whacka, whacka” calls. Not too bad for spending a little time in the yard after dark!!
  • Just after 2:00pm on December 6th, I saw a large, pale bird far out to the east, soaring in wide circles. It appeared gull-like as it moved quite fast in the strong winds. I got the scope on it just before it passed in behind the treetops and out of my view. Revealed by the scope was the darkish under-body contrasting with entirely white undersides of the wings of an immature Snowy Owl. Unless my memory is misfiring, this would be the first of this species I have seen this century. If that wasn’t enough stimulation for one day, a little over an hour later, I saw a second Snowy for the day as it flew into strong south winds at 3:15pm. The latter bird was decidedly whiter than the first, with very few dark markings. The first bird simply would not show up in the photos I took, (too far), and the camera was nowhere near me as I watched the second owl sail past much closer. Both were heading in a north-to-south direction, lending a little support to the idea that they might have been in migration at the time.
  • On December 7th while I still lay in bed, through the window next to me, I spotted a 1st winter Bald Eagle fly past over the trees to the east. It soared briefly and then continued on in a SE direction.
  • While moving the fallen foliage around with the leaf blower on December 8th at home, I looked up, (as I find I constantly am doing these days) and saw two large, dark birds very high almost straight above me. Before I was able to grab the scope, I could see that they were eagles. Once in focus, the white bases of tails and primaries with all other plumage completely dark, identified them both as 1st winter Golden Eagles. A strong and steady SW wind pushed them NW of me. They were only about ten wingspans (about 20 m) apart and one was just a little ahead of the other. They slowed briefly once or twice, but never paused to soar while I had them in view.

1st winter Golden Eagle – USFWS

Tim Dyson – Warsaw

Mar 112017

I saw first saw this fabulous red phase Eastern Screech-owl on the 9th Line of Selwyn at about 8:30 this morning, March 11. I was bringing home hay and went by it three times over the course of two and a half hours. It was still there and cute as a button. The owl was quite compact initially but seemed to stand taller the longer I stayed, so I got on my way and let it return to its nap. I went back and got this photograph at 3:00 pm. What a treat!

Kathy McCue, Curve Lake

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

Feb 062017

This Eastern Screech-owl showed up in our drive shed in Ennismore on Saturday, February 4. We live just south of the Yankee Line.

Steve Plunkett, Ennismore

Note: Screech-owls may be increasing in the Kawarthas. A record four birds were tallied on the 2016 Peterborough Christmas Bird Count.  D.M.

Eastern Screech-owl – Feb. 5, 2017 – Ennismore – Steve Plunkett

Eastern Screech-owl – Feb. 5, 2017 – Ennismore – Steve Plunkett

Jan 212017

Common Loon (Gavia immer) (1)
– Reported Jan 20, 2017 12:00 by Dave Milsom
– Lakefield Marsh, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “continuing bird diving near red marker buoy”

Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa) (1)
– Reported Jan 15, 2017 14:15 by Michael Light
– Harold Town Conservation Area, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Sighted in dense center understood, flew from perch once Sighted. Much darker than barred owl, with no barring on chest.”

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) (1)
– Reported Jan 18, 2017 12:26 by Colin Jones
– Peterborough–300 Water St to Edgewater Blvd Loop, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Continuing bird”
Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) (1)
– Reported Jan 14, 2017 14:30 by Maureen Smith
– Yard Warsaw On, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “uses wood duck box located across the river. Occasional visits”

Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor) (1)
– Reported Jan 19, 2017 15:25 by Martyn Obbard
– John Earl Chase Memorial Park, Peterborough, Ontario
– Media: 1 Photo
– Comments: “first observed perched on hydro line on Anchor Bay Rd., then flew and perched atop dead branch of deciduous tree in field to south”

Northern Shrike – Tom Northey

Eastern Screech Owl at nesting box – Nov. 2014 – Tim Dyson

Great Gray Owl – Tom Northey 2014

Common Loon – Lakefield – Dec. 19, 2016 – Sue Paradisis

Gray Catbird – Wikimedia

Dec 232016

Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) (1)
– Reported Dec 18, 2016 04:00 by Iain Rayner
– PTBO – CBC Area 3 (Wedge from river to cty rd 4), Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Responded to whinnying playback. In area near Water St N. Tim Hortons.”

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) (1)
– Reported Dec 18, 2016 04:00 by Iain Rayner
– PTBO – CBC Area 3 (Wedge from river to cty rd 4), Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Calling at University Rd Wetland 4:10am”

Barred Owl (Strix varia) (1)
– Reported Dec 22, 2016 10:10 by Kyle Cameron
– CA-Ontario- KLT Blue Trail, Peterborough, Ontario
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Dec 22, 2016 08:45 by Iain Rayner
– PTBO – Robinson Place, Charlotte St. at George St., Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Adult flew up onto the building”

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

Peregrine eating Rock Pigeon – Loree Stephens  – Jan. 13, 2015 – Peterborough Regional Health Centre

Barred Owl - Karl Egressy

Barred Owl – Karl Egressy

Great Horned Owl - Fleming Campus in Peterborough - Drew Monkman

Great Horned Owl – Fleming Campus in Peterborough – Drew Monkman

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

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

Sep 262016

Eastern Screech-Owl (Northern) (Megascops asio [asio Group]) (1)
– Reported Sep 25, 2016 20:16 by Luke Berg
– Peterborough–Mervin Line, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Singing on the south side of the road about 200m west of the east end of the road. ”

Great Horned Owl (Great Horned) (Bubo virginianus [virginianus Group]) (1)
– Reported Sep 25, 2016 20:16 by Luke Berg
– Peterborough–Mervin Line, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Seen perched on the telephone wires along the side of the road as we drove in. ”

Great Horned Owl - Fleming Campus in Peterborough - Drew Monkman

Great Horned Owl – Fleming Campus in Peterborough – Drew Monkman

Eastern Screech-owl - Feb. 24, 2015 - Michael Gillespie

Eastern Screech-owl – Feb. 24, 2015 – Michael Gillespie

Mar 172016

Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) (1)
– Reported Mar 15, 2016 23:45 by Scott Gibson
– 1_Gibson Home – Bissonnette Dr., Peterborough, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “continuing. giving clear tremolo, closer to house than on other dates.”

Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) (1)
– Reported Mar 14, 2016 21:00 by Basil Conlin
– Peterborough–Trent University Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Area, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “called twice, both times briefly and from far away”

Barred Owl (Strix varia) (2)
– Reported Mar 16, 2016 00:05 by Martyn Obbard
– 67 Sumcot Drive, Galway-Cavendish & Harvey Township, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “1 initially calling. Heard while walking dog. Replied to my call. Then 2nd bird joined in; similar to ‘pair hootin’ it up’ track on Sibley app.”

Barred Owl - Gwen Forsyth

Barred Owl – Gwen Forsyth

Eastern Screech-owl - Feb. 24, 2015 - Michael Gillespie

Eastern Screech-owl – Feb. 24, 2015 – Michael Gillespie

Feb 252015

This little fellow, an Eastern Screech-owl, perched on our suet chunk between 4:30 and 5:30 yesterday afternoon (Feb. 24). We thought maybe he just wanted to get out of the wind as we didn’t see him pecking at the suet, unless he was attracted by the many small birds in the vicinity. It seems unusual for a screech owl to be out in the daytime although the light was beginning to fade… note the dark bill.

Michael Gillespie, Keene

Eastern Screech-owl - Feb. 24, 2015 - Michael Gillespie

Eastern Screech-owl – Feb. 24, 2015 – Michael Gillespie

Feb 242015

Last night I turned on the deck light and was just about to go out to fill the heated birdbath when just 6 feet away from me, I spotted an Eastern Screech-owl on the lowest branch of the spruce that grows beside the deck. It was up against the trunk of the tree looking down at the deck. I will often scatter seed there when the platform feeders are apt to be covered in snow. That area stays clear because of the spruce. There may have been something of interest to the owl under the deck eating seed. It dropped down and out of sight.
Sue Paradisis, Tudor Crescent

Eastern Screech-owl - Carl & Rose Mary Silvestri

Eastern Screech-owl – Carl & Rose Mary Silvestri

Eastern Screech-owl  Toronto - Tanya Payne – Nykolation

Eastern Screech-owl Toronto – Tanya Payne – Nykolation

Dec 312014

The Petroglyph’s Christmas Bird Count, centered on Petroglyph’s Provincial Park, was held on Saturday, December 27, 2014.  Twenty-seven birders took part. 2717 individual birds were counted.

Number of species: 38 (Just two shy of the record high of 40.)

Species recorded in a record high number: Red-tailed Hawk (10 vs previous high of 8), Herring Gull (8 vs 5), Great Horned Owl (3 vs 1), Barred Owl (11 vs 7), White-breasted Nuthatch (233 vs 119)

New species for the Count: Eastern Screech Owl (2), Merlin (1)

First time since 2009 (previously annual): Gray Jay (2)

Also of note:  1 Sharp-shinned Hawk (2cd time on Count),  5 Bald Eagles (average), 48 Downy Woodpecker (considerably higher than average), 456 Blue Jays (high), 43 Red-breasted Nuthatches (very low), 1 Winter Wren (only 4th time on Count), 106 Golden-crowned Kinglets (close to previous high of 120), 48 American Goldfinch (very low)

Colin Jones, co-ordinator

Merlin (Karl Egressy)

Merlin (Karl Egressy)

Gray Jay -Tom Northey Algonquin Park - March 2014

Gray Jay -Tom Northey Algonquin Park – March 2014

Nov 302014

Six years after putting the thing up, an Eastern Screech Owl has finally moved into a box that I had installed near Stoney Lake. It was on November 14th 2014 when I looked out my friend`s cottage window and saw the little owl’s puckered face staring back at me. Screech Owls do not only use nest boxes for nesting, and indeed it is quite common, (and especially in November and December), for these little beasts to also use the boxes as roosting sites. Typically, (though not exclusively), they will begin to appear at the entrance during cold, sunny, and relatively still mornings in late fall and early winter. Those that have moved in by winter, will often be seen perched at the entrance of a box or tree cavity roost off and on during the months that follow. During the colder days, the owls like to roost while facing the sun, which at that time of year, is generally low in sky throughout the day, and thus, shines upon more of their body surface and warms them. This aids them in retaining body heat, and enhances energy conservation through a passive solar process. When placing an owl box out, you will certainly increase your chances of an owl moving in if you face the entrance of your box towards the south, or south/east.

If you have an owl using a nest box at this time of year, it certainly shows that the owl is making some use of your creation, and that will indicate that it may also use the same site in the coming spring as a nesting place. If this is to be the case, (and most often by sometime in February/March), you may notice “two faces” one morning, peering back at you from the entrance hole. It is very important then, to keep your distance, (including reducing a lot of eye contact), with the birds. This is because that if two owls are roosting together here, it is without doubt, a bonded pair, and your box has a great chance of being used by them for nesting in the coming months. Any disturbance now however, may cause them to abandon the box altogether, and move to an alternate site for nesting. I would enjoy reading posts from others who have screech owls using their boxes for roosting and/or nesting, if anyone else cares to write about it.

At 8:30am on November 25th 2014, (and after a night of extremely gusty wind), I walked out onto the porch just in time to see an adult Golden Eagle overhead heading east towards Belmont Lake. The bird was low, (about 100mtrs up), and although it was still quite windy at the time, the eagle maintained its direction of flight in the stiff southerly wind, by sharp sideways tilts (to the left, and then to the right) of its tail. You could almost guess at which times it was being hit by stronger gusts, based on the sudden tilting of the tail, one way, and then back again. All the while, (and I suppose to reduce unwanted lift), the wingtips were somewhat closed and tapered, giving them a slight “pointed” look. It was easy to see that this older bird had no issue with going where it wanted, (despite what plans the extreme wind may have had for it), and was truly a master of the sky. I may have to go back to wearing my camera as if it were an article of clothing like I used to years ago – I am just missing too many opportunities, not having it handy all of the time.

Tim Dyson
Cordova Mines

Eastern Screech Owl at nesting box - Nov. 2014 - Tim Dyson

Eastern Screech Owl at nesting box – Nov. 2014 – Tim Dyson

Golden Eagle photographed at Petroglyph Provincial Park (Tim Dyson)

Golden Eagle photographed at Petroglyph Provincial Park (Tim Dyson)

Mar 132014
Eastern Screech-owl - Beaches area of Toronto - sister-in-law of Jamie Brockley

Eastern Screech-owl – Beaches area of Toronto – photo by Tanya Payne – Nykolation

I thought this was a neat photo. My sister-in-law  in the Beaches in Toronto found this Eastern Screech-owl when she came home from work on March 7. It was sitting on the porch in her urns.

Jamie Brockley

Note from Tim Dyson:  “What a nice photo of a classic “brown morph”. You don`t usually see such good pics of brown morphs, and there are still many who do not recognise such a colour variation – simply stating that “all that are not true red morphs, are just duller gray morphs.” I have never agreed with this idea, and have handled a fair number of screech owls in decades past, especially when I used to band a lot of owls in the `80s and `90s. I even asked Kay McKeever of The Owl Foundation in Vineland years ago, (since she has likely handled more screech owls than anyone in the country), and she agreed that yes, indeed there ARE “brown” morphs in the population, and a good many of them, too. We discussed the differences from true browns and simply duller gray owls, in detail, and I figured that if she agreed, then that was good enough verification of this fact for me.”

Feb 192014
Eastern Screech-Owl - Carl & Rose Mary Silvestri

Eastern Screech-Owl – Carl & Rose Mary Silvestri

On Tuesday February11, my wife & I were having lunch, when she noticed a brown and white feathered creature sitting on our garland outside the kitchen window. We investigated and to our surprise it was an Eastern Screech-Owl. I took a number of pictures, which I’m sending you. We had never seen an owl before, especially this close.Our visitor stayed the day and left at 5:40. What a pleasant surprise and gift.

Carl & Rose Mary Silvestri,  Hillside Street, Peterborough