Oct 032019
 

The Liberals aren’t perfect, but a Conservative government would be infinitely worse

Earlier this summer, I thought I’d made up my mind. I was going to vote Green to send a message that much more aggressive climate action is necessary. I was bitterly disappointed that the Liberals had failed to deliver on their promise of electoral reform and, to boot, had bought a pipeline. But then, equal measures of pragmatism and a better understanding of the Liberals’ climate plan made me think again.

There has never been a public policy issue where the science is clearer: We know what’s happening – the climate crisis is far worse than we initially thought; we know what’s required – reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and to zero by 2050; and we know that the window for action is almost closed.

The federal parties’ positions are also crystal clear. The Liberals, Greens, and NDP take the climate crisis seriously, while the Conservatives barely acknowledge it’s even an issue – to wit, Andrew Scheer’s absence from the hundreds of climate events last Friday. What may be less clear for voters, however, is deciding which of the progressive parties to support.

For me, it comes down to voting for the candidate who stands the best chance of winning. In some ridings, this will be a Green or a New Democrat. In Peterborough-Kawartha, however, the race is between the Liberals and the Conservatives. That’s why my vote will be for the Liberal, Maryam Monsef. We can’t risk electing a Conservative government, even if the balance of power is held by the Greens or NDPs. Let’s not forget that Steven Harper inflicted most of his damage on environmental progress before he got his majority.

Unfortunately, there is a real possibility that the Liberals will lose on October 21, both nationally and in Peterborough-Kawartha. Why? Because a significant number of voters may say no to voting strategically this time around and simply vote with their heart. I fully understand the temptation. Some of the policies promised by the Greens and NDP are indeed superior to those of the Liberals. Be warned, however, that a splitting of the progressive vote  is just what the Conservatives want.

The Liberal plan

Having lived in Quebec for many years, I closely follow the province’s environmental news. When I heard that Steven Guilbeault, a household name in Montreal, is running for the Liberals instead of the Greens, I was astounded. Guilbeault is co-founder of Quebec’s largest environmental group and the former Quebec bureau chief for Greenpeace. When asked to explain his decision, he said he’s a radical pragmatist. “I fear that the Conservatives could win the election and, if they do, everything we’ve worked for in these past four years will be gone.”

As for Trudeau’s support of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, Guilbeault  understands that the federal government can’t adopt policies that will completely alienate Alberta. Although he’s personally opposed to new pipelines, he points out that for every dollar the Liberals have put into the pipeline, they’ve put about 15 dollars into the fight against climate change. In a democracy, it takes time to change structures and existing policies. No government anywhere in the world has found a way to make a quick  transition away from fossil fuels.

Guilbeault is not alone in defending Liberal climate policy. Mark Jaccard, professor of sustainable energy at Simon Fraser University, sees Canada as a world climate leader. According to Jaccard, the Liberals’ carbon tax,  tougher fuel standards, and phased closure of coal plants are seen globally as the gold standard. His counterparts in China and India already notice the influence on their own countries’ policies. According to Jaccard’s calculations, greenhouse gas emissions under the Liberal plan would still fall 79 megatons short of our Paris commitment, while the Conservative plan would miss the mark by 179 megatons.  He believes the Liberals can still reach their goal, however, by either increasing the carbon tax, turning to tougher regulations, or by some combination of both.

In this campaign, the Liberals have also promised to set legally-binding, five-year milestones to reach net-zero emissions by 2050; to halve the corporate tax rate for companies that develop or manufacture clean technology; to plant two billion trees; to provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to make our homes more energy-efficient and resilient to floods; to provide new incentives for purchasing  zero-emission vehicles; and to create a low-cost national flood insurance program.

There are other reasons to support the Liberals if you care about the environment, not the least of which is the excellent Environment and Climate Change Minister, Catherine McKenna. The Liberals committed an unprecedented $1.3 billion in the 2018 budget for the protection of endangered species and to reach the United Nations goal of protecting 17 percent of our lands and oceans. They also have a plan to teach every young Canadian camping skills. Experiences such as camping are key to establishing a life-long love of nature.

As for the Conservatives, they have promised to reduce carbon emissions by encouraging businesses to invest an unspecified amount in green technology or research. The rest of their “plan” is all about undoing Liberal climate policy, just like what happened in Ontario. Carbon pricing? Gone. Tougher fuel standards? Gone. Measures for protecting endangered species and expanding land and ocean protection? Probably gutted. It doesn’t matter that our local Conservative candidate, Mike Skinner, is a capable and friendly guy. His party’s climate program is an abject failure.

Maryam Monsef

Maryam Monsef is both Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality. Her work is incredibly important, since women all over the world are disproportionally affected by the impacts of climate change. We also know that countries with high representation of women in parliament are more likely to ratify international environment treaties and that women are vital to building climate resilient  communities.

We shouldn’t  underestimate the importance of having an MP who sits at the cabinet table, even it means having to spend more time away from the riding. Having a cabinet minister gives Peterborough-Kawartha more leverage for investments. Monsef has already brought millions of dollars to our riding, including over two million for discovery research at Trent University and money to support the work of the Kawartha Land Trust.

Well-known outdoor educator, Jacob Rodenburg, is impressed by how Monsef supports local environmental organizations and how she is a bridge builder.  He says, “Maryam Monsef is not someone who is steeped in partisan politics, but rather, is able help people of all walks of life and political stripes find common ground and common solutions.”

At the Fridays for Future student climate strike on September 20, I was chatting with Maryam when two grade 11 girls from St. Peter’s Secondary School nervously approached. They told her how much she inspired them. Maryam immediately put them at ease, congratulated them for being climate leaders in their school, and provided practical ideas for further action. As Jacob Rodenburg says, “Few people are better in dealing with youth than Maryam.”

Youth

The climate issue is very personal to me. And not only because of its devastating impact on the natural world. My son and daughters are terrified by how the climate catastrophe will disrupt their lives and those of their children – my grandchildren. They have every right to be scared. As Dr. Rosana Salvaterra pointed out at last Friday’s climate rally at Millennium Park, climate change is the number one threat to our physical and mental health. It will make everything we care about infinitely worse, be it jobs, homelessness, addiction, or the possibility of  war. It’s no wonder young people question if they even have a  future and why many are deciding not to have children themselves. This is why it’s so important that they see tangible progress in fighting the climate crisis.

I know that many people have misgivings about the Liberals. However, splitting the progressive vote in this election would be disastrous. Should the Liberals be re-elected, it will most likely be as a minority government. I’m hoping the Greens and NDP will have enough seats to hold the Liberals feet to the fire and maybe even force progress on electoral reform. Because climate change is front and centre in this campaign, a re-elected Liberal government will also have much greater social license for aggressive action than it did in 2015. Given the sad reality of our first-past-the-post electoral system, voting strategically is still the only logical option. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

What to watch for this week

Tiny Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets are now passing through the Kawarthas, often in loose flocks with Yellow-rumped Warblers and Black-capped Chickadees. Watch and listen for them in conifers and thick shrubs along roadsides and trails. The Golden-crowned’s call is a very high, thin “zee-zee-zee”. The best way to see them is by pishing whenever you hear chickadees.

Golden-crowned Kinglet – Karl Egressy

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet has a prominent eye ring. (Karl Egressy)

Jan 092018
 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

Period eagle sightings:

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Dec 022017
 

 

 

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) (1)
– Reported Dec 02, 2017 09:40 by Donald A. Sutherland
– Peterborough–E side Airport Rd opposite Peterborough Municipal Airport, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Media: 1 Photo
– Comments: “perched atop ventilation ducts on roof of easternmost blue building (Flying Colours Corp) on N side airport. Record shot from 500 m to S.”

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) (1)
– Reported Dec 01, 2017 07:25 by Iain Rayner
– Pigeon Lake–Sandy Point, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Truthfully in Kawartha Lakes…Sitting on green marker buoy across lake directly out from launch. Seen well through scope in good viewing conditions with limited haze. Some markings on breast, clean white head.”

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) (1) Yesterday afternoon, November 30, I was lucky enough to have a Snowy Owl perch on top of my house around noon. I only noticed when I heard the crows alarm-calling. I live right on George Street in Peterborough and added the observation to eBird if you’re interested in exactly where he was. He was beautiful and rested there for about 20 minutes. It was a first for me and a very timely sighting given your article!   Jenn Baici

 

Snowy Owl (Karin Laine)

Snowy Owl (Nima Taghaboni)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Redhead (Aythya americana) (1)
– Reported Dec 02, 2017 11:13 by Donald A. Sutherland
– Rice Lake–Pengelly Landing, Peterborough, Ontario
– Map:
– Checklist:
– Comments: “male, in with HOME in mixed flock to W of cormorant colony on island”

male Redhead – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A great morning of birding in Peterborough and southern Peterborough County

The highlight of our birding outing this morning, November 29, were the waterfowl at Pengelley Landing on Rice Lake, located at the bottom of Scriven Road. They included 400 Common Mergansers, 200 Hooded Mergansers, 500 Canada Geese and 1 Common Loon. We also saw a Rough-legged Hawk on Country Road 2, just east of Bailieboro. In Peterborough, we found 2 American Coots by the Silver Bean Cafe at Millenium Park, 2 Pied-billed Grebes at the T-wharf on Little Lake, 64 American Goldfinch and 1 Golden-crowned Kinglet at Little Lake Cemetery and 24 American Robins at GreenUP Ecology Park.  The goldfinch were eating seeds from the abundant cones on the Eastern White Cedar. The robins were feeding on European Buckthorn berries.

Drew Monkman, Martin Parker and Brian Wales

Common Merganser (female), Wikimedia

Common Merganser male – Wikimedia

male Hooded Merganser – Peter Beales

Pied-billed Grebe – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rough-legged Hawk (Karl Egressy)

American Coot (Karl Egressy)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) (1) CONFIRMED
– Reported Nov 25, 2017 08:01 by Daniel Williams
– Peterborough–Little Lake Cemetery, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Yellow rump, faint yellow on sides, white chin/throat. Feeding along waters edge near railway bridge. Calling frequently. ”

Yellow-rumped Warbler at feeder – Nov. 28, 2014 Franmor Dr. Ptbo – Sue Prentice

Cackling Goose (Richardson’s) (Branta hutchinsii hutchinsii) (1)
– Reported Nov 26, 2017 13:46 by Martin Parker
– Rice Lake–Pengelly Landing, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “With large Canada Goose flock near shore on Rice Lake.”

Cackling Goose (foreground) – Brendan Boyd

Apr 262015
 

This morning I lead a group of about 20 people to see birds at the Fairbairn Street Wetland in Peterborough (just north of Line 3) and along the Bridgenorth Trail (between the Hilliard St. end and the half-way point marsh). The birds were quite active and we managed to get good views of quite a few interesting species, including American Bittern, Common Gallinule, Brown Thrasher, Rusty Blackbird, Northern Harrier, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Fox Sparrow, Golden-crowned Kinglet and Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Drew Monkman

Bridgenorth Trail, Peterborough, CA-ON

Green-winged Teal  2
Ruffed Grouse  1
Great Blue Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  8
Northern Harrier  2
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Killdeer  1
Mourning Dove  2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  2
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  2
Blue Jay  1
American Crow  2
Common Raven  1
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Golden-crowned Kinglet  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  3
American Robin  4
Brown Thrasher  1
Savannah Sparrow  2
Fox Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  10
Dark-eyed Junco  1
Red-winged Blackbird  4
Eastern Meadowlark  2
Rusty Blackbird  3

Fairbairn Street Wetland

Canada Goose  4
Wood Duck  2
Mallard  4
Hooded Merganser  1
Wild Turkey  2
American Bittern  1
Common Gallinule  1
Mourning Dove  4
Belted Kingfisher  1
American Crow  6
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  6
Tree Swallow  30
Bank Swallow  1
Barn Swallow  5
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  3
American Robin  4
Yellow-rumped Warbler  2
American Tree Sparrow  1
Swamp Sparrow  3
Northern Cardinal  1
Red-winged Blackbird  10
Eastern Meadowlark  2
Common Grackle  3
American Goldfinch  2

 

WODU - Apr. 25 - Jeff Keller

WODU – Apr. 25 – Jeff Keller

American Bittern - by Don Pettypiece

American Bittern – by Don Pettypiece

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Karl Egressy)

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Karl Egressy)