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

Aug 292017
 

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. As of August 16, he has seen a total of 549 of these birds. Most were seen over the Indian River near/at Back Dam Park on Rock Road.

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!

5. On the evening of August 20, despite hoping for a bumper crop of nighthawks to pass overhead on what is often “the peak date”, I only saw six of them from my favorite viewing spot and they were all observed at 6:45pm.

6. On August 21, I set up to watch for nighthawks just after 6:00pm, and none appeared in the sky until 6:50pm when 17 came into view just above the treetops heading roughly southward. Just as suddenly as they had appeared, I found myself staring at an empty sky once again. Yes, there were lulls in the passage of them, but before I went inside at 8:35pm. I had seen 65 for the night. Interesting this evening was the number of swallows, (however, I did not count them). Although most were quite high up,
some that were close enough to me to see well, seemed to be Bank Swallows. After a brief period of no visible nighthawks, they began to fly past again in small numbers and I found myself having to differentiate between them and the swallows as their flight style is somewhat similar, and their altitudes were variable. At about 7:25pm, one of the larger birds appeared to drop on a near 90 degree angle and slam right into one of the swallows! (Raptor experienced or not, my first thought was “That nighthawk is some kind of idiot!”) But as the two connected, there was a little puff of feathers and they never parted. “Of course! Duh!” I thought, as the Merlin that had just snatched a swallow veered to come almost directly overhead carrying it’s late-evening dinner. (see photo) As the landscape darkened by 8:30pm, two large bats began doing their rounds
over the former horse paddock, as a deer walked out for some evening grazing. He had a full crown of fuzzy antlers, and was unconcerned as he fed with his back to me only 20 meters away. A Gallium Sphinx visited some of the various flowers in the gardens around the house. I think I’ll sit out tomorrow night, too.

7. On August 22, between 7:30 and 8:30pm, Drew, my friend Angela, and I counted 33 nighthawks over Back Dam Park on Rock Road. They were flying south in groups of 2-7, with a few single birds. A few foraged as they flew, but most were making a beeline south. The wind was from the west and there had been heavy showers over much of the afternoon and into the early evening. The sky had cleared by the time we started watching for nighthawks. We also saw a Great Egret.

8. On August 23, Angela and I put the kayaks in at Back Dam Park at about 7:20pm. Paddled north almost to the power line, and turned around at 7:50pm and headed back. Five minutes later, the first nighthawk of the evening flew along the western
shore of the river and was actively feeding. About ten minutes later, there was the first good pulse totaling seven birds. Over the next twenty minutes others in small groups and singles appeared from the north and north-east. After a short lull, three more came along to wrap up the night’s total at 22 birds. Other things of interest were three River Otters (very curious, coming back out of vegetation to squeak and squeal at us), and a lovely waxing crescent moon.

9. Despite sitting out at home for nearly two hours on the 26th of August, no more than 9 nighthawks were seen – three as singles and three groups of two each.

10.

On the evening of the 24th I was visiting someone at PRHC, and despite spending twenty minutes outside the hospital and another twenty minute
drive back to Warsaw during the magic hour, not a single nighthawk was seen.
The 25th, however, was a little better. Putting in the kayaks at the Back Dam near Warsaw with friends Angela and Lori, we began a northward paddle up the Indian River at about 6:30pm. Looking behind for some reason, I spotted the first group of nighthawks at 6:55pm. There were initially four that caught my eye, and then over the next seven or eight minutes, a total of 55 of them passed overhead.
Strange thing, was that they were all heading north!
Also interesting, was that they were very high as they came into view, and were gliding on set wings that rarely flapped. They were making a gradual decent.
I have seen this behavior in migrating raptors (Broad-winged Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, and Turkey Vultures) that often travel in groupings. In the case of the raptors, it is often a large low pressure area that they have come upon, and almost always, rain ensues shortly afterwards. The hours prior were usually filled with sunny skies and rising warm air, but when they come to that change in the sky with rain to follow, they will often stream for several minutes as they descend to either hunt, sleep, and/or wait out the weather.
I am wondering if these nighthawks had already put some good miles behind them this evening and were just descending into a traditionally good feeding area, or just to feed at all. The weather did not (and was not forecast to) change for the night, but perhaps they only needed to feed for a while. Direction of flight while descending out of a migration stint doesn’t seem to matter to the hawks and vultures coming down to avoid poor weather, so should it matter to hungry nighthawks? I would guess it does not.
Nighthawks returned to view coming in lower from the east and continuing westward out of sight. Groups numbering 9, 7, 4, and 18. As we headed back around the last bend, we could see another 12 actively hunting quite low over the little dam and playground area where we were parked. They hunted there for nearly fifteen minutes before they all gradually
seemed to head out higher and over the trees towards the south west. Once I had the boats loaded, I turned to take a last evening look at the water, and one more nighthawk appeared, (as it seemed to nearly hit me in the face
as it whipped in fast and low!)  So, that would make 106 for the night. I’m no longer too disappointed having not seen any the night before.

10. On August 27, traveling from home (3kms north and west of Warsaw) for an evening paddle on the Indian River, Angela and I counted 22 nighthawks from the moving vehicle as they zipped their way southward at 6:35pm. Paddling up the river from the Back Dam on Rock Road we saw nighthawks in waves streaming from north to south and of course there were the usual lulls. After one hour, our total for the night had risen to 54 nighthawks, when at 7:35 the sky to the north was suddenly full of them!! Our total rapidly grew to 96 nighthawks as 42 more made up the count for this bunch. Before the evening count was over when we returned to our launch place at 8:25pm, we had seen 147 nighthawks for this 27th of August 2017.
That brings my season total (since August 16th) to 549.

 

Common Nighthawk – Wikimedia

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

Nighthawk on left, and Merlin carrying swallow on right – Warsaw – Aug. 21, 2017 – Tim Dyson

Aug 162017
 

I spotted a Great Egret in a pond on Fisher Drive in Peterborough on August 14. The pond is sort of tucked in behind the last factory on Fisher as you approach Brealey Drive.  Also the Red-headed Woodpecker still makes regular stops at our feeder throughout the day.

Marina Kosichek, Fraserville

Great Egret – Karl Egressy

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”

May 112017
 

I want to report a sighting of a Great Egret on May 10 southwest of Kirkfield. I believe the bird may be uncommon in this area.

Sue Mcintosh

Great Egret – Kirkfield – May 10, 2017 – Sue Mcintosh

 

Sep 072016
 

On the morning of the 29th of August, I saw a Great Egret at a farmer’s pond on Bensfort Road, a little north of the Bensfort Landfill north of County Road #2.

Brenda Dyson

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

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

Aug 292016
 
11 Great Egrets at Briar Hill B.S. August 28, 2016 - Luke Berg

11 Great Egrets at Briar Hill B.S. August 28, 2016 – Luke Berg

Great Egret (American) (Ardea alba egretta) (11)
– Reported Aug 27, 2016 16:35 by Matthew Tobey
– Briar Hill Bird Sanctuary, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Media: 1 Photo
– Comments: “At least 11 birds present. Could have been more but it was very hard to see over the grass.”

Great Egret (Ardea alba) (1)
– Reported Aug 28, 2016 16:10 by Scott Gibson
– Peterborough-Television Road Pond, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “observed as I was driving by. large white heron standing alone on stump in middle of pond. been reported here few times in past couple weeks.”

Great Egret - Carl Welbourn - Television Road, August 28, 2016

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

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

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

 

Great Egret (Karl Egressy)

Great Egret (Karl Egressy)

Aug 072015
 

This evening, a Great Egret flew over our house on Algonquin Boulevard near the zoo. It was heading north up the Otonabee. Having a beer on the deck and looked up at the right time !

Mike Barker

Great Egrets south of zoo (Michele Hemery)

Great Egrets south of zoo (Michele Hemery)

Apr 272015
 

Gadwall (Anas strepera) (2)
– Reported Apr 26, 2015 08:30 by Iain Rayner
– Lakefield–Sewage Lagoons, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Continuing male and female. Seen well through scope.”

Great Egret (Ardea alba) (1) CONFIRMED
– Reported Apr 26, 2015 18:11 by Janet Kelly

Black-backed Woodpecker - Wikimedia

Black-backed Woodpecker – Wikimedia

– Base Line at Pine Crest Golf Course, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “in creek at back of field on N side of road
large white egret, black legs
flew to NE before good photo could be taken

Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) (2) CONFIRMED
– Reported Apr 25, 2015 14:11 by Janet Kelly
– Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Pair – foraging on White Pine – male initially observed and female flew in shortly after
44.6042, -78.04097

Gadwall - a rare duck in winter in the Kawarthas - Wikimedia

Gadwall – Wikimedia

Great Egret - Karl Egressy

Great Egret – Karl Egressy

 

Aug 272014
 

Great Egret (American) (Ardea alba) (1)
– Reported Aug 26, 2014 17:20 by Walter Wehtje
– Peterborough – Trent Severn south of Trent Campus, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Feeding at edge of cattails along east side of lake and across from the Peterborough Country Club. Large white heron with a distinctly yellow bill. Most likely same bird as found by Don Sutherland the previous Sunday.”

Great Egrets south of zoo (Michele Hemery)

Great Egrets  (Michele Hemery)

 

Aug 252014
 

Great Egret (Ardea alba) (1)
– Reported Aug 24, 2014 08:14 by Donald Sutherland
– Peterborough–Trent Rotary Rail Trail, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “perched atop cedar tree on west bank of river just N Champlain College, Trent University at around 0815 h. Through 10X40 binoculars could clearly see blue patagial tag on wing but from 200 m distance could not make out digits. Photographed with iPhone. Bird gone upon return at around 0845 h.”

Great Egret - Karl Egressy

Great Egret – Karl Egressy