Sep 222018
 

Peterborough Field Naturalists Sunday AM Nature Walk (Sept. 30)

Today, a group of us walked along the hydro corridor west of Hetherington Dr. (just south of Woodland) and into the north end of University Heights Park. We enjoyed the abundant asters (e.g., New England, Heath, Panicled, Heart-leaved), Zig-Zag Goldenrod, White Baneberry with its doll’s-eye fruit and a single Jack-in-the-Pulpit with its ball of red fruit. Birds of interest included White-throated Sparrow (20), White-crowned Sparrow (1), Song Sparrow (12), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (1), Golden-crowned Kinglet (1), Eastern Towhee (1), Nashville Warbler (1), Palm Warbler (1), Belted Kingfisher (1), Pileated Woodpecker (1), Northern Flicker (1) and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1). Earlier, we found a single Swainson’s Thrush on the Parkway Trail, just south of Cumberland Drive. Drew Monkman

White-crowned Sparrow (immature) – University Heights Hydro Corridor – Sept. 30, 2018, Reem Ali

 

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

Golden-crowned Kinglet – Karl Egressy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lincoln’s Sparrow (2) via eBird
– Reported Sep 30, 2018 07:36 by Donald A. Sutherland
– Peterborough–Trent Rotary Rail Trail, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

Lincoln’s Sparrow – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barred Owl (1) via eBird
– Reported Sep 27, 2018 13:01 by Daniel Williams
– Ingleton-Wells Property (Kawartha Land Trust), Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

Barred Owl on Northey’s Bay Road – Jeff Keller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peregrine Falcon  (1) via eBird
– Reported Sep 27, 2018 08:12 by Iain Rayner
– Peterborough–Millennium Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Large adult eating bird atop 300 Water St.”

Peregrine – by Stephanie Pineau – Jan. 13, 2015 – PRHC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue-winged Teal (2) via eBirds
– Reported Sep 23, 2018 10:36 by Rene Gareau
– Lakefield–Sewage Lagoons, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

Blue-winged Teal – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Squirrels hoarding rocks:  I just found your site and wanted to add my comments regarding gray & black squirrels stealing rocks. Here in Chilliwack, BC  we have been observing squirrels stealing hundreds of rocks every fall and winter. They steal all sizes, types, and work all day to take away their treasure. This usually starts when seasons change with wet and cooler days arriving. I think they hoard the rocks to stabilize their dreys and also putting the flat ones inside the nest to warm the bed over the winter for the young when they are born and vulnerable. I’m basing this on many hours of watching squirrel behavior from our living room which faces a heavily forested back garden. My husband and I are constantly renewing our landscaping rocks with humour at the hard work of these amazing little critters. Jenne Breedon, Chilliwack, BC

(Note: For other reports on this behaviour, see November 30, 2014 )

Gray Squirrel with stone – Nov. 2014 – Ginny Clark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lincoln’s Sparrow (2) via eBird
– Reported Sep 23, 2018 13:53 by Luke Berg
– LHT Redmond Rd to Drummond Line , Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

Lincoln’s Sparrow – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starry Stonewort, a new aquatic invasive species:  I want to let you know about a (new to me) threat to our Kawartha Lakes. A macro  algae has infested Lake Scugog and is now thriving in parts of Stony, notably the Lost Channel. Starry Stonewort has no roots and forms masses up to six feet deep floating below the surface.  Carol Cole, a cottager on Stony Lake writes: “It was first noticed there a couple of summers ago.  The channel is not open water really; it is more of a wetland environment.  The alga is now covering large sections of the wetland and has spread incredibly quickly into the bays on either end.  One of the bays is now almost totally covered.  It used to be a very weedy area but now it looks clear of weeds – unless you look down.  The bay at the other end isn’t quite as bad but it will be by next summer.  Both of these bays lead directly to the main boating channel of the Trent-Severn Waterway.  Both have cottages and boat traffic. Not far from the bay already covered is a wetland that has been declared provincially significant. Starry Stonewort spreads by fragmentation and the only way to stop it from spreading to other lakes is to clean, dry and drain out boats, canoes or kayaks before leaving the lake. Since this is already in Stoney Lake there isn’t anything we can do about it. All we can do now is prevent it from reaching other lakes. ”

Please spread the word! Sandra Burri, Kawartha Park, Clear Lake

Starry Stonewort from Lake Scugog – Scugog Lake Stewards photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More about Starry Stonewort:  CLIMATE CHANGE REALITY IN SCUGOG SHOULD CHANGE OUR PEOPLE-CENTRIC VIEW OF OUR LAKE. Ours is a shallow lake held at its current height by a dam at Lindsay. As a result of increased temperatures, increased storm water runoff, difficult invasive species due to our location in Southern Ontario and increased development, ours is an ecosystem that is vulnerable and susceptible to change. This year, the lake has generally been excellent for recreation and surface aesthetics because of a vast understory of the invasive alga, Starry Stonewort (SS) and abundant zebra mussels that enjoy co-habiting with SS. But is this good habitat for everything else that lives in, on or above the lake? The Stewards and our colleagues at U.O.I.T. and Kawartha Conservation are studying this new invader which seems to be spreading rapidly up throughout the hard-water Kawartha Lakes and Lake Simcoe. We have one more year in our Trillium grant funding for research, but we hope to extend our research for two more years, trying to ascertain the Ontario-wide spread and effects of this nasty invader. Use a rake to pull up a sample from the lake bottom. If you find a crunchy, green fishing line type bottom cover that is the algae — Starry Stonewort. CLEAN, DRAIN, DRY your boat before coming into, or going out of, Lake Scugog.  Scugog Lake Stewards, City of Kawartha Lakes

Cooper’s Hawk: We have a bird feeder outside our condo living room at the corner of Parkhill and Ravenwood Dr. On September 21, we were able to get this picture of a Cooper’s Hawk. We had never seen this bird before.  John & Stephanie MacDonald

Cooper’s Hawk – John MacDonald – Sept. 22 2018 – Peterborough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eastern Hog-nosed Snake: My nephew and sister came across this Eastern Hog-nosed Snake recently at Wolf Lake near Apsley. Bill Astell, Peterborough

(Note: The Eastern Hog-nosed is a species at risk in Ontario and only rarely seen. DM)

Eastern Hog-nosed Snake – via Bill Astell – Sept. 2018 – Wolf Lake near Apsley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A “dew” bath: I witnessed something absolutely new for me on the morning of September 18. At about 7:30 am, I saw two Song Sparrows giving themselves a bath in the heavy dewed grass. They burrowed down and splashed the dew on by rapidly flicking their wings onto their backs. Michael Gillespie, Keene

Song Sparrow – Karl Egressy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandhill Cranes: It is that time again when the Sandhill Cranes begin to gather before migrating south. In the area west of Lindsay (Black School Rd area) the gathering has already started. These pictures were taken on September 18.   Tim Corner

Sandhill Cranes – Lindsay area – Sept. 18 2018 – Tim Corner

Sandhill Cranes – Sept. 18 2018 – Lindsay area – Tim Corner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poecila Sphinx:  On Friday, September 14, we came across the caterpillar of the Poecila Sphinx Moth (also called Northern Apple Sphinx). It measured about two inches long. We had  never seen one before.  The caterpillar was on a Sweet Gale bush, a species that dominates the banks of the Indian River near our home. This plant can be used as an insecticide, can treat scabies, used with discretion to flavour soups and stews, flavours Gale beer, repels fleas, and the roots and bark produce a yellow dye for wool.  Quite a list!  The scent on the leaves was rather faint when I checked but given the time of year that’s not surprising.    Stephenie Armstrong, Warsaw

Poecila Sphinx Moth caterpillar on Sweet Gale – Indian River – September 2018 – Stephenie Armstrong

Poecila Sphinx Moth caterpillar on Sweet Gale shrub – Indian River – September 2018 – Stephenie Armstrong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eastern Screech-Owl (via eBird):  – Reported Sep 13, 2018 20:10 by Patrick Scanlon- Indian River Road., Peterborough, Ontario- Map: – Checklist: – Comments: “Singing from the west side of the river.”

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merlin: My husband, Michael, noticed this Merlin while we were having lunch on September 13. We watched it for about 10 to 15 minutes. It was looking at our bird feeder (and doing a bit of head bobbing) from the top of the umbrella of our outdoor picnic table. A few minutes  later it landed right on top of the bird feeder. Our feeder has been quite active with American Goldfinches, Purple Finches, chickadees, cardinals,  a few jays and some sparrows. The bird sort of half-heartedly swooped downward toward a scurrying squirrel before it left our yard. There were no smaller birds during the time of the visit of the Merlin. Not surprising. It was very cool!!  Helen Bested, Lynhaven Road, Peterborough

Merlin – Lynhaven Road – September 13, 2018 – Michael Bested

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imperial Moth caterpillar: On September 7, this Imperial Moth caterpillar, a member of the Giant Silkworm Moth family, was making its way along our side path, heading for river rocks abutting a flower bed.  I gather it feeds on a variety of plants including pines and oaks which we have in abundance.  And later that day, I saw another one floating vertically, head out of water, in our small creek that empties into the Indian River. I managed to retrieve it but there was no sign of life.  I hope one day to actually see this beautifully colored moth, though it is said to be in decline.  As you have explained in your book ‘Nature’s Year’, it is extremely attracted to light making it highly visible to predators.  Stephenie Armstrong, Warsaw

Imperial Moth caterpillar – September 2018 – Indian River – Stephenie Armstrong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 122018
 

I photographed this Merlin this morning, February 13, in Lakefield. Jeff Keller

Merlin – Jeff Keller – Lakefield – Feb. 13, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Feb 12, 2018 08:30 by Colin Jones
– Peterborough–Robinson Place, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S42701090
– Comments: “Adult flew in from the east, landed briefly on the building, then flew out and around the south side, towards the west. Seemed small, possibly suggesting a male.”

Peregrine – Karl Egressy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) (2)
– Reported Feb 07, 2018 13:56 by S Ro
– Jackson Park, Peterborough CA-ON (44.3114,-78.3385), Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S42706134
– Comments: “Presume they were mates. One was sitting on a limb in a small tree on the park side of the bridge. Mate arrived on tree beside it, then flew to the same tree. Approximately 6pm”

NSWO – Warsaw – Tim Dyson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) (2)
– Reported Feb 12, 2018 13:48 by Warren Dunlop
– Bailieboro–460 Scriven Rd, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S42717191
– Media: 1 Photo
– Comments: “Perched in hedgerow.”

A pair of Eastern Bluebirds – male at upper right – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I sighted two Bald Eagles soaring in the cold winds above Lakefield arena today, February 12. Decent sized. They were fairly high up.  Andrew Lipscombe

Bald Eagle – Lakefield – Feb. 12, 2018 – Andrew Lipscombe

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

May 052017
 

Although it has been several weeks since hearing of any still around, Ed & Karen Heuvel reported to me a Great Gray Owl they had seen during the early evening on their property along the Ouse River between Cottesloe and Norwood on April 18,

2017. Ed says; “Huntng from a low snag, it seemed quite tame. After a while, it sailed across the road and came to land on another snag. In the dimming light, it’s white mustache marks were quite distinct.”

Stoney Lake and area

Broad-winged Hawks seemed to show some early arrival dates this year, with the first I know of seen on Stoney Lake on April 12th. They, Red-shouldered Hawks, Merlins, and Ospreys are quite abundant now in the area as they engage in their nesting activities for another year.

The first Whip-poor-will I heard this spring was one singing on the evening of April 24th near South Bay on Stoney Lake.

On April 29th, an Eastern Phoebe was sitting on a full clutch of five eggs in her nest atop a horizontal deck support beam at a friend’s cottage off of Northey’s Bay Road.

Stoney, Belmont, and Cordova Lake area

Northern Barred Owls are very vocal right now, day and night, and we are at the time of year when most of them will have young in the nest, (averaging about a week old). Typically, in this area, many lay their eggs about the 25th of March. Usually quiet throughout the incubation period, the males, especially, begin frequent hooting again towards the end of April. I wonder if that has anything to do with early social imprinting of their youngsters?

Tim Dyson

Barred Owl – March 23, 2017 – Sandy Lake – Susan

Whip-poor-will (Karl Egressy)

Great Gray Owl – Tim Dyson

Broad-winged Hawk – Wikimedia

Red-shouldered Hawk – Karl Egressy

Eastern Phoebe at nest – David Frank

Eastern Phoebe nest – June 7, 2004 – Tim Dyson

Mar 112017
 

Today ( 10 March 2017) at noon I observed a Merlin in a cedar at the Little Lake Cemetery. Of course, I did not have my camera. He was quite content to sit and let me wander around the base of the tree to get a closer look. On Sunday, March 5, I observed a mature Bald Eagle in flight over Healey Falls on the Trent River.

Carl Welbourn

Merlin – Dec. 30, 2016 – Omemee – Carl Welbourn

Jan 132017
 

I took a picture of this Red-tailed Hawk at Lock 25 on the Otonabee River on December 30. The Merlin was near Omemee.

Carl Welbourn
Kawartha Camera Club

Red-tailed Hawk – Dec. 30, 2016 – Carl Welbourn

Merlin – Dec. 30, 2016 – Omemee – Carl Welbourn

Sep 232016
 

Here are a couple of photos from this week. The Common Loon chick eating something was photographed on September 20 on the River Road, south of Lakefield.
The Merlin picture was taken September 16 at our club shoot in Millennium Park.

Carl Welbourne

Merlin- Sept-16-2016 Carl Welbourne

Merlin- Millenium Park – Sept-16-2016
Carl Welbourne

Common loon chick-sept-20-2016-carl-welbourne

Common Loon chick – Sept. 20 2016 – Carl Welbourne

Aug 312016
 

I live on the Otonabee River between locks 24 & 25, and saw a pair of what I believe were Merlins flying over our yard Wednesday evening, August 24. Both of them had the shape of small falcons. I got a good look only at the brownish one when it landed on a cedar tree, but the markings looked unmistakable (definitely not a kestrel).

This is a fabulous place to live. We’re on the end of the road, so we have the river, but also mixed forest across the river and overgrown fields on two sides, one of which also has wetland, so we get a wonderful variety of birds. We had an American Bittern gullunking all spring, as well as Bobolinks in the fields. Also regularly see a Northern Harrier and American Kestrels, sometimes Red-tailed Hawks… and now Merlins. We also have loons as well as a pair of Baltimore Orioles, who, judging by the number of fledglings, had two clutches this year. Oh, and Bald Eagles in the winter. Who could ask for anything more?

Annamarie Beckel
writer ~ editor ~ ecologist

www.annamariebeckel.com

 

 

Bobolink - Wikimedia

Bobolink – Wikimedia

Baltimore Oriole on hummingbird feeder - Doug Gibson

Baltimore Oriole on hummingbird feeder – Doug Gibson

American Bittern - by Don Pettypiece

American Bittern – by Don Pettypiece

Merlin (Karl Egressy)

Merlin (Karl Egressy)

Jul 212016
 

The nesting families of Merlins we’ve enjoyed at the Little Lake Cemetery has expanded with a nest we saw in spring seeming to be in the yard of a house near Little Lake (if not on Crescent Street, then Ware or a Lock Street backyard). Breeding was successful, but we could never tell how many were in the family. Until tonight (July 20). The two juveniles are getting flying and hunting lessons with lots of vocalizations as they zoom across Princess and Ware Street backyards and rooftops. Around 8 p.m., it gets busy and tonight we were treated to them resting in a backyard tree in various numbers until dinner came and they huddled together to share.

With some more comings and goings and the constant adjustments of one of the young ones who seems a bit clumsy, eventually all four settled in at dusk to enjoy the concert music wafting over from Del Crary Park. As fans of the Peregrine Falcons nesting in our former neighbourhood in downtown Toronto, we couldn’t be happier having these four in our front yard.

Pat Maitland,  Princess Street (east of Lock St.), Peterborough

Merlin (Karl Egressy)

Adult female Merlin (Karl Egressy)

Merlin family (1) - Pat Maitland

Merlin family (3) – Pat Maitland

Merlin family (2) - Pat Maitland

Merlin family (2) – Pat Maitland

Merlin family (3) - Pat Maitland

Merlin family (1) – Pat Maitland

Sep 122015
 

AUGUST 25:  “We  have four juvenile Merlins that we see and hear playing and squawking in our yard almost daily, albeit less in the last few days.  We even saw one of them flying briefly with a Bald Eagle. We live on Young’s Point Road, between Lakefield and Young’s Point.”

Jason and Heather Balcombe

Juvenile Merlin - Jason Balcombe - Young's Point Road

Juvenile Merlin – Jason Balcombe – Young’s Point Road

Jul 122015
 

We have a cottage on Kosh Lake (Kasshabog Lake).  We have been on the lake, on an island for the past 11 years.  Traditionally we have Common Ravens on our island. They nest here, raise their young and wake us up very early in the morning.

This spring we witnessed a bit of a battle over the pine trees. We were not sure what type of bird would attack a raven’s nest but attack this bird did. There was a long fight with the raven’s eventually sitting in a nearby pine tree while we watched the attack bird flying around the nest.

Merlin in East City of Peterborough - Marlene Stamler

Merlin in East City of Peterborough – Marlene Stamler

We have heard this bird over the course of the spring, a high pitch “ki, ki, ki, ki” both while in flight and in the trees but until this weekend have been hard pressed to see it close up. This weekend we finally saw it closer, enough to see its tail feathers in flight. Gathering our binoculars we saw it in a tree and watched as it picked away at a bird it had caught.  Our bird book, and searching the internet, has led us to the conclusion that we have nesting Merlins on our little island.

Is this unusual? Will they be here for the rest of the season or will we possibly see them back next year?  Our ravens are gone, but we do hope they come back. They were good company and our little birds, usually around, have also decreased in numbers.

Shirley Bell

N.B. Merlins are now quite common throughout the Kawarthas. They even nest in the City of Peterborough. I suspect they will be back to your island next year, but I think the ravens should be able to stand their ground to them, being quite a bit larger. The return of Merlins to the Kawarthas is actually a good news story, because these birds were almost wiped out by DDT in the 60’s and 70’s.

Merlin (Karl Egressy)

Merlin (Karl Egressy)

Merlin - Mike Faught - April 9, 2015 - Ptbo

Merlin – Mike Faught – April 9, 2015 – Ptbo

 

 

Jul 212014
 

The Merlins around our home and neighbours, on lower Chemong Lake, are at their peak for loud calls – almost too much! So far there appear to be two adults and two juveniles flying around. They are decimating the local small bird population! Click here for some photos of one of the Merlins from a few days ago – not the best quality but they are my first for this bird:

Don McLeod, Chemong Lake

Merlin (Karl Egressy)

Merlin (Karl Egressy)