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

Oct 232017
 

 

 October 28 – For the second time this week, a Cooper’s Hawk was in my yard today. I knew it was around because a couple of dozen Mourning Doves flew out of the spruce tree they roost in.  Sue Paradisis

Cooper’s Hawk on Rock Pigeon – Helen Nicolaides Keller

 

 Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena) (2)
– Reported Oct 28, 2017 11:59 by Iain Rayner
– Pigeon Lake–Sandy Point, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Dirtyish cheeks and neck, long bill”

Red-necked Grebe. The grebe in the lower right is in winter plumage. – Wikimedia

 
October 27 – I had four Red-shouldered Hawks here at home today, plus nine Red-tailed Hawks, and one  Sharp-shinned Hawk for my hours sitting out in between chopping wood. The Red-shouldered Hawks were three adults and one immature, and the Red-tailed Hawks were about half and half. The Sharp-shinned Hawk? Couldn’t tell – a bit too high. For a little while at least, it was hopping around the sky here!! No more Monarchs since #532 on October 26 at Nephton. I don’t believe I’ve ever had a November sighting, but if I am going to, I’ll bet it will be this year. This last week of October is certainly the best week of the year, not only to count Red-tailed Hawks and Golden Eagles, but also Red-shouldered Hawks, as well. I am glad to be getting out and looking up.  Tim Dyson, Warsaw

Red-shouldered Hawk – Karl Egressy

 

Monarch – Saw a Monarch today, October 26, on Nephton Ridge, near Petroglyph Provincial Park. Was gliding southward about 50′ above ground despite temperature around 8C!  Drew Monkman

Monarch Butterfly – Terry Carpenter

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Oct 27, 2017 07:50 by Scott Gibson
– Downtown – MNR Building, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

Peregrine – often seen on MNR Bldg & sometimes clock tower in downtown Peterborough (Rick Stankiewicz)

Mallard: Here’s a photo of a leucistic (lacking normal pigment) Mallard photographed this summer near Whitaker Street, west of Armour Street North in Peterborough. The bird departed in early October. We nick-named the bird “Miss Vicky”!  Gord Young

Leucistic mallard – Whitaker Mills, Ptbo – summer 2017 – Gord Young

American Robin:  Watched a small flock today, October 23, feeding on abundant berry-like cones of Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginia) at Roper Park –  Drew Monkman

Robin feeding on E. Red Cedar berries at Roper Park 2017-10-23 – Drew Monkman

Berry-like cones of Eastern Red Cedar – Sept. 19, 2017 – PRHC – Drew Monkman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carolina Wren:  Turned up at my feeder today, October 23.  Phil McKeating, Creekwood Drive, near Harper Park in Peterborough

 

Carolina Wren (Wikimedia)

Black Scoter (Melanitta americana) (2)
– Reported Oct 23, 2017 07:44 by Iain Rayner
– Pigeon Lake–Sandy Point, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Female type. Black ducks with pale cheek”

Black Scoter – Crossley ID Guide of Eastern Birds – Wikimedia

 

Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) (1)
– Reported Oct 22, 2017 10:45 by Donald A. Sutherland
– Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “calling (‘crick’) from high in Red Pine then in flight W over beaver pond; W side entrance loop road around 250 m N of locked gate at CR 56.”

Black-backed Woodpecker – Wikimedia

Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens) (1)
– Reported Oct 22, 2017 08:25 by Brian Wales
– Peterborough Landfill Wetland Project ponds, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “white goose with clear grinning patch along beak”

SNGO – Rice L. – Oct. 18, 2014 -Ron Mackay

 

Oct. 22 – Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) (1)
– Reported Oct 22, 2017 07:06 by Iain Rayner
– Ptbo – Yard – Bear Creek Rd, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

Red Crossbill – male – Wikimedia

Oct 212017
 

Oct. 21 – Narrow-winged Tree Cricket – Rob Tonus found this very late tree cricket on the grass beside the Rotary-Greenway Trail, just south of Nichol’s Oval Park. Note the reddish cap. This species sings at only at night, producing a mellow trill of variable length (usually 2-10 seconds). It is reminiscent of an American Toad. Drew Monkman

Narrow-winged Tree Cricket (Oecanthus niveus) 2 – Nichol’s Oval – Oct. 21, 2017 – D. Monkman

 

Oct 21 – Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens) (1)
– Reported Oct 21, 2017 15:44 by Warren Dunlop
– Peterborough Landfill Wetland Project ponds, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Media: 1 Photo
– Comments: “adult, white morph”

Snow Geese (Marcel Boulay)

 

October 20 – Monarch butterfly – I saw a very late Monarch today on County Road 16 at Edenderry Line. This is my latest date ever. There were also 10 Wild Turkeys in the same field.  Drew Monkman

Monarch on Boneset flowers – Drew Monkman

Opossum:  Recently, I found the remains of an Opossum – skin still intact – in our backyard. There were a couple of tufts of skin and hair nearby, so I am thinking our neighbours cat dispatched of it but didn’t like the taste! Our neighbour, directly behind us, found one on his property (also dead) one week before. Our neighbour at the end of our sub-division (Simons)..off Simons Ave. (off Chemong Rd.) saw a live one a short time ago and another neighbour saw one as well. On another topic, we have a variety of different birds in our sub-division from time to time, including 12 American Robins or so that stay all winter for a few years now…We did have frogs and toads but the frogs have gradually disappeared from view in the last few years. The strip of woods behind our sub-division and behind McDonald’s, adjacent to our sub-division and below the hill/tower behind Sobey’s, had or have coyotes and an occasional deer or fox are spotted from these areas. Sadly, not commonly known, we will be subject to more houses taking up the 25 acres in those areas mentioned by the year 2022. We are on wells yet with no benefits…but we too will feel the loss of land and habitat, its animal inhabitants and maybe our health as well.  Gloria Lamond

An opossum photographed in Ennismore several years ago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 20 – Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) (1)
– Reported Oct 20, 2017 08:02 by Iain Rayner
– Peterborough–Fairbairn Street wetland, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:
– Comments: “Calling and then finaly seen moveing through hedgerow. Well seen from close distance. Black back head and tail, rusty sides. White patch on wing and white either side of tail”

Eastern Towhee – Karl Egressy

October 17 – Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) (1)
– Reported Oct 17, 2017 20:00 by Michael Mechan
– James McLean Oliver Ecological Centre, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

Northern Saw-whet Owl (Dave Heuft)

October 15 – Just looked out the window and there were Chipping Sparrows everywhere. I was counting and at 18 when the White-throats came back again and I gave up. They are loving the spruce and birch seeds.    Sue Paradisis

Chipping Sparrow – Karl Egressy

 

 

October 14  – American Pipit (Anthus rubescens) (1)
– Reported Oct 14, 2017 17:23 by Amie MacDonald
– Peterborough–Loggerhead Marsh, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

American Pipit (from The Crossley ID Guide of Eastern Birds)

October 14 – Lincoln’s Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) (3)
– Reported Oct 14, 2017 09:23 by Chris Risley
– Trent University: N. end of DNA building, Peterborough, Ontario
Map:
Checklist:

Lincoln’s Sparrow – Wikimedia

 

October 11 – Virginia Opossum

On or about this date, Hugh Kidd trapped and released a Virginia Opossum at the east end of the 7th Line of Selwyn, near the Otonabee River. Report via Leo Conlin

Opossum on Johnston Drive, south of Peterborough – Mary Beth Aspinall – Feb. 2014

Sep 262017
 

Over the last two weeks, we tagged and released all of the Monarchs we raised in the classroom.  I’m also sending along two photos I took of a Giant Swallowtail at Elmhirst Resort on Rice Lake this past weekend.   Stephanie Benn

Giant Swallowtail – Elmhirst Lodge – Sept. 24, 2017 – Stephanie Benn

Giant Swallowtail 2 – Elmhirst Lodge – Sept. 24, 2017 – Stephanie Benn

 

 

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

Jul 242017
 

Today, July 22, at the Nonquon lagoons in Port Perry, there was an interesting mix of life and death struggles. Lots of sights of successful breeding as Mallards, Wood Ducks, Hooded Mergansers and Trumpeter Swans showed off their new families. Very few shorebirds but the habitat is still not good for them ? Water is too high.

However two Soras were in full song and a Virginia Rail showed off her two offspring. 5 Common Gallinules and an American Coot were new arrivals as they haven’t been here all summer. The show stopper was the feeding frenzy by the Cedar Waxwings. Fifteen+ birds were feeding at eye to ground level chasing and catching a huge new hatch of bluet damselflies. For the dragonfly/damselfly afficionados out there this is the time be here .. crazy numbers of these insects. Also a large hatch of Monarchs must have occurred as they were everywhere.

Sora (rail) – Wikimeda

Lots of herps – Midland Painted Turtles, Northern Leopard Frogs, Green Frogs and my second (dead) Red-bellied Snake at this site this year. Lots of other butterflies and myriad other insects to amuse. A groundhog and a muskrat represented the mammal clan. Adjacent fields had several Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer and Spotted Sandpipers – so they are here .. you just gotta look further afield.

Geoff Carpentier
Avocet Nature Services

(via Ontbirds – Bird Alert – Click here for information on how to subscribe to alerts)

DIRECTIONS: The lagoons are located one road north of the transfer site on Concession Rd. 8 [don’t get confused as, despite the fact that these roads are both numbered “8”, they are two different roads – one is a regional paved road, the other a dirt concession road.]. Access to the lagoons is from the east end of Conc. 8 only as the bridge is out west of the lagoons. Please remember to close the gate behind if you go as it is not self-closing.

How to Obtain a Nonquon Sewage Lagoon Permit

Permits must be purchased in advance of entering the lagoons. Permits can be obtained from 605 Rossland Rd., Whitby, or at the Scugog Waste Transfer Station, 1623 Reach Street, Port Perry. An electronic version of the Nonquon Sewage Lagoon Birder Permit is available in PDF format at http://www.durham.ca/finance.asp?nr=/departments/finance/financeinside.htm. Nonquon Sewage Lagoon Birder Permits are available for $10 per permit. Cheques will only be accepted at Regional Headquarters. Payment by cash only at the Scugog Waste Transfer Station. Completed Applications should be forwarded to: Finance Department – Insurance & Risk Management, 605 Rossland Road E., Whitby, ON L1N 6A3

 

Jun 262017
 

Regarding the Nessus Sphinx reported by Stephenie Armstrong, they are likely fairly common here in Peterborough County, though I rarely see them myself. They do, however, seem to be a day-flier, and can therefore be confused with a Hemaris species like the Snowberry Clearwing.

A few weeks ago, at my friend’s place near Warsaw, we were getting up to two dozen Gallium Sphinx
(Bedstraw Hawkmoths) at a time at her sprawling honeysuckle bush at dusk. More to follow soon about them. I got some excellent pictures!

I’ve seen 41 Monarchs now, and the first was the earliest ever for me – May 30th!
(Only one Giant Swallowtail, however, and it was on the same date as the first Monarch).

Tim Dyson

Nessus Sphinx – Note yellow bands on abdomen – Stephenie Armstrong – June 2017

 

Jun 242017
 

We have a sweet smelling Abelia shrub that is proving to be very popular with the insect population. Visitors this month include our first and so far only Monarch, a Black Swallowtail, a White Admiral, and two hawkmoths, including the Hummingbird Clearwing and the Nessus Sphinx, the latter new to us. And out amongst the wildflowers, the Canada Tiger Swallowtail is regularly feeding on the Viper’s Bugloss. I was able to photograph them all except the Monarch, with two separate views of the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth.

On June 8th, Peter got a bit of a surprise opening the door to our under-deck to find an Eastern Milksnake coiled around one of the garden hoses. He was lucky to get a photo as it made its way along the line of stopcocks heading for a bit of cover under the stairs.

Stephenie Armstrong, Warsaw

Eastern Milksnake – Peter Armstrong

Nessus Sphinx at Abelia shrub. Note two yellow bands on abdomen – Stephenie Armstrong – June 2017

Hummingbird Clearwing at Abelia shrub – Stephenie Armstrong

 

Canada Tiger Swallowtail on Viper Bugloss – Stephenie Armstrong