Jun 212017

I recently observed the Great Blue Heron rookery in the Trent Wildlife Sanctuary. As a point of interest, I noticed the rookery is quite visible from the height of land where the Tree Swallow/Eastern Bluebird research nesting site is located along the Blue trail, as one departs the Blue trail in a south western route. You have to use binoculars but I spotted the rookery from the research site at 2 different locations on that ‘high’ land elevation.

I have enjoyed observing the Great Blue Herons all my life. There used to be a small rookery (4 nests) near our home of 30 years when we lived adjacent to the Algonquin Park boundary. Most years, each pair of birds usually raised 3 offspring. At the rookery here at Trent, of the 8 active nests, I observed only 2 nests with 3 offspring. I believe all the others have 2 offspring. There was only 1 nest that I observed 1 offspring in, but the second offspring might just not have been visible from my perspective/orientation . For your information, I have since learned that there used to be a rookery on the south west side of Methuen Lake, south of Coe Hill. I must try to find time to check out that area as well, to see if that rookery is still active.

Of all the observations I have made of the Great Blue Herons over the years, I experienced a ‘new’ and exciting observation when I went to the Trent rookery last Sunday (June 18) afternoon. I watched the herons for about 2.5 hours, throughout the rain storm. During a very heavy downpour (thunder and lightning in the distance) which lasted only ~ 10 to 15 minutes, there was a ‘feeding frenzy’. During that short interval, 4 different adults returned to their respective nests and the offspring were fed. Was this behaviour just fate, or was there a natural variable occurring that stimulated this feeding frenzy? Of course, one could hypothesize in limitless manner to explain this observation.

Thanks very much for your guidance in locating this small rookery.

Joy  (tranquillitybay@bell.net)

Great Blue Heron – Wikimedia



May 102017

I have lived in the area for many years….and each year has a different flavour. Last week I noticed a large number of swallows (in the hundreds) flying near the Ennismore/Bridgenorth causeway. Each day they have been there swooping over and under cars, flying at windshields. Many are colliding with the vehicles and the tiny carcasses are becoming evident. I have never seen this before. Are they going through a resurgence? I feel badly about the mortalities that are occurring.

Barb Evett

Note: I suspect the swallows were feeding on midges, a small fly which emerges from lakes and rivers even at temperatures near O C. In cold weather in early spring, midges are the only food available for swallows, hence the large congregations over water. I don’t think there’s any resurgence in swallow populations unfortunately.

Tree Swallow – Karl Egressy

Aug 172016

Tonight, August 15, we had a spectacular aerial show with Common Nighthawks, Tree Swallows and gulls. The nighthawks were swarming over our Curve Lake house. I would estimate 50 but it was difficult to count because of the irregularity of their flight. There were also about twenty gulls and 100 tree swallows at the same time. About the same number of nighthawks (45) as August 25th, 2012. In 2012, they all were flying on an easterly course over Kutang Island on Buckhorn Lake which made it easy to count them. I managed to snap a photo of tonight’s show to give you an idea of what one part of the sky looked like at any given time. Not a great photo for seeing details of the birds but it is more for the pattern of flights. The show lasted for about an hour.

The same flock (of 50 nighthawks) were flying and feeding above the straight-stretch between the Quarter Mile Gas Station and the Waste Transfer station in Curve Lake on August 20. They might be doing so every night, I’m not sure because sometimes I forget to look up. It is good to see though. I wonder if Curve Lake is an evening gathering place for the local birds.

David Beaucage Johnson, Curve Lake

Note:  It is most likely that the nighthawks were migrating southward, despite the somewhat early date. A swarm like David describes with swallows and gulls often forms when birds are feeding on mating flights of ants. D.M.

Common Nighhawks over Buckhorn L. Aug. 15, 2016 - David Beaucage Johnson

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

Common Nighthawk (note white bars on underside of wings)

Common Nighthawk (note white bars on underside of wings)

May 222016

On the morning of May 17 on roads west of Highway 7A, there were abundant Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks, two Brown Thrashers, Savannah Sparrows, Eastern Kingbirds, Tree Swallows, and several Baltimore Orioles together in a shrub.

Enid Mallory

Eastern Meadowlark - Karl Egressy

Eastern Meadowlark – Karl Egressy

Brown Thrasher  - Ken Thomas WM

Brown Thrasher – Ken Thomas

Apr 082014
Tree Swallow in flight - Wikimedia

Tree Swallow in flight – Wikimedia

Today, at noon, there were hundreds of Tree Swallows flying around the pine trees at the entrance to Millenium Park on Water Street. They appeared to be feeding on something – possibly midges?

Eric Monkman

(Note: I also heard that on April 7, there were “thousands” of Tree Swallows flying over Champlain Heights in the north end of Peterborough. D.M.)