Jan 122017

I would once again like to thank the many people who contacted me over 2016 to share their nature sightings and photographs. This week, I will continue my year-end review with sightings from June through December. You can also find these sightings, along with videos, sound clips and more photos, on my website at drewmonkman.com

Merlin (Karl Egressy)


·        On July 20, Tom Northey of Little Britain found an active hive of wild (feral) Honey Bees in a tree cavity excavated by a Pileated Woodpecker.

·        Pat Maitland of Princess Street in Peterborough wrote to tell me about a Merlin nest near her home. “The two juveniles are getting flying and hunting lessons with lots of vocalizations as they zoom across Princess and Ware Street backyards and rooftops.”

·        Barb Evett spends part of her summers at Woodland Campsite near Lakehurst. “I cannot believe it! For three years in a row, Stanley, my campsite Ring-billed Gull has returned. He comes when called by name, sits with me on my deck when I read a book, and allows no other gulls on my site!”

Feral honey bee nest – Tom Northey



·        Tim Dyson, Barb Evett and David Beaucage Johnson all reported Giant Swallowtails. Tim wrote, “I was beginning to think that they were vanishing about as suddenly as they first appeared in the Kawarthas, back in 2011 or thereabouts.”

·         Robert Greenman Hood emailed me to say that he had a colony of more than 50 Barn Swallows at his farm on Crowley Line. This is an encouraging number, since these birds are now a Species at Risk.

·        Stephenie and Peter Armstrong of Warsaw are keen nature observers. “We regularly see the occasional Eastern Kingbird on our stretch of the Indian River, but on August 7 we were treated to a longer than usual visit of a family of four. At one point, an American Crow flew low over the tree the kingbirds favoured. The two adults went into attack mode and smartly chased the crow off upriver!”

·        On August 8, Trudy Gibson of Peterborough sent me a picture of a beautiful Black Swallowtail caterpillar feeding on dill in her garden.

·        On August 15, David Beaucage Johnson witnessed, “a spectacular aerial show of Common Nighthawks (a Species at Risk) swarming over our Curve Lake house. I would estimate 50 but it was difficult to count…There were also about 100 Tree Swallows at the same time.” Three days later, David saw his first-ever Red-headed Woodpecker on Mukwa Bay Road.

·        “On August 19, we saw at least ten bats flying over a two-kilometre stretch of the 5th Line of Selwyn as we drove towards Chemong Road. I am also happy to say that one of my American Chestnut trees at our Crystal Lake property is laden with nuts. Our trees haven’t shown any sign of susceptibility to the blight that killed nearly all of these trees early in the 20th century. I was told when I bought the trees that they were grown from nuts from a surviving stand in the Grand River Conservation Area.” Michael Doran, Peterborough

·        Annamarie Beckel lives on the Otonabee River between locks 24 and 25. “This is a fabulous place. We’re on the end of the road, so we have the river, but also mixed forest, overgrown fields, and wetland. This means we get a wonderful variety of birds:  American Bitterns, Bobolinks, Northern Harriers, Red-tailed Hawks and now Merlins. We also have loons and a pair of Baltimore Orioles. Oh, and Bald Eagles in the winter. Who could ask for anything more?”

Bobolink (male) – Gwen Forsyth



·        On September 6, Steve Kerr observed the hatching of 8-10 Snapping Turtles on Rathbun Bay at Jack Lake. Marie Windover reported that a friend on Nogies Creek had six baby Blanding’s Turtles hatch on Labour Day. Marie’s friend had covered up the nest to protect it from predators.

·        Tim Dyson of Stoney Lake paddled up the mouth of Eel’s Creek on Labour Day and saw no less than ten Map Turtles (Species at Risk), including six on the same log.

·        Dyson also spent many evenings this past summer photographing underwing moths. He used bait to attract them. Tim has baited throughout Peterborough County and has encountered 27 of Ontario’s 47 species. He has made ten plates of colour photos of these moths, which are on my website.

·        On September 11, Ken Brown found two strange, ring-like egg masses attached to a rope floating beside his dock on Crab Lake. According to Don Sutherland of the Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre, they were the egg masses of a caddisfly.

·        Joan Major sent me a photo of a six-pound Giant Puffball, which she found on September 19 on Fire Route 15 near Stoney Lake. “It was in perfect condition and white throughout. Many people enjoyed eating it!”

·        Carl Welbourn photographed three Great Egrets in the marsh at the south end of Television Road on September 16.

·        Sean McMullen shared a number of Monarch sightings from the Warsaw area, including an adult, which emerged from its chrysalis on September 18.

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


·        On October 4, Greg Conley of Peterborough came across a flock of close to 20 Rusty Blackbirds (Species at Risk) on the Trans Canada Trail at Lily Lake.

·        On October 8, Linda Gilbert was paid a visit by a young bull Moose in her yard on South Bay Shore Road West on Stoney Lake.

·        Kingsley Hubbs came across a small Eastern Milksnake (Species at Risk) on a dirt road at Gannon’s Narrows on October 2. You can see a video of the snake on my website. Marie Windover found an at-risk Eastern Hog-nosed Snake near Flynn’s Corners on October 12.

·        Nancy Cafik of Chemong Lake had a Ring-billed Gull, which came up under her bird feeder every day and waited there patiently for Blue Jays to come to feed. When the jays dropped a peanut or two on the ground, the gull snatched them up.”

·        On October 16, Alan Stewart and his wife came across a curious “mushroom trail” in the Robert Johnson Eco Park in Douro. You can see a video of the trail on my website. According to Jennie Versteeg, Alan had found a very large ‘fairy ring’. All the mushrooms would be coming from the same parent mycelium and the mycelium ring would have worked its way outward over many years as nutrients close in were exhausted.” This will be interesting to check out next fall.

Young bull Moose at Stoney Lake – Oct. 13, 2016 – Linda Gilbert


·        Al Dawson of Hawthorne Drive wrote, “Since about mid-August, starting just at dusk, we hear cricket-like sounds coming from the trees in our neighborhood… The sound is continuous rather than the intermittent cricket’s call. There seems to be dozens all singing at once.” Note: These may have been Four-spotted Tree Crickets, which I hear in our neighbourhood, too.

·        Peter Currier, who cottages on Catchacoma Lake, sent me a picture of his Red Squirrels’ pre-winter cone stash. “Clearly, they are an OCD lot. Note that the cones are not only symmetrically arranged, but the butt ends are all formed like rays around rocks or along the length of a fallen tree! Certainly I have never found animals in the wild to be as organized as our local guys are.”

·        Burke Doran reported that a Gray Squirrel and a Cooper’s Hawk dueled it out on the top rail of his split rail fence in mid-October. For at least 15 minutes they charged at each other fearlessly before the hawk called it quits.

·        On November 11, Helen Nicolaides Keller reported that a beautiful adult Cooper’s Hawk made a killed a pigeon in her east city backyard

·        “This summer, we had a ‘friendly’ Ruffed Grouse at our cottage near Parry Sound. Even leashed, our dog almost got him several times. The grouse would fly after us when we were walking around and land closely.” Rob Moos, Peterborough.

·        “On November 20, we had 8 Pine Grosbeaks at our feeder. During this past summer, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, along with their young, came to the feeder regularly.” Neil Boughen, Warsaw

Ruffed Grouse – Parry Sound – via Rob Moos



·        Sandra Burri of Clear Lake emailed me on December 5 to report eight white ‘mystery circles’ in the ice on the pond adjacent to her house. How the ice circles formed is open to speculation, but her husband, Dick, has a convincing hypothesis. You can read it on my website.

·        “We live on Clear Lake and have had a number of trees chopped down by a Beaver this fall. I put out a trail camera to record the activity. Enjoy!” John McGregor, Clear Lake. The video is on my website.

·        Sandy McMullen works at the Unimin Mine north of Stoney Lake and drives to work along County Road 6. On November 28, he emailed to say, “I was seeing groups of eagles all day. Two to four at a time. At the tailings dam, I surprised more than 20 in one group. I estimated eight mature Bald Eagles and possibly some Golden Eagles, as well.”

·        “I was very surprised to see a pair of Eastern Bluebirds in my garden this morning, December 18.” Rachel Burrows, Warsaw

·        In late December, Kathy Hardill reported having twice seen a huge flock of Snow Buntings in a field just east of Selwyn and Buckhorn Roads.

·        Like many people this winter, Mary-Anne Johnston of Lakefield had an American Robin in her backyard. There is abundant wild food for robins this winter, especially wild grape.

Wild Grape – Dec. 2, 2016 – Drew Monkman



Dec 222016

I would like to take time this week to thank the many people who have contacted me over the past 12 months to share their nature sightings and photographs. Although I have already posted these sightings on my website (drewmonkman.com), I thought I would share them once again as a kind of year-end review. I always look forward to receiving sightings such as these and am continually inspired by the interest in nature that so many people in our community share. These reports are also a testimony to the rich biodiversity of the Kawarthas.


·         Hawks, eagles and owls figured prominently this month. On January 2, Sue Paradisis had a Cooper’s hawk in her Tudor Crescent yard. “The hawk sat there for quite some time, before I noticed a female cardinal in another tree. The cardinal stayed perfectly still. This went on for over half an hour with neither bird moving. Finally, I intervened. I know the hawk needs to eat, but not the only cardinal that comes to my yard! I went outside and the hawk flew off. Seconds later, the cardinal was gone in a flash.” In mid-January, Mike Pineau and his daughter watched a peregrine falcon eat a pigeon in the courtyard of the Peterborough Regional Health Centre. Now, that’s what I call entertainment for the patients!

Long-eared Owl - Jan. 3, 2015 - Wildlark Drive, PTBO - Murray Palmer

Long-eared Owl – Jan. 3, 2015 – Wildlark Drive, PTBO – Murray Palmer

·         On January 3, Murray Palmer had an uncommon long-eared owl in his Wildlark Drive backyard. It may have been attracted by all the feeder activity, since long-ears will prey on other birds. Eventually, crows drove it away. On about the same date, Graham Yates found a beautiful barred owl in Jackson Park. “The bird was napping but kept an eye on me every so often by swiveling its head. Made my day!” Brian Tinker of Warkworth also had a barred owl, this one in his backyard. He watched it sweep down and catch a mouse from under the snow – a one-claw pick off! Tim Corner reported one of the few snowy owls sighted last winter. He found it in a field west of Lindsay on January 24.

·         A number of people also reported seeing eagles. Michael Gillespie, who lives near Keene, reported, “It has taken me 70 years, but today, January 13, was the first time I saw both a bald and golden eagle in the same morning. The bald was savaging a frozen carcass… while the golden flew overhead while I was talking with a friend.” On January 23, Ross Jamieson also saw a bald eagle flying south of Lansdowne Street. Rob Welsh watched an eagle feeding on the ice near Lock 24, south of Lakefield, while Tom Northey photographed two bald eagles perched in a pine tree in the same area.

·         Red-bellied woodpecker sightings continue to be more common in the Kawarthas. Sue Hill reported a male coming regularly to her sunflower feeders on Merino Road. “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen this species. However, this bird was more yellow on the belly than red, which is confusing, given the name!”

·         As for mammals, Gord Harrison used his trail camera to snap some amazing photos of an eastern wolf (Canis lycaon) at his property north of Minden. Mike Barker reported a dozen or more flying squirrels at a friend’s feeder at Sandy Lake near Buckhorn. “It was incredible… and hilarious! The squirrels were soaring in from all directions.”

A majestic Algonquin (eastern) wolf photographed by Gord Harrison on his Haliburton far.

A majestic Algonquin (eastern) wolf photographed by Gord Harrison on his Haliburton farm.


·         On February 7 and 8, Nima Taghaboni spotted both an adult and an immature bald eagle along the Otonabee River, while Trudy Gibson photographed a pair of adult eagles on Simmons Avenue, right in Peterborough.

·         You will probably recall how mild it was last winter. On February 4, Bill Snowden reported from Ennismore that his Japanese witch-hazel was in full bloom, and the snowdrops were already showing flower buds.


·         Derry Fairweather saw an osprey on March 13 on Upper Buckhorn Lake. It was his earliest ever. The next day, Kinsley Hubbs of Gannon’s Narrows had a sharp-shinned hawk sitting on his feeder. On about March 20, Ashley Holland found a dead great horned owl on her property in Lakefield. The bird had a tag on its leg. By checking the tag number online, she discovered that the owl had been banded five kilometres north of Lakefield in 2009.

·         Ken Guthrie, who lives on Langton Street, emailed me to say that a “white-capped chickadee” has been visiting his feeders for the last three years. ‘Its tail and wings are those of a normal chickadee but everything else is pure white.” This would have been a “leucistic” individual.

·         The sandhill crane population continues to expand in the Kawarthas. Gavin Hunter saw a pair on March 18, southeast of Kirkfield, while Jim Watt saw two cranes flying over County Road 24.

·         As for other early migrants, Marilyn Freeman heard a song sparrow singing in her city front yard on March 18. Jane Bremner listened to an eastern phoebe calling March 28 on the Indian River, just outside Warsaw. “Our harbinger of spring!” she wrote.

·         Swans, too, attracted attention. In mid-March, Martin West saw two trumpeter swans on Scollard Bay on Buckhorn Lake.” They were cool to see and a first for me!” Sharon Simpkins reported no less than nine pairs of trumpeters at Kent Bay on the Otonabee River.


·         As you may remember, pine siskins were everywhere last spring. Rob Welsh wrote, “We returned to our Stony Lake home on April 4 and immediately filled the four feeders. The activity is the most ever….We have 10 usual species but over 50 pine siskins! At least one osprey is back, too.” A week later, Sheelagh Hysenaj saw an osprey on the nesting platform on the bridge at Young’s Point.

·         Bloodroot is one of the earliest wildflowers in the Kawarthas. Catherine Paradisis wrote, “I went out for a walk on April 20 at Beavermead. My favourite sighting was one I look forward to every year: a large patch of blooming bloodroot in the wooded area behind the chip truck.” On April 29, Margo Hughes reported that bloodroot had been blooming for several days on the rail-trail near Cumberland Drive. “The patch has grown in size! Very beautiful!”

·         On April 14, Sue Paradisis stopped at the corner of Woodland Drive and the Lakefield Highway to listen to the huge chorus of spring peepers, chorus and leopard frogs. She glanced down and discovered that she was surrounded by several ‘mating balls’ of garter snakes. “When I stepped back, they quickly fled down holes in the shoulder of the road.”

·         Ducks are a favourite subject of local photographers in spring. On April 15, Jeff Keller got some great photos of green-winged teal and wood ducks on Lynch Road, east of Lakefield. On April 29, Carl Welbourn came across 10 wood ducks in Mark S. Burnham Provincial Park.

Green-winged Teal - Jeff Keller

Green-winged Teal – Jeff Keller


·         May brought a number of mammal sightings. On May 4, Joanne O’Heron saw a mother black bear with FOUR cubs on Beaver Lake Road in Trent Lakes Township. Janet Duval, who lives on Deer Bay Reach, sent me a picture of no less than six river otters on the dock belonging to her neighbour, Jim Franklin. Jody Gozzard had a beaver in her Cameron Street flower garden. It had just cut down one of her cedars. “I watched in amazement as the beaver dragged my poor tree down to the waters edge. I now have an assortment of tree branches at my shoreline that the beaver has cut down on my yard.” On May 16, Tim Corner was out for a morning walk near the Holiday Inn on George Street when an American Mink jumped out of the brush along the edge of the river.

Otters on Franklin dock on Lower Buckhorn Lake (photo by Jim Franklin)

Otters on Franklin dock on Lower Buckhorn Lake (photo by Jim Franklin)

·         On May 6, David Johnson was watching a turkey vulture circling overhead at Curve Lake, when a large, bright white bird with black wing tips and long legs flew past it. David quickly ruled out both wood stork and American white pelican and was left quite convinced that he had seen a whooping crane. These critically endangered birds do turn up occasionally in Ontario.

·         During a trip to Boyd Island on Pigeon Lake, Warren Dunlop saw two golden-winged warblers and heard two others. Marie Windover had a voice from the past calling near her home on County Road 507 – a whip-poor-will.


·         June is a great month for insect watching. Kim Mitchell reported a beautiful female Luna month on June 1 in Bridgenorth. “What a treat to see this species, as I have never seen one before!” On June 4, Gwen Forsyth saw her first hummingbird-like gallium sphinx moths of the year. They were nectaring during the day at petunias in her Lakefield garden. In Havelock on June 9, Ulrike Kullik had a viceroy butterfly land on her lawnmower. “At first I thought it was a monarch, but I then noticed the black, horizontal line on the hind wings,” she wrote.

Luna 2 - June 1, 2016 - Bridgenorth - Kim Mitchell

Luna moth – June 1, 2016 – Bridgenorth – Kim Mitchell

·         On June 2, Jacob Rodenburg reported a pair of loons nesting close to the shore of the Otonabee River, just south of Lakefield. The birds went on to successfully raise two young.

·         David Johnson informed me that there were two nesting pairs of bald eagles on Buckhorn Lake in June. One nest was on Joe’s Island and the other on Flat Island.

·         On June 18, Roy Bowles photographed two sandhill cranes on Northey’s Road west of Young’s Point.

I will continue with sightings from July through December in my next column. Happy Holidays to everyone!