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
· 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!”
· 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?”
· 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.
· 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.
· 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
· 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.