This morning, August 30, while entering the Indian River at the Piggery for our ritual early morning swim, we noticed a heron-like bird on a branch close by.  The sun was behind it so we only saw its silhouette.  When it took off, however, we were surprised to see that it was white. There was no red on his head and it had a crook in his neck so it was not a Sandhill Crane. I had my phone out to take a picture of the silhouette but had just put it down when he took off.  I managed to quickly capture a few shots as he was flying away and as he settled on a tree quite a bit away. (Note from DM: the bird is a Great EgretAudrey Keitel, Keene

Up close and personal with a River Otter on August 30 at Best Road Pond near Mount Pleasant.  He swam right toward me. My husband took a picture of the otter checking me out as I was taking pictures of it! Tracy Gibson

I went out to Preston Road on August 29 to see if the Green Herons were still around. I have never seen a Sora before so that was exciting to see. The picture is poor…they move SO fast! Also, I was delighted to see a Common Yellowthroat warbler. Tracy Gibson

I have been trying to figure out who this little guy is to no avail. I was hoping you might be able to help. When kayaking on the Pigeon River outside Omemee, I’ve spotted these birds occasionally on reeds that have fallen over to make a mat. I have never seen them before. They look like juveniles with their fluffy heads, but how could they be young at this time of year? They’re quite small. At first I thought bitterns, but they’re so small! They certainly stalk about on their long legs like a heron though. Karen Pero Cooper

Note: The birds are indeed bitterns, namely Least Bitterns. This is our smallest bittern species. DM

Our neighbour in Georgetown took this picture. He says the Red-bellied Woodpecker was feeding the young Northern Cardinal as he watched. Interesting. Janet Duval

Red-bellied Woodpecker feeding a young Northern Cardinal (via Janet Duval)

I took this photo of an Eastern Hog-nosed Snake on August 15 on Sawmill Road, south of Stoney Lake and north of the Warsaw Caves Conservation Area. I then encouraged the snake to move off the road to safety. The snake seems to have a small appendage on its side towards one end. Has it been injured or is this part of its behaviour when feeling threatened? Any information is welcome. Brian Asmunt

Note from Tim Dyson:

Indeed, this snake appears to have a trauma, or perhaps, some kind of affliction which caused some of its insides to wind up outside the skin. This bulbous mass is exactly where the anus would be on this snake, so my guess would be that it was likely run over by a vehicle of some sort, causing some part of its insides to, under sudden pressure, spill out like that. 
Otherwise, there seems to be no easily noticeable trauma to the skin and’or scales anywhere, as is often the case when a snake is run over by a truck or car. Perhaps it is some kind of tumour or some other kind of growth near the anus, and is finding its way out as it expands. I suppose the lack of overall damage to the exterior of the snake could indicate that it was run over by something much smaller like an ATV or bicycle. I do not know of any behavior of this snake extending any interior part of itself at will, as Brian wondered.
Whatever the case, a lovely snake, anyway! Interesting, that no matter what the issue of the injury or disease, it is obviously showing a normal and healthy reaction to Brian’s presence the way it has flared out the neck, (cobra-style), and showing well why the species has earned the nick-name “Puff Adder”. I wonder if it bothered to play dead for Brian as he coaxed it off the road, as they sometimes do?

Eastern Hog-nosed Snake on Sawmill Road – Brian Asmunt

On the morning of August 9, there was a “convocation” of Common Loons on Stoney Lake near our place. I got this picture by attaching my phone to my scope. The small flock called continuously for about 15 minutes. It was magical.. Rob Welsh

Common Loon (Rob Welsh)

I went out around 7pm on the evening of August 7 to gather garden gifts. I have lots of little tomatoes ripening every day as well as the  ubiquitous zucchinis, peas, beans. As I opened the Carriage House door, I noticed a squirrel tearing away at a very wet paper garden waste bag. I watched as he tightened it into a bunch he could manage. He took off up the closest tree trunk – high up then jumped over to another tree and then another, swinging and jumping – eventually being high up and at least three trees away, and then I lost him. Lo and behold he appeared again coming back the same route. He reached the ground and got stuck into the bag again. He had a difficult time tearing off a piece, but kept pulling and dragging till he got what he wanted. Then off he raced along the same route. I could have watched a long time, but my toms called. What organisation thinking does a squirrel have – driven to perform this task? I assume he is building a nest. But in early August? Margaret Sumadh

Note: What an interesting sighting. I think you’re right to conclude that the squirrel was indeed building/lining a tree nest. Gray Squirrels often have a second brood in August, so that may have been the reason. It might also simply have been doing nest maintenance with the coming winter or next spring in mind. Who knows! D.M.

Drew Monkman

I am a retired teacher, naturalist and writer with a love for all aspects of the natural world, especially as they relate to seasonal change.