Readers saw everything from cobra-like hog-nosed snakes to the elusive fisher

Peterborough Examiner  – December 23, 2022 – by Drew Monkman

I would like to thank the many people who have shared some of their nature sightings, anecdotes, and photographs with me over the past year. This week I’m offering a sampling of what’s been seen. What stands out is how meaningful and exciting these experiences are to people. It’s also a constant reminder of how fortunate we are to have so much biological diversity here in the Kawarthas and the need to protect it. You’ll find more sightings at


  • On January 1, I saw two Snowy Owls in town. The first was perched a lamp on Chemong Road in the north end and the second was in the Highland Park Cemetery off of Bensfort Road. Carl Welbourn
  • Here at Stoney Lake, we regularly get Wild Turkeys at our feeder – or should I say on our feeder! They can be as frustrating as the squirrels. Dennis Johnson
  • On January 31, a Northern Shrike visited our feeder for the fourth time this winter.  After hearing a mild thump against the window, l looked out and watched the shrike peck at and eventually carry away a junco that he’d driven into the window. Glimpses of nature in the raw! Michael Gillespie, Keene


  • At our cottage on Crowe Lake, we’ve been watching our annual convention of Trumpeter Swans. The swans return each winter and stay as long as there is open water. One day, on the Crowe River, we counted at least 68! We are so fortunate to be able to enjoy this part of nature.  Maxine Prentice, Peterborough
  • On February 7, we had a juvenile Northern Goshawk in our backyard. My wife saw it first, and we watched totally mesmerized. It appeared to have just killed a squirrel. Steve Cavanagh, Clear Lake
  •  A beautiful Barred Owl has been hanging about the last few days. He very much enjoyed the rabbit he caught. I’m guessing he flew in from one of the greenspace areas around the neighbourhood. Wendy FucileKawartha Heights


  • We’ve been seeing a Fisher on our trail cameras for three years now, and I’m assuming it’s the same one. We also see tracks in many areas. We have a spruce plantation that’s a bit over thirty years old and full of Red Squirrels. I guess there’s good hunting! Paul Vigneux, Selwyn Township  
A fisher was caught on a reader’s trail camera in Selwyn Townships. (Paul Vigneux)


  • On April 25 on McCrea Dr., I was awakened by the calls of two Whip-poor-wills. One was near our backyard and the other was off in the distance. I was  very surprised because as a youngster at the cottage we went to sleep every night to the sound of their call but it’s been at least 50 years  since I’ve heard one.  John Hewson, Peterborough


  • On May 3 and 5 at Meadowvale Park in Peterborough, I saw and photographed a nice selection of warblers. They included Northern Parula and Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Black-and-white, and Palm Warblers. Carl Welbourn
  • On May 9, we had male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and our first Baltimore Oriolein our backyard.  The oriole was dining on orange halves that we’d put out. Trudy Gibson, Peterborough


  • On June 1, I saw and photographed a number of Yellow Lady’s Slipper orchids just north of the London St. footbridge on the east bank of the Otonabee River. Sylvia Dee
  • On June 17, I spotted a Porcupine in the woods near a swamp north of Deer Bay Reach. It’s quills were up like a peacock. We gazed at each other and moved on. Janet Duval
  • I recently came across a Northern Red Belt (Fomitopsis mounceae) shelf fungus near my home just north of Sandy Lake. I also have a Chipping Sparrow nesting in a hanging planter on my deck. It has four beautiful blue eggs with brown spots. Nancy Eaton, Buckhorn


  • I think the last time my wife and I saw a Red Fox was in February when a pair was in our backyard. We haven’t seen a fox since.We’ve checked with neighbours – same thing. I wonder if anyone has information that would shed light on this sad situation? By the way, the rabbits are flourishing to my gardener wife’s consternation. Maybe a dearth of foxes is the reason? Richard and Hilary Nunes, Lakefield


  • On August 6, a friend called to say he’d seen 15 to 20 Great Egrets in the wild rice bed on Rice Lake. When we went out to have a look, we only saw two of the birds. However, we did find an American Bittern, a family of Trumpeter Swans, and an Osprey dive-bombing an immature Bald Eagle!  Joe Taylor, Rice Lake
  • On the evening of August 20, there was a flock of over 50 Common Nighthawks feeding over our farm near Omemee. It was wonderful to see them swooping around. Scott Sargent 
  • Today we saw a beautiful Eastern Hognose Snake, about 80 cm long, moving across our turning circle. When we got a bit too close it must have felt threatened as it inflated its neck into a cobra-like hood. Sadly, some people assume this harmless but at-risk species is poisonous and kill it. Stephenie Armstrong, Warsaw
Eastern hog-nosed snakes may look scary with their cobra-like hoods, but they are in fact harmless (Stephenie Armstrong)


  • While walking in Burnham Woods this morning, September 3, I found a striking fungus called Blushing Rosette, (Abortiporus biennia). The sun was hitting it and the “guttation” drops it exuded sparkled like rubies. Sue Paradisis, Peterborough
  • We came across a very cute, baby Eastern Hog-nosed Snake while camping on Rathbun Lake near Apsley this month. Al and Mary Smith, Lakefield


  • I was excited to see a flock of Evening Grosbeaks at our feeders on October 29. They didn’t visit us at all last winter. They certainly have a distinctive voice. Maris Lubbock, Selwyn
  • On October 20, I saw and photographed a male Varied Thrushnear the water tower on High Street. It was in trees with abundant fruit. It was robin-like in size and stance but had an orange chest with a prominent black collar. On October 22 at the same spot, I saw what looked like a female. This bird is native to BC. Bruce Roxburgh, Peterborough


  • I came across a Beetberry plant (Blitum capitatum) on November 14 while hiking in the Jeffrey-Cowan Forest Preserve on Stoney Lake. It was the first time I’d ever seen this attractive native plant. Bet Curry, Stoney Lake
  • On November 28, a flock of 50 Sandhill Cranesflew over my house in Omemee. Gavin Hunter


  • On December 17, I was treated to the sight of dozens of beautiful Bohemian Waxwings in my North End backyard, resting and flitting from branch to branch. I had never seen this bird before. It was a fascinating hour for me. Sandy Campbell, Peterborough
Bohemian waxwings are common this winter. Sandy Campbell saw dozens in her Peterborough yard on December 17. (Mark Muschett)


Hope:  Negotiators at the COP15 United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Montreal have finalized an agreement to halt and reverse the destruction of nature by 2030. The goals include protecting 30 per cent of the world’s land, water and marine areas by 2030, as well as the mobilization, by 2030, of at least $200 billion US annually in domestic and international biodiversity-related funding from all sources, both public and private. There is also a pledge to reduce subsidies deemed harmful to nature by at least $500 billion by 2030, while having developed countries commit to providing developing countries with at least $20 billion per year by 2025, and $30 billion per year by 2030. See

Carbon dioxide: The atmospheric CO2 average for the week Nov. 27 to Dec. 3 was 417.74 parts per million (ppm), compared to 416.02 ppm a year ago. Rising CO2 means more climate chaos and increasingly severe storms ahead.

Take action: To see a list of ways YOU can take climate action, go to

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.