I would like to thank the many readers who have shared some of their nature sightings and photographs with me over the past year. This week and next, I am presenting a selection of the many anecdotes and observations I’ve received. These encounters with wildlife show how fortunate we are in Peterborough and the Kawarthas to have so much nature quite literally at our doorsteps. To stay abreast of local sightings, please visit my website at drewmonkman.com


  • We had a lot of coyote activity on the night of January 2. A pack went right through our backyard again with lots of vocal communication going on. From the tracks in the snow it would appear there were five or six animals.  Jim Watt, Franmor Drive
  • As of January 4, we have had a nice flock of about 24 evening grosbeaks hanging around our back field and feeder. One appears to be without pigment (leucistic). They really love the sumac grove on the edge of the field. We have not had evening grosbeaks in our area before. Gene de St. Croix, Sixth Line, Hastings 
  • We live on Katchewanooka Lake, and on January 9 and 10 I saw both mature and immature bald eagles – three times! On each occasion, the birds were perched on the ice at our shoreline. In the spring, we have a family of eagles nesting on one of the islands nearby. We often see them at this time of year. I also saw five trumpeter swans two days ago, meandering along our shoreline. There were two adults and three immatures.  Melissa Nagy, Katchewanooka Lake
  • We have a large swamp near our house on the north shore of Stoney Lake. There is a small area that never freezes – probably spring fed. Today, January 19, there was a swarming mass of dozens of two-inch tadpoles and many one-inch fish covering the whole area of about two square feet. They seemed dead or barely alive. I’m not sure what the explanation might be. Ed Duncan, Northey’s Bay Road
  • Today, January 24, I saw three immature bald eagles on the ice at Young’s Point. They were on the Katchewanooka side of the bridge where there is a long stretch of open water. There was also a river otter, a large number of common goldeneyes, several common mergansers, and three trumpeter swans. Barb Craig, Young’s Point
  • This morning, January 29, at Percy Reach on the Trent River south of Campbellford, there were three eastern coyotes feeding on a deer carcass on the ice. In the meantime, 13 bald eagles waited their turn to feed. Nice watching all of this happening, just 700 metres behind my house.  Donald Munro, Campbellford


  • A large flock of snow buntings showed up February 1 at our farm in Indian River. They were here last year, too. I think they remembered that I put out bird food. My husband set up our trail camera and was able to catch a photo. I love watching the flock fly around and listening to their lovely chirping.   Sandra Yeoman, Indian River 
  • I live in the west end of Peterborough. About once a week there is an enormous murder of 40 to 60 crows that lands on the road and lawns at my corner. They peck away at the road, but I cannot imagine what they are finding to eat! I have also seen them gathered in a single tree this winter in many parts of the west end. Catherine Dibben, Walkerfield Avenue
  • We saw an eastern coyote on the morning of February 10 beside the Westview Village (Lansdowne Street west) pond, on the north side of Harper Park. It had been lying down in the snow but then wandered around the pond area before running back into the forest. I managed to get several pictures from inside our house.  René Gareau, Lansdowne Street
  • The Great Backyard Bird Count took place from February 15 to 17, 2019. For Peterborough County, 64 participants contributed 223 checklists and tallied 49 species of birds. Some highlights included 135 bohemian waxwings near the airport (Dave Milson), 9 trumpeter swans at Young’s Point (Martin Parker), a northern flicker in Douro (Bruce Kidd), a merlin near Cavan (Scott McKinlay), a red-bellied woodpecker near Buckhorn (Martyn Obbard), and a red crossbill on Engleburn Avenue in Peterborough (Ben Taylor). Peterborough Field Naturalists newsletter


  • On March 24, I was able to record audio of sandhill cranes calling in the early evening at my home. About a week later, we also had a leucistic (lacking normal pigmentation) evening grosbeak in our yard. Dawn Dummitt, County Road Six, Douro-Dummer
  • Warming temperatures on March 15 and 16 ushered in a large number of spring migrants including killdeers, turkey vultures, American robins, red-winged blackbirds, brown-headed cowbirds, and common grackles. Martin Parker


  • On April 13, I was able to photograph two ospreys eating their freshly-caught fish atop telephone poles at Hiawatha on Rice Lake. One of the ospreys appeared to be eating a crappie, while the other one was eating a much larger fish, possibly a walleye. It was amazing to watch them devour their meals.  René Gareau
  • On April 22, I had an eastern whip-poor-will calling repeatedly from my backyard in the west end of the city. The bird must have been migrating northward and decided to spend the night here.  Rob Moos, Maple Crescent


  • On May 3, an indigo bunting showed up at my feeder. It was my first ever. The bird continued to drop by regularly until May 26. I live in the west end of Peterborough near Queen Mary Public School. Monique Beneteau
  • I saw some amazing birds at our feeder on the morning of May 10. There were six rose-breasted grosbeaks (five males and one female) as well as a Baltimore oriole. Bet Curry
  • I was able to get distant pictures of an adult great horned owl and its chick at a nest near the Peterborough Airport. I also found an active merlin nest on the Sacred Heart Church property, across from the New Canadians Centre on Romaine Street.  Reem Ali
  • The migration on the morning of May 17 was amazing. I had yellow-rumped warblers, Baltimore orioles, and even a scarlet tanager in my yard, all of which I was able to photograph.  Jeff Keller, Bridgenorth   
  • On May 20, a warbler drew my attention with its lovely song. I was able to identify it as a northern parula. A new bird for me! There appeared to be several of them in the trees in our yard. Nancy Cafik, Chemong Lake
  • Last fall I harvested six plump chestnuts from two of my American chestnut trees near Crystal Lake. I put them in the refrigerator for the winter and then planted them on the Vernal Equinox. As of May 10, five have sprouted. I now have proof that my trees can produce viable nuts. Michael Doran, Peterborough


  • My husband, John, and I canoed to the cliff near our cottage on Anstruther Lake where peregrine falcons have nested in recent years. As we approached, an adult peregrine flew off the nest and perched in a pine tree. We could clearly see two young ones sitting on the nest and looking like fluffy ookpiks. Later, we watched as two falcons joined their talons in flight and tumbled down through the sky with their feet locked together! Marie Duchesneau
  • The heronry on Deer Bay Reach (Lower Buckhorn) now has ten active nests, all high in the pines. They’re on the secluded side of Three Islands, accessible by canoe or kayak. There is also an osprey occupying a nest atop a lone dead pine at the west end of the islands. Three bald eagles have recently been seen at their old nest at the northeast end of Black Duck Bay, toward the dams into Lovesick Lake.  Janet Duval
  • Late last summer I almost stepped on a big green caterpillar on my front walk. It carried on its way, and I thought that was the end of it. On June 12 I came home to see a freshly emerged Polyphemus moth hanging by my garage door. The caterpillar I saw was actually a Polyphemus caterpillar, probably one and the same! Kim Mitchell, Ennismore 

What to watch for this week

With all the Christmas trees and conifer wreaths and planters that abound at this time of year, now is a great time to learn to identify conifers by their needles. Mnemonics help. Like the PIN in pine, pine needles are long like pins. White (five letters) pine has five needles. Other local pines like red pine have two. I’ll be Tweeting more mnemonics next week @NaturesYear.

Climate Crisis Update

         A recent study (https://bit.ly/34csewG) of computer climate models from all the way back to the 1970s found a high degree of accuracy when compared to what actually happened with Earth’s climate in the decades that followed. This raises confidence in modern models, which are far more sophisticated and factor in many more variables. These models, of course, are predicting catastrophic changes for the climate if drastic action is not taken immediately.

              A peer-reviewed study in Ecology Letters (https://bit.ly/35cvwRU) has revealed that migratory birds in North America are shrinking, most likely as a result of warming temperatures caused by climate change. Not only are they losing body weight, but the birds’ legs are growing shorter. Their wings, however, are getting longer. The researchers analyzed the measurements of 70,716 bird specimens of 52 species over a 40-year period. The findings suggest that warming-induced body size reduction is a general response to climate change. The same phenomenon is being seen in salamanders.


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.