We had a wonderful outing to the heronry between Speyside and Campbellville. On the way, I saw a Black-billed Cuckoo flying across the road. Sadly, we could not stop quickly enough for everyone to get a good look at this bird.
We went on to Laurie and Judith Reed’s property and made ourselves at home on their barn balcony, overlooking the hundred-acre swamp. There were 17 active Great Blue Heron nests, most with fuzzy young and one adult tending the 2-4 babies. We saw a swan on an old beaver nest. Closer views with a scope revealed a pair of Trumpeter Swans on this nest, one with number J57 on its yellow wing band. A Common Gallinule was seen preening, and a second bird seen soon after. Later, another pair of these quite rare “common” birds was seen. We also saw two Pied-billed Grebes and heard their strange call. Tanya was excited to see a Black-billed Cuckoo, but only momentarily before it hid in a shrubby tree. It called on and off the whole time we were there. Several Eastern Phoebes were flying about and collecting insects, and must have had a nest nearby. Cedar Waxwings, Baltimore Oriole, and a lone Willow Flycatcher, singing its “fitz-bew” call were also observed, along with Yellow Warblers and Gray Catbirds. I spotted a Snapping Turtle having a face-off with a much smaller Painted Turtle. A count of all the turtles revealed 29 painted and two snappers sunning on logs. Turkey Vultures soared over, an Eastern Kingbird posed on a stick and Red-winged Blackbirds feuded for prime territories. A few Tree Swallows seemed to be nesting in the swamp with the herons. Although only five club members came out of this event, it was a great way to spend a nice sunny afternoon. Many thanks to Laurie and Judith for their hospitality, and for maintaining this great habitat.
Hello and a very Happy New Year to all club members!
This winter has been so different from the last (so far at least), although the fallen branches from last winter’s ice storm are still very conspicuous in leafless forest and roadsides. On the Christmas Bird count (reported in detail in this newsletter) we found the numbers of common birds to be very low, but the overall diversity was very high. In part this resulted from a very mild day for the count, but also we had a larger contingent of counters than usual. Many new members took part and their knowledge and enthusiasm no doubt helped us find more species than in previous years. Thanks to all who participated!
I will not be present at the next three meetings (I’m leading nature tours to much warmer destinations!), but I hope to see everyone in April and perhaps before at a winter outing. We do have a great line-up of speakers that I am sorry to miss.
I’m not sure I am still qualified to write this letter as I am now officially Past President. We are very happy to welcome newly elected secretary Emily Dobson to our board and thrilled to have had interest from new members in joining our executive (see below)! Many thanks to Anne Fraser for her work as past Secretary, and to Jeff Normandeau for his past work on the newsletter.
Past President: Fiona Reid
Vice-President: Don Scallen
Secretary: Emily Dobson
Treasurer: Janice Sukhiani
Roving: William McIlveen, Kevin Kerr, Nikki Pineau, Anne Fraser
Club membership fees are now due. If you haven’t already paid up, please bring your money to the next meeting or pay online at our website via PayPal. Your financial support is critical to our ability to provide great speakers, rent a meeting space, and cover our insurance costs. Thanks!
We have some great speakers and evening events to look forward to, including the Pot Luck Dinner in December, but we do need more volunteers to lead nature walks.
Today, November 1, we had our first snow of the year. Has winter already officially begun? Be sure to keep your feeders full and enjoy the winter birds.
Goodbye summer, hello fall. Come to think of it, where was summer this year?
Summer was not a wow for those of us who like it hot (tomato crops were poor, moth numbers down), but we are seeing some very pleasant weather now that September has arrived. The trees have at least been able to take up sufficient moisture to encourage new growth after the ravages of winter, and I expect the fall colours will be especially good this year.
We have a great line-up of talks coming up, so I hope to see everyone at these events.
Hello all, spring is finally here! What a welcome sight it is too. What a joy to see the subtle shades of green unfurling leaves taking over from endless grays of winter. It will be interesting to watch the forest slowly recover from the ice storm. Some trees won’t make it, but the extra light will bring on fast growth from others.
Migrant birds are now here and it is a wonderful time to get out and see them. City parks are especially rich in birds looking to refuel as they pass through an expanse of concrete. I saw this for myself yesterday in Centennial Park, when I had an hour to kill on Toronto and tallied 10 species of warbler in full spring regalia! Ray’s trip to Whitby next weekend will hit some birding hotspots and see many more species of songbird and water birds.
I hope you can all get out and enjoy the good weather – we deserve it!
Hello members new and old (and young!) It seems like this winter will never end, but spring will surely start to unfurl as the month marches on.
In the meantime, please spend a few minutes looking at some wonderful images by our club member and HNPNC secretary, Anne McDermaid, on this website. Not only will you see a gallery of her inspiring landscapes, but also some beautiful shots of waterfowl in winter. Thanks Anne! We encourage other members to share their work on our website or Facebook pages. See contact info below.
We are also getting thoroughly modernized and now have a Twitter account: @hnpnc launched January 31st with 211 followers.
And how incredibly welcome the New Year was, arriving shortly after power was at last restored. For me it was a 7-day blackout, and I know for others it was longer still. Being in a cold house in midwinter just makes me admire all the more the small birds and animals that brave the outdoors year-round. The chickadees at the feeder, puffed up in the cold, have to find food and shelter every day, and throughout such inhospitable weather. Don’t forget to help them out!
Our trees have taken a tremendous beating, their tops lopped off as it by a drunken giant wielding a very dull machete! It will be interesting to see how the new growth appears and it there is any benefit to this strange kind of pruning. In town, many trees were split in half. If you have lost a Weeping Willow or Norway Maple, now is a good time to consider replacing those non-natives with a native species. Native trees are adapted to local weather and they also provide food and homes for our native wildlife.
We have a great line-up of talks and several outdoor walks of interest coming up, so I hope to see everyone at these events.
Our party of two had a great outing to this urban park. It is closer than Leslie Street Spit, with a lot less walking and some really good wetland and lakeshore habitats. Our first bird of interest was a Gray Catbird near a small pond. On the pond shore we also saw a young Black-crowned Night Heron and some Shoveler and Gadwall. Up ahead a Hooded Merganser caught our eye. On the lake were many ducks and grebes, and we had excellent views of a nice male Harlequin Duck! On our way back we saw many signs of Beaver (we had already seen a Muskrat swimming) and then we saw a Northern Mockingbird that has been residing in the area for some time, according to local birders. I hope we can return with more club members in future.
On my way home from our last meeting, with coyotes in mind, I was on the lookout for mammals and eyeshine in my car headlights. In the ten-minute drive, I spotted six domestic cats in fields and along the roadsides. These were the only mammals I saw that night.
So, what impact do our cats have on wildlife if they are allowed to roam free? A recent study in the USA (based on a systematic review and quantitative mortality estimates) found that free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds and 6.9 to 20.7 billion mammals annually (Loss et al., 2013). This means that free-ranging cats are the single greatest source of human-caused mortality for wild birds and mammals. The authors found that feral (including barn) cats caused more damage than owned pets, but many dearly-loved felines spend time in the great outdoors happily hunting. Native species make up the majority of birds and mammals killed by cats, only a few non- native birds are impacted. Free-ranging cats on islands have caused or contributed to 33 recent extinctions, as recorded by the IUCN.
Of course, the cats that do not impact wild populations of songbirds and small mammals are the ones that are kept indoors! Indoor cats are safe from predators such as coyotes and owls. They are less likely to get fleas or other parasites, and they can live a long and happy life without decimating our fragile fauna. Or, take them out on a leash! The photo below by club member Jeff Normandeau shows how content cats can be on a leash.
Cats are funny, smart, loveable, affectionate, and they are cold-blooded killers. They are not native to North America. Unlike most carnivores, they hunt by day or by night. If roving gangs of children were killing thousands of songbirds, would we not hold their parents accountable? Why then do we not hold pet owners accountable for the actions of their pets?
Please, keep your cats indoors and get them spayed. They will live longer and so will your neighborhood birds and small mammals.
serving Brampton, Georgetown, Milton, Acton & surrounding areas
Meetings are held at the St. Alban's Anglican Church hall,
537 Main Street, Glen Williams (Georgetown), Ont.
Meetings are the 2nd Tuesday of each month from Sept to June at 7:30PM,
unless otherwise noted.