Volume 4, Number 5 - April 1, 1999




Beautiful! Warm and sunny, snow disappearing fast, pussy willows are out, the first dandelions and snow drops are in bloom.


The warm weather and favourable winds brought in a flood of early migrants (see the arrivals list below). Ducks are pushing north as the ice melts, every stream and pond has at least one pair of HOODED MERGANSERS, a few WOOD DUCKS have been seen also, the males resplendent in their fresh spring plumage. The major staging area for ducks in Muskoka is Sparrow Lake and there's now some open water and they're moving in in big numbers. Dave Hawke counted 6 species, 1400 individuals on Mar 30, 1200 were RING-NECKS. On Apr 1 there was 2500 ducks in open water from the south end to Sparrow Lake Camp. A PIED-BILLED GREBE and 2 WIGEON were on the Moon River near Bala.

On the Severn River south of Sparrow Lake opposite the lock, 4 SWANS greeted Bill & Sharon Kinghorn when they woke up last Sunday morning. They had no wing tags and the dingy necks of TUNDRA SWANS which are now moving into Ontario, very tempting to record them as such, but with TRUMPETERS around you can't be sure without confirmation. They swam down river and couldn't be located later.

Migrating RED-TAILED HAWKS were moving through, more common now than in the breeding season. Our most common hawk the BROAD-WINGED should be here in about 10 days. Their migration route from Central America follows the Texas coast where on Mar 29 at the hawkwatch near Corpus Christi, 61,000 were counted heading north. Squadrons of TVs are were sailing all over southern Muskoka. Translation: Everybody saw lots of TURKEY VULTURES south of Bracebridge.

The 30th was clear warm and quiet, a great owling night. A SAW-WHET was calling across from 1447 Peterson Rd east of Bracebridge, 2 BARRED OWLS where hooting it up further west down the Rd. The same night another SAW-WHET was heard behind Marnie Wrights farm on Roxborough Rd. When Doug Smith and family were out owling they also heard the first WOODCOCK of the year. THE MUSKOKA FIELD NATURALISTS are having their Owl Prowl outing on April 18, contact Al Sinclair sinclair@muskoka.com if you're interested in joining them.

The first BLUEBIRDS have been seen in Muskoka! Following word that Ron Reid had them in Carden Township, Al Sinclair rushed down the next day, Mar 30, to Sparrow Lake and found a pair at a bird house on Muskoka 13 north of Route D. Does anybody else have an earlier date or does Al get the First Bluebird Spotter title for 1999? Gayle Carlyle had the first last year, this year she will have to settle for the first EASTERN PHOEBE which was at their house on Mar 31.

Did you go up to Algonquin to see the DICKCISSEL? Who's Dick Cissel?.....Dick was last seen March 27.

There are quite a few Breeding Bird Survey routes in Ontario that are not being done because the surveyors have retired. There are two in Muskoka, Torrance and Port Carling. These were formally done for many years by Micheal Clark and Clifford Macfayden. Bird Studies Canada is anxious to recruit new volunteers in order to maintain continuity in the data. If you can identify most birds by sound and have a free day in June contact Becky Whittam bwhittam@bsc-eoc.org. Check the Bird Studies web site for info on how surveys are done. http://www.bsc-eoc.org


Lands for Life Update
OK. One more round of public input on LANDS FOR LIFE. The Final report has been posted on the EBR website (# PB7 E4001) and the 31 day comment period ends April 29th. The Partnership For Public Lands is requesting that we strongly support the plan for the new parks but oppose several undesirable changes to Parks and Conservation Reserve policies that are attached to them. The changes would give general approval to sport hunting in all new parks and conservation reserves (surprise surprise), motorized access, new commercial establishments, and guarantee mineral exploration in high potential potential sites within new parks. Under existing policy, these measures are only considered "case by case," during the park or conservation reserve planning process, and they are allowed where compatible with the park values, and public safety. Comments can be mailed or faxed to:
Hon. John Snobelen
Minister of Natural Resources
6th Floor, Whitney block, 99 Wellesley St. W
Toronto, ON M7A 1W3
Attention Land Use Strategy
(Fax 705 755 1380 )
You must mention "EBR # PB7 E4001" in the subject line.


No News


The first moth of the year was flying on the night of March 31, the undistinguished NAMELESS PINION, Lithophane innominata.

No butterfly reports yet in Muskoka. Al Sinclair had a Compton Tortoiseshell near Orillia on April 1, no fooling.


No News


NAME                   1st DATE LAST YR  LOCATION                  OBS
Northern Saw-whet Owl  15/02/99 22/04/98 Utterson                  W.W.
Herring Gull           02/03/99 28/02/98 Big Chute                 A.S.
Bald Eagle             05/03/99          Ad flying over Big Chute  A.S.
Red-shouldered Hawk    17/03/99 06/03/98 Gravenhurst Fire College  D.B.
Canada Goose           17/03/99 05/03/98 Big Chute                 A.S.
Bufflehead             20/03/99 26/03/98 Severn River              S.K.
Red-tailed Hawk        20/03/99 12/03/98 Roxborough Rd             G.C.
Red-winged Blackbird   21/03/99 06/03/98 feeder near GlenOrchard   J.J.
Turkey Vulture         23/03/99 25/03/98 Sparrow Lk                D.H.
American Robin         24/03/99 26/03/98 Roxborough Rd             G.C.
Hooded Merganser       24/03/99 26/03/98 Lake Rosseau              R.R.
Common Grackle         24/03/99 12/03/98 Big Chute                 A.S.
Great Blue Heron       26/03/99 26/03/98 Nr Rosseau                A.T.
Killdeer               28/03/99 27/03/98 Flying near Glen Orchard  J.J.
Eastern Bluebird       29/03/99 25/03/98 Mus Rd 13 Sparrow Lake    A.S.
Northern Harrier       29/03/99 01/04/98 Canning Rd Sparrow Lake   A.S.
Wood Duck              29/03/99 29/03/98 Marsh on Medora Lake Rd   E.W.
Ring-billed Gull       30/03/99 24/03/98 Hoc Roc River             A.S.
Ring-necked Duck       30/03/99 31/03/98 Sparrow Lake              D.H.
American Woodcock      30/03/99 28/03/98 Peterson Rd               D.S.
Brown-headed Cowbird   31/03/99 02/04/98 Big Chute                 A.S.
Song Sparrow           31/03/99 28/03/98 Big Chute                 A.S.
Green-winged Teal      31/03/99 05/04/98 S. Muskoka River          D.S.
Eastern Phoebe         31/03/99 06/03/98 Roxborough Rd             G.C.
American Wigeon        01/04/99 04/04/98 Moon River Bala           D.N.
Pied-billed Grebe      01/04/99 30/03/98 Moon River Bala           D.N.
Lesser Scaup           01/04/99 05/04/98 Sparrow Lake              D.H.




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