Wind (current)

Today We've Lost Another Wonderful Friend: Terry Whittam

Hi friends,  Today we've lost another wonderful friend of Rosetta McClain Gardens: Terry Whittam.  Terry passed away after a short battle with illness earlier today with family close-by.

A more detailed update will be posted shortly.

Rest in peace good friend,

Walter

2020 ROSETTA MCCLAIN GARDENS RAPTOR WATCH CANCELLED!

Due to the ongoing threat of the Covid-19 virus, the Raptor Watch at Rosetta for 2020 has been cancelled.  As the Watch is a collective, informal endeavor, there is no way we can enforce physical distancing or mask wearing when distancing isn't possible.  The birds will still fly through so keep your eyes to the skies.  Hopefully things will change for 2021.

Walter, for Lee.

Sad News About Our Friend Hugh.

Hi folks,  It's with a very heavy heart that I must tell you that our great friend Hugh Reid has passed away.  Hugh died peacefully yesterday morning (April 4, 2020) after a short battle with cancer.

Hugh was always at Rosetta McClain Gardens early in the morning watching for the spring and fall migrants.  He also became a huge help to me during our fall hawk watches, always spotting birds up in the sky over the east end of the park and heading our way, he was always one of the first hawk watchers of the day and one of the last ones to leave, always offering me a ride home after I'd been standing all day.  Hugh also became quite involved with Terry and Betty's Monarch butterfly tagging program, catching butterflies, taking down and entering data in to the system on the go, sometimes it would become quite comical in the process.  We had many a good trip along the highways of Southern Ontario in search of reported 'Lifer' birds.  On the night of June 30th, 2017 at 10:30pm I received a messege from Hugh asking me about a Magnificent Frigatebird.  I had no clue what he was on about.  He told me that there was a Magnificent Frigatebird near Point Pelee National Park and asked me if I was interested in seeing it the next day.  Of course, I said 'yes' without any hesitation.  I went to bed shortly thereafter knowing that it was going to be a long day but not totally grasping what just happened.  We (including Betty) left very early the next morning on our mission, Operation Frigatebird.  I'll always remember as we were approaching the London area and I was finally waking up from my daze thinking to myself, holy sh*t we're definitely on a mission this time!  What a great day and an amazing bird for Canada Day!  That was one bird that I'd never really even considered seeing in Ontario.  Hugh also organized our spring trips to Bill Gilmour's house (in Presqu'ile) each May.  Those trips have always been second to none, usually producing 100 bird species on average!  Hugh and Bill were the best of friends for 40 years!  Above all, Hugh was a very kind and caring person, always sharing a funny story or what he knew about nature with others.

The friends of Rosetta have all gained much from Hugh, he will be sadly missed.  A planned get-together at Rosetta in celebration of our friend will take place likely in the fall and after we get through our current situation with the Covid-19 virus.  RIP Hugh.

Walter

Dec 5th - The Final Counts.

Based on 16 years of counting raptors at Rosetta McClain Gardens.

2019 Raptor Count:
Turkey Vulture - 2450 - Our 5th highest count ever!
Osprey - 37 - Our 15th highest count ever!
Bald Eagle - 84 - Our 5th highest count ever!
Northern Harrier - 118 - Our 13th highest count ever!
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 648 - Our 14th highest count ever!
Cooper's Hawk - 18 - Our 16th highest count ever!
Northern Goshawk - 5 - Our 14th highest count ever!
Red-shouldered Hawk - 32 - Our 6th highest count ever!
Broad-winged Hawk - 70 - Our 11th highest count ever!
Red-tailed Hawk - 509 - Our 12th highest count ever!
Rough-legged Hawk - 7 - Our 7th highest count ever!
Golden Eagle - 5 - Our 11th highest count ever!
American Kestrel - 197 - Our 15th highest count ever!
Merlin - 19 - Our 15th highest count ever!
Peregrine Falcon - 24 - Our 16th highest count ever!
Unidentified Accipiter - 0
Unidentified Buteo - 34
Unidentified Eagle - 3
Unidentified Falcon - 8
Unidentified Raptor - 8
Total - 4276 - Our 11th highest count ever!

Bird Count:
Overall species - 126 - We added 1 new species to our park list: Northern Shoveler.

Butterfly and Skipper Count:
Overall species - 28 - We added 1 new species to our park list: Ocola Skipper.

Moths (of interest):
Several sightings of Hummingbird Clearwing Moths, a couple of sightings of Snowberry Clearwing Moth caterpillars, and a few sightings of what appeared (photos and videos) to be another Fadus Sphinx moth - the rarity from 2017.

Animal Count:
Overall species - 9

Thankyou everyone for another amazing season at Rosetta.  Our friends are the best!!!

See you all again real soon,
Walter

Nov 29th - 2 Birds, 2 Species, 1 Eagle!

Both birds today have set new 'latest date observed' records for our hawk counting purposes.  Obviously both species could be seen migrating along the bluffs in December but it's likely you won't see me looking for them.  LOL!!!

Today:
Bald Eagle 1
Peregrine Falcon 1
Total 2

Eagle Time (EST):
12:02pm - BE

Other Birds:
Cooper's Hawk (local), Red-tailed Hawk (local)

Hawkwatchers:
Dave, Jim, and Theresa.  Thank you!

Weather Prediction:
Moderate NE wind for Saturday morning, our final count day!

See you along the fence,
Walter

Nov 28th - 16 Birds, 8 species, 1 Eagle!

Wow, not a bad day at all for this time in the migration!

Today:
Bald Eagle - 1
Northern Harrier - 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 6
Cooper's Hawk - 2
Northern Goshawk - 1
Red-tailed Hawk - 3
Peregrine Falcon - 1
Unidentified Falcon - 1
Total - 16

Eagle Time (EST):
12:57pm - BE

Other Birds:
Common Loon (5), Sandhill Crane (55), and Eastern Bluebird (1).

Hawkwatchers:
Bruce, Phil, Peter, Walter, Betty, Jim, and Ann.  Thank you all!!!

Weather Prediction:
Moderate N wind for Friday.  Might be good, unfortunately I may only make it out to my backyard.  Good luck if you go.

Walter

Nov 22nd - 8 Birds!

We all gathered at the park this morning hoping for a decent late November day of hawk watching.....unfortunately that didn't happen.  We're nearing the end of the raptor migration and today was a good indication that the birds have left.  We'll try again before the end of the month if the wind allows us but I'm thinking we should maybe go with the expectation of few birds and be thrilled if there are more.  Another eagle or two would be nice!

Today:
Northern Harrier - 1
Cooper's Hawk - 1
Red-tailed Hawk - 5
Unidentified Falcon - 1
Total - 8

Northern Harrier (Theresa)

 Red-tailed Hawk (Theresa)

 same Red-tailed Hawk (Theresa)

Other Birds:
Cooper's Hawk (local), Loon sp. (2).

Hawkwatchers:
Noah, Walter, Phil, Theresa, Joe, Peter, Sonja, Betty, Connor, Brian & Carol, Jim.

Weather Prediction:
Nothing overly exciting.  Keep watching Windy.

Walter

Nov 12th - 161 Birds, 10 Species, Both Eagles!

Wow, still lots o' birds flying!  It was another lovely sunny day with cold wind blowin' down from the north and a bonus element of a snow covering the ground.  The reason that the snow was a bonus was because when Peter arrived at 10:15am he found no one else there and the birds were already up and flying.  This is how Peter used the snow to his advantage...

Peter and his hawk count white board. (Allison)

(Walter)

Migration was consistant up until roughly 1:30pm, then the birds slowed somewhat, then they pretty much stopped completely except for a couple of Turkey Vultures.  We hung in until 3:30pm just to make sure that was it for the day.  In all, another amazing late fall day of hawk watching.  The combination of the sun's position in the sky now and the sunshine reflecting back up off the snow made for some incredible views as the birds circled and soared over the park.  Hopefully there are still a few more days like this ahead of us.

Today:
Turkey Vulture - 5
Bald Eagle - 1
Northern Harrier - 14
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 5
Cooper's Hawk - 1
Red-shouldered Hawk - 15
Red-tailed Hawk - 113
Rough-legged Hawk - 1
Golden Eagle - 1
Peregrine Falcon - 2
Unidentified Buteo - 3
Total - 161

Eagle Time (EST):
10:35am - BE
11:15am - GE

To Date:
Turkey Vulture - 2450
Osprey - 37
Bald Eagle - 82
Northern Harrier - 116
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 640
Cooper's Hawk - 15
Northern Goshawk - 3
Red-shouldered Hawk - 32
Broad-winged Hawk - 70
Red-tailed Hawk - 501
Rough-legged Hawk - 7
Golden Eagle - 5
American Kestrel - 197
Merlin - 19
Peregrine Falcon - 22
Unidentified Accipiter - 0
Unidentified Buteo - 34
Unidentified Eagle - 3
Unidentified Falcon - 6
Unidentified Raptor - 8
Total - 4247

a distant Golden Eagle (Allison)

Other Birds of Note:
Trumpeter Swan (5), Eastern Meadowlark (1), Great Blue Heron (2), Rusty Blackbird (1) and an Eastern Phoebe (1).

Trumpeter Swan family (Allison)

Hawkwatchers:
Peter, Walter, Dave, Joe, Allison, Jim, Jennifer, Winston, Naish, Betty, Trudy and Theresa.  Thankyou everyone for all your help today.  Hope you're all toasty-warm by now.

Weather Prediction:
Northwest wind to start the day but quickly swinging around to the south.  I'll only go as far as the backyard tomorrow morning for my hawk watching.

See you all again soon,
Walter

Nov 8th - 391 Birds, 11 Species, 12 Eagles!!!

391 Birds - Our highest single-day count ever for November!
65 Turkey Vultures - Our highest single-day count ever for November!
71 Turkey Vultures - Our highest monthly count ever for November!
9 Bald Eagles - Our highest single-day count ever for November!
9 Bald Eagles - Our highest monthly count ever for November!
289 Red-tailed Hawks - Our 2nd highest single-day count ever! (missed our record by only 39 birds)

Around 1:00pm we had 2 Bald Eagles, 1 dark morph Rough-legged Hawk, 1 Red-shouldered Hawk and 70-80 Red-tailed Hawks all circling over the park against the blue sky.  It was a spectacular sight!

Ha, not a bad day really!

Today:
Turkey Vulture - 65
Bald Eagle - 9
Northern Harrier - 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 5
Cooper's Hawk - 2
Red-shouldered Hawk - 4
Red-tailed Hawk - 289
Rough-legged Hawk - 3
Golden Eagle - 3
American Kestrel - 1
Peregrine Falcon - 2
Unidentified Buteo - 5
Total - 391

Eagle Time (EST):
09:40am - BE
11:11am - BE
11:14am - GE
11:14am - BE
11:30am - GE x2
11:41am - BE
11:56am - BE
12:58pm - BE
01:04pm - BE
01:25pm - BE
02:40pm - BE

To Date:
Turkey Vulture - 2445
Osprey - 37
Bald Eagle - 81
Northern Harrier - 100
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 633
Cooper's Hawk - 14
Northern Goshawk - 3
Red-shouldered Hawk - 17
Broad-winged Hawk - 70
Red-tailed Hawk - 388
Rough-legged Hawk - 6
Golden Eagle - 4
American Kestrel - 197
Merlin - 19
Peregrine Falcon - 20
Unidentified Accipiter - 0
Unidentified Buteo - 31
Unidentified Eagle - 3
Unidentified Falcon - 6
Unidentified Raptor - 8
Total - 4082


 Bald Eagle (Elias)

Peregrine Falcon (Mike)

Red-tailed Hawk (Mike)

Red-tailed Hawk (Mike)

Red-tailed Hawk (Arvo)

Cooper's Hawk (Mike)

Bald Eagle (Mike)

Bald Eagle (Mike)

Rough-legged Hawk (Mike)

Red-tailed Hawk (Mike)

Bald Eagle (Arvo)

Bald Eagle (Mike)

Turkey Vulture (Mike)

 Turkey Vulture (Arvo)

 Turkey Vulture (Arvo)

Red-shouldered Hawk (Mike)

 Red-tailed Hawk (Mike)

Other Birds:
Red-tailed Hawk (local), Merlin (local) and Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Cranes (Kris)

Hawkwatchers:
Kris, Theresa, Elias, Mike, Allison, Walter, Julie, Arvo, Naish, Phil, Bruce, Lynn, Betty, Cori and Hugh.  Wow, that might be a single-day record for November as well!!!  Thankyou everybody for a spectacular day at the park!

USAF C-17 Globemaster (Elias)

Weather Prediction:
Watch Monday, Tuesday and maybe even Wednesday of next week.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Walter

Nov 7th - 40 Birds, 3 Rough-legged Hawks!

Today's weather was a bit of a nice surprise to me as I thought it was going to be miserable out from what I read.  It turned out to be beautiful...at least when the sun was shining.  Raptor-wise it was a little slow but somewhat steady.  Of course, as the weather gets colder the window of opportunity that the birds fly on gets shorter and shorter.  Most action today was mid-day.  The high point came when our 'first of the season' Rough-legged Hawk emerged from over the distant trees to the east.  Eventually it passed over the centre of the park and started to circle upward.  To the east another 'Roughie' showed.  It slowly circled over the park and met up with the lead bird.  As we were celebrating our sightings another Roughie soared directly overhead and tried to sneak by our radar.  Unfortunately that didn't work out for the bird and he was spotted and photographed as he flew over the west side of the park.  Three Rough-legged Hawks within 10 minutes!  Many of the Harriers came early in the day and the Red-tails came in the early afternoon.  Hopefully tomorrow will be similar.....or better.


I'd like to dedicate today's hawk-watching at Rosetta to Bob Whittam (Terry's brother) who passed away suddenly on November 2nd.  We as birders in Ontario have much to thank Bob for...

His career in biology started at the Long Point Bird Observatory where he was head bird bander in 1968, and included stints with provincial and national parks, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Canadian Wildlife Service where he ultimately became the chief naturalist at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre in Midland in 1973.  Here, he spearheaded work to reintroduce the Trumpeter Swan and and ban lead shot in Ontario.  Just before the federal government cut funding to its interpretation program in 1984, including closing wildlife centres across the country, Bob helped found the non-profit Friends of Wye Marsh.  This fortuitous move allowed the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre to remain in operation and Bob to continue to mentor young naturalist staff and make wetlands and nature education accessible to thousands of visitors annually.  Former staff still comment on Bob's kind and humorous management style.

Forced to retire early due to illness, Bob's contribution to nature education was recognized through many awards including the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal (2002) and the Latornell Conservation Pioneer Award (2008) for outstanding contributions to the field of conservation in Ontario.  In 2012 Bob realized a lifelong dream when his book, The Birds of Georgian Bay, was published.

My thoughts this week and especially today are with Terry and his family.


Today:
Northern Harrier - 21
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 2
Red-tailed Hawk - 14
Rough-legged Hawk - 3
Total - 40

One! (Brian)

Two!! (Brian)

Three!!! (Brian)

Red-tailed Hawk (Brian)

Other Birds (but not all):
Red-tailed Hawk (local), Merlin (local), Common Raven, Great Blue Heron, American Pipit, Horned Lark and Greater Yellowlegs.

Hawkwatchers:
Kris, Noam, Theresa, Brian, Arvo, Bruce, Walter, Allison, Peter and Blaine.  Many thanks to everyone!

Weather Prediction:
NW wind for tomorrow!  Hopefully there are still lots o' birds to come!

See you parkside,
Walter


Oct 26th - 3639 Birds!

Oops, that should've said 'As of Oct 26th - 3639 Birds!'  Lmao!!!  Anyway a few birds have flown over the park recently and have been added to the count.

To Date:
Turkey Vulture - 2374
Osprey - 37
Bald Eagle - 72
Northern Harrier - 72
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 626
Cooper's Hawk - 12
Northern Goshawk - 3
Red-shouldered Hawk - 13
Broad-winged Hawk - 70
Red-tailed Hawk - 83
Rough-legged Hawk - 0
Golden Eagle - 1
American Kestrel - 196
Merlin - 19
Peregrine Falcon - 18
Unidentified Accipiter - 0
Unidentified Buteo - 26
Unidentified Eagle - 3
Unidentified Falcon - 6
Unidentified Raptor - 8
Total - 3639

Next Wednesday and Thursday have a N element in the wind direction...there is also rain forecasted for those two days as well.  Let's see what happens.

Walter

Oct 24th - 30 Birds!

Today:
Turkey Vulture - 13
Northern Harrier - 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 10
Northern Goshawk - 1
Red-shouldered Hawk - 1
Red-tailed Hawk - 1
American Kestrel - 3
Total - 30

Hawkwatchers:
Theresa, Mark, MC, Dave, Betty and a few others.  Thankyou everyone.

Walter