The past couple of weeks have seen the nicest weather of the summer. Lots of sun, warm temperatures, a few heavy, but short downpours and winds that have been, for the most part, light. Best of all, there’s been a drop in the veracity of biting insects.
It seems to me the wildlife enjoyed the pleasant weather as well.
Being late summer, it’s time to examine the wildlife related observations that I and others have made.
Not unsurprisingly, given the record high waters many bodies of water experienced, common loon production appears to be poor. There just aren’t too many loon chicks around. I’ve only seen one.
Ruffed grouse broods were common earlier, but of late seem to have disappeared. When chicks I ran into flushed, I usually counted 4-6. No big bursts of 10-12 buzz bombs, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there. I try to minimize the impact of busting up grouse families, and in a number of instances the hen and her brood simply ran off and hid, and when this occurred I could only ascertain there were at least a few chicks; a count was impossible.
I haven’t seen any spruce grouse, but that’s not unusual. I haven’t been spending much time in areas I know they inhabit.
We were at a cabin on a large lake for a week and were surprised by the number of red-breasted mergansers we saw. A couple of times they all seemed to get together in one big flock and I counted at least 50, mostly young ones. A pair of bald eagles built a nest in the bay by the cabins this year, and Lil saw one of the adults snatch one of the young mergies. I wonder how many fish ducks the eagles have fed their 2 eaglets.
Saw a concentration of night hawks when I was driving home from a fishing trip one fine evening. These goatsuckers were foraging over a section of the highway where there are a series of high, open hills. I suspect the majority of the insect eating birds fledged good numbers of young this year. Some of the eastern phoebes had multiple broods.
I have only seen a few mallard and Canada goose families and don’t have much insight to offer.
Snowshoe hare numbers look to be high as we are seeing them regularly. One was killed one night on our lawn by what we think was an owl.
The frogs are having a good year. We frequently hear and see tree frogs and wood frogs, and I haven’t seen this many leopard frogs in years and years.
White-tailed deer numbers are definitely down. It’s close to 13 km’s from our house to the bypass, and I’ve only seen one buck during all the times I’ve been en route this summer. I average seeing a couple of does – a few years ago it wasn’t uncommon to see between 20 and 40 deer on the same drive, with at least a few bucks in the midst.
There are still a good number of timber wolves running around. We’ve heard them howling from the house on a couple of occasions and I’m hearing about wolves in built-up areas and wolves trying to get at pet dogs, so I would say the drop in wolf numbers that lags deer population collapses has yet to occur. It’s inevitable, though.
The consensus is there are a lot of bears around. With a good crop of wild berries, they haven’t been making a nuisance of themselves, at least not yet. It will be interesting to see how much things change later, just prior to hibernation. That’s always a time to be concerned about bears risking human encounters by raiding the garden or the trash bin.
Still no moose. More on moose later.
And that’s my low-down on the late summer wildlife situation in northwestern Ontario.