Raptor Watch procedures for the 2017 season

Thank you for your willingness to participate in the Rosetta McClain Gardens Raptor Watch as a Citizen Scientist.  Your observations are important.

The clipboard with the sign-in sheets for August-November and the 3 hole coiled workbook with a pen is in the Staff Office.  You will need to find a staff member to unlock the office to pick up the recording resources.  

Please start a new page for each day.  A day is from 10:00 am - 3:00 pm give or take.  You will notice on the sign-up sheet that the day is divided into a morning and afternoon time period.  10:00 AM - 12:30 and 12:30 to 3:00 PM.  Thank you for volunteering your time to help observe the raptors.

Record the species and record a tick count (IIII - groups of 5) of the number of each species of raptor that you observed during your watch in the workbook.  If you were lucky to see an eagle, please record the time of your sighting. There are 15 that are usually seen at Rosetta.  
American Kestrel (AMKE) , Bald Eagle (BAEA) , Broad-winged Hawk (BWHA), Cooper's Hawk (COHA), Golden Eagle (GOEA), Merlin (MERL), Northern Harrier (NOHA), Northern Goshawk (NOGO), Osprey (OSPR) , Peregrine Falcon (PEFA), Red Shoulder Hawk (RSHA), Red tail Hawk (RTHA) , Rough-legged Hawk (RLHA), Sharp Shinned Hawk (SSHA), & Turkey Vulture (TUVU).  

Please remember to also record the number of monarchs flying by and make note of other birds and mammals.

On a quiet day or if you have another commitment before 3:00 PM, it is ok to leave early.  If there is no one at the watch to hand over the workbook to continue recording, take a photo of the day's recording in the workbook and send it to rosettamcclaingardens at gmail.com or just email the totals to rosettamcclaingardens at gmail.com if you can’t take a photo. If you are able to get some photos, please send to rosettamcclaingardens at gmail.com and they may be chosen for the blog.  Please return the clipboard, workbook, sign-in sheets and pen to the office.  (You may have to find a staff person again).  If there is no staff around, please take the clipboard and let us know.

The process for recording is evolving.  Your comments and/or questions are appreciated.  Please either email them to rosettamcclaingardens at gmail.com or write them in the back of the workbook.

You are great!  Thank you for your contribution, Citizen Scientist.

Lee, Hugh, John, Betty, Terry

Another Osprey!

Thanks to Blaine who told Walter that a migrating Osprey went by the park yesterday.


Merlin 1
Osprey 2


Monarch tagging started today - tag numbers XAJ575 to XAJ584

Hi all,

I tagged 10 monarchs today at RMG to see if there was any migration happening.

Some observations:
1) None of the 10 tagged monarchs were seen again at RMG. 
2) 9 of 10 were males, which is to be expected.
3) Some of the males were extremely heavy.....big abdomens...full.  one was .96g heaviest I have ever weighed.
4) On release, all monarchs flew towards the fence and west indicating they were on the move.
5) Non tagged monarch movement is happening but very very subtle and slow.  
6) Tag numbers use XAJ575 to XAJ584.

I'd suggest we are still a few days from any real steady migration.  

No raptors seen at the hawkwatch. Too early.

Lots of other butterflies in the gardens!  1 real nice Viceroy!


A Few Great Bugs

Hi folks,

Thanks to all those who are keeping me informed of what butterflies and moths they're seeing at the park.  It's been fairly exciting so far and we've only just completed the first week!  Can't wait to see what we get this coming week.


American Lady, Azure sp., Black Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Clouded Sulphur, Dun Skipper, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Fiery Skipper, Monarch, Mourning Cloak, Northern Broken-Dash, Orange Sulphur, Painted Lady, Peck's Skipper, Question Mark, Red Admiral, and Silver-spotted Skipper.

The Dun Skipper is new for our park list.  It's species #39!  I found it on August 8th in the main gardens by the fountain.


Hummingbird Clearwing, and Titan Sphinx.

The Titan Sphinx moth is new for our park list and is likely the first one ever to be seen and photographed in the GTA!  According to moth expert David Beadle's 'Ontario Moths' website the Titan Sphinx is a Rare and irregular immigrant to extreme southwest Ontario, with a recent record from northern Ontario.  David has been informed of this sighting.  Congratulations to Paul Reeves for this amazing find!

Good butterflying and mothing!

August 9 and we have an...

Osprey!  Walter was at the park between 3:20 and 4:30 and within minutes saw our first Osprey of the season. 


Osprey - 1


Merlin - 1
Osprey - 1

Total - 2


A little early in the season but Tue Aug 8th looks like a nice NW wind!

Hi all,
Tomorrow Tuesday August 8th looks promising with a NW wind predicted for most of the day!
A trip to Rosetta may be worth it even though its very early in the season!

You never know what may fly by in terms of early raptor migrants!

Monarch migration is predicted to be very good this fall with many more monarchs being seen in Ontario!
Lets hope for a good flow of raptors and monarchs!

Let the NW winds blow strong!

Please report your sightings to:


See you at the park!


Postnote:  No raptors seen today.  Too early and Too hot!  But over 50 monarchs observed in the gardens.  Monarchs everywhere!.

The first raptor of the season is...

A Merlin!  I haven't heard of any other sightings of migrating birds of prey, so this will have to be it.  And when I say it, that was the only migrating raptor I saw today.  I went down in the afternoon for an hour or so since the winds were pretty good and the weather was cool, something we normally don't get in August.  There were quite a few monarch butterflies around the fountain and some very talkative blue jays.  All of the photos are mine:


 Turkey Vulture

Blue Jays


We also saw 2 of the many local turkey vultures going back and forth.


Merlin - 1


Merlin - 1


Lee, Blaine and Rob

See you at the park!


2017 Rosetta McClain Gardens Raptor watch will be starting Sept 1, 2017!

Hi all,

First,  a huge "Thank You" to Walter for his long hours of dedication at the fence and commitment to keeping this "blog" updated and current!
A small group of us met and will continue to try to keep the "Rosetta raptor watch" operational.

The Rosetta McClain raptor watch will "officially" start Friday Sept 1, 2017, daily 10am-3pm.
In August we will capture casual observations as they get reported!

Our current priorities and tasks to figure out are:
1) How to scheduling observers at the fence (perhaps use google calendar as used by the piping plover caretaker teams?)
2) Establishing a process to record hawk data at the fence (clipboard + notebook - store in office?)
3) Reporting at the end of each day (smart phone photo of clipboard sent to Lee?)
4) Updating the blog (Lee/Terry to post on "blog")
5) Capturing some of the great photos each day! (Lee/Terry to post on "blog")
6) Year end data summaries etc.........  deal with them later!

Assistance will be needed with observing at the fence!

Please comment, text or email,  Lee/Terry/Betty/Hugh/John if you can help
Stay tuned!!
The fun will begin soon!

Jun 22nd - Time For Me To Take A Break...

...but the Hawk-watching will continue!

To all of my hawk-watching friends,

I've done a lot of thinking over the last few months and I've finally made my decision about this fall's Raptor Watch at Rosetta.  As many of you already know, since the end of last season's Watch I've been contemplating not being at Rosetta in 2017 and unfortunately that's exactly what's going to happen.  Sometimes life just gets in the way of fun.  I've got a whole bunch of projects big and small that have been piling up for quite some time...and they need doing!  Being at Rosetta for four months straight is, and has been, a great way to get away from life's little 'workloads' but amazingly the jobs are always still there when the first of December rolls around.  Then of course by that time, it's too bloody cold outside to do anything.  When spring comes, I'm too busy with birding and gardening, and in summer it's just too darn hot to do much work.  Thankfully not all of the jobs that I have lined up are going to be outside but sure enough, most of the bigger ones will be!

I've also noticed that over the last two years my interest level in conducting the Watch has waned a bit so I think the timing is right for me to step aside and take a break.  Also, the 'standing in one spot and looking up at the sky' for the better part of four months is so unbelievably hard on the mind and body.  If you don't believe me, you should try it sometime, like at Rosetta...and maybe count some hawks while you're there - lol!  For those of you who have been to the Watch over the years, you know I never like to sit down for very long, I've always maintained that the view is just not the same.  So it really is a self-inflicted torture each fall!

Thankfully, as I post this note, our crack Rosetta hawk-watch team is already putting together a plan as to how best to run this year's Hawk Watch in my absence.  I've granted Lee E. full access to the blog so please stay tuned for further updates from her about the upcoming season.  I'll also continue to post whenever possible.

One thing I will do is continue to maintain the 'Monarch Tagging' portion of the blog on a daily basis as I know first-hand there's likely going to be a whole lot of tagging done!  Terry and Betty should be quite busy as it appears to be a banner year for Monarch butterflies.

During August and possibly the first half of September, when time permits, I'll be down at the park in the garden searching for butterflies and maybe the odd hawk flying overhead.  Then after that it'll be hit and miss for me.  I'll try to get down on days with good strong northwest winds, if nothing else.

The hawks will still fly over Rosetta whether I'm there or not so keep looking up!


Special Post - Dr. J. Bruce Falls, C.M.

I received the following note from Jean Iron.............

It was announced today, 30 December 2016, that Dr. James Bruce Falls of Toronto is a Member of the Order of Canada for his achievements in ornithology and nature conservation. Bruce is a retired professor at the University of Toronto, known for his bird and mammal research, much of which was done in Algonquin Park. He is a member of the Ontario Field Ornithologists and recipient of its Distinguished Ornithologist Award in 2002. Bruce is an honorary life member of the Toronto Ornithological Club. He has done much for conservation through his involvement with Ontario Nature and The Nature Conservancy of Canada. The list of his accomplishments is long. Bruce is a keen birder who loves all birds and Rosetta McClain Gardens.

Photo at Rosetta McClain Raptor Watch on 13 October 2016, left to right: Bruce Falls, daughter Kathryn, granddaughter Alison, son-in-law Roy (standing).

Congratulations and thankyou Bruce for all that you have done for our feathered friends!  All the best in 2017!


Dec 19th - Thankyou!

A huge thankyou to all of my friends who came out to the Raptor Watch this season to help search, identify, and photograph the birds, bugs, animals, and flowers.  Oh what fun it was!

See you in the spring at Rosetta!

Dec 14th - 'Statistics' Updated

The stats for this season have now been added to the 'Statistics' section down the right-hand column of this blog page.  For those of you reading this on a handheld device you may have to switch the page to 'web version' to view this section.  A popup 'sign in/sign up' box will appear from Dropbox, just click the link on the bottom to bypass this.  Enjoy!