Newton Update

Scott WeidensaulUpdates10 Comments

Newton’s movements near Timiskaming, Ontario, the past 10 days. (©Project SNOWstorm and Google Earth)

In the 10 days or so since he reappeared on the cell network, Newton has seemed content to remain in the Timiskaming area of eastern Ontario, just 20 km (13 miles) from the Québec border. This is a pocket of open, flat farmland at the north end of Lake Timiskaming, more or less surrounded by boreal forest.

He’s been on the grounds of the Earlton (Timiskaming) Regional Airport, at times roosting at the end of the runway, which is never a good thing for a snowy owl, but from what I’ve been able to find online, there is no commercial air traffic there, just private charter and medivac flights, so hopefully this is not as dangerous a spot as a busier airport. Still, we’d be happier if he found a new favorite hangout.

Hochelaga hasn’t been in contract since uploading all of his accumulated data Jan. 14, which sucked a lot of voltage from his battery. We need some bright sun up in Montréal to bring the charge back up, but that’s asking a lot in that part of the world at this time of year, and the forecast is for more mostly or completely cloudy conditions. We go through this with a lot of our owls in January, when the combination of short days, low solar angle and inclement weather often mean transmitters brown out and go quiet for a while. I imagine he’ll be back in touch before long.

We haven’t heard from any other previously tagged owls, but the past week or two has seen a definite push of snowy owls into places where they have been rare or absent this winter, including the coast of Maine. Fingers crossed that Otter or one of the other owls out there with transmitters come down into the cell network.

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10 Comments on “Newton Update”

  1. Thanks for the update Scott!! Good to hear Newton was in contact. Yes, we’re having cloudy days up here as of late… I see some sun in the forecast though!

    1. Yes, that appears to be Hochelaga. I’m told that this is an area frequented by photographers who are baiting snowy owls in for photographs, which is disturbing if true. We’ll be watching his movements but there may not be a lot we can do about it beyond perhaps bringing it to the attention of provincial wildlife authorities.

    2. I should have made clear — just after I posted our last update about Newton, Hochelaga checked in with a limited number of points, but he’s back in the same area south of Montréal where he spent the winters of 2020-21 and 2021-22.

      1. Good to know he has wintered in that area previously. It will be a first trip for me to the area. I plan to visit, hopefully.

  2. Thank you for the update, Scott. Mabel McIntosh and I saw Hochelaga just 2 days ago in the area near the corner of Montee Ste. Julie and 3rd Rang not too far from St. Clet. He was active and appeared healthy. Mabel spotted him flying across the fields and landing on the top of a large tree (elm) about a km away. We had searched for a couple of hours before we spotted him. Haven’t yet seen him at the Montreal Airport but will look there soon. We did not approach him, only looked through the scope from the road. We, like so many, including our local owl aficionado/photographer Chuck Kling, never approach the bird and never live-bait. To us it is completely unacceptable. Happy to help.

    1. Yes, we noticed that. It’s not unusual for an owl to skip a check-in or two, if they happen to be in a spot with poor cell reception during the relatively short window when the transmitter is trying to connect to send data. I’ll have a fresh update shortly, but Newton had moved to a new area a bit north of his old location and that might be the problem.

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