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Picton Farm Supply PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
May 30, 2015 at 03:00 AM


(contact information at bottom of page)  


Picton Farm Supply - where good prices, excellent selection and customer service have always been our motto  

Chlorine Refill, 20 litre: $10.62 + HST

Please scroll down to see more specials and featured items!


Bryce Cronk. Photo by Terry SpragueYou can go into almost any store these days and pick up a bar of rendered suet for birds. But if you want a peanut butter suet cake, or a fruit and nut, or raisin crunch, or for those slow days at the bird feeder - high energy suet bars, then you have to go to Picton Farm Supply. It is about the first thing you see upon entering the store at 179 Talbot Street, just on the northern outskirts of town. Tray upon tray of suet cakes - a variety enough to rival the racks of chocolate bars at the local convenience store.

Picton Farm Supply celebrated its 25th year in business in 2012. For a facility that one would expect to spend more time concentrating its attention to feed mixes and agricultural supplies for local farmers, one might think that stocking supplies for birders would be a low priority. However, owner, Bryce Cronk, saw the exploding interest in birds, and especially bird feeding, years ago. Birding is North America’s second most popular hobby, and Bryce was determined to get in on the ground floor. The gamble paid off. There is no other location in Prince Edward County that stocks as many condiments for birds and birders as Picton Farm Supply.

Store displayOnce your eyes begin to travel beyond the trays of suet cakes, you soon begin to appreciate the burgeoning popularity of birds. Tucked in a corner of the store beyond the work clothes, halters, bag balm and treatments for mastitis, are bird feeders - at least a hundred of them - from basic garden variety models to the creme de la creme of bird feeders, the Droll Yankees. Although bird feeders are available in Picton in hardware stores, and even supermarkets, Bryce is an exclusive dealer in the Picton area for this popular line of feeders, so well built, they are guaranteed for a lifetime.

However, it is the bird feed that has made Picton Farm Supply the county’s first choice when seeking out locations from which to purchase feed. Bryce carefully and attentively listens to his customers when deciding on a formula for his premium mixes, and takes a dim view of so-called budget feeds. Bryce knows that people do not feed birds because they have to, but feed birds because they are eager to have the best variety of birdlife they can around their homes. "It doesn’t make sense to offer a budget feed if you want something better than budget birds at your feeders." Bryce listened to his customers, did his homework and came up with a mix that is not only black with sunflower seed - both black oil seed and large striped seed - but all the necessary ingredients, including peanuts, to attract a colourful clientele.

Quantity is no object. If you are just starting out with a bird feeder and want to experiment with just a small plastic bag of mixed feed, that can be arranged as he will sell you whatever amount you want. If you multi-task Bryce Cronkwith many feeders, he will sell you the jumbo bag, weighing in at a hefty 66 pounds. All ingredients in his popular mix can be purchased separately as well, including the option of buying bags of shelled peanuts or peanuts in the shell, or Nyjer seed. You can purchase a small bag of peanuts so small as to fit in your hand or a large bag that may require shuffling a few things around in your trunk, just to get it in. 

With summer feeding now as popular as winter feeding, Bryce says he now sells many tons of bird feed a year. "I think we actually sell more feed in the summer than we do in the winter," he laughs.

The importance of offering high quality mixed feed at our feeders, free from fillers and questionable seeds, cannot be emphasized enough. Disappearing are the days when we seek out budget feeds from big box stores that need to move their product quickly, and have no expertise in dealing with today’s sophisticated bird conscious public. Bird feeding is big business today, and serious birders take their hobby seriously. Bryce Cronk and his staff at Picton Farm Supply enjoy nothing more than swapping stories and discussing your needs.


  • Nyjer Seed (25 lb.)  $35.95   (50 lb. $68.45!)
  • Black Oil Sunflower Seed (50 lb.)  $26.75
  • Striped Sunflower Seed (50 lb.)    $27.80
  • Deluxe Mixed Bird Feed (18 kg)    $22.95
  • Deluxe Mixed Bird Feed (25 kg)    $31.75



Nothing provides more entertainment for the entire family, than setting up a hummingbird feeder on the back deck or at your kitchen window. Your Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will waste no time in locating your feeder, and will be daily guests until they depart in late September. No need to add food colouring as the jury is still out as to whether this  additive is even necessary. Hummingbirds are attracted to the colour of the feeder itself, especially the feed ports. Just mix up a 4 to 1 solution of sugar and water and let the fun begin!



Give your dog a pig's ear today! Look for the box of these natural dehydrated treats that dogs love in a cardboard box as soon as you walk in the front door. Only $1.25 each. We also stock an entire complement of Hartz pet care products, including Flea and Tick Spray, flea powder for cats, as well as collars, leashes, toys and pet food. We haven't forgotten your larger pets either. We are into the fly season and also offer both equine and cattle fly sprays.

Pets bring us so much joy into our lives. Whether you are protecting them, feeding them or just having fun with them, Picton Farm Supply is the place to go for a wide variety of supplies for your special pets.  


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 We Stock The Whole Family of Squirrel Buster Feeders !

Mini:  $24.95

Peanut:  $55.95

Finch/Nyjer:  $49.95

Classic:  $49.95

Plus:  $89.95


Squirrel Buster Plus

Squirrel Buster Classic

Squirrel Buster Finch

Squirrel Buster Peanut

Squirrel Buster Mini







 Picton Farm Supply's wild bird feed and sunflower seed is also available at The County Depot, located at the corner of Highway 33 and Salem Road, at Consecon. Open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Phone 613-394-5818


Picton Farm Supply

179 Talbot Street

R.R. # 8,

Picton Ontario

K0K 2T0

Phone 613-476-7507

NEW to Picton Farm Supply - we have an email address and would love to respond to any questions regarding the feeders we have in stock, feeders we are able to order, etc.  Feel free to email us at    with any questions you may have

Last Updated ( May 30, 2015 at 08:07 AM )
Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan News PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
May 30, 2015 at 03:00 AM
CLICK HERE  for the 2014 BQRAP Annual Report
This newsletter covers: Have Your Say about the Bay, Quinte Children's Water Festival, Eutrophication and undesirable algae
View this email in your browser

May 2015

Have Your Say About the Bay

You could Win tickets for 4 aboard the Island Queen paddle-wheeler.


The fish and wildlife populations & habitat in the Bay are healthy and diverse, due to habitat restoration, fisheries management, and lower phosphorus levels.


We are close to removing the impaired status of the environmental concerns:

• Degradation of fish and wildlife populations

• Degradation of benthos (underwater bugs)

• Loss of fish and wildlife habitat


We want to know what you think of the Bay of Quinte fishery.


Send us your comments by Friday, July 10, and your name will be entered in the draw to win FREE tickets for 4 aboard the Island Queen paddle-wheeler boat cruise on the Bay of Quinte on Friday, July 17 at 7pm. The cruise leaves from Trenton. More info about the cruise. 

Quinte Children's Water Festival

This was the 6th year for the Quinte Children’s Water Festival. This two day event taught approximately 1000 Grade 4 (including split 3/4 &4/5 classes) students about the importance of: water protection, conservation, water health and safety, water science and technology and water and society, at 34 interactive stations.

The BQRAP is a member of the organizing committee and hosts a station at the event, run by our partners at the MOECC.

The Bay Today

Since 1985, the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan has been working to change the status of 11 impaired environmental health issues that were identified for the Bay of Quinte.


One of the main environmental issues with the Bay has always been the amount of nutrients entering it, particularly phosphorus.

Phosphorus is a naturally-occurring element, essential to all life. In just the right amount, it’s a beneficial, life-giving nutrient for rivers, lakes, bays, and streams. On the other hand, too much phosphorus plays havoc with nature.


ln aquatic ecosystems like the Bay of Quinte, the ability of phosphorus to promote rapid growth causes problems. It takes only 1 lb. of phosphorus to grow 500 lbs of algae.


This nutrient-enrichment process is known as eutrophication, and it’s a classic example of too much of a good thing.

A Phosphorus Management Strategy is being developed to outline best practices for dealing with phosphorus issues in the future. 

Excess algae and phosphorus in the Bay of Quinte

Eutrophication and undesirable algae

Last Updated ( May 30, 2015 at 10:20 AM )
Quinte Area Bird Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
May 29, 2015 at 09:00 AM

 Green Heron. Photo by Peter SporringGreen Heron. Photo by Peter SporringTHE QUINTE AREA BIRD REPORT


with sightings from the Bay of Quinte region, and beyond



Please e-mail your sightings directly to   Terry Sprague

This is where you can tell us what you have been seeing around the Quinte area and in your backyard. Sightings are posted daily, so we encourage you to report your bird sightings, anecdotes, and other wildlife discoveries for everyone to enjoy. To report your sightings, just click my name above. 

Upland Sandpiper. Photo by John VieiraSaturday, May 30: Today's Bird Report will be uploaded tomorrow morning.

Friday, May 29: Birds are where you find them, and today it was all along Army Reserve Road from Point Petre to Hilltop Road at South Bay. The resident UPLAND SANDPIPERS (photo by John Vieira of South Bay/Oakville) were  in fine fettle this morning as two of them provided renditions  of their diagnostic "wolf whistle" from the open meadows surrounding the DND towers at Point Petre. Calling beside the laneway that leads from the end of the road to the lakeshore, was a very vocal and persistent WILLOW FLYCATCHER. Also present there were  SONG SPARROW, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, SAVANNAH SPARROW, BROWN THRASHER, YELLOW WARBLERS, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, GRAY CATBIRD, and BALTIMORE ORIOLE. Coursing to and fro over the meadows was a NORTHERN HARRIER. The lakeshore held only a dozen HERRING GULLS and a transient SPOTTED SANDPIPER  which flew past us as we set up the spotting scope. The end of Simpson Road at the Ducks Unlimited impoundment near Gull Pond was alive with bird song when we arrived. The marshy area at the weir was a chorus of MARSH WRENS - at least 10 of them, SWAMP SPARROWS, lots of COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, YELLOW WARBLERS, and at least one LEAST BITTERN was heard calling and a WILSON'S SNIPE  was performing its aerial nuptials during the time we were there. EASTERN TOWHEES  were singing all along Army Reserve Road and, at Charwell Point Road, we found a pair of HOUSE WRENS, in an otherwise unwren-like habitat, who had somehow Willet. Photo by Brian Durellmanaged to find the perfect nesting site - the inside of a hollow upright steel pipe that had been jammed into the ground beside the entrance. GRAY CATBIRDS and COMMON YELLOWTHROATS  were here as well. On Hilltop Road, the Miller Family Nature Reserve provided several EASTERN TOWHEES, FIELD SPARROWS, SAVANNAH SPARROWS and a pair of EASTERN KINGBIRDS. Despite the drought and even the absence of any appreciable soil, the entire roadside was ablaze with delicate, blooming BLUETS. Tough little guys, they are. Photographer Brian Durell of Allisonville managed the accompanying photo of a WILLET which he found yesterday at the Brighton Constructed Wetland.  Present at Presqu'ile Park's Owen Point yesterday morning were SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, RUDDY TURNSTONE and lots of DUNLIN.  North Shore Big Island Road warblers today included both BLACK-AND-WHITE and CHESTNUT-SIDED, both of which could be nesting birds, given the date. At Prince Edward Point today, a few SWAINSON'S THRUSHES were banded, GRAY CATBIRDS, TRAILS FLYCATCHER (Willow/Alder), YELLOW BELLIED FLYCATCHER and a few regulars. Fred Helleiner's weekly wrap-up of the birds at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website and can be read by CLICKING HERE.

Thursday May 28: Build it, and they will come. Quinte Conservation recently set out a number of BLACK TERN floating nest platforms in the newly constructed ponds and channels of the newly rehabilitated Big Island Marsh. It was a gamble as BLACK TERNS   have not been seen as a nesting species, or even sighted, in this 2,000-acre marsh, for over 40 years. Yesterday, two BLACK TERNS  were sighted just east of the project area along South Big Island Road. If they end up nesting, it will truly be a red letter season for Big Island, as just across the road from this site, is the field of Brome Grass hay that is being left uncut this year for nesting BOBOLINKS and EASTERN MEADOWLARKS, thanks to the generosity of property owner and artist Kent Monkman. The BOBOLINK population in this field will rise again to the levels of previous years and, hopefully their bubbling delirium of ecstatic notes will enjoy a backdrop of the sharp "klea" notes of BLACK TERNS. Seen in the Bay of Quinte at the end of the Big Island Marsh yesterday were 2 COMMON LOONS and the ever present AMERICAN BITTERN. At the Hamilton Wetland west of Demorestville, things have been pretty quiet there in the past weeks, although the season's first GREAT EGRET turned up there last night. A GREEN HERON was seen today in Consecon Creek at the bridge in the community of Melville at the east end of Consecon Lake. In Wellington, a backyard there contained a first year male AMERICAN REDSTART and a BLACKPOLL WARBLER. A WILSON'S SNIPE was reported from the H.R. Frink Centre Marsh. On Chase Road in the Hillier area, 2 BROWN THRASHERS were seen, and a pair is presumably nesting in a backyard at the west end of South Big Island Road. Birds seen today at the Hubb's Creek Marsh along the Millennium Trail off Danforth Road, west of Wellington, were 3 MARSH WRENS, GREAT BLUE HERON, COMMON RAVEN, WILSON'S SNIPE, and VIRGINIA RAIL. And venturing a little farther west, there was an amazing sighting at Thickson's Woods early this morning in Whitby - a loose flock of 28 RED-THROATED LOONS circling high over the bay at the south edge of Thickson's Woods. They made several attempts to head northwest into a strengthening headwind, circling back over the lake and trying again.  Finally they seemed to find an altitude with suitable winds and headed off. Keep those binoculars handy. Lots around yet! My wife and I will be heading out tomorrow to see what we can find.

Wednesday, March 27: A WHIMBREL, a sought after shorebird that traditionally passes through the area every spring at this time, was found along the Kiwanis Bayshore Trail in Belleville. Photographer Kenzo Dozono of Belleville said he spied the bird yesterday morning and at first thought the bird was a gull, until he approached it more closely. The bird sat there, allowed its photo to be taken then nonchalantly flew off. SWAINSON'S THRUSHES (2), NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH, MOURNING WARBLER, and YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER were among some of the highlights at Prince Edward Point today. An excellent "birding trail" to have been discovered a few years ago is a section of the Millennium Trail that runs across Danforth Road and continues for a kilometre to the Hubb's Creek Marsh where LEAST BITTERNS - 4 at a time - have been heard calling on occasion. A Prince Edward County Field Naturalists field trip there a few days ago resulted in a nice list of 38 species, including MOURNING WARBLER, SAVANNAH SPARROW, SANDHILL CRANE, MARSH WREN, a somewhat late HERMIT THRUSH, GRAY CATBIRD and MARSH WREN. On the same trail, but at Consecon Lake, another birder found no fewer than four singing ORCHARD ORIOLES (2 first year birds and 2 full adults), a WILLOW FLYCATCHER, a BLACK TERNS and a LEAST BITTERN in flight as well as singing AMERICAN REDSTARTS. AMERICAN REDSTARTS were also present today at Kingston's Marshlands Conservation Area when I walked the trail there, coming up with GRAY CATBIRD, WARBLING and RED-EYED VIREOS, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, NORTHERN FLICKER and YELLOW WARBLERS. At Lemoine Point Conservation Area beside Norman Rogers Airport, highlights there were BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO, BLACKPOLL WARBLER, 3 WOOD THRUSHES, 2 EASTERN WOOD-PEWEES and a PINE WARBLER. Interesting birds seen today in the Napanee Limestone Plain Important Bird Area were 3 WILSON'S SNIPE, UPLAND SANDPIPER, GRASSHOPPER SPARROW and BOBOLINKS, while at Morven, a WILLOW FLYCATCHER  was a highlight there. It's look alike cousin the ALDER FLYCATCHER  continues to sing in a low area three fields west of our house at Big Island, where I found it again this morning at 4:15 a.m. on an early morning walk on my established trail, after almost stepping on an AMERICAN WOODCOCK! On Bryant Road in Ameliasburgh, two MALLARD hens had newly hatched broods, and and a WILD TURKEY nest  in the same area still has a female patiently waiting for her eggs to hatch. And, in Wellington, a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON was seen today.

Tuesday, March 26: Not much birding being done today, and is it any wonder. Really mild out there today! Still some leftovers from the massive fallout of shorebird species that was evident at various focal points along Lake Ontario. Port Hope had 10 WHIMBRELS, 27 RUDDY TURNSTONES and a mix of SANDERLING, DUNLIN, SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS and SPOTTED SANDPIPERS. Other interesting species seen on the harbour wall included a first summer ICELAND GULL, a first summer LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, 8 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS and 40 CASPIAN TERNS. This morning on the Belleville Bayshore Trail, there was a WHIMBREL present. AMERICAN BITTERNS  were noted nesting at the H.R. Frink Centre today. Still a few warblers passing through while others like the BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER and AMERICAN REDSTART  may very well be nesting in the area. While it is true that most migrating warblers do keep going until they reach the boreal forests where they will nest, a few like these two species pictured, the NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH, OVENBIRD and, of course, the YELLOW WARBLER do commonly  nest in the Bay of Quinte area, and there is also evidence that others, like the PINE WARBLER, NASHVILLE WARBLER, BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, CANADA WARBLER and MOURNING WARBLER, and even CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER probably nest here as well as they have been noted here during the breeding season in suitable habitat. CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER and AMERICAN REDSTART were seen this week in a Wellington backyard, and AMERICAN REDSTARTS probably had a nest near our campsite at Sandbanks Park last week as a pair was seen daily outside our travel trailer. A BLACKPOLL WARBLER, a typically late migrant, was seen today along Airport Parkway east of Belleville. Near the west end of Black Road west of Demorestville, EASTERN BLUEBIRD, NORTHERN HARRIER, and GRAY CATBIRD were seen today, and 10 COMMON GALLINULES were noted at the Brighton Constructed Wetland yesterday. A good news story to finish up this evening's report. Successful negotiations with a new landowner beside us and the farmer who cuts the hay, has resulted in one of those fields of brome grass being preserved for nesting BOBOLINKS and EASTERN MEADOWLARKS. What a treat to have these birds nesting once again in this field beside where I live, and where I also have a walking trail where I can enjoy their presence daily.

Monday, May 25: It is unfortunate that technical problems prevented me from uploading yesterday's Bird Report as it was surely a day for birders to remember. There was a fallout of shorebirds at several locations early yesterday morning which was like nothing that many birders had ever seen. At Presqu'ile Park, there were huge numbers of shorebirds at Owen Point involving some 50 RED KNOTS , 13 WHIMBRELS and many others, including two RUDDY TURNSTONES, thousands of DUNLIN, SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, KILLDEER and a lone SANDERLING. One's success depended on when you were there as species and numbers kept changing as the day wore on.   Other observers arriving later in the day noted that the number of visible DUNLIN had substantially increased from early in the morning. There were easily anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 DUNLIN scattered from the north end of the beach (including outside the park boundary and onto the rocky shoreline) up to Owen Point, on all shoals between Owen Point and Gull Island, on Gull Island itself and distantly on High Bluff Island. The birds were generally less active than in the morning, but this changed when a PEREGRINE FALCON arrived and made several unsuccessful attacks. The birds slowly worked their way back to Owen Point, but congregated more on Gull Island. Other shorebird species noted during the day were 2 SANDERLINGS (up from the single bird noted earlier in the day), 200 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, 30 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, a BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, 2 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS and a single LEAST SANDPIPER. Today, a mere 5,000 DUNLIN were present according to one birder who visited the Park this morning. Meanwhile, at Oshawa's Second Marsh, the story was similar. WHIMBRELS there topped the list at 115, including .one very dark HUDSONIAN GODWIT, 1 RED KNOT, 2 RUDDY TURNSTONES, 72 WILSON'S PHALAROPES, 1 DUNLIN, 510 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, 1 LEAST SANDPIPER, 111 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, 140 SANDERLINGS, 8 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS, 1 SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, 262 KILLDEER, and 5 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS. At the Brighton Constructed Wetland on Prince Edward Street/C.R. 64, DUNLINS  covered every square inch of the northeast cell - hundreds and hundreds of them. Truly quite a spectacular morning. At Prince Edward Point yesterday, as the Spring Birding Festival started to wind down,  BLACKPOLL WARBLER, NORTHERN PARULA, BLACKBURNIAN WARBLERS, BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLERS, TENNESSEE WABLERS, AMERICAN REDSTARTS, and BLACK THROATED GREEN WARBLERS were among the highlights. Also present were RED-EYED VIREO, EASTERN TOWHEE, EASTERN WOOD-PEEWEE, BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO and GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER. There were LEAST BITTERNS  calling at Gull Pond, off Army Reserve Road.   In Picton, the CHIMNEY SWIFT Watch continued with 38 noted entering chimneys, down from the high of 90 seen last week.  And, today, on Big Island, there was a SANDHILL CRANE and an ALDER FLYCATCHER singing a few fields wes of Sprague Road. And a little farther away, a YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON was seen today near Carp, in the Ottawa area. Wow, this is the kind of stuff that birders live for every spring. 

Sunday, May 24: Sorry. computer issues today. This evening's Bird Report will be uploaded tomorrow night at the usual time, at 7:00 p.m. See you then!

Saturday, May 23: Things are slowing down a bit at Prince Edward Point as the Spring Birding Festival enters its final day tomorrow. Few birds were banded yesterday, although the highlight came upon retrieval of the first bird of the day from the nets - a MOURNING WARBLER. During an 8:00 a.m. scheduled guided hike this morning, there were some birds like the SCARLET TANAGER, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, and ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK singing along with BLACKPOLL, CHESTNUT-SIDED, YELLOW-RUMPED, and YELLOW WARBLERS flitting through the woods. Banding was very slow as well with LEAST FLYCATCHER, OVENBIRD, and GRAY CATBIRD being highlights.  An ORCHARD ORIOLE is nesting in a big, dying tree right at the Bird Observatory. The CHUCK-WILL'S-WIDOW was heard again last night at the Miller Family Nature Reserve gates on Hilltop Road,  and WHIP-POOR-WILLS were heard calling as well.  A WHIP-POOR-WILL was also heard calling near Allison Road on the north shore of Big Island last night. Tonight's photo of a YELLOW WARBLER, taken at Prince Edward Point is by Garry Kirsch of Belleville.

Friday, May 22: This evening's Report is all about shorebirds - mostly anyway. Starting with Presqu'ile Provincial Park, there were 150 shorebirds on the beach at 8:00 a.m., alternating between Gull Island and Owen Point and the offshore shoals. Included in the flocks were 75+ DUNLIN , 20 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, 18 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, 2 RUDDY TURNSTONES and a single WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER. Eighteen BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS were at Sandbanks Park's West Point yesterday, and may still be around. At Amherst Island, The Martin Edwards Reserve is the place to go to see WILSON'S PHALAROPES with 23 being present last Sunday (need to be a KFN member). Also present through the week have been 25 DUNLIN, 10 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, 25 DUNLIN, 3 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS and singles of BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER and RUDDY TURNSTONE.  However, it was Kaiser Crossroad in Prince Edward County which led the numbers when it came to some species of shorebirds last weekend with 130 LEAST SANDPIPERS, and an impressive 70 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS which were also joined by 2 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS. Kingston's Lemoine Point Conservation Area refused to be left out of the picture, and observers there found an unspecified number of KILLDEERS, SPOTTED SANDPIPERS and SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, along with WOOD DUCKS, COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, AMERICAN REDSTARTS, YELLOW WARBLERS and BOBOLINKS.  A nice find in a small pond south of the Ducks Unlimited berm at Gull Pond today was a WHIMBREL. Also present there were BLACK TERNS, a pair of LEAST BITTERNS and a VIRGINIA RAIL.  No report was received from Prince Edward Point today, although numbers are presumably holding their own with 2 HOODED WARBLERS last weekend as well as an almost complete complement of all the other 'regular' warblers. Two Demorestville area birders also found both BLACKPOLL WARBLERS and WILSON'S WARBLER  at Prince Edward Point. OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS were also seen at Prince Edward Point during the week over at least 3 days (16th-18th) but numbers are not known. No update either on the CHUCK-WILL'S-WIDOW along Hilltop Road in the South Bay area that was first heard at Brewer's Road on the 17th, and again on the 19th. The chimney at the Picton Armoury was an active place on Wednesday with 83 CHIMNEY SWIFTS noted entering near dusk. Fred Helleiner's Presqu'ile Park Weekly Bird summary has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website and can be found by CLICKING HERE.

Thursday, May 21: Back again, after three days of "camping" (24' travel trailer !) at Sandbanks Provincial Park. While there, I managed to accumulate a list of some 55 species of birds, the majority of which were right around our campsite, including a probably nesting pair of AMERICAN REDSTARTS, BLACK-THROATED BLUE and BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLERS, ORCHARD and BALTIMORE ORIOLES, COMMON NIGHTHAWK, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, GRAY CATBIRDS and RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (at our campsite daily), SCARLET TANAGER, at least two RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS and EASTERN SCREECH-OWL that called for two nights in the woods beside our campsite in the Woodlands Campground. At Point Petre on Tuesday, there was an ORCHARD ORIOLE  and an UPLAND SANDPIPER. That night, one of the observers who was at Point Petre found a CHUCK-WILL'S-WIDOW calling from Brewer's Road (south of Hilltop Road). This is very close to where one was calling from May 19th to June 29th last spring. It could even be the same individual. Another birder also heard it calling two nights earlier, so chances are that it may hang around a bit like the bird did last spring. Beaver Meadow Conservation Area is still living up to its reputation as THE  spot to find wetland birds. Present there almost routinely have been LEAST BITTERN AMERICAN BITTERN, SORA, VIRGINIA RAIL, WOOD DUCKS, BLUE-WINGED TEAL, COMMON GALLINULE AND PIED BILLED GREBE, as well as a nice colony of at least a dozen BLACK TERNS. At the Brighton Constructed Wetland, a GLOSSY IBIS has been present for a few days. At Presqu'ile Provincial Park, 16 WHIMBREL were present early Wednesday morning, and in Bloomfield, a three year old boy reported to his grandparents that he was looking at Big Bird. And, indeed he was. A PILEATED WOODPECKER was working away at the ground level stump of an  old Maple tree. Nice start to anyone's life bird list. 

Monday, May 18: I am "flying" away to Sandbanks Park for a few days of birding there. I will not have Internet access while there, but please continue to send me your sightings and I will catch up once I get back. I will leave you with this sighting though - an UPLAND SANDPIPER this morning perched atop a utility pole along Babylon Road at South Bay. There was a time before the fields succumbed to Red Cedars when it was possible to see at least a dozen along that stretch of road, back in the days when the roads there were known as Rose's Lane and Middle Road. 

Sunday, May 17:Over 100 birders were at Prince Edward Point today, and one of the special arrivals was an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER. OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS are not often seen by birders at Prince Edward Point as the species tends to migrate through very quickly in the spring. No report on the makeup of warblers today, but we can safely assume that it was over 20 species again today as it was yesterday. A really good weekend start to the Spring Birding Festival, which was founded in 1997. If you are considering a visit to the Kaiser Crossroad wetland, you had better plan to go soon as the farmer has drained both fields and has already started working on the north field. Needless to say, not much there now to attract waterfowl, but the mudflats are still drawing in the shorebirds.  There were still some interesting shorebirds about in the mud, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER in striking breeding plumage being the most identifiable. There were at least 20 of them along with KILLDEER, SEMIPALMATED PLOVER and LEAST SANDPIPERS. Yesterday, SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, LEAST SANDPIPERS, SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, DUNLIN and a few BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER  were also present. Another productive area nearby whether spring, summer, fall or winter, is Cressy Lakeside Road where today, birders were treated to an ORCHARD ORIOLE at the beginning and a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD at the far end. In between there were BLACKPOLL, YELLOW,  and CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLERS and lots of WARBLING VIREOS and a few SPOTTED SANDPIPER.  At Moscow Marsh, north of Yarker,  a couple BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLERS were seen as well as two CAPE MAY WARBLERS, two BREWSTER’S WARBLERS, and EASTERN TOWHEE and an ORCHARD ORIOLE. Members of the Quinte Field Naturalists yesterday checked off 130 species of birds yesterday in the County with 3 UPLAND SANDPIPERS, a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, NORTHERN HARRIER and an ORCHARD ORIOLE bing highlights at Point Petre. It is certainly a time of the year to keep our eyes open. One observer did at Brighton and came across a GLOSSY IBIS feeding in the northeast end of the Brighton Constructed Wetland along County Road 64. Today at the Miller Nature Reserve along Prince Edward County’s South Shore Important Bird Area, birds noted were BALTIMORE ORIOLE, several EASTERN TOWHEES, SAVANNAH SPARROW, FIELD SPARROW, CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT. An update on the OSPREY incident east of Waupoos revealed that the nest atop a hydro pole had caught fire, destroying the nest and its contents, resulting in a loss of power. Hydro One’s removal of the nest remains was clearly based on safety to residents. The earlier report that the nest was removed by Hydro One as an act of malice made no sense as Hydro has always been very accommodating to nesting OSPREYS by building platforms on existing nesting poles and elevating them above the wires. The May 2015 issue of the Beacon from the Friends of Presqu’ile is now available and can be seen by CLICKING HERE. (page may take a few seconds to load)

Saturday, May 16: It was a good start to the Prince Edward County Spring Birding Festival this morning. Prince Edward Point somewhat resembled Point Pelee (maybe on a slow day!), and there were plenty of birds to go around. At least 22 species of warblers, among them BLUE-WINGED, OVENBIRD, numerous BAY-BREASTED, WILSON’S, and TENNESSEE WARBLERS all over the place, a few CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLERS, NORTHERN PARULA and a somewhat tardy PALM WARBLER. Also present today were PHILADELPHIA VIREO, VEERY, SWAINSON’S THRUSH, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, LINCOLN’S SPARROWS, and if you had never before seen a LEAST FLYCATCHER, today was certainly the day to get one on your list - or 30 - as they were everywhere this morning. The GREAT CORMORANT, first observed on May 4th flying over the Observatory, once again flew over the Observatory at 6:00 p.m. last night. Doubtless it has been hanging out with the DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS on the offshore shoals somewhere just east of Prince Edward Point. For want of one on my life list, I was sure that a distant cormorant flashed a patch of white when it dove, but it resurfaced around the bend in the shoreline before I could verify it. Not enough to make it a life bird! Some great finds at Prince Edward Point this past week including HOODED WARBLER, GOLDEN-WINGED and BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, but alas – no WORM-EATING WARBLER or KENTUCKY WARBLER yet, although Bander in Charge David Okines stresses that the migration is not over yet. There is still time for one of these sought after warblers to drop into Prince Edward Point this spring. WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS  are beginning to thin out a bit. There were only three in my yard today compared to the 20 or so just a few days earlier. Fifteen were noted just west of Wellington where an INDIGO BUNTING also appeared. Lots of warblers coming through at both Lemoine Point Conservation Area and Marshlands Conservation Area at Kingston. A few highlights have included MOURNING WARBLER, CANADA WARBLER, up to two ORCHARD ORIOLES, BLACKPOLL WARBLER, and PHILADELPHIA VIREO.  A RED-NECKED GREBE was seen on Lake Ontario near Norman Rogers Airport and migrating BRANT are starting to show up now. On Amherst Island, the popular PAINTED BUNTING seems to have departed from the feeder where it has been seen since last Monday, but other good birds have quickly taken its place – a late ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, GRASSHOPPER SPARROW, WILSON’S PHALAROPE and PEREGRINE FALCON. The Prince Edward County Spring Birding Festival continues all this week and into next weekend. Lots of things going on – guided hikes, workshops on grassland birds and shorebirds and nature photography, displays and, of course,The Great Canadian Birdathon. For more details and a schedule of events, CLICK HERE.

Friday, May 15: Shorebirds appeared to be on the move today. The Kaiser Crossroad wetlands once again awakened from its slumber and early last evening produced 25 SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, 8 AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS, 10 LESSER YELLOWLEGS and “hundreds” of LEAST SANDPIPERS.     Also present was a pair of BLUE-WINGED TEAL, AMERICAN BITTERN, a pair of NORTHERN SHOVELERS, and a CASPIAN TERN. At Wilton Creek in Morven LEAST SANDPIPERS were there too, but in smaller numbers – only 25, and also present, 5 KILLDEER, 2 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS, and 3 SEMIPALMATED PLOVER. The SOLITARY SANDPIPERS at Jackson’s Falls, east of Milford, weren’t too solitary – there were six of them today. CHIMNEY SWIFTS over Picton are still going strong with 25 counted last evening as they descended a chimney at The Armoury of Main Street. It seems to be getting harder to find CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS these days in Prince Edward County as many of the fields that could be relied on for the presence of these birds, have become too dense with Red Cedars. Finding them is an exercise in following them around as they move to more open habitat where the bushes and cedars are not as thick. Today, one was heard singing in the Stinson Block area, west of Consecon near Edward Drive. The observer said there was one there last year too, although the habitat is not where one would expect to find a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW as it is an old field quite densely covered in small deciduous shrubs. As COMMON RAVENS continue to establish themselves as breeding birds in the Bay of Quinte region, especially Prince Edward County, it has long been assumed that the species is now firmly established as a nesting bird. On a farm silo along Eames Road, midway between Cherry Valley and Picton, not only was a nest found, but the whole family was present there involving a half dozen members! Other miscellaneous sightings around the region today included SWAINSON’S THRUSH, BLACKPOLL WARBLER and PINE WARBLER at Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area at Amherstview. Some very concerned residents east of Waupoos are investigating the wanton destruction of an established OSPREY nest on a hydro pole, containing eggs about ready to hatch, allegedly by Hydro One, an agency which in the past has been lauded for their efforts in building nest platforms above hydro poles that had been occupied by OSPREYS. Several queries to Hydro One produced the usual mindless recorded reply, “Thanks for your message.  We will read and consider it carefully.”

Thursday, May 14: As well as abundance and densities of spring migrants that are unsurpassed anywhere else along the north shore of Lake Ontario, Prince Edward Point is also becoming well known for its special sightings which turn up occasionally. A CERULEAN WARBLER and MOURNING WARBLER  were both photographed yesterday in the Point Traverse Woods by a Toronto resident/summer cottager. Many of these species such as CERULEAN, GOLDEN-WINGED, BLUE-WINGED, BREWSTER’S WARBLERS and, to a certain extent, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, are turning up so regularly every spring that most experienced birders now make it a point to look for them. To date, no WORM-EATING WARBLER or KENTUCKY WARBLER have shown up yet though, but there is time yet. The spring migration is young. According to one observer, things were quite slow and quiet at Prince Edward Point today, although a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER  was seen by some. At Beaver Meadow Conservation Area, a GREEN HERON and 2 SANDHILL CRANES were seen at this popular conservation area along County Road 11 at East Lake. Yesterday, Kaiser Crossroad came back to the forefront with an encore performance by producing six AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS. In Picton, the CHIMNEY SWIFTS have returned! Swift observers last night counted 49 entering chimneys at various locations in town. A chimney at The Armoury on Picton's Main Street had the majority of swifts. Often this Report receives updates on birds and other animals that have been admitted to the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre. It is always upsetting the dangers that befall our wildlife and refreshing to know that a facility like Sandy Pines exists to do its part in rehabilitating injured animals with the hope of returning them to the wild. A few admissions this past week included 2 GREAT HORNED OWL fledglings that were found being eyed by a hungry crow. Also admitted have been a ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK that hit a window, a RUFFED GROUSE, the victim of a car hit and run; an OSPREY; a HOUSE WREN, a COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, as well as the usual orphaned birds – in this case, MALLARDS. Other sightings around the region today included a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK on Black Road in the Demorestville area, a REDHEAD at Point Traverse, an UPLAND SANDPIPER on Florida Road in the Wilton area, 2 CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS at Amherst Island, 2 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS at Prince Edward Point, and a VESPER SPARROW  at Point Petre.The Presqu'ile Provincial Park Weekly Bird Report by Fred Helleiner has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website. You can read it by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, May 13:  I did some birding this evening at the H.R. Frink Centre and the Harmony Road Wetland, north of Belleville. The Frink Centre had VIRGINIA RAIL, SWAMP SPARROW, AMERICAN BITTERN, EASTERN KINGBIRD, OSPREY, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK and WOOD THRUSH, just to name a few of the species present.  A SORA was seen by another birder who was just coming off the boardwalk as we were about to go in.  Harmony Road provided nice views of two BLUE-WINGED TEAL. Also present there this evening were COMMON GALLINULE, MALLARDS, LEAST SANDPIPER, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK and a VIRGINIA RAIL. There was a RING-NECKED PHEASANT reported seen near the Foxboro IGA. The Amherst island PAINTED BUNTING continued to put on a nice show today. According to Kingston area birder, Mark Read,  it is somewhat wary, and doesn't seem to show any signs of being a cage bird (no bands/feather damage etc.) The bird apparently moves between the well-stocked seed feeder at 9950 Front Road and the niger feeder at 9910 front Road (directly next door). Both home owners are accepting of birders but please DO NOT enter their properties without direct verbal authorization. The bird was present for much of the day. At Prince Edward Point today, birding was still excellent with over 20 species of warblers being reported today, one of them a MOURNING WARBLER this afternoon in the Point Traverse Woods. Four LINCOLN’S SPARROWS  were also seen at the Point today. Today at the H.R. Frink Centre, I received some very nice comments about from an Alberta birder about the birding at Prince Edward Point and how it differs from the commercialized and busy atmosphere that is normally Point Pelee at this time of the year when there is scarcely a place for a Yellow Warbler to perch. Prince Edward Point rivals Point Pelee in terms of numbers and densities of species, and few enough birders that 20 birders would constitute a huge crowd. I well remember one spring many years ago when I came across an extremely vocal KENTUCKY WARBLER, and I had only me and myself and I to share the good news with, until three or four more birders showed up to see it. It is a very special place and we are so fortunate to have it so close by within easy driving distance.  Newburgh area birds today included lots of AMERICAN REDSTARTS, SOLITARY SANDPIPER and NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH. Three GREAT EGRETS were present in Consecon Creek at the bridge at Highway 62 between Bloomfield and Crofton.  Reports of birds came in today from Inverary and Bailieboro (west end of Rice Lake) and it is so encouraging to know that birders do enjoy these daily reports in view of the popularity these days of e-Bird and the OntBirds listserv. A resident of Bailieboro reported EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were nesting again this year on her property. Thank you all for your comments.

Tuesday, May 12: Birding was a bit more challenging today with the high winds, although many of the same species seen yesterday in the Point Traverse Woods, were still there this morning. Still abundant were BAY-BREASTED WARBLERS and one was also seen today in Wellington. A CERULEAN WARBLER  was seen in the Point Traverse Woods just at sunset yesterday, riding the tail of a passing flock of other warbler species. BLACKBURNIAN WARBLERS and TENNESSEE WARBLERS were present in a Wellington backyard today. Speaking of TENNESSEE WARBLER, the photo on the right shows the strange hybrid that was banded on Saturday at Prince Edward Point, believed to be a cross between a NASHVILLE WARBLER and a TENNESSEE WARBLER. Interesting.  On Big Island’s north shore, birds seen there were YELLOW WARBLER, BLACK-AND-WHITE, YELLOW-RUMPED, RED-EYED VIREO, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, EASTERN TOWHEE, BALTIMORE ORIOLES, EASTERN PHOEBE and AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, and also a BELTED KINGFISHER near the shoreline. So, lots of birds yet, even in backyards. Elsewhere, a male PAINTED BUNTING was seen yesterday afternoon along Front Road on Amherst Island, and was present again this morning at a feeder. An unusual mammal sighting yesterday was a small herd of about 8 GOATS out for a leisurely stroll on Babylon Road in the South Bay area. A first year male ORCHARD ORIOLE showed up at a nectar feeder along County Road 10 (Lake Street) south of Picton this afternoon. And a strange looking oriole has been in the Point Traverse Woods for at least two or three days which turned out to be a leucistic BALTIMORE ORIOLE. At West Lake today, an INDIGO BUNTING showed up at a feeder there. Other arrivals at the West Lake address included BROWN THRASHER, BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, MAGNOLIA WARBLERS, and the big prize of the day, a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER that was seen heading off toward the dunes at Sandbanks.This is the second RED-HEADED WOODPECKER  to show up in the County in as many days. On Narrow Street in Wellington, an INDIGO BUNTING made a quick visit late yesterday, 3 ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS (2 males and a female) have been present today as well as several BALTIMORE ORIOLES. The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) invite everyone to  participate with them in a Spring Wildflower Walk in Point Petre Woods at 1 PM Friday May 15.  Meet at the corner of Army Reserve Rd. and Co. Rd. 24 (Point Petre Rd.) for an easy hike following a trail/road around the woodland. We won’t overlook any birds present!

Monday, May 11: We found 21 species of warblers today at both Prince Edward Point and Ostrander Point, as part of our Great Canadian Birdathon to raise funds for the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. In total, in our 24-hour period from  5:00 p.m. yesterday to 5:00 p.m. this afternoon, we chalked up 131 species of birds, compared to 137 species last year, 122 the previous year, and 118 in 2012. Last night we birded  for a few hours getting WHIP-POOR-WILL, CHIMNEY SWIFT, LEAST and SOLITARY SANDPIPERS (5) and GREATER YELLOWLEGS, along with PIED-BILLED GREBE, working well into the hours of darkness where we had our biggest treat. At the Glenwood Cemetery woods near the scattering grounds, we were able to lure in five EASTERN-SCREECH OWLS, all of them providing us with a delightful chorus of their well known whinnying calls, all of them delivered on different pitches. A SCARLET TANAGER was heard singing its raspy song at Macaulay Mountain in Picton. Today started early with our first birds of the day being found on Ostrander Point Road where we found CEDAR WAXWING, NASHVILLE WARBLER, NORTHERN PARULA, TENNESSEE WARBLER, BAY-BREASTED WARBLER, CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, and a small cluster of a three or four lingering BUFFLEHEADS. At Point Traverse, the woods there were busy with both birds and birders with MAGNOLIA WARBLER, BLACKPOLL WARBLER, CANADA WARBLER, and a PHILADELPHIA VIREO being our best finds. A VEERY and an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER  were being banded at the Observatory when we arrived. AMERICAN REDSTART was found here and others were heard at Beaver Meadow Conservation Area where we were able to add GREEN HERON, COMMON GALLINULE, MARSH WREN, BLACK TERN, and VIRGINIA RAIL to our growing list. Ducks were few but we were able to find the dependable SURF SCOTERS and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS at Point Traverse, and the distinctive conversational calls of LONG-TAILED DUCKS echoed off the lake at every location. All the swallows were found – TREE, BANK, NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED, CLIFF, BARN and, of course, PURPLE MARTIN. At the Hamilton Wetland west of Demorestville, PIED-BILLED GREBE and GREATER YELLOWLEGS were found, and an answer to the call of nature by one member of our group was rewarded when the day’s only VESPER SPARROW was heard delivering its traditional late afternoon song. A LINCOLN’S SPARROW  was heard and seen at Prince Edward Point, and the day’s only HORNED LARKS were picked up in Ameliasburgh. Point Petre gave us the only BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER of the day, but we failed in our bid to locate a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW despite birders finding them routinely at dependable  breeding areas. Not so dependable today. Quick eyes spotted the diagnostic flashing white outer tail feathers of a lingering DARK-EYED JUNCO, and an INDIGO BUNTING was seen at Point Traverse, GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS at Ameliasburgh, a GREAT BLUE HERON on an overhanging branch over the Black River, a single WOOD DUCK at small pond, and a single RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH in with a pocket of warblers at Point Traverse.....Birds were where you found them. Six species of woodpeckers were found out of a possible seven with the only one missing being a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER. One of those six species turned out to be a gorgeous RED-HEADED WOODPECKER that flew across the road in front of our car on Wesley Acres Road to a corn field, then returned almost immediately across the road again, and disappeared into a hedgerow of trees. An excellent day for a good cause. Thank you to those who sponsored me and my teammates – Michael Burge, Kathy Felkar and Nick Quickert. Together we were “The Sprague’s Pipits” .

Sunday, May 10: As those who know me are aware, I am always underway by at least 4:00 a.m. every morning. Over the last several days, I have donned my LED headlamp and have spent a delightful hour or so walking a 2 km established trail through the meadows and woods west of our house. Even at that hour WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS and EASTERN TOWHEES are quite vocal and a COMMON LOON  called from the Bay of Quinte this morning. I am almost embarrassed to admit that for the past few mornings, I have interrupted the nuptials of several AMERICAN WOODCOCK (there were 8 of them this morning). Three separate individuals stared glassy-eyed at me from the trail, less than two metres from me, all the while twisting their heads and trying to make sense of this bright light that had suddenly interrupted their love making. In our own yard late this afternoon an EASTERN BLUEBIRD chortled from a hydro wire that passes over our property. At North Beach Provincial Park today, PALM WARBLERS, YELLOW WARBLERS, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, EASTERN KINGBIRDS, GRAY CATBIRDS, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, WARBLING VIREO, EASTERN PHOEBE, BOBOLINKS and BALTIMORE ORIOLES. At nearby Bay Meadows Park on Pleasant Bay, an ORCHARD ORIOLE  was seen again today, as well as a RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD at a feeder. INDIGO BUNTINGS – three of them – were present in a single tree at Prince Edward Point, and a BLACKPOLL WARBLER was found at Point Traverse. The YELLOW-THROATED VIREO was seen in the woods there again yesterday. Two Belleville birders birding Prince Edward Point yesterday did very well with the warbler family, coming up with a respectable 20 species, and also found an AMERICAN WOODCOCK before dawn, and heard WHIP-POOR-WILL as well. An EASTERN BLUEBIRD was spotted at Civic Address #5161 along Long Point Road. Today in the Springbrook area, north of Stirling, birders walking the Trans Canada Trail in a grassland area found, three UPLAND SANDPIPERS (locally uncommon in Hastings County), WILSON’S SNIPE, PILEATED WOODPECKER, 5 BROWN THRASHERS, 2 OVENBIRDS, 1 BLUE-WINGED WARBLER, 2 BLUE-WINGED/GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLERS, 2 CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS, and 8 GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS. A little further away, Opinicon Road north of Kingston was excellent this morning, with two singing CERULEAN WARBLERS, one GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER and six YELLOW-THROATED VIREOS. Other species included numbers of INDIGO BUNTING, SCARLET TANAGER, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK and OVENBIRDS. At Kingston Marshlands Conservation Area, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, BLUE-HEADED VIREO, and a VIRGINIA RAIL  were interesting finds there.  Presqu’ile Park offered only 14 warbler species today, the scarcity of warblers certainly offset by the appearance of a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, and five RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS. Friday’s PIPING PLOVER hasn’t been seen again but a few other shorebirds did put in an appearance today – SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, a few LEAST SANDPIPERS, along with KILLDEER and SPOTTED SANDPIPERS. Other good birds noted there today were SCARLET TANAGER, BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON and INDIGO BUNTING.

Saturday, May 09: Another busy day at Prince Edward Point, with so many migrants this morning that banders and volunteers had a difficult time keeping up. Mostly YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS but lots of different warblers like yesterday.  Of particular interest was an apparent NASHVILLE/TENNESSEE WARBLER hybrid that was very interesting. Two early latecomers at Point Traverse today were CANADA WARBLER and BLACKPOLL WARBLER. Birders at Point Traverse chalked up a dozen species of warblers this morning, among them, likely the same TENNESSEE WARBLERS that I heard yesterday chattering up a storm, as well as MAGNOLIA WARBLER, BAY-BREASTED WARBLER, both BLACK-THROATED BLUE and BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLERS, BLUE-WINGED and CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLERS, NORTHERN PARULA and AMERICAN REDSTART. Other interesting birds in the now famous Woods were the PURPLE FINCHES  from yesterday, RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, and offshore, 15 SURF SCOTERS were counted. A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was seen there yesterday, and a YELLOW-THROATED VIREO was present there the previous day. The season's first GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH was seen today at Point Traverse. At Presqu’ile Park today, a singing male CERULEAN WARBLER  was found along Paxton Drive. As the May drought continues in Prince Edward County, wetland habitat is shrinking quickly at Kaiser Crossroad where earlier this spring, water was lapping the shoulder of the road. Today, only a few yellowlegs were present. In recent years there has been increasing interest in the birding opportunities and species present along the South Shore Important Bird Area from Point Petre down the shoreline toward Prince Edward Point. WHIP-POOR-WILLS  seem to be the mascot down that way and a CHUCK-WILL’S WIDOW was present for several days last spring just east of the new Miller Family Nature Reserve. Simpson Road, on the west side of the Gull Pond Ducks Unlimited dyked area yesterday had lots of the usual species, including BROWN THRASHERS and EASTERN TOWHEES. Habitat is excellent there for both species. Lots of YELLOW WARBLERS and COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, as well as WHITE-THROATED and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS. At the shoreline, a LESSER YELLOWLEGS was present, and also recorded were RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, 2 BUFFLEHEADS, DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS, RING-BILLED GULLS and lots of LONG-TAILED DUCKS engaged in conversation chatter out in Lake Ontario. At the Limestone Plains in the Napanee area, found yesterday were 2 UPLAND SANDPIPERS. Today at Camden Lake, a prolific day with 6 CASPIAN TERNS, 30+ BLACK TERNS, 2 GREEN HERONS, 2 LEAST FLYCATCHERS, 2 BOBOLINKS,  a COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, 20 or so YELLOW WARBLERS, 2 BALTIMORE ORIOLES and 14 COMMON LOONS. Back in Prince Edward County, a birder keeping track of birds along County Road 13 in the South Bay area found 2 PINE SISKINS, 6 CHIMNEY SWIFTS, 1 VESPER SPARROW, 1 EASTERN BLUEBIRD, and a BALD EAGLE. Wow! Birders live for these moments in spring before everything drops down to a low ebb once summer arrives.

Friday, May 08: Prince Edward Point was hopping today, but it was mainly for the birds. YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS were definitely the species of the day, but right behind them were at least 18 other species of warblers. The first AMERICAN REDSTART of the season was banded at the Observatory. TENNESSEE WARBLERS were heard singing in two distinct pockets – one at Point Traverse and the other on the south side of the harbour where several individuals were involved each time.  At least two NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES  were also singing at the harbour. Also found were CAPE MAY WARBLER, CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER, several NASHVILLE WARBLERS, BAY-BREASTED WARBLER, PALM WARBLER (3), several MAGNOLIA WARBLERS and NASHVILLE WARBLERS seen and heard singing, BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, BLUE-WINGED WARBLER  and a Brewster’s hybrid. An OVENBIRD was singing in the Point Traverse Woods and also seen there, an early BLACKPOLL WARBLER. Also in abundance were LEAST FLYCATCHERS, GRAY CATBIRDS, EASTERN TOWHEES and GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHERS. A SCARLET TANAGER was seen at Point Traverse as were several PURPLE FINCHES. The big treat was seeing both a BALTIMORE ORIOLE and an ORCHARD ORIOLE, both of them males, perched on the same limb at the Observatory. An interesting find today was an orange variant ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK. LONG-TAILED DUCKS  were widely scattered on Lake Ontario, and two small rafts of SURF SCOTERS were seen at Point Traverse with a few  WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS also thrown in. CASPIAN TERN, RUFFED GROUSE (walking nonchalantly in front of our car!), singing RED-EYED and WARBLING VIREOS, HOUSE WREN, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, and both WHITE-THROATED and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS were also good finds for us. Two birders, birding the Huyck’s Bay shoreline three nights ago, found a half dozen AMERICAN WOODCOCKS calling and displaying. Wednesday night, members of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists did their first survey of CHIMNEY SWIFTS of the spring and counted 10 at one time, but only seven entering chimneys they were checking. One pair was seen entering the chimney of the abandoned North Marysburgh Central School at Lake on the Mountain, and others were heard circling over the town of Picton. At the H.R. Frink Centre, nine kilometres north of Belleville, warblers there included OVENBIRD, NASHVILLE and YELLOW. In the wooded area, a WOOD THRUSH was seen. Along the 500 metre boardwalk, four VIRGINIA RAILS, two of which were “getting it on” right in plain sight,  while a YELLOW WARBLER sang overhead, an AMERICAN BITTERN thumped in the background, 2 SWAMP SPARROWS tried to decide if they were a couple and a NORTHERN WATER SNAKE crawled out on the boardwalk to catch a few rays. A lot going on all at one spot, said the observer. Today at Presqu’ile Park, a PIPING PLOVER  was spotted by one keen birder early this morning as it moved between Beach #1 and Beach #2. A Luck’s Crossroad (Picton) resident reported that she had only two PINE SISKINS all winter long, but 20 arrived today for one more feast before continuing on to their nesting grounds. While she took the above photo, 4 BALTIMORE ORIOLES  arrived, and earlier there had been AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, PURPLE FINCHES, a pair of NORTHERN CARDINALS and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS all at the same time. You gotta love spring when backyards are saturated with so much colour and song. Both WARBLING and RED-EYED VIREOS on Big Island’s North Shore Road, and SANDHILL CRANES calling, but not seen, in the Mountain View area. Jackson's Falls Road east of Milford produced 3 SOLITARY SANDPIPERS, 3 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, a GREATER YELLOWLEGS and a KILLDEER.  A reminder that tomorrow is International Migratory Bird Day — a time when people all over the world can learn about birds and migration. This year’s theme is “Restore Habitat, Restore Birds." Habitat is where an animal lives, so without habitat, they have no home.  There are many efforts all over the country to try to protect and restore habitat for birds so that we can enjoy migration for many years to come! Already, I am in negotiations with the new owner of the hay fields beside us where we live to set aside one of those fields for nesting BOBOLINKS and EASTERN MEADOWLARKS. He is all for it, so it’s full steam ahead from here. The Presqu’ile Park Weekly Bird Report by Fred Helleiner has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website, and can be read by CLICKING HERE.

Thursday, May 07: It doesn’t matter how many years we enjoy birding; we are always learning new things. Friend Joe Bartok of Tweed e-mailed me a couple days ago with this observation:  “I took a detour in the brush chasing butterflies when a bird – couldn't tell at the time if it was a Wilson's Snipe or an American Woodcock – took off from almost underfoot. It seemed to be carrying something and had a hard time gaining altitude, and landed a short distance away. The bird continued to make a ruckus and it occurred to me than perhaps there was a nest nearby, I looked down, and sure enough there was a baby a few inches to the right of my feet. I snapped a couple of photos, left, and cautiously returned a few minutes later. The adult bird took flight a couple of feet from where the nestling had previously been, again taking off with difficulty, and this time I could see why. It was carrying a small fuzzy object with little pink feet hanging down – its baby! I had no idea that any birds transported their chicks from danger in this manner, like a cat or a squirrel moving its kittens.” I decided to do a little research, and it seems this peculiar behaviour has been reported before, but the reports have always been dismissed as little more than folklore. When in doubt, I always turn to my Arthur Cleveland Bent’s 26-volume Life Histories of North American Birds. Several sightings of this strange behaviour have been documented: The following account by Edwyn Sandys (1904), one of several such reports,  seems convincing: "The nest in question was on a bit of level ground amid tall trees. The sole suggestion of cover was a lot of flattened leaves which lay as the snow had left them. Perhaps 10 yards away was an old rail fence about waist high, and on the farther side of it was a clump of tall saplings. A man coming out of the woods told me he had just flushed a woodcock and had seen her brood, recently hatched and pointed out where they were. I went in to investigate, and located one young bird crouched on the leaves. It ran a few steps and again crouched, evidently not yet strong enough for any sustained effort. I went off, and hid behind a stump, to await developments. From this shelter the young bird was visible and it made no attempt to move. Presently the old one came fluttering back, alighted near the youngster, and walked to it. In a few moments she rose and flew low and heavily, merely clearing the fence, and dropping perhaps 10 yards within the thicket. Her legs appeared to be half bent, and so far as I could determine the youngster was held between them. Something about her appearance reminded me of a thing often seen--a shrike carrying off a small bird. I carefully marked her down, then glanced toward where the youngster had been. It was no longer there; and a few moments later it, or its mate, was found exactly where the mother had gone down. She flushed and made off in the usual summer flight." So, there you go – AMERICAN WOODCOCKS and their young using a novel way to escape danger. Locally, migrant birds are still arriving en masse. More of the same species discussed in past Reports, only more of them.  One birder  went out for a few hours this morning in the Ameliasburgh area and found birds birds have returned and most in considerable numbers.  A few noteworthy sightings were a nice singing male CERULEAN WARBLER at Carrying Place, GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS on the Snider Road and a male and female ORCHARD ORIOLE on the Stinson Block Road.  There was a LEAST FLYCATCHER in Wellington, an immature BALD EAGLE at Smith’s Bay, and the first reported INDIGO BUNTING of the spring season at a feeder south of Codrington. Forty-eight species of birds were tallied today at Kingston’s Marshlands Conservation Area, with a few of the notables being GREAT-CRESTED FLYCATCHER, RED-EYED VIREO, GREAT HORNED OWL, WOOD THRUSH, OVENBIRD, NORTHERN PARULA, LEAST FLYCATCHER and VEERY. On the north shore of Big Island, two OVENBIRDS were calling to each other. Sorry – no report from Prince Edward Point today.

Wednesday, May 06: A GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER along County Road 12 at West Lake, near Sandbanks Park, was a new arrival yesterday. Sandbanks Park has always been a preferred location for this species, so it came as no surprise to learn of its arrival there. Doubtless others have been seen in the County today, although no further reports of the species came in today.  Lemoine Point Conservation Area at Kingston today had BOBOLINKS in the grassland meadows, and other interesting species seen in the conservation area today were GRAY CATBIRD, LEAST FLYCATCHER, PINE WARBLER, WILSON’S SNIPE, WOOD THRUSH, and a concert of 17 YELLOW WARBLERS. At the Big Island Marsh, a CASPIAN TERN was present for most of the day. North of Cobourg today, there was a male BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER in a red pine prescribed burn area near the parking lot along Beagle Club Road. This is part of the massive Northumberland County Forest, a location where I have held guided hikes in past years. In animal news, a white morph GREY SQUIRREL is a regular visitor at a County Road 12 address at West Lake. There are few nectar feeders this week that aren’t hosting either RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS or BALTIMORE ORIOLES as they have invaded the Quinte area in recent days. Backyards are still temporary homes to a plethora of both WHITE-CROWNED and WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS. As of this evening, the Quinte Area Bird Report has had 13,847 hits since January 1st ! These followers are interested in what is being seen in your area. Send me your sightings by clicking on my name in the masthead above.

Tuesday, May 05: They’re here! If your nectar feeder is out, then chances are good that a RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD has found it.  It’s a good time for bird feeders as ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS are flocking around sunflower seed feeders right now as they arrive in the Bay of Quinte area. INDIGO BUNTINGS can’t be far behind. WOOD THRUSH, SCARLET TANAGER, LEAST FLYCATCHER, BLUE-WINGED WARBLER, CERULEAN WARBLER, AMERICAN REDSTART, OVENBIRD, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, and BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER were all new arrivals at Prince Edward Point as of yesterday. A BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER also showed up at a residence on North Big Island Road. Also on Big island, an Allison Road field of corn stubble today produced SONG SPARROWS, 3 FOX SPARROWS, WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS and AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES. Two OSPREYS and two COMMON LOONS  were seen over and on the Bay of Quinte. A new arrival at Bay Meadows Trailer Park at Pleasant Bay today was an ORCHARD ORIOLE.  An AMERICAN BITTERN  was spotted along shore and several pairs of BROWN THRASHERS were present today at North Beach Provincial Park. Lots of WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS these days around feeders, as well as WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS and a few lingering DARK-EYED JUNCOS. What was probably a SEDGE WREN was seen today east of Lake on the Mountain, near Bongard’s Crossroad. An  EASTERN KINGBIRD was on Mowbray Road today, and a resident there also had a RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD. A bird feeder operator along Glenora Road east of Picton was surprised to see a GRAY CATBIRD at her feeder today. Outside the immediate Bay of Quinte area, a SOLITARY SANDPIPER  was seen today on Wilton Creek on Big Creek Road, as were 8 LEAST SANDPIPERS, 2 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS, 2 KILLDEER and a GREATER YELLOWLEGS. In the Newburg area, GRASSHOPPER SPARROW and a BROAD-WINGED HAWK, were nice finds there. A WOOD THRUSH turned up at Amherst Island today, as well as 2 RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS and a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER. At Kingston’s Marshlands Conservation Area beside the Cataraqui Golf Course, 2 each of WINTER WREN, VIRGINIA RAIL and VEERY and a single SORA were highlights, and a nice little flock of 13 PURPLE FINCHES showed up at Dewey Road in the Camden East area, and 11 YELLOW WARBLERS also infiltrated the same area today. . A reminder of the Prince Edward County Spring Birding Festival coming up on Saturday, May 16th to Sunday, May 24th – hikes, workshops, displays, banding demonstrations. For a list of scheduled events, CLICK HERE.

Monday, May 04: This is the time of the year when birders are permitted to weep openly as I did when our backyard was filled this morning with the spirited songs of ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, BOBOLINKS, and YELLOW WARBLERS. Two WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS showed up yesterday in our backyard; this morning, we we surrounded by them! New birds are showing up everywhere and landing wherever the spirit moves them. Last evening, two GREEN HERONS landed in a  backyard at Allisonville, near Wellington, and two also turned up south of Codrington. Also up that way, a resident put out her hummingbird feeder, and moments later, a RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD was feeding from it. Another RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD was seen at two separate locations along Fry Road, north of Picton. The best sighting today was at Prince Edward Point where Bander in Charge, David Okines reported a GREAT CORMORANT flying over the Observatory, heading west, displaying all the salient features which separate this species from the more common DOUBLE-CRESTED  species (white thigh patch and white throat patch). It was not seen again; however, it may have been roosting with the DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS on the offshore shoal where hundreds typically gather. Only three times before has this coastal species been seen in Prince Edward County – December 15, 1979, when one was seen on the Christmas Bird Count, east of Waupoos; and again in 1999 and 2004, both at Prince Edward Point; and again at Green Point when one was seen in flight with DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS just seven years ago. A couple new arrivals west of Wellington involving SWAINSON’S THRUSH and EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE. Reports of BOBOLINKS and ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS came in from absolutely everywhere today, so there must have been a fairly heavy arrival overnight. Summer bird feeders are picking up momentum, but with some additional guests like the ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, but also a few typically winter species involving migrants coming from wintering grounds farther south and passing through right now on their way to more northern nesting grounds. An example of this was a dozen PINE SISKINS at a Glenora Road feeder. BALTIMORE ORIOLES everywhere, some coming right now to nectar feeders and oranges. Kayakers and canoeists are out there too with their checklists. One kayaker on Sawguin Creek, south of Belleville, found COMMON MERGANSERS, a half dozen OSPREYS, 4 GREAT BLUE HERONS and an immature BALD EAGLE. Meanwhile in the East Lake Marsh, a paddler there found AMERICAN BITTERN and GREEN HERON, and was also treated to an OTTER swimming along beside his boat. A Trenton resident visiting the Calabogie area in the Madawaska Highlands reported a cacophony of sound coming from six warbler species – YELLOW-RUMPED, PINE, BLACK-AND-WHITE, BLACK-THROATED GREEN and NASHVILLE WARBLERS, as well as NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH and BLUE-HEADED VIREOS already on territory. Also WINTER WREN, PURPLE FINCH, and the sparrow family represented by SWAMP, SONG, CHIPPING and WHITE-THROATED. Also, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET and RED CROSSBILL. A few scattered reports from today include a newly arrived  WILLOW FLYCATCHER singing at Stirling, male NORTHERN HARRIER at Perry’s Lane at East lake, a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER at Allisonville and a PRAIRIE WARBLER at Thickson’s Woods in Whitby, and GRAY CATBIRD and GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER at Prince Edward Point yesterday. One birder checked off a respectable 74 species of birds at Presqu'ile Park yesterday, among them 2 AMERICAN BITTERNS, 2 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS, 10 COMMON TERNS, 75 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, 2 each of HOUSE WRENS and WINTER WRENS, WARBLING VIREO, and 10 warbler species which included distant singing TENNESSEE WARBLER and NORTHERN PARULA. 

Sunday, May 03: While the old standbys like the WHITE-THROATED SPARROW continue to delight backyard birders, others are making their new arrival known. Two WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS showed up at Sprague Road this morning, and 2 calling GREATER YELLOWLEGS flew over early in the afternoon. Nine GREATER YELLOWLEGS were present at Kaiser Crossroad and LESSER YELLOWLEGS there numbered 14.  Also announcing their arrival to County soil there today  were 7 AMERICAN PIPITS. Another new arrival, although an exceptionally early one was seen at Big Island some days ago, was an EASTERN KINGBIRD along Gorsline Road near Fish Lake and another was seen today at Kaiser Crossroad.  A BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, another new arrival in the County, showed up today at South Bay where a BALD EAGLE  was also seen. A BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER at Prince Edward Point was new today, as was a WARBLING VIREO.  Others present there today included BLACK-AND-WHITE, BLACK-THROATED GREEN,  and YELLOW WARBLER. In total, 9 species in the warbler family have been seen so far this spring at Prince Edward Point. A ways to go yet before we hit the 30 species mark, but we’re off to a  good start. It was a good weekend to catch their arrival. An AMERICAN WOODCOCK was seen in the woods behind the banding station. Another new arrival in the Bay of Quinte region was a SPOTTED SANDPIPER along Airport Road, east of Belleville. A HOUSE WREN was seen on Fry Road today, and a PIED-BILLED GREBE, 5 WOOD DUCKS and a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER  were reported from Black River at the bridge. A RED-TAILED HAWK at Lake on the Mountain was a nice find as was a YELLOW WARBLER in Wellington. The Kaiser Crossroad wetlands at the east end of the County are still yielding a few ducks. Present there today were CANADA GOOSE, NORTHERN SHOVELER (1), BUFFLEHEAD, GREEN-WINGED TEAL (5)  and MALLARD as well as a CASPIAN TERN. Along Cressy Lakeside Road, both COMMON and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS  were seen. Yesterday, the Point Traverse Woods were producing some good finds like HERMIT THRUSH, ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, CLIFF SWALLOW, BLUE-HEADED VIREO, EASTERN TOWHEE and EASTERN MEADOWLARK. Below, in the water, a nice bunch of SURF SCOTERS was found.  Photo by Jeff Haffner of Napanee.Two YELLOW WARBLERS seen today along the Bayshore Trail Extension, east of Herchimer Avenue in Belleville. And in Stirling, CHIMNEY SWIFTS have returned to the village, where the chimney at the Stirling Creamery has been identified as a roosting site. 

Saturday, May 02: The migration is rolling now! Lots of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS being seen and heard. YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS  were also the species of the day at Frontenac Provincial Park where four of us today hiked a nine kilometre trail, also hearing several PINE WARBLERS, and at least two NASHVILLE WARBLERS and a distant NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH. Two SANDHILL CRANES flew over the Arkon Lake parking lot upon our arrival, and other species seen today were RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, GREAT BLUE HERON, EASTERN TOWHEE, PILEATED WOODPECKER, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET  and lots of FIELD SPARROWS. A BALTIMORE ORIOLE showed up at Green Point toward the east end of Sophiasburgh Ward, and a BALD EAGLE  was seen today on Under Island at Deseronto. BLUE-HEADED VIREOS and BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER were seen yesterday at the Marshlands Conservation Area in Kingston, and the latter was also noted at Amherst Island. At Point Petre last evening, lots of stuff seen, some of them new arrivals – GRASSHOPPER SPARROW, EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILLS – 18 of them - and a really nice find – a PRAIRIE WARBLER singing in some red cedars. We don’t get to see or hear many of them in these parts. An immature SNOW GOOSE  was seen with 2 CANADA GEESE. As reported a day or two ago, the annual clouds of midges have arrived, and taking advantage of them last evening in a feeding frenzy was a flock of some 250 BONAPARTE’S GULLS at Point Petre. Six RUSTY BLACKBIRDS were also noted. Along the south shore from Point Petre to Prince Edward Point an evening count of birds under a bright, full moon resulted in 30 AMERICAN WOODCOCKS, 34 WILSON’S SNIPE, 1 LONG-EARED OWL, 2 GREAT HORNED OWLS and an EASTERN SCREECH-OWL. Also noted were howling coyotes, which reminds me, at Frontenac Park, the four of us passed by a WHITE-TAILED DEER on the trail, not more than seven metres from us, totally unconcerned about our presence, although it kept an eye on us. And I guess, considering what it was eating, it is no surprise. Everybody’s favourite – fiddleheads! It’s moments like that which makes us thankful there are places like Frontenac Park where wildlife can function in peace.  

Friday, May 01: Now we’re movin’ ! The warmer weather has translated into more migrants arriving in the Bay of Quinte region. A BALTIMORE ORIOLE was seen today on Luck’s Crossroad near Picton.  Activity at Prince Edward Point today included large numbers of WHITE THROATED SPARROW, PURPLE FINCH and RUBY CROWNED KINGLET. Finally, the first BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, usually a mid to late April arrival, made an appearance, along with PALM WARBLER and 3 PINE WARBLERS.  There was also a good number of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS. Others like WINTER WREN, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, HERMIT THRUSH, and BROWN CREEPER were in smaller numbers. An EASTERN TOWHEE that was first banded in 2012 as an adult, was retrapped today.  Out on Lake Ontario, there was a cacophony of sound today from 5000 LONG-TAILED DUCKS. However, it isn’t just the main focal points where the migration is happening. Many backyard owners today reported increasing numbers of spring migrants, especially WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS and increasing numbers of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS as we forge bravely into the month of May in expectation of that first fallout of migrants. Turning up with the spring migrants have been others that wintered farther south and are now passing through, heading north, most notable of these PURPLE FINCHES and PINE SISKINS. Migrating PINE SISKINS have also shown up at feeders in Belleville, Trenton and the Codrington areas. In the Napanee area, WOOD DUCKS and 2 GREATER YELLOWLEGS  were highlights on Wilton Creek. At the Martin Edwards Reserve on Amherst Island, WILSON’S PHALAROPES have turned up there. Good sightings today at Lemoine Point Conservation Area included BROAD-WINGED HAWK, BANK SWALLOW and NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH. And for those  who still haven't had a chance to see the GLOSSY IBIS at Whitby, it was seen today flying over Thickson’s Woods. It is suspected that the bird had roosted overnight in the Corbett Creek Marsh to the east of the woods. And that's it for today. See you tomorrow!

Thursday, April 30: A new arrival today was CHIMNEY SWIFTS in Kingston. A GREATER YELLOWLEGS and a WILSON’S SNIPE  were both present again in Wilton Creek at Morven, east of Napanee. Although some distance away, two local birders had a remarkable sighting at Niagara Falls – 87 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS on the tiny island behind the old scow above the Falls, and another 27 on the island below the big bridge in Hamilton /Burlington. Closer to home, the Moscow Marsh north of Yarker, last night produced an AMERICAN BITTERN that surprised the observer by flying up only a few feet beside her. A GREATER YELLOWLEGS at the Keech Road flooded area near Camden Lake and an UPLAND SANDPIPER on the Limestone Plains were other good sightings. Two residents of Baptist Church Road south of Stirling decided last night to take advantage of the favourable temperatures and lack of biting insects to wander around outside taking in the serenity of it all, and were rewarded by two BARRED OWLS  serenading each other shortly after sunset. Back in Prince Edward County, shorebirds are now the main attraction at Kaiser Crossroad, with both GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS present in both wetlands. There are still small numbers of assorted ducks, including WOOD DUCKS. The GLOSSY IBIS at Whitby is still around for anyone still wanting to see it. And to wrap up tonight’s Report, the April issue of Ontario Birds has just been released and Ontario Field Ornithologists members should be receiving their copy in a day or two. It's a great issue with articles on: the seasonal timing and abundance of Little Gulls at Point Pelee, Ontario; avian window strikes at a Toronto office building, with regular opportunistic scavenging by American Crows; The Cave Swallow, in Ontario, 1989-2014; an early spring influx of Acadian Flycatchers into southern Ontario: April 2014. Keep watching for those warblers, and be sure to report any that you see by clicking my name above in the masthead. The big news at Presqu'ile Park today was the appearance of a YELLOW RAIL late this evening in the parking lot area of the Marsh Boardwalk, almost precisely the same area where one was heard "ticking" some 40 years or so ago, and which I was successful in getting on on my life list. Read all about tonight's YELLOW RAIL sighting by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, April 29: As the spring migration kicks into second gear, Kingston’s Marshlands Conservation Area produced some nice finds today – 3 VIRGINIA RAILS, a SORA, 10 SWAMP SPARROWS,  a PINE WARBLER, 8 HERMIT THRUSHES, 2 WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, and 2 PURPLE FINCHES. PURPLE FINCHES were also seen today along Loyalist Parkway, west of Wellington, and a single male has been present for two days at our feeder on Big Island. Sadly, the action at the Marshlands Conservation Area could not be duplicated at Prince Edward Point this morning. It was very calm there this morning and very little was around. A few YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS and seemingly thousands of LONG-TAILED DUCKS echoing their diagnostic calls across water from Point Traverse to Timber Island and Swetman Island (The False Ducks Islands). At Point Traverse, I did find a few things, including a PALM WARBLER, several singing RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, BROWN THRASHER, HERMIT THRUSH, FIELD SPARROW, lots of NORTHERN FLICKERS, RUFFED GROUSE, EASTERN PHOEBES, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, but no EASTERN TOWHEE which usually is the denizen of at least the western end of the trailed section of the woods. Out on the water, a peaceful collection of WHITE-WINGED and SURF SCOTERS. Along Fry Road, a RED-TAILED HAWK was perched in a tree, seemingly unconcerned about traffic passing by below. The egrets that were seen on Indian Island, east of Carrying Place, seem to have departed, and have been replaced by 250 roosting DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS. Outside the general reporting area, 2 UPLAND SANDPIPERS  showed up today northeast of Smith’s Falls, and three were seen in the Napanee area. Things are happening now in Wilton Creek near Morven where GREATER YELLOWLEGS and WOOD DUCKS turned up. Near Codrington, a birder/photographer there went for a stroll and came up with RED-BELLIED and PILEATED WOODPECKERS, YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, along with nesting RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS, BARRED OWLS, WOOD DUCKS and TURKEY VULTURES. Also at this location, EASTERN BLUEBIRDS, TREE SWALLOWS and HOUSE WRENS were all checking out nest boxes. And in this same person’s backyard, a few lingering PINE SISKINS and EVENING GROSBEAKS at the feeder. I wish all my own walks were as prolific as that! It was a great morning at Oshawa’s Second Marsh where highlights there were an amazing 120 LITTLE GULLS, and 2489 BONAPARTE’S GULLS with the strongest flight coming this morning between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Twenty-four species of waterfowl were also present with a few of the notables being CANVASBACK, RUDDY DUCK, 4 CACKLING GEESE, lots of NORTHERN SHOVELERS, GREEN-WINGED TEAL and NORTHERN PINTAILS.  Good news for those waiting in anticipation for that first RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD – they are on their way with the northern edge of the migration extending in almost a straight line from Delaware, lower Pennsylvania and Kansas. Right behind them are the SWAINSON’S THRUSHES, VEERY, CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, TENNESSEE WARBLER, YELLOW WARBLER, WARBLING VIREOS and GRAY CATBIRD. Any day now they will be crossing Lake Ontario and descending on Presqu’ile Park, Sandbanks’ West Point, Point Petre, Prince Edward Point and Amherst Island. My binoculars are poised!

Tuesday, April 28: My hiking trail in the fields west of our house on Big Island has expanded to 2.3 km in length from its original 1 km. What a treat to be out this morning for almost two hours basking in the sounds of SAVANNAH, SONG, WHITE-THROATED and FIELD SPARROWS, with the couplets notes of at least three BROWN THRASHERS wafting in on the light breeze. EASTERN MEADOWLARKS  were whistling everywhere, and it will be only a matter of a few days before the resident BOBOLINKS return and fill the air with their rollicking, kinky notes as they rocket into the sky and perform their spring nuptials for the glassy-eyed females on the ground below. Did we think only a few weeks earlier, that days like this would ever arrive? Only one other birder out today thought to take in this phantasmagoria of colour and sound, too. That person also spent several hours taking it all in over in the Stinson Block area at Consecon where he had a nice EASTERN TOWHEE calling and two HOUSE WRENS singing. On Bryant Road he found a pair of BROAD-WINGED HAWKS calling and acting as if they were on territory. This was in the Albury Swamp Forest on the east side near Victoria Road. There seems to be no record of this species breeding in the County, and the observer stated that he will watch this area for signs of breeding as he sped away to check Indian Island for GREAT EGRETS where 8 were seen six days ago. Other than a PINE WARBLER  heard at Lemoine Point Conservation Area at Kingston, that’s pretty  much it for this evening’s report. This week on The County, Naturally, an interview that I had with the show’s host Pamela Stagg about my 50-year career. Listen in to hear it tomorrow evening, Wednesday at 12:35 p.m. on 99.3 County FM. or live-streamed at 993countyfm.ca. People should go to the site a little early to download the free software which will allow them to listen in. I think after editing out all the “ah’s” and “hum’s” and “you know’s”, it should be a fun show. Something bird photographers might be interested in, during the Month of May, as part of the Prince Edward County Spring Birding Festival, the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory is sponsoring a Bird Photography Contest. Rules are as follows: 1) Subject: A bird photo of a local or migratory bird taken within the last 24 months in Prince Edward County. 2) Format: 5x7, B&W or colour, unframed. Put name, address, phone, plus when and where photo was taken on back of photo. Limit of two photos per person. 3)  Submission: Drop off at 28 Low St., Picton from May 1 until noon on Saturday, May 25. Photos will be posted in the window at 7 Elizabeth St. during the contest period and winning photos will be posted on www.peptbo.ca  4) Judging: Members and guests at the PEPtBO Annual General Meeting, Saturday, May 30, will judge the photos and 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes will be awarded.

Monday, April 27:  Today, an adult BALD EAGLE passed over Adolphus Reach as the species start to thin out from the 25 or so that winter in the Prince Edward County area. So far, just winter visitors with a few non breeding individuals persisting through the summer, and no interest in nesting in this area just yet, although there are two eagle nesting platforms along Black River in super dominant white pines, should the spirit move them one year. The species has not nested in Prince Edward County since 1949 (Timber Island), and they currently do not nest along the north shore of Lake Ontario. Also a bit late in leaving the area was a PINE SISKIN at a feeder near Lake on the Mountain. A male NORTHERN HARRIER  was seen today along Highway 49 near Essroc Cement. A COMMON LOON was spotted in the Bay of Quinte along North Big Island Road near Allison Road. At the Harbour Street boat launch at Brighton, present were 7 CASPIAN TERNS and 2 GREAT EGRETS. Over at the Brighton Constructed Wetland, birds seen there included 2 AMERICAN WIGEON, 2 BLUE-WINGED TEAL, 2 GREEN-WINGED TEAL and a nice group of 16 NORTHERN SHOVELERS. Also present was a COMMON GALLINULE. At Presqu’ile Park, 2 RED-NECKED GREBES and a BELTED KINGFISHER were seen at Calf Pasture Point, and at the lighthouse, 300 BUFFLEHEAD and 200 BONAPARTE’S GULLS  were counted.

Sunday, April 26: RUSTY BLACKBIRDS are on their way through with  numbers peaking today at the Thurlow Wildlife Area along County Road 5, east of Foxboro. There were an estimated 125 in the forested area there today,  but the cacophony in the forest suggested the number could easily be double that. RUSTY BLACKBIRDS  were also present at Kingston’s Marshlands Conservation Area where WOOD DUCKS  were also seen. Kaiser Crossroad in Prince Edward County is still producing a few waterfowl in the wetlands there. Highlights today were 30 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 8 REDHEADS, 2 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 8 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 2 BLUE-WINGED TEAL, 20 AMERICAN WIGEONS, and 10 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS. At the Glendon Green Boat Launch at the headwaters of the Outlet River in East Lake at Log Cabin Point, waterfowl now are scattered and a spotting scope is needed to see them. There today were 4 AMERICAN WIGEON, 4 BUFFLEHEADS, 6 MALLARDS, 4 GREEN-WINGED TEAL and 6 NORTHERN SHOVELERS. Six CANADA GEESE were also there (one on a nest), as well as 15 MUTE SWANS (also one on a nest). A CASPIAN TERN also showed up. Down at Prince Edward Point, highlights there today were BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, 5 CLIIFF SWALLOWS, 3 ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS, a MERLIN, 2 PINE SISKINS, a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, a nice group of 20 SURF SCOTERS, HERMIT THRUSH, and 2 FOX SPARROWS. However, this renowned point of land noted for its warblers, produced only a single YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER. But, other members of the warbler family are around and with the warmer temperatures, should start appearing any day now in greater numbers. A PALM WARBLER  was there yesterday, and a report came in today from the Calabogie area of several PINE WARBLERS and a singing NASHVILLE WARBLER. So keep your eyes open. The warblers, they are acomin’! Two PINE WARBLERS and a WINTER WREN were at Kingston’s Lemoine Point Conservation Area today. Back in Prince Edward County, the spring’s first BROAD-WINGED HAWK turned up along Chuckery Hill Road, east of Picton, and farther east, there was a HOUSE WREN along Cressy Lakeside Road. A pleasant sight at Big island this afternoon when two SANDHILL CRANES flew across the Big Island Marsh, followed by a GREAT EGRET. At Smith’s Bay this weekend, 18 COMMON MERGANSERS and 2 WOOD DUCKS were good sightings there in the Waupoos area. Also viewed there with mixed feelings were 120 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS roosting in a tree. NORTHERN CARDINALS  are nesting at Luck’s Crossroad and, yes – I believe spring is here with the nesting season well under way. If you have been following the appearance of an EARED GREBE off the foot of Thickson Road in Whitby, the bird was still there as of this morning. An optimistic birder at Wellington who put out her nectar feeder got a customer right away, but this EASTERN CHIPMUNK wasn’t exactly what she had in mind! Photo by Terry McInnes-Edick.

Saturday, April 25: If the predicted night time lows for this week and well into the weekend have convinced you that the migration has stalled, the warblers and others are still forging ahead bravely, although not many have reached us here yet in the Bay of Quinte region. TENNESSEE WARBLERS, BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS, AMERICAN REDSTARTS and ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS have made it into Pennsylvania and even into Maine, along with YELLOW WARBLERS and WOOD THRUSHES.   HOUSE WRENS, INDIGO BUNTINGS and EASTERN KINGBIRDS, were recently seen in Massachusetts. So, hang in there. The best is yet to come.  Two RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS and a male NORTHERN FLICKER were seen at one address along County Road 11 at East Lake today. Surprisingly, despite the gorgeous day, no other sightings came in from Prince Edward County today. Two MERLINS and an AMERICAN KESTREL were observed on Airport Parkway, east of Belleville today. There was a report of an early DUNLIN at Amherst Island a few days ago, and ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS  continue to be seen occasionally.

Friday, April 24: It should come as no surprise that few sightings came in today. Things were excruciatingly slow at Prince Edward Point today but several birders had great views of  as many as five HARLEQUIN DUCKS. In keeping with the early morning snow squall today, EVENING GROSBEAKS that were regulars at a Codrington area feeder all winter, not surprisingly, were there again this morning.  Birds seen today at Charwell Point in the South Shore Important Bird Area, included BROWN THRASHER, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, CHIPPING SPARROW, EASTERN TOWHEE, FOX  SPARROW and NORTHERN HARRIER. And in the Selby area, north of Napanee, a dozen GREATER YELLOWLEGS were present with the CANADA GEESE  on County Road #11, just east of Selby. An EASTERN BLUEBIRD was seen on Dowdle Roads at Hinch, near Eagle Rock Farm. Pamela Stagg’s weekly summary of the Kaiser Crossroad wetlands activity can be read by CLICKING HERE.

Thursday, April 23: Despite the cold winds and snow flurries today, birds are still responding to the urge to do what birds have been doing in the spring for thousands of years. Another quiet day at the Kaiser Crossroad wetlands, with waterfowl gradually heading off for points north. Highlights were a pair of BONAPARTE’S GULLS and three NORTHERN SHOVELERS. Other waterfowl present today were AMERICAN WIGEON, RING-NECKED DUCKS, REDHEADS, BUFFLEHEADS, MALLARDS, WOOD DUCKS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, GADWALL, GREEN-WINGED TEAL and CANADA GEESE. At Prince Edward Point, a male and female HARLEQUIN DUCK have been present for two or three days now. GREAT EGRETS – eight of them – were seen last evening on Indian Island in the Bay of Quinte, just east of Carrying Place. At Wilton Creek today, pair of GREATER YELLOWLEGS, and at Lower Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area at Colin’s bay,  RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS and PINE WARBLER  were noted. A pair of AMERICAN BITTERNS engaged in a "mating dance" for one observer just east of Forest Mills.  At Peat’s Point, near Massassauga Point, hundreds of BUFFLEHEADS, scaup and COMMON GOLDENEYE have been present. Some interesting sightings at Thickson’s Road at Whitby today have been an EARED GREBE and an early BLACK TERN arrival. An early DUNLIN was seen at Presqu'ile Park on the weekend. The Presqu’ile Provincial Park Weekly Bird Report by Fred Helleiner has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website, and this week’s report can be read by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, April 22: A blonde morph GREY SQUIRREL, and a BELTED KINGFISHER  were both seen at Picton’s Glenwood Cemetery today. The Kaiser Crossroad continues to be a bit drafty. Two Picton area birders dropped by yesterday and noted  GREEN-WINGED TEAL, AMERICAN BLACK DUCK, LESSER SCAUP and RING-NECKED DUCKS. Cressy Lakeside Road had many BUFFLEHEADS, LONG-TAILED DUCKS and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. Waterfowl are now thinning out at the Kaiser Crossroads wetlands. The current highlight today was five NORTHERN SHOVELERS – a duck never seen in abundance at Kaiser. RING-NECKED DUCKS (72) were the most numerous and there were modest numbers of BUFFLEHEADS, REDHEADS, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, AMERICAN WIGEON, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, MALLARDS and CANADA GEESE. Despite the cooler than-what-we-would-like temperatures, migrants keep trickling in. At the Slab Creek Swamp along the Millennium Trail in Hillier, a VIRGINIA RAIL turned up today. Among the 15 species of birds that were present in an undeveloped area north of Haig Road in Belleville, were AMERICAN WOODCOCK, 6 SONG SPARROWS, a NORTHERN FLICKER, and a couple SWAMP SPARROWS. It is always a treat when these little birding areas can be found and enjoyed off the beaten track.  CHIPPING SPARROW, RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER and  WILSON'S SNIPE noted at Allisonville, and about 20-30 WILD TURKEYS  strutting and displaying in an open field between Picton and Demorestville today. The PINE WARBLER along County Road 12 near Sandbanks has been a regular for some days at a feeder, and continues to drop in daily. NORTHERN FLICKER and CASPIAN TERNS seen at Belleville’s Zwick’s Park. At the Consecon Dam, at the old mill, there were two GREAT BLUE HERONS there today and both were having good success at fishing. Present too were 6 COMMON MERGANSERS. Some nice birds yesterday at the Marshlands Conservation Area in Kingston, among them, RUSTY BLACKBIRD, GREAT BLUE HERON, HERMIT THRUSH, YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, FIELD SPARROW, and both GOLDEN-CROWNED and RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS. This property has been known by various names over the years including Little Cataraqui Creek Valley Lands, Cataraqui Marshlands Environmental Protection Area and Cataraqui Bay Marshlands Conservation Area. This trail is also the trailhead for the Rideau Trail, and if you walk far enough, you will stumble into Ottawa. I have walked only as far as Polson Park, still in the City of Kingston! Kingston has some amazing and well maintained conservation areas such as Lemoine Point and Parrott’s Bay, all of which I visit as often as I can for birding.

Tuesday, April 21: High winds at the Kaiser Crossroad wetlands the past two days have sent the waterfowl into the shelter of the vegetation at the back of the north wetland. Counts of the birds were not possible. Other than that, nothing in the way of sightings came in today.  A PINE WARBLER is coming to a feeder along C.R. 12 near Sandbanks Park. 

Monday, April 20: A PURPLE FINCH at a Camden East area feeder is just one of many that are now turning up at feeding stations all over as the species migrates through the area. It wasn't the best day for birding today, but a few sightings trickled in including a COMMON RAVEN at Big Island`s North Shore Road that appeared be carrying a tiny baby RACCOON.  Seen on the Bay of Quinte were 2 GREAT BLUE HERONS, 2 NORTHERN PINTAILS and 6 COMMON MERGANSERS. Near the corner of North Big Island Road and Allison Road, NORTHERN FLICKERS, AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, FOX SPARROW, HOUSE FINCHES, OSPREY and TURKEY VULTURES were noted. At the Brighton Constructed Wetland, waterfowl noted today were WOOD DUCK, NORTHERN SHOVELER, RING-NECKED DUCK and BUFFLEHEAD. Present yesterday at the Kaiser Crossroad wetlands were 750 BONAPARTE`S GULLS in several groups of about 50 each. A WINTER WREN, EASTERN BLUEBIRD, EASTERN TOWHEE, FOX SPARROW and PURPLE FINCH as well as both PINE and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, were tallied at Prince Edward Point. There was a MERLIN seen at Point Petre, and another is behaving very noisily at Trenton. Two good sightings yesterday along Lighthall Road in the South Shore Important Bird Area was a  RED-SHOULDERED HAWK and a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER. A kayaker paddling the Outlet River and parts of Athol Bay yesterday found CASPIAN TERNS, BONAPARTE`S GULLS, RING-BILLED GULLS, COMMON MERGANSERS and BUFFLEHEADS. Choruses of WOOD FROGS were still vocalizing along the Outlet River. Congratulations to the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists on their victory at saving Ostrander Point from a serious invasive species – industrial wind turbines. Details are in the News tonight. It was a tough battle, but Nature and biodiversity in a sensitive habitat won in an age where species legislation these days is usually dictated by the bottomless pockets of developers.

Sunday, April 19: Thank you so much to all the photographers whose photos I often use in this Report, who came to the big 50th Anniversary Celebration held in my honour last night in Wellington. Fifty years a naturalist and birder. How did I get old, so fast? A RUFFED GROUSE held up traffic today on Wesley Acres Road in Bloomfield. But, the delay was worth it, as there were 6 GREEN-WINGED TEAL in a field beside the road that is always flooded in the spring of the year, and where good waterfowl and shorebird watching are available until the land is drained for planting. SWAMP SPARROW  was also seen along that same road, at the bridge. When the birders who submitted the above photo arrived home to County Road 12, they found a PINE WARBLER  visiting their feeder. CHIPPING SPARROW at a Narrow Street backyard today, and a HERMIT THRUSH was there yesterday.  A Camden East area resident found 21 species of birds today without even venturing from the perimeter of her backyard. Among them were 4 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS, a pair of EASTERN BLUEBIRDS, 2 AMERICAN KESTRELS, 2 EASTERN PHOEBES and a PILEATED WOODPECKER, one of three that stopped by. A male PURPLE FINCH was also present, and another was at a feeder today in Napanee. Two NORTHERN FLICKERS and a GREAT BLUE HERON in Newburgh. Today, along the Aitkin`s Road extension, just east of Belleville, a GREATER YELLOWLEGS showed up. Five VESPER SPARROWS and 5 SAVANNAH SPARROWS were also seen, and a FOX SPARROW. Yesterday, five duck species were present, among them,  5 GREEN-WINGED TEAL and a nice little gathering of 10 WOOD DUCKS. In the Harmony Road wetland, 2 BLUE-WINGED TEAL were added to the list for the day, and 7 HOODED MERGANSERS.  WILSON`S SNIPE  were heard and 2 PILEATED WOODPECKERS  were also found here. On the other side of the wetland which becomes the H.R. Frink Centre and its legendary boardwalk, a RING-NECKED DUCK was found, three GREEN HERONS, RED-TAILED HAWK, WILSON`S SNIPE. Added to the list too were SWAMP SPARROW, SONG SPARROW, BROWN CREEPER, and YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER. Along Baptist Church Road, a BELTED KINGFISHER turned up, NORTHERN FLICKER, 3 FIELD SPARROWS. On the Trans Canada Trail through Springbrook, north of Stirling, HOODED MERGANSER, YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, and WHITE-THROATED SPARROW were significant finds. On another Trail yesterday, the Trail of Two Lakes off Crookston Road near Madoc, 3 WILSON`S SNIPE were found there, but the big prize was a BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER that was viewed well, but briefly in binoculars. And at Kaiser Cross wetlands today, the following report has been filed by birder Pamela Stagg: Waterfowl numbers continue to drop, although there is still an interesting variety of species. BONAPARTE’S GULLS now number 60+ and there are four NORTHERN SHOVELERS. AMERICAN WIGEON continue to be numerous for that species. Other waterfowl include GREEN-WINGED TEAL, REDHEADS, BUFFLEHEADS, MALLARDS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, RING-NECKED  DUCKS, NORTHERN PINTAILS, GADWALL and CANADA GEESE. One WOOD DUCK was also present.

Saturday, April 18: EASTERN TOWHEES arrived just a few days ago, and one was seen today at East Lake, and others today at Northport, Prince Edward Point, Waupoos, Napanee and Belleville. File photo is by Jeff Haffner of Napanee. The best birding as one cyclist found out today at Presqui’le Park is either on shank’s mare or by bicycle. Seen today by one cyclist were 2 GREAT EGRETS, a BARRED OWL, 12 CEDAR WAXWINGS, 6 NORTHERN FLICKERS, 2 BROWN CREEPERS, 2 BUFFLEHEADS and 20 RING-NECKED DUCKS, and a variety of other more common species. Yesterday in the Gull Pond area of the South Shore Important Bird Areas in Prince Edward County, 1 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, SONG SPARROWS, 1 WILD TURKEY,  RUFFED GROUSE, NORTHERN FLICKER and RED-TAILED HAWK. Two pairs of CANADA GEESE and a pair of BUFFLEHEADS were at the berm in the Ducks Unlimited containment area. A GREAT BLUE HERON was also seen on its nest in the heronry in the wooded swamp. Its nest was one of only five nests counted. This heronry was once the largest in the County, with more than 200 nests. However, natural decay of the dead trees took its toll and many of the trees that once held nests have since fallen over. Yesterday, a lone white morph SNOW GOOSE was seen at Milford. A male PURPLE FINCH is coming to a feeder along County Road 10 just south of Picton, and if you want to travel a bit north to find another one, a male was at the Visitor Centre feeder at Algonquin Park. In Algonquin Park, spring has arrived with the sighting of SANDHILL CRANE, YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, TREE SWALLOW, WINTER WREN and  RUSTY BLACKBIRD as well as AMERICAN KESTRELS, BELTED KINGFISHER, NORTHERN FLICKER, FOX SPARROW, BROWN THRASHER, and for ducks – GREEN-WINGED TEAL and RING-NECKED DUCK. A rather late sighting that just came to my attention this evening was that of a TUFTED TITMOUSE that visited a feeder during January on Green Point Road east of Picton. The numbers at Kaiser Crossroad are getting low and next week should, I think, be the last report. Waterfowl numbers are dropping in the Kaiser wetlands yet there is still a variety of species to be seen: GREEN-WINGED TEAL, RING-NECKED DUCKS, BUFFLEHEADS, REDHEADS, GADWALL, AMERICAN WIGEON, NORTHERN PINTAILS, MALLARDS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS and CANADA GEESE. There is one lone NORTHERN SHOVELER and two SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS. In the Ameliasburgh area, Snider Road had an EASTERN BLUEBIRD sitting on a nest box. On the Stinson Block there was a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER and a BROWN THRASHER. The feeder in Carrying Place which has had COMMON  REDPOLLS all winter has not had any for a few days. In the Camden East area today, pair of EASTERN BLUEBIRDS, CHIPPING SPARROW 2 AMERICAN KESTRELS, EASTERN PHOEBES and 3 PILEATED WOODPECKERS were highlights.

Friday, April 17: We’ll start this evening’s Report with the BOLD and then wrap it up with the BEAUTIFUL. On Rosebush Road at Glen Ross (north of Frankford) today, some extremely unusual behaviour from an OSPREY, a bird that is almost exclusively a fish eating bird of prey, with occasional deviation from the norm by eating a snake or two. An observer in that area, was driving home yesterday when he noticed an OSPREY standing on the edge of the nest platform frame. Just as he arrived at the pole, the OSPREY took flight whereupon, it dove down to the ground. There was some thrashing around and then the bird tried to fly away, but was unable to get more than a meter off the ground because it had a GROUNDHOG in its talons! It got about halfway across the field before landing. The bird with its catch just kept starring back in the observer’s direction. Finally it got up and flew back towards the nest but as it tried to gain altitude it was labouring to lift the chubby chuck. The OSPREY dropped its catch from about 3-5 meters high and the mammal hit the driveway with a thud. The WOODCHUCK was quite dead as it failed to move after being dropped.  However, the bird flew away without trying to retrieve it's prize.  Why would a bird who's diet consists mainly of fish and nesting so close to a river go after a big rodent? Even Arthur Cleveland Bent's Life Histories of North American Birds, a 26 volume comprehensive life history of every species of North American bird which has been my source for unusual behaviour since the day I bought these books in the 1960s, gives no mention of such behaviour. It does mention snakes, young ducks and frogs as possible foods other than fish, but ONLY in extremely rare cases. The migration is moving right along at Prince Edward Point where banding began this week at the Observatory. Bander in Charge, David Okines, has banded over 500 birds in their first week of operation. Present today -   PINE and YELLOW-RUMP WARBLERS, three species of swallow – BARN, CLIFF and TREE, 8 sparrow species comprising WHITE-THROATED, AMERICAN TREE, CHIPPING, FOX, SWAMP, FIELD and SONG SPARROWS, and DARK-EYED JUNCOS. Also present today, AMERICAN GOLDFINCH, PURPLE and HOUSE FINCHES, PINE SISKIN, HERMIT THRUSH, RUBY and GOLDEN CROWNED KINGLETS, BROWN CREEPER, WINTER WREN,  YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, NORTHERN FLICKER, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, EASTERN TOWHEE, EASTERN PHOEBE, a 2nd year BALD EAGLE, TURKEY VULTURES, along with rafts of WHITE WING SCOTERS, and smaller groups of COMMON and RED BREASTED MERGANSERS. Certainly well worth making the trip this weekend, I would say. A kayaker paddling the mighty Black River from Milford for a distance of three kilometres, came across 10 MALLARDS, 8 BUFFLEHEADS, 5 CANADA GEESE, 2 WOOD DUCKS,  3 GREAT BLUE HERONS, 2 NORTHERN HARRIERS and a RED-TAILED HAWK. Another place paddling birders should visit, but do it before late May or the aquatic growth will stop you in your wake. In the Trenton and Carrying Place area today, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, along with a MERLIN bothering some birds at a feeder. Backyard birds at Wooler haven’t given up the feeders just yet. Reported there were DOWNY WOODPECKERS, DARK-EYED JUNCOS, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES, AMERICAN ROBINS and EASTERN PHOEBES. Some birds are feeding, others are nesting. A motorist today on Lake on the Mountain Road noted a BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE  working away on a nest cavity in a dead tree limb. COMMON LOON today at Zwick’s Park (Belleville), a LESSER SCAUP, BONAPARTE’S GULLS and BELTED KINGFISHER. Along Airport Parkway, east of Belleville, 2 AMERICAN KESTRELS  and a VESPER SPARROW.  The first shorebirds arrived at the Kaiser Crossroad wetlands today – small numbers of SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS and LESSER YELLOWLEGS. As well, recent arrivals are still present: BONAPARTE’S GULLS (30) and one NORTHERN SHOVELER. Numbers of waterfowl are much reduced, but there is still an interesting variety: BUFFLEHEADS, REDHEADS, GREEN-WINGER TEAL, BLACK DUCKS, GADWALL, RING-NECKED DUCKS, MALLARDS, CANADA GEESE and AMERICAN WIGEON. Better make some travelling plans for this weekend. It seems there is an opportunity to see lots of good stuff at various locations. By the way, Birder Pamela Stagg who submits her sightings from Kaiser Crossroad, summarizes her daily surveys of waterfowl at Kaiser Crossroad into a weekly report, which can be read by CLICKING HERE.

Thursday, April 16: The LARK SPARROW  was present again today at Lemoine Point Conservation Area. And not to be outdone by a pretty face, this FOX SPARROW showed up in a Narrow Street backyard today in Wellington Recent arrivals in the Kingston area have included NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS, AMERICAN BITTERN, BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, LITTLE GULL, CAROLINA WREN and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER. At Prince Edward Point today, 3 SURF SCOTERS, 400 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, and 2 PINE WARBLERS were spotted checked off. Equally good sightings yesterday there included 2 BROWN THRASHERS, 2 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS (10 today), a PINE SISKIN and two PINE WARBLERS. A LITTLE GULL  was seen at the Glenora Ferry crossing early this morning and a CHIPPING SPARROW  was seen in the Carrying Place area. The season`s first VIRGINIA RAIL appeared at the H.R. Frink Centre, north of Belleville, this afternoon. Also on the property, two duelling YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS were having a very genteel match. Each one waited for the other the finish drumming before the other answered. Waterfowl spotted from the Black River Bridge today included one WOOD DUCK, 2 HOODED MERGANSERS, 6 RING-NECKED DUCKS. A CAROLINA WREN also turned up in that area, too. Waterfowl numbers are declining at the Kaiser Crossroad wetlands. No species numbered as many as 100, although numbers for RING-NECKED DUCKS (62), AMERICAN WIGEON (48) and GADWALL (12) are still high. There are modest numbers of GREEN-WINGED TEAL, REDHEADS, MALLARDS and BLACK DUCKS. Just one NORTHERN SHOVELER was present, but a PIED-BILLED GREBE was heard. Other species here and there seen by our reporter in the field, Pamela Stagg, included a NORTHERN HARRIER over the cattail marshes of Black River, a BROWN THRASHER along County Road 7 east of Lake on the Mountain, and CHIPPING SPARROWS  and FIELD SPARROWS in this same person`s backyard. Not bad for a Thursday. Now, let`s see what tomorrow brings. The Weekly Presqu’ile Provincial Park Bird Report by Fred Helleiner has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website. You can read this week`s Report by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, April 15: Once again, the LARK SPARROW turned up at Lemoine Point Conservation Area at Kingston. Despite the cold start to spring, some species are still arriving way ahead of schedule. An EASTERN KINGBIRD turned up on Big Island today, and an equally early LEAST FLYCATCHER was observed in the Forest Mills area. Also seen there along Lockridge and Dowdle Roads: HERMIT THRUSH, an AMERICAN BITTERN calling, PILEATED WOODPECKER, and NORTHERN FLICKERS. In the same area, but along Rattie Road, a slow drive there revealed LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, AMERICAN KESTRELS, EASTERN MEADOWLARK, TREE SWALLOWS, NORTHERN HARRIER, CANADA GEESE, SWAMP SPARROW, and TURKEY VULTURES. Another LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE  was seen yesterday at the Newburgh alvar in the Napanee Limestone Plain IBA. At the Aitken`s Road extension in east Belleville, seen today were RED-TAILED HAWK, SAVANNAH SPARROW, VESPER SPARROW and WOOD DUCK.  Near the west end of Black Road (Demorestville area), NORTHERN FLICKER and a single PURPLE FINCH showed up for one resident. Two birders passing through Northport today noted an unusual gathering of 6 OSPREYS flying in a group above a nesting platform. Prince Edward Point is off to a slow start, but birds seen today were BROWN THRASHER,  FOX SPARROW, a few RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, a kettle of eight TURKEY VULTURES with a RED-TAILED HAWK soaring with them. A COMMON RAVEN kept harassing them, circling and herding them into a tight group. HERMIT THRUSH and FIELD SPARROW  were also seen, and three species of swallow – TREE, CLIFF and ROUGH-WINGED.

Tuesday, April 14: More signs of spring with the appearance today of a MIDLAND PAINTED TURTLE at Prince Edward Point. SPRING PEEPERS, WESTERN CHORUS FROGS, LEOPARD FROGS and WOOD FROGS  are now calling in collective happiness and AMERICAN TOADS should be sounding their wavering trill almost any day now. PINE WARBLERS turned up again today, this time at Prince Edward Point. These are one of our earlier warbler species, and will soon be followed by incoming YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, PALM WARBLERS and BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLERS. Then all hell breaks out in mid-May when the wooded areas in prime birding areas like Prince Edward Point, West Point (Sandbanks), Point Petre and Presquìle Park will be a chorus of new warbler arrivals – more than 25 species! A LARK SPARROW  was found at Lemoine Point Conservation Area at 6:45 p.m. last evening, associating with DARK-EYED JUNCOS, and was present again in the same spot this morning. Along the Millennium Trail at Consecon Lake, birds present there today were CANADA GEESE, RING-NECKED DUCKS, BUFFLEHEADS, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, AMERICAN ROBINS and NORTHERN HARRIER. SWAMP SPARROWS were in abundance and according to the observer, singing "lustily"! At Prince Edward Point, lots of kinglets, NORTHERN FLICKERS, and numerous LONG-TAILED DUCKS, BUFFLEHEADS, and mergansers in Prince Edward Bay and Lake Ontario. NORTHERN FLICKERS  were seen along North Big Island Road and four were spotted at Sandbanks along with 11 BARN SWALLOWS, TREE SWALLOWS and PILEATED WOODPECKER. In the Ameliasburgh area, equal numbers of GOLDEN-CROWNED and RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS. Also seen were two each of NORTHERN HARRIER, BROWN CREEPER and RUSTY BLACKBIRD. The Gardenville Marsh along the Millennium Trail where yesterday it was heronville, today only a GREAT EGRET remained, likely the same individual that was seen yesterday. There were two exciting new arrivals at the Kaiser Crossroad wetlands today: 4 NORTHERN SHOVELERS and about 40 BONAPARTE’S GULLS. Numbers of RING-NECKED DUCKS (100+), BLACK DUCKS (46) and AMERICAN WIGEON (88) remain high. The figure for AMERICAN WIGEON is exceptionally high. Present in more modest numbers are WOOD DUCKS, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, REDHEADS, MALLARDS, BUFFLEHEADS, NORTHERN PINTAILS, GADWALL and  CANADA GEESE.

Monday, April 13: After the cold temperatures and deep snow of this past winter, we never thought we’d be saying this – “The warblers are here!” Well, at least one anyway. A PINE WARBLER turned up today in a backyard east of Lake on the Mountain. And, if that wasn’t enough, the season’s first EASTERN TOWHEE  was there too! Two PINE WARBLERS also showed up today at Presqu’ile Park, at the lighthouse.  Kayakers on the Outlet River at Sandbanks found BELTED KINGFISHERS along the river. One birder walking a portion of the Millennium Trail across the Gardenville Marsh, not far from Carrying Place had good reason to exclaim, “Holy heron!” On approaching the bridge a pair of BLUE-WINGED TEAL flew in, his first this year. Then a GREAT BLUE HERON flew off, not unexpected. The next three herons were not expected! Two BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS were standing in the open and then a well plumed GREAT EGRET walked into view. Finally an AMERICAN BITTERN flew from one patch of cattails to another. At 6:30 this morning, two SANDHILL CRANES put in an appearance at North Big Island Road, near Allison Road. A birder at Kaiser Crossroad at 7:30 a.m. yesterday morning counted 28 BONAPARTE’S GULLS and a SAVANNAH SPARROW. Another SAVANNAH SPARROW bush-hopped ahead of me on a walk this morning east of 23 Sprague Road where I also came across two COMMON RAVENS nosily having it out with each other in spectacular aerial manoeuvres. YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS, BROWN CREEPERS, and GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS are still being seen at Prince Edward Point. In fact, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS are turning up everywhere right now, often in sizable groups. Five were seen in Ameliasburgh today, another five at the Potter Creek Conservation Area (formerly Quinte Conservation Area) at Belleville, and as mentioned in yesterday’s report, an impressive count of 50 was made at Prince Edward Point. Joining them today at Presqu’ile Park were RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, said to be “everywhere”. Three CEDAR WAXWINGS and a RED-TAILED HAWK were also nice finds at Potter Creek. CEDAR WAXWINGS, HERMIT THRUSH and NORTHERN FLICKER (with one small area holding 10 birds of the latter) were reported from the Ameliasburgh area. And an early singing HOUSE WREN showed up near Sandbanks today. Today’s fine weather and temperatures really activated PURPLE MARTINS AND TREE SWALLOWS which were happily singing and chortling away at nest boxes. At West Lake, BUFFLEHEADS and scaup were  in small groups close to shore today doing their mating displays, with many already paired up. Thirty-nine CANADA GEESE  were loafing in a field at one residence on North Big Island Road, and a pair was strolling around our own yard on Sprague Road for most of the day. Also on North Shore Big Island Road, EASTERN PHOEBE, 11 COMMON GRACKLES, 2 MERLINS, RED-TAILED HAWK, a pair of HOUSE FINCHES  and, among the 8 or so RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, 6 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS. The ice made its way out of the Bay of Quinte today, and taking advantage of the open conditions were 5 COMMON MERGANSERS, 2 NORTHERN PINTAILS and 6 RING-NECKED DUCKS. At the Brighton Constructed Wetland today, a pair each of WOOD DUCKS and BLUE-WINGED TEAL. Today at Kaiser, numbers of RING-NECKED DUCKS (100+), AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS (76) and AMERICAN WIGEON (44) remain high. There are lower numbers of CANADA GEESE, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, REDHEADS, MALLARDS, NORTHERN PINTAILS and GADWALL. While BUFFLEHEAD numbers are modest (14), this is more than usual for Kaiser. WOOD DUCK numbers were also up (7).

Sunday, April 12: Folks were bustling around today getting their nest boxes erected as TREE SWALLOWS took advantage of the warm sunshiny day to seek out accommodation. Also being erected today were PURPLE MARTIN HOUSES. The species was noted today in ones and twos at Big Island, Smith’s Bay, and Black Road near Demorestville. Today, north of Frankford, Bata Island was alive with birds with BROWN CREEPER, NORTHERN FLICKER, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, EASTERN PHOEBE, SONG SPARROWS and numerous TREE SWALLOWS being noted. CANADA GEESE, MALLARDS and RING-NECKED DUCKS  were present in the Trent River at the north end of the island.  It was a perfect morning to be out wherever you chose to go with lots of activity and all birds in full song. Even WESTERN CHORUS FROGS and SPRING PEEPERS  were taking part in the Carrying Place area. Seen by one birder up that way were six CASPIAN TERNS, one BARN SWALLOW, two FIELD SPARROWS, three SAVANNAH SPARROWS, and a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW in first year plumage. Three separate sightings of PILEATED WOODPECKERS excavating nest holes. SAVANNAH SPARROW also seen at Big Island. At Prince Edward Point today, a VESPER SPARROW  was among the more notable sightings with other highlights being 5 YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS, 10 SONG SPARROWS, 50 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, 4 BROWN CREEPERS, 8 EASTERN PHOEBES, 4 NORTHERN FLICKERS, and a COMMON LOON. A Kingston Field Naturalists field trip in the Kingston area today yielded lots of OSPREY, a couple of GREAT BLUE HERONS, HOUSE FINCHES, 2 BELTED KINGFISHERS,  RED-TAILED HAWKS, BUFFLEHEADS, DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS, HOODED and COMMON MERGANSERS, numerous NORTHERN CARDINALS, and SONG SPARROWS. The group also found 7 WOOD DUCKS perched in some trees. Also seen, this RED-TAILED HAWK making off with a RED SQUIRREL. At  the Sheba’s Island causeway at West Lake today, a West Lake resident birding there watched as an aerial battle took place between two CASPIAN TERNS, each of which wanted a single successfully caught NORTHERN PIKE. I guess neither of them realized that pike season is now over. A lone PIED-BILLED GREBE turned up on West Lake, and at Wellington Harbour, two AMERICAN COOTS turned up together. There was welcome sunshine at the Kaiser Crossroad wetlands today and some of the waterfowl – CANADA GEESE, MALLARDS, AMERICAN WIGEON and AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS took advantage of the warmth to rest and forage on dry land, where they were obscured by vegetation and a fold in the hills. Any numbers for these species are, frankly, guesses, although AMERICAN WIGEON and AMERICAN BLACK DUCK numbers were high, perhaps around 50. The number of AMERICAN WIGEON is exceptional this year, as is the count for GADWALL, 20 today. Other species stayed in the water and could be counted more reliably. There were over 100 RING-NECKED DUCKS. Numbers for other species were low: REDHEADS, BUFFLEHEADS (2),  GREEN-WINGED TEAL (2), WOOD DUCKS, HOODED MERGANSERS and NORTHERN PINTAILS (4). The Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville is moving right along with MUTE SWANS, CANADA GEESE, MALLARDS, GREEN-WINGED TEAL,  RING-NECKED DUCKS, BUFFLEHEAD, HOODED MERGANSER and AMERICAN WIGEON present, but all in very low numbers. Even a ho-hum farm pond along County Road 10 near Milford that hosted a Black-bellied Whistling Duck a few years ago, offered its share of waterfowl, including 3 CANADA GEESE, a BUFFLEHEAD, and two unidentified scaup and a female merganser. Yesterday, at the OSPREY platform at the head of South Bay, an OSPREY there was spending its free time trying to drive off a marauding COMMON RAVEN. And just to remind us of the winter that was, COMMON REDPOLLS are still coming to feeders in Wellington (4), and Belleville (12). Other interesting sightings included a SANDHILL CRANE near Fenwood Gardens along C.R. 28, and a COMMON LOON at Massassauga Point.

Saturday, April 11: Lots going on today, what with invading ice and marsh fires. High winds today and last night piled chunks of ice as high as the roof line of a house at Indian Point at the east end of Cressy. Anyone who has ever experienced this phenomenon knows there is no stopping the ice once it begins and there are startling videos on YouTube of ice pushing in the sides of houses and continuing its march inside the interior of houses. This pile of ice stopped within 25 feet of a house. On Big Island, the annual bizarre 50-year old ceremony of setting the marsh on fire took place at 2:00 a.m. this morning in extremely high winds, threatening homes along County Road 15 as a wall of flames continued until about noon. Arsonists are responsible for the fires. On a happier note today, the high winds and warmer temperatures brought in a few birds with the first PURPLE MARTIN of the season in the immediate Bay of Quinte area showing up along Lower Massassauga Road. Others will surely follow as temperatures continue their upward trend this week. A WILSON’S SNIPE  was heard winnowing over downtown Allisonville this morning, and a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER spent the day in our yard at Big Island. At the Marshlands Conservation Area in Kingston, seen today were SONG SPARROWS, EASTERN PHOEBES, BROWN CREEPERS, FOX SPARROWS, 29 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, HERMIT THRUSH, SWAMP SPARROW, and YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS - just a few of the highlights there noted by observers. A BELTED KINGFISHER was present at Wellington Harbour, and at Consecon Creek, birds seen there included 4 WOOD DUCKS and three AMERICAN KESTRELS. TREE SWALLOWS were seen throughout the County today, but still in relatively low numbers, certainly nowhere near the 200 seen at Trenton yesterday. An AMERICAN COOT  is still present at West Lake in Wellington, where today it was photographed munching on some aquatic vegetation. Non-bird critters noted today was the first LEOPARD FROG of the season at the junction of Babylon Road and Long Point Road and, of course, WESTERN CHORUS FROGS have been announcing their presence for several days now. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, singles of ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK and SNOWY OWL,  WINTER WREN and another PURPLE MARTIN arrival were some of the highlights on Amherst Island today. And, ending this Report on a sad note, one of the founders and key figures in earlier years of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, David Hussell,  passed away suddenly as the result of a catastrophic hemorrhage stroke.

Friday, April 10: A bit drafty today out in the country and, especially, at Sandbanks Provincial Park where I did a little exploring, eventually retreating to the shelter of the Woodlands Campground where I came upon a a group of about a half dozen NORTHERN FLICKERS. A clear movement of flickers was noted today at the Marshlands Conservation Area in Kingston as well, so it was likely the west/southwest winds that ushered them across Lake Ontario. Winds also moved ice around today. One motorist travelling from Wellington to Picton noted that almost all of West Lake was open. On the return trip, ice had returned and was packed up near the Ceremet building along Highway 33. On Lake Ontario, much the same thing, with chunks of ice cascading in and piling up on shore. Winds may have contributed to a swan making an unscheduled landing on Cedar Street in Brighton, hitting the deck of the home full force and killing it late last night. The head area could not be seen in the attached photo to determine whether it was a MUTE SWAN or a TUNDRA SWAN. Since TUNDRA SWANS migrate at night and MUTE SWANS probably don’t move around much after dark since they are more sedentary, the bird was likely a TUNDRA SWAN. The swan has all the answers and, unfortunately, won’t be revealing any details anytime soon. EASTERN PHOEBES returned in full force at Marshlands Conservation Area in Kingston, along with the flickers, and a HERMIT THRUSH also arrived there today. A Howe Island resident has witnessed 85 SNOW GEESE (white morph) since Tuesday, the birds flying onto the island in the early morning and again in the afternoon. Winds may have been responsible too for today's sightings by two separate birders of a BLACK VULTURE in with a group of nine TURKEY VULTURES along County Road 13 at South Bay. Sightings of BLACK VULTURES in eastern Ontario are becoming more numerous as this southern species continues its range expansion. In Prince Edward County, there have been 13 sightings since the first bird was observed and photographed in 1997 by a birder who had been sitting in his car casually eating his lunch when the bird landed in a tree in front of him! TREE SWALLOWS have arrived on the Trent River between Norampac and #1 dam and about 200 birds were buzzing low over the water snatching insects. An EASTERN BLUEBIRD was seen today across from the Smuggler's Cove sign in a forested area by the house along County Road 13 . A WILSON’S SNIPE ignored the high winds along Fry Road today, and still managed to put on a commanding aerial display for one observer. At Prince Edward Point today, lots of NORTHERN FLICKERS, FOX, SAVANNAH, CHIPPING, VESPER SPARROWS arriving in flocks off the lake. Although wind makes birding difficult on days like this, it does work to our benefit by bringing numbers of them across the lake. Other birds looked for shelter. Waterfowl in the high winds on East Lake were concentrated near the headwaters of the Outlet River at Log Cabin Point. Noted today when I drove in to the Glendon Green Boat Launch off County Road 13, were equal numbers (about 70 each) of BUFFLEHEAD, RING-NECKED DUCKS and a handful of MALLARDS.

Thursday, April 09: Not a lot going on today, bird-wise. This COMMON MERGANSER was one of eight mergansers taking advantage of a small opening in the ice along the bayshore created by an outflow from the Cressy Marsh.  At Wellington Harbour, only a single RED-NECKED GREBE was present today (two had been seen earlier). Most of the ducks had vacated the harbour, although they can still be seen through a spotting scope out in West Lake – AMERICAN COOT, BUFFLEHEAD, LONG-TAILED DUCK, etc. The population continues at Kaiser Crossroad where expected species are REDHEADS, RING-NECKED DUCKS, AMERICAN WIGEON, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, GADWALL, NORTHERN PINTAIL, BUFFLEHEAD, AMERICAN BLACK DUCK, MALLARD and, of course, CANADA GOOSE. At Wellington’s Highline Mushroom Farm today, a SANDHILL CRANE was seen flying over. What do you call a flock of snipe? Whatever the name (I think it’s a “wisp”), there were 18 today in one concentrated group in a wet area with some CANADA GEESE on the north side of Nugent Road, just north of Camden East. An AMERICAN KESTREL was seen on Airport Parkway east of Belleville today, and two more along Fry Road and County Road 4 in Prince Edward County. The season’s first reported CHIPPING SPARROW  came from Amherstview. Birds of note seen today at Kingston’s  Marshlands Conservation Area -  FOX SPARROW, GREAT HORNED OWL, WINTER WREN, MERLIN and AMERICAN WOODCOCK. Three PINE SISKINS were seen at Lake Ontario Park in Kingston, and also in that city, a nice group of 20 HOODED MERGANSERS at at Doug Fluhrer Park. The Presqu’ile Provincial Park Weekly Bird Report by Fred Helleiner has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website, and can be read by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, April 08: The ice is out – well, working at it anyway – and it’s time to launch the kayak in the Outlet River at Sandbanks. Contending with small floating ice fields and a strong current, photographer and kayaker Marilyn Sprissler of Glenora enjoyed her first paddle of the spring season yesterday. The current is exceptionally strong in the river right now, since the build-up of water in East Lake has grown to such an extent that it recently breached the mouth of the river in the park which routinely seals itself with drifting sand in the late summer. Although a rigorous paddle at times, she did manage to see two BELTED KINGFISHERS  and a few ducks on yesterday’s paddle. If birders didn’t get out this morning to bird, then likely they never got out at all once the weather moved in by 11:00 a.m. This morning, 11 TUNDRA SWANS flew low over the Big Island Marsh, calling energetically as they made their way in the direction of Northport. The Hamilton Wetland west of Demorestville is still a bit slow in building up its waterfowl numbers, but present yesterday evening were GREEN-WINGED TEAL and HOODED MERGANSERS. Driving rain at Kaiser Crossroad this afternoon made a waterfowl count impossible, since it quickly blurred binoculars and eyeglasses. However, it was obvious that CANADA GEESE numbers were up substantially (possibly around 1,000) after a week when they’ve been largely absent. Duck numbers are still high and there is still a variety of species. The Harmony Road wetland, north of Belleville,  is showing a little open water. Today there were 18 MALLARDS, 2 CANADA GEESE and 1 GREAT BLUE HERON. An adult BALD EAGLE was seen over Adolphus Reach this morning and this afternoon, a GOLDEN EAGLE was spotted at Robinson Cove, at the northwest corner of Big Island. A dead BROWN CREEPER, likely a window strike, was found at a West Lake home near Sandbanks. More alive, was a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER  today at a feeder near the west end of Victoria Road in Ameliasburgh. In the Wilton area, 14 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS were seen today as this species commences its northward migration through the area. COMMON REDPOLLS (13) still coming to a Belleville feeder & 5 in Napanee.  

Tuesday, April 07:  HOODED MERGANSERS seen and photographed  at Algonquin Provincial Park today, indicate that things are starting to loosen up a bit up there finally. Meanwhile, down here in the banana belt, duck numbers are still high at the Kaiser Crossroad wetlands. There are over 100 NORTHERN PINTAILS and RING-NECK DUCKS. AMERICAN WIGEON (52) and GADWALL (26) are high for their species. There were smaller numbers of CANADA GEESE, BUFFLEHEADS, REDHEADS, MALLARDS, WOOD DUCKS and AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS.  Prinyer’s Cove is starting to open up and there were 5 HOODED MERGANSERS present today, likely the same ones that were seen there on Saturday. RED-TAILED HAWKS, AMERICAN KESTRELS and EASTERN MEADOWLARKS were seen in the Madoc area. So, things are happening, but the migration may not get really moving until the temperatures become more like spring in a few days. Despite the reluctance of some species to put in an appearance, at least, in any great numbers, an exceptionally early LINCOLN’S SPARROW  was seen today in Belleville, the observer getting good looks at it before the bird disappeared. An EASTERN PHOEBE was calling from a backyard today east of Lake on the Mountain. COMMON GRACKLES in Napanee, a NORTHERN HARRIER on Big Island and a rather amusing sighting as I was returning from a long walk across the neighbouring farm. An OSPREY carrying a very large fish passed only a few metres in front of me, the fish so heavy that the bird was struggling to stay airborne, barely managing only a metre or so high off the ground. Some distance away, the bird finally collapsed with its catch of the day, presumably to consume right on the ground. One birder returning from a day in New York State a few days ago noted lots of GREAT BLUE HERONS standing on the ice along the St. Lawrence as well as upstate New York. Other miscellaneous sightings today included 2 HOODED MERGANSERS along Oliver Road east of Deseronto, 2 PINE SISKINS in Tweed, 12 COMMON REDPOLLS still at a Belleville feeder, a WINTER WREN and 30 (count them!) DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS at Kingston’s Belle Island on the Cataraqui River, and 8 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS at the Marshlands Conservation Area. An early season kayaker paddling this afternoon up and down the Outlet River at Sandbanks Park came across 25 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, 1 MUTE SWAN, 8 MALLARDS and 2 BELTED KINGFISHERS. One of the more interesting wetlands to bird in at any time of the year is the Brighton Constructed Wetland along County Road 64. One does need an annual $5.00 permit to enter the constructed wetland legally and these are available online at www.Brighton.ca. Click on “tourism” and then “constructed wetland” from the side menu bar. Print off the form, fill it in and mail it to Brighton Public Works, 67  Sharp Road, Brighton ON K0K 1H0  along with the $5.00.   Please include a self-addressed stamped envelope in order to receive your permit in the mail. Well worth the expense. I was there several times last year. The permit expires on October 20th.

Monday, April 06: Spring is here, the high numbers of birds have disappeared from the majority of feeders, and now, it’s time for the clean-up staff to come in and spruce up the area under the feeders. A record number of SNOWY OWLS – an amazing 44 – were present today on Amherst Island as the species migrates through our area, heading north. The majority of the birds were on the ice off the south shore. Also productive was the centre of the island and Amherst Bay, where 13 birds were visible on the ice from one spot.  Two SANDHILL CRANES  were seen a few days ago west of Demorestville, and along County Road 12 near Sandbanks, the resident PILEATED WOODPECKER  dropped in once again for breakfast in the backyard. OSPREYS  today at Rankin Road at East Lake and at Baz Auto on Highway 2 east of Belleville. HOODED MERGANSERS and MALLARDS are starting to show up at the Hamilton Wetland along County Road 14 as conditions improve there. At Twelve O’Clock Point at the end of the Murray Canal at Carrying Place, there were lots of waterfowl comprising mainly of RING-NECKED DUCKS, along with GREATER and LESSER SCAUP, COMMON MERGANSER, MUTE SWAN,CANADA GEESE and one lone BUFFLEHEAD. If I had remembered to bring along my spotting scope, I likely could have found some additional species. A BELTED KINGFISHER, and 5 male RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS were at Wellington Harbour and the usual species were also present, but farther out in the lake. A PEREGRINE FALCON was noted today on Desmond Road near Camden East. Just west of Quaker Road along C.R. 1 in the County, the season’s first GREAT EGRET was spotted.  Muscote Bay, separating Big Island from the mainland at County Road 14, has finally opened a bit. Present today were some 500 ducks, mostly LESSER SCAUP, but among them were 100 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 30 AMERICAN WIGEON, 20 REDHEAD, 6 COMMON GOLDENEYE, and 2 BUFFLEHEAD. Since the bay is still two thirds covered in ice, those numbers and the variety should increase in the next few days. All of us living on the Great Lakes, and even many inland lakes, know all about ZEBRA MUSSELS and QUAGGA MUSSELS, both of which arrived in Lake Ontario in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A huge drift of empty mussel shells was photographed today at Soup Harbour between Salmon Point and Point Petre. The empty shells were banked 4 feet deep for a kilometre, at least. High mortality this year Much the same situation occurs at the tip of Main Duck Island where incoming shells have completely filled and subsequently sealed off a former harbour area at the lighthouse. And finally, Pamela Stagg of Picton who hosts a program called The County Naturally on 99.3 County FM, reminds us that we are entering the dreaded season of the BLACK-LEGGED TICK, often referred to as the DEER TICK. It seems that Lyme disease in the County has reached a critical mass (25% of ticks are infected). If testing shows that the 25% level continues or grows, the Public Health Unit  will stop testing  ticks for Lyme and tell local doctors to assume that anyone bitten by a tick will have been exposed to Lyme disease (assuming the tick was attached for 24+ hours). “This is very scary stuff,” warns Pamela. Her program on ticks and Lyme Disease will be broadcast this Wednesday, April 8th at 12:35 pm. on 99.3 County FM. Those outside the listening area can live-stream it at 993countyfm.ca. Since birders will be out and about this season, especially at Prince Edward Point where ticks are rampant, plan to listen to this informative and timely program.

Sunday, April 05: There is certainly no denying that OSPREYS have returned to the Bay of Quinte region! Reports are coming in daily, with nearly every nest platform occupied. The RED-NECKED GREBE at Wellington as of today, has doubled in number. Today, two were in view for one Kingston birder as well as a Demorestville area photographer. Also present among the hundreds of both GREATER and LESSER SCAUPS, RING-NECKED DUCKS, CANADA GEESE, COMMON and HOODED MERGANSERS, were one BONAPARTE’S GULL  (first one to be seen this spring), a COMMON LOON, and the resident AMERICAN COOT. At the famous Kaiser Crossroad flooded fields, wind was again an issue, with ducks hiding in the vegetation to find shelter. The variety of waterfowl is there and now the numbers are coming up, except for CANADA GEESE (just two). There were over 100 ducks of the following species: NORTHERN PINTAILS, RING-NECKED DUCKS and MALLARDS. Numbers of GREEN-WINGED TEAL, REDHEADS, AMERICAN WIGEON and BLACK DUCKS were high for their species. There were also small numbers of GADWALL, BUFFLEHEADS and WOOD DUCKS late this afternoon. Point Petre today offered 3 HORNED GREBES ( 2 males and 1 female), 2 BUFFLEHEADS, 4 GREATER SCAUP and 25 LONG-TAILED DUCKS. For BUFFLEHEADS were also present in Smith’s Bay, along with a nice group of 50 REDHEADS, 25 RING-NECKED DUCKS, a couple AMERICAN WIGEON, 5 MUTE SWANS, 4 MALLARDS, and 50 GREATER SCAUPS. The Bay of Quinte off North Big Island Road didn’t fare so well, coming up with only a male and female COMMON MERGANSER. Yesterday 5 HOODED MERGANSERS were at Prinyer’s Cove and, on the other side of the County at the mouth of Consecon Creek at Wellers Bay, 30 LESSER SCAUPS  were counted. Meanwhile, just across the County Line, in the Napanee area, 2 SNOW GEESE were found, as well as a couple hundred CANADA GEESE, and two each of MALLARD, NORTHERN PINTAIL and the first arrival of BLUE-WINGED TEAL. At County Road 8 at Sillsville, over 300 LESSER SCAUP were counted, a half dozen MUTE SWANS and four RING-NECKED DUCKS. Lots of action in the Barry Heights area of Trenton. A resident there was outside raking leaves when a commotion was heard down the street of the multiple calls of a PILEATED WOODPECKER. He watched what appeared to be three males chasing a female from tree to tree as they  bounded from tree to tree, all the while calling. They eventually worked their way towards where the resident was standing and into the big oaks on his property. They definitely had interest in the one bird, finally moving out of sight along the ridge but still  being heard. About two minutes later another one came in from the east calling, making a total of five! What a show, the resident said. The female bird must have had something special to attract that much attention. Other good sightings today, including several TURKEY VULTURES in the Beaver Meadow Conservation Area – were RED-TAILED HAWK at Big Island, 6 COMMON REDPOLLS at Camden East (they just won’t leave their bounty of food!), 5 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS at Kingston’s Lemoine Point Conservation Area, and 4 NORTHERN PINTAILS on Huff’s Island Road south of Belleville, and an EASTERN PHOEBE at Rednersville.

Saturday, April 04: An exceptionally early BALTIMORE ORIOLE arrival was noted yesterday on Highway 49, on the south end of the Quinte Skyway Bridge. According to the startled observers, the bird flew directly in front of their car! This is not the first time that this species has enjoyed an early arrival in this area. Birds of the Kingston Region by Ron Weir, provides an even earlier date, of March 12th in 2006, in Kingston. His book also mentions one that I saw in Adolphustown on April 3rd, 2003. There have also been a few early winter sightings, so it would seem that BALTIMORE ORIOLES are a tough species. A little more in keeping with the time of the year, the first WILSON’S SNIPE of the spring season was noted at Kingston, and 60 TREE SWALLOWS  were seen today at Belleville’s Victoria Park at the mouth of the Moira River. A BELTED KINGFISHER was noted at Black River, and more OSPREYS have returned – one at a nest in one of the light standards at the ball park east of Waupoos, and another to the nest platform along Highway 2 east of Belleville. One South Bay resident woke up to the arrival of “hundreds” of BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS comprising 95% males, which stayed around his feeder feasting on the gleanings on the ground. A NORTHERN GOSHAWK turned up today at the H.R. Frink Centre north of Belleville, and a MERLIN was present in the Camden East area. a  RED-NECKED GREBE  showed up again at Wellington where it has been for several days. On the waterfowl side of things, Picton Bay is finally releasing its hold on the ice due to today’s high winds. COMMON MERGANSERS have been present there all day today, as many as two dozen at once. Winds were so strong at Kaiser Crossroad this afternoon that observer shake was as much a problem as spotting scope shake. An unknown number of ducks were sheltering in the undergrowth to stay away from the worst of the wind. There were virtually no CANADA GEESE at Kaiser today. Apart from MALLARDS (about 100) and AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS (20), there was variety but generally low numbers. The exceptions were RING-NECKED DUCKS (110) and NORTHERN PINTAILS (104). While absolute numbers were low, there were higher-than-usual numbers of WOOD DUCKS (16), AMERICAN WIGEON (16) and GREEN-WINGED TEAL (40). There were small numbers of BUFFLEHEADS and REDHEADS. In Lake Ontario, at the south end of Kaiser Crossroad, there were between 250 and 300 REDHEADS all along the shoreline.  And finally in this evening’s Report, an appeal to help find CHORUS FROGS in Ontario. Of course, those who are part of the Marsh Monitoring Program of which I am coordinator for much of eastern Ontario, are already doing that through their amphibian surveys this month and next, but others can help too. If you’re able to identify WESTERN CHORUS FROG calls, you can help researchers learn more about the distribution and habitat of this species, which is threatened with extinction in central Ontario. Over the next month, please keep track of where you hear CHORUS FROGS and report your information online to the Ontario Chorus Frog and Marsh Bird Species at Risk Project. Bird Studies Canada is interested in learning more about where chorus frogs occur throughout Ontario, and we’re especially keen for reports from targeted locations along Lake Ontario. This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada. 

Friday, April 03: And the migration continues. OSPREYS  were seen today as well at nest platforms along County Road 8 near Kaiser’s Crossroad, and along C.R. 13 at the west end of South Bay. I had a chance to get in about an hour’s birding in the Point Traverse Woods where, in addition to some deep snow and running water, I found BROWN CREEPER, a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, SONG SPARROWS, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH and BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES. In the open water close to the cliff edge, there were 80+ LONG-TAILED DUCKS and around 50 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS as well as a handful of GREATER SCAUP. No absence of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, COMMON GRACKLES or even KILLDEER. A few TREE SWALLOWS  were skimming over the surface of the water. Yesterday, several GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGETS  were present in the Point Traverse Woods, but these were absent today. Spring bird populations are always changing as was evidenced at the harbour. Yesterday, two pairs of GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 3 pairs of HOODED MERGANSERS, a pair each of COMMON MERGANSERS, and RING-NECKED DUCKS and several bachelor BUFFLEHEADS were in the harbour. Today, everything there had moved out. Yesterday, also, there were 3 EASTERN PHOEBES, a FIELD SPARROW (1st arrival of this species), EASTERN MEADOWLARK and many SONG SPARROWS  at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. At the former Ducks Dive Charters, 2 pairs of EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were actively foraging, more GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS and a NORTHERN SHRIKE. At South Bay, AMERICAN KESTRELS were present, and a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK today. A dead grey morph EASTERN SCREECH-OWL was found at one residence along that road. Three TREE SWALLOWS were in Milford today as well as a BELTED KINGFISHER.  Another 2 TREE SWALLOWS  were seen today east of Dorland, and a nice flock of 12 at Kaiser Crossroad. In the waterfowl family, 150 REDHEADS  were noted in Lake Ontario at the end of Kaiser Crossroad. Also at Kaiser today, there were small numbers of a wide spectrum of birds: CANADA GEESE, MALLARDS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, AMERICAN WIGEON, NORTHERN PINTAILS, HOODED MERGANSERS, GADWALL, GREEN-WINGED TEAL and REDHEADS. The only species present in significant numbers today were WOOD DUCKS (26) and RING-NECKED DUCKS (114). Waterfowl at Wellington are widely scattered now as West Lake gives way to warmer weather (that may change as the thermometer dips to –5 on Sunday). Birds are where you find them, and one Belleville birder walking a portion of the Trail of Two Lakes near Ivanhoe had some good success since the trail follows a portion of Rawdon Creek. Here he found 28 MALLARDS, 7 HOODED MERGANSERS, 60 CANADA GEESE, 17 WOOD DUCKS and 2 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS. A NORTHERN RAVEN was heard along the trail and another distant one was calling at Point Traverse today. AMERICAN WIGEON are also turning up throughout the reporting area, and two were seen walking along the ice on Presqu’ile Bay yesterday evening. Other birds of interest today included an AMERICAN WOODCOCK south of Codrington, one RED-NECKED GREBE at Wellington at the end of the west jetty near the lighthouse, a HORNED LARK at South Bay, 8 COMMON REDPOLLS at a Belleville feeder, 8 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS and 2 CEDAR WAXWINGS on Elmbrook Road north of Picton, and the best sighting (hearing) of all to welcome in the spring – CHORUS FROGS  calling at Point Traverse as well as another three calling at Elmbrook!  Just in time for the start of the Marsh Monitoring Program in only 12 days! By the way, Pamela Stagg of Lake on the Mountain who contributes most of the Kaiser Crossroad sightings, has resumed her weekly summary of waterfowl sightings here, and can be found every Friday by CLICKING HERE.

Thursday, April 02: Wow! It’s hard to know where to begin this evening’s report! With the warmer weather, sounds coming from the skies are mostly from CANADA GEESE, but one skein yesterday with unusual calls drew the attention of two West Lake residents who saw a skein of 600 SNOW GEESE fly over. Athol Bay has filled in again with ice, but at long last, the entrance into the Glendon Green Boat Launch off C.R. 18 at Sandbanks has melted enough that one can drive in. Today, there was a fair amount of open water and all of the Outlet River is now completely open.  Most notable on East Lake today at the the boat launch were the COMMON GOLDENEYES who were putting on their own special performance. There were 10 of them, but also present were 50 scaup, 13 BUFFLEHEADS, 4 COMMON MERGANSERS, 2 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, 6 MALLARDS, 20 REDHEADS, and  2 MUTE SWANS.   At the Kaiser Crossroad wetlands today, noted were NORTHERN PINTAILS, TUNDRA and MUTE SWANS, while Cressy Lakeside Road just east of there offered both LESSER and GREATER SCAUP, , REDHEADS, BUFFLEHEADS and LONG-TAILED DUCKS. At Barcovan at the entrance to Wellers Bay, a nice flock of 20 NORTHERN PINTAILS  stood out from the estimated 1,000 ducks present. TRUMPETER and MUTE SWANS were present, joined by large numbers of CANADA GEESE. All three species of merganser were present. Common also were GREEN-WINGED TEAL and RING-NECKED DUCK. The lake held a COMMON LOON and a RED-NECKED GREBE. The Brighton Constructed Wetland today had 70+ WOOD DUCKS, 4 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, a couple GADWALL, as well as BUFFLEHEAD, MUTE SWANS, MALLARD and CANADA GOOSE. At the trail trestle over the Trent River beside the Jack Lange Memorial Trail in Trenton, seen were  singles of NORTHERN SHOVELER and GREEN-WINGED TEAL – both of them drakes. Two WOOD DUCKS  were present at the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville. Now, down to the passerines. Unfortunate news from Connie Crowe of The Birdhouse in Wooler who hosted a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER  for part of the winter at one of her feeders. It was found dead under a cedar tree not far from where the bird normally fed. Lots of small birds on the move today. TREE SWALLOWS along Airport Parkway at Belleville, and several at the Slab Creek Swamp off Station Road in Hillier. An EASTERN PHOEBE was reported from the Codrington area and anothernear Camden East. Also in the Strathcona and Nugent Road area, 2 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, NORTHERN HARRIER, COOPER’S HAWK, 8 WILD TURKEYS and 4 AMERICAN KESTRELS. A Trenton birder birding the Carrying Place and Consecon area today decided it was far too nice a day to be indoors. In Carrying Place, he found feeders that still had 50 COMMON REDPOLLS with much smaller numbers of PINE SISKINS and AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES. In the afternoon the nest at the north end of Carrying Place held a returning OSPREY, and another OSPREY was observed catching a fish at Dead Creek in Carrying Place. As for blackbirds, smaller numbers of BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS now joined the many COMMON GRACKLES and RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS. Raptors included two RED-TAILED HAWKS, 10 TURKEY VULTURES, and singles of AMERICAN KESTREL, COOPER’S HAWK and NORTHERN HARRIER.  The Stinson Block also had an EASTERN PHOEBE, and a pair of COMMON RAVENS building a stick nest in an old barn. A singing  EASTERN MEADOWLARK today along South Big Island Road, and at Amherst Island – another EASTERN PHOEBE, EASTERN MEADOWLARKS and FOX SPARROW. But to remind us of winter, small numbers of SNOWY OWLS can still be found on Amherst island, and a week ago, there were an incredible 28 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS counted there! Twenty-six COMMON REDPOLLS still coming to a Trenton feeder, but only one at a feeder in Brighton where 20 species of birds were present for that resident’s final Project FeederWatch count which included 13 HOUSE SPARROWS and a COOPER’S HAWK doing his own private FeederWatch. An unexpected 12 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS  were found at the Slab Creek Swamp in Hillier. Six WILD TURKEYS and a PILEATED WOODPECKER  were noted along Glenora Road, east of Picton. And finally – be sure to check out the new Quinte Field Naturalists page on Facebook, and don’t forget to “like us”. You can find the Quinte Field Naturalists’ Facebook page by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, April 01: My wife and I birded the Wooler, Brighton and Belleville area this moring coming up with two AMERICAN KESTRELS on Burr Road at Crofton, a NORTHERN HARRIER at Carrying Place, several TURKEY VULTURES south of Wooler, and one WOOD DUCK in Cold Creek along Teal Road just north of the village. At Goodrich-Loomis Conservation Area, another TURKEY VULTURE  was seen, and a GREAT BLUE HERON was in a small cattail marsh along Hansen Road at Cedar Creek, north of Brighton, although there was precious little there to attract its attention.  DARK-EYED JUNCOS and at least a dozen AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS  were at Trenton’s Bain Park, and what appeared to be a distant MERLIN landed in a conifer at Rossmore beside the Norris Whitney Bridge. A MERLIN was also present today in Stirling and WOOD DUCKS  were seen on Rawdon Creek. Along both sides of the Trans Canada Trail between Stirling and Highway 62, AMERICAN WOODCOCKS and KILLDEER  were reported. And the first FOX SPARROW of the spring season was seen on Amherst Island, and right on time too as this is the week this species is expected back. So spring is coming, or has arrived, depending on how optimistic you are with a weather forecast that forebodes the possibility of freezing rain tonight and perhaps a trace of snow flurries for Saturday.  As though sensing this continuance of winter conditions, at least 30 COMMON REDPOLLS continue to visit a feeder daily in Belleville. The Hamilton Wetland along County Road 14, west of Demorestville, appears to be awakening. Seventeen CANADA GEESE, 7 MALLARDS and a GREAT BLUE HERON were seen there yesterday. At the south end of the Norris Whitney Bridge  at Rossmore today, there were many CANADA GEESE, and medium numbers of COMMON GOLDENEYE and SCAUP. A few HOODED MERGANSERS, COMMON  and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, 2 PIED-BILLED GREBES, and some BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS in the parking lot. Along Airport Parkway, east of Belleville, a pair of AMERICAN KESTRELS that has nested there in the last few years, showed up today and were checking out the nest hole again. Another reminder about the RUSTY BLACKBIRD Spring Migration Blitz. This species has endured severe population declines. In 2014, the International RUSTY BLACKBIRD Working Group and its partners launched a three-year Spring Migration Blitz that challenges birders to scour the landscape for RUSTY BLACKBIRDS during this species’ northward migration. Year 1 was hugely successful, with 4750 birders submitting 13,400 checklists containing Rusty Blackbird observations. You can help maintain this momentum – be part of Year 2! Watch for RUSTY BLACKBIRDS passing through your area during this month. Please submit your sightings to eBird Canada using the observation type “Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz.” All RUSTY BLACKBIRD sightings are welcome, but whenever possible, please include the AREAS OF INTEREST for 2015 in your birding outings. RUSTY BLACKBIRDS arrive, on average, today, and the migration will continue into early May.

Tuesday, March 31: CANADA GEESE dominated at the Kaiser Crossroad wetlands today, all 3,000+ of them. Hiding in the huge flock were 2 CACKLING GEESE. There were 4 TUNDRA SWANS and 2 MUTE SWANS. Ducks were present in small numbers: MALLARDS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, WOOD DUCKS, GADWALL, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, RING-NECKED DUCKS, HOODED MERGANSERS, REDHEADS and NORTHERN PINTAILS. Much of the ice has opened up along Cressy Lakeside Road, and farther west along the shoreline - mainly shelves & smaller floes remaining now.  Most shelves are now under 20-100' wide so there is now a better view of the ducks.  There are still thousands of birds, but they are much more stretched out now.  Present are many GREATER and a few LESSER SCAUPS, numerous COMMON GOLDENEYES, Many REDHEADS and at least a couple dozen BUFFLEHEADS, some LONG-TAILED DUCKS  here and there, as well as MUTE SWANS. Varty Lake today, north of Camden East, hosted 5 TRUMPETER SWANS sitting on the ice. One local birder in that area says there has been no previous record of this species on Varty Lake, but given how the species is increasing in numbers and expanding its range, TRUMPETERS may continue showing up in new locations as time goes on. Speaking of TRUMPETER SWANS, one, tagged M45, is an older male who nests at the Tottenham Sewage Lagoons, but is a patient right now at the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee. He is “named” Dean, and his mate is Lisa. They have spent the winter at a private pond in the Aurora area, but he separated from them and went down to Whitby on his own. This is where he was found extremely weak and unable to stand when he came to the Centre. At Cobourg Harbour, a single RED-NECKED GREBE is swimming around the harbour there where there is also a WHITE-WINGED SCOTER. As spring continues to arrive in little spurts as though unsure of its welcome, a few more migrants are making themselves known. A GREAT BLUE HERON was seen winging its way north over County Road 7, west of Rock Crossroad today,  two were seen this morning flying over Picton and another was standing on the dock at Wellington late this afternoon. Along Elmbrook Road, north of Picton, a BARRED OWL was present in a backyard woods, a pair of PURPLE FINCHES  showed up at a feeder along Luck’s Crossroad, and five somewhat early SWAMP SPARROWS  were reportedly seen near Cherry Valley today.  Two RUFFED GROUSE were seen bursting out of the undergrowth by the Dunes Trail at Sandbanks, a NORTHERN FLICKER was also noted at Sandbanks and a couple of COMMON GRACKLES muscling their way in at one feeder east of Lake on the Mountain. Along County Road 10 near Cherry Valley, a RED-TAILED HAWK and BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD  were seen. Although early, at least, in terms of recent temperatures, there was an OSPREY checking out the nest on the Moira River near the Quinte Pediatric Clinic in Belleville. And to remind us of the winter that was, 25 COMMON REDPOLLS were once again at a Dunnett Blvd feeder in Belleville, and half dozen put in an appearance at niger feeders at 23 Sprague Road, Big Island.  In the Kingston area, highlights today at Lemoine Point Conservation Area included SONG SPARROW and BALD EAGLE. At Cartwright Point, east of Old Fort Henry, CAROLINA WREN and RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  were  seen.

Monday, March 30: A very small Report this evening as few sightings came in. An AMERICAN KESTREL on Airport Parkway in east Belleville, NORTHERN SHRIKE at Elginburgh, DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT at Kingston’s Pump House Museum and 40 GREATER SCAUP at Cressy Lakeside Road are a few of the significant sightings. A pair of HOODED MERGANSERS and  WOOD DUCKS were seen at the Fish Lake Swamp near Demorestville. And just to ensure that the two TREE SWALLOWS at Amherst Island realize that they are not alone, a lone TREE SWALLOW  was seen today at the river in Trenton. At least 30 COMMON REDPOLLS are still hanging in at a Dunnett Blvd, Belleville feeder, refusing to leave for their northern nesting grounds until absolutely sure that winter is over. Hard to imagine that warblers may be arriving at Prince Edward Point in two or three weeks, and that PURPLE MARTINS  could show up in a few days. I think I would hold back a bit, if I were them. More open water by the Bay Bridge this afternoon. There were also fewer waterfowl and less variety., than yesterday. At least that's the way it appeared. It was windy so the water was choppy and it was difficult both to see ducks in the water and to identify them. Seen were: CANADA GOOSE, 1500; COMMON MERGANSER, 8; RING-NECKED DUCK, 5; MALLARD, 2; COMMON GOLDENEYE, 100; GREATER SCAUP, 100; REDHEAD, 3; HOODED MERGANSER, 2;  BUFFLEHEAD, 1. Also present, 8 RING-BILLED GULLS, 3 HERRING GULLS, 1 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, and 3 AMERICAN CROWS. The Kaiser Crossroad wetlands are largely free of ice once more. Most of the ducks departed on last night’s south wind, leaving behind just a few MUTE SWANS, MALLARDS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, GADWALL and RING-NECKED DUCKS. CANADA GEESE still number about 700. At around 4:00 this afternoon, 10 TUNDRA SWANS flew in.

Sunday, March 29: Results are in for the South Shore Important Bird Area Waterfowl Blitz, held yesterday.  Taking part were 15 observers including people new to the County and a teenager - encouraging to see the interest. Areas covered included the South Shore as well as South Bay. South Bay had thick ice and Prince Edward Point was only partly open - only the Lake Ontario side had open water. Large numbers of LONG-TAILED DUCKS, GREATER SCAUP, fewer (approx 100) of CANADA GEESE, REDHEADS, WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, BUFFLEHEAD and  COMMON GOLDENEYE.   Also, a few WOOD DUCKS and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS.  Lots of ducks far out in the lake amongst the ice chunks.Other notable sightings included a SNOWY OWL (Pt. Petre area), ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK (PEPt), NORTHERN SHRIKE and 2 BALD EAGLES.  Q A few returnees as well were noted during the exercise – KILLDEER, SONG SPARROWS, COMMON GRACKLE and TURKEY VULTURE. Wellington Harbour conditions continue to improve. Lots of CANADA GEESE (4000+), lots of REDHEADS (590) and Scaup, 1 TUNDRA SWAN, a few BUFFLEHEADS, COMMON GOLDENEYES, COMMON, RED-BREASTED and HOODED MERGANSERS, and at least  one CACKLING GOOSE in with the CANADA GEESE.There was a BALD EAGLE on the ice at West Lake. A BLACK SCOTER was also reported there by another observer. At Prince Edward Point, a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK and NORTHERN SHRIKE were reported. Project FeederWatch is drawing to a close and it has been an exceptional winter at our feeder with highs of 54 MOURNING DOVES, 26 BLUE JAYS, 55 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS and 60 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES. Please note the absence of COMMON REDPOLLS which only dropped into our feeder in numbers not exceeding 10 for a couple days as though out of courtesy. Congratulations though to those who did enjoy high numbers of these somewhat irrepressible little finches through February and March. Cold weather is keeping the Kaiser Crossroad wetlands almost completely frozen and waterfowl are obviously looking elsewhere for food. For instance, today there were about 900 CANADA GEESE on the ice at the south wetland and at least 3,000 more in the air, checking out the surrounding cornfields. There were 150 MALLARDS, 48 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS and small numbers of RING-NECKED DUCKS (25), 2 WOOD DUCKS, 9 NORTHERN PINTAILS,  3 REDHEADS, 3 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, AMERICAN WIGEON, 2 MUTE SWANS, and HOODED MERGANSERS. Also seen – KILLDEER, AMERICAN ROBIN, RING-BILLED GULLS and  RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS. But the best find today was a TREE SWALLOW at Amherst Island.

Saturday, March 28: Nine species of ducks seen at Sandbanks today, among them an AMERICAN COOT in West Lake at the Dunes Day Use Area. Two TURKEY VULTURES, 20 RING-BILLED GULLS and a SONG SPARROW  were also tallied. ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK and 9 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS at Prince Edward Point, and the big find today – a white morph GYRFALCON along County Road 13, just beyond the dip in the road past Whattam’s Road. Interestingly, a  fairly well described GYRFALCON was reported this past winter on February 2nd along Morrison’s Point Road at Black River. It was accompanied by a distant photo of it perched on a post, but I decided not to post it as neither the observer nor I could make up our minds as to whether or not it was actually a GYRFALCON. Now I wonder. The water is softening quite a bit under the Norris Whitney Bridge at Belleville and 16 species of birds were present there today, among them, 11 species of ducks. Counted were 2,000 CANADA GEESE (no wonder the observer stopped!), 5 MUTE SWANS, 17 HOODED MERGANSERS, 24 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 17 MALLARDS, 10 COMMON MERGANSERS, 60 COMMON GOLDENEYES, 2 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 2 LESSER SCAUP, 10 GREATER SCAUP and a lone BUFFLEHEAD. Also present, 22 RING-BILLED GULLS, 15 HERRING GULLS,  an adult BALD EAGLE  eating a fish, 4 ROCK PIGEONS and, oh yes – a EUROPEAN STARLING. The man was thorough in his tally. Everywhere, the story was the same. Fifteen COMMON GOLDENEYES and 2 REDHEADS  were seen on the Prince Edward County side of the Glenora Ferry channel. At Cressy Lakeside Road and west of there, the shoreline was lined with CANADA GEESE, swans, mergansers, scaup and COMMON GOLDENEYES.  It was a great day for Prince Edward County’s South Shore Waterfowl Blitz today. Results are not in yet, but one party reported the open areas of Lake Ontario very busy with rafts of GREATER SCAUP, groups of LONG-TAILED DUCKS, COMMON GOLDENEYE, BUFFLEHEAD and MALLARDS.  A report of two TRUMPETER SWANS came in from Yarker, seen swimming in the Napanee River just upstream from the village. Five CACKLING GEESE were seen in Lake Ontario along Cressy Lakeside Road. The Kaiser Crossroad wetlands iced over in last night’s cold, but there were still thousands of birds there this afternoon. About 1,700 CANADA GEESE arrived, along with 150 MALLARDS and 60 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS. Other duck numbers were lower than yesterday  but there was lots of variety: WOOD DUCKS, REDHEADS, RING-NECKED DUCKS, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, GADWALL and LONG-TAILED DUCKS. New today were 3 AMERICAN WIGEON. There were also 2 TUNDRA SWANS, 2 MUTE SWANS and 1 KILLDEER. At Big island today, an adult BALD EAGLE appeared over Muscote Bay, and is the second BALD EAGLE to be seen in three days, the earlier one, an immature. A West Lake couple toured Welbanks Road this afternoon near Sandbanks and found no scarcity of CANADA GEESE, with MALLARDS and AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS mixed in. In the same field,  7 WHITE-TAILED DEER resting. Also 10 KILLDEER present in a group. My wife and I birded the Melrose, Blessington and Shannonville areas early this morning, coming up with KILLDEER, NORTHERN HARRIER, AMERICAN KESTREL, RED-TAILED HAWK, COMMON GRACKLES, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, and SONG SPARROW. Along Beach Road, south of Shannonville, an open stretch of water in the Bay of Quinte off Trident Point yielded two MUTE SWANS taking advantage of the open spot barely large enough to fit the two birds.

Friday, March 27: Some sightings from yesterday, and some sightings from today. First, from yesterday. Conditions at Kaiser have improved considerably and waterfowl are moving in. Yesterday, there were 30 WOOD DUCKS, 10 REDHEADS, 8 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 6 HOODED MERGANSERS, 2 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 4 GADWALL, 14 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 11 MALLARDS, 11 CANADA GEESE and 1 AMERICAN BLACK DUCK. Water levels are expected to be high there this year, with water reaching the edge of the road in some places. Observers will need to stay in their car, or move very quietly. At the vantage point along the shore of Lake Ontario at the end of Kaiser Crossroad, there was a cacophony of noise – at least, 1000-2000 ducks all making a racket.  They were pretty far out past the ice, but there were LONG-TAILED DUCKS and REDHEADS for sure, and probably other species out there as well. From Cressy Lakeside Road, the opportunity to identify species was much better with 4 MUTE SWANS sitting on the ice, 30-40 REDHEADS, 100 scaup, and 20 COMMON GOLDENEYES  It was mostly ice up in this area with a few melted puddles where the ducks squeezed in.  And only the lower 25% of the shore had any puddles...further up it was solid ice as far as I could see. And this just in this evening from Kaiser Crossroad from birder Pamela Stagg who surveys the area regularly - Today, Kaiser hosted a variety of waterfowl. There were WOOD DUCKS (64 today) and smaller numbers of HOODED MERGANSERS, RING-NECKED DUCKS, REDHEADS, NORTHERN PINTAILS, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, GADWALL, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS and MALLARDS. Overhead, there were over 700 CANADA GEESE and one NORTHERN HARRIER. The icing on the cake was 4 TUNDRA SWANS which dropped in very briefly this morning. Today, no new passerine arrivals were noted in Prince Edward County – just more of the same. Three AMERICAN WOODCOCKS were calling and displaying along Fry Road near Gorsline Road, a RED-TAILED HAWK  was seen at Waupoos, an adult BALD EAGLE was on the ice today at Sandy Cove, across from Massassauga Point, a BELTED KINGFISHER at Peat’s Point on the north side of Massasauga Point, and a GREAT BLUE HERON north of Picton near Anderson Farms and a KILLDEER at Kaiser Crossroad. And, what can we say about RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, except they are everywhere now, in droves.  Meanwhile, the winter bird patronage at feeders continues, in particular COMMON REDPOLLS. Forty redpolls were at a feeder this morning on Dunnett Blvd in Belleville, and the same number descended on a feeder this morning in Barry Heights at Trenton, where a couple COMMON RAVENS fly over almost every day. An entertaining sight at the north end of East Street in Napanee today involving a DOWNY WOODPECKER. According to the resident, the local SHARP-SHINNED HAWK flew in, but unbeknownst to him, a DOWNY WOODPECKER was plastered against a three-inch tree trunk, frozen in position. The SHARP-SHINNED HAWK eventually flew off, whereupon the DOWNY WOODPECKER cautiously stuck his head out from behind the tree, and flew back to the feeder for a peanut. DARK-EYED JUNCOS  are still holding strong at many feeders. There were 20 today at a Trenton feeder. In the Wilton area today – also 20 DARK-EYED JUNCOS, 45 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, and an EASTERN BLUEBIRD. The resident PEREGRINE FALCON  was once again seen in Kingston.  The first COMMON GRACKLE  appeared at our feeder as I was preparing this report at 6:30 p.m., although they have been reported from the Bay of Quinte area since March 11th. Although OSPREYS  are not due to return for a few days yet (they were back April 2nd last year), Wellington resident Terry McInnes-Edick has created an “Osprey Watch Page” on Facebook where OSPREY sightings may be posted (as well as to me, of course!). You might want to check out that website by CLICKING HERE.

Thursday, March 26: Spring migrants continue to arrive, albeit one at a time in some cases. Those that arrived earlier this month are building slowly in numbers. No shortage of TURKEY VULTURES in Prince Edward County this week, but just how many are true spring migrants, is uncertain. Upwards of two dozen were present this past winter at two locations in the County – Picton and along Highway 62 at C.R. 1 – and those we are seeing right now in our travels could be those individuals, now dispersed.  COMMON GRACKLES, 35 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, GREAT BLUE HERON, SONG SPARROW, KILLDEER, and AMERICAN ROBINS were all seen by various observers in Kingston today, despite rain and wet snow. AMERICAN WOODCOCK, NORTHERN FLICKER, GREEN-WINGED TEAL and EASTERN MEADOWLARKS  were new arrivals at Presqu’ile Park over the last couple of days. BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS as predicted after being observed at Brighton yesterday, showed up at South Bay today – six of them. An immature WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW  turned up in the Allisonville area at a feeder, but it is likely an individual that wintered nearby as it is way too early for that species to be arriving just yet. COMMON REDPOLLS  are taking no chances with the fickle weather; 20 are still coming to a Belleville feeder. Two birders crossing Adolphus Reach today on Glenora Ferry found lots of waterfowl. Today some HOODED MERGANSERS were present. GREATER SCAUP, COMMON GOLDENEYES, REDHEADS , RED-BREASTED and COMMON MERGANSERS, MUTE SWANS, CANADA GEESE and MALLARDS  were noted en route. The effects though of the harsh winter were still evident as several carcasses, mainly mergansers were scattered on the ice as well. No absence of CANADA GEESE anywhere these days, compared to earlier this season when the species seemed widely scattered and few in numbers. The 50 SNOW GEESE seen yesterday along Kaiser Crossroad were not seen today. Fred Helleiner’s regular Thursday evening Bird Report from Presqu’ile Park has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website, and can be seen by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, March 25: Now we’re moving’ . A few nice signs of spring today, including a BELTED KINGFISHER just north of Roblin on Croydon Road, and the Quinte Area’s very first AMERICAN WOODCOCK of the season along Swamp College Road, just north of Wellington. Another SONG SPARROW  seen today at West Point in Sandbanks Park, and certainly no shortage of CANADA GEESE in flight. On a visit to Sandbanks today, wherever I drove, there were AMERICAN ROBINS. And a good sign of spring is the arrival of the first ducks at the Kaiser Crossroad wetland where today there were 50 SNOW GEESE – all white morph, 100 CANADA GEESE and 20 MALLARDS. Elsewhere, the ice seems to be hanging in there. Athol Bay is improving a little at a time where LONG-TAILED DUCKS, BUFFLEHEAD, COMMON GOLDENEYE, MALLARDS and AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS  were noted. Elsewhere though, it was solid ice, including the traditionally really good spots like the Glendon Green boat launch off County Road 18 at Log Cabin Point. The Outlet River is not open either from County Road 18. However, if you want to get really turned on, a very optimistic PURPLE MARTIN made a record early arrival at Port Rowan today in Lake Erie. The bird was seen by Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory bird bander David Okines and one other birder as it was foraging over the frozen ponds. This record early sighting for Lake Erie is even more incredible given the weather this March and today (cold, windy and raining). A reverse migration would seem prudent. An exceptional sighting, even for the Lake Erie area. Twelve RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, 3 COMMON GRACKLES and 3 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD at a Brighton feeder sort of overshadowed the dwindling COMMON REDPOLL population there, of only four. A COOPER’S HAWK was checking out the new arrivals at the same address. Although part of an overall spring migration, but still reminiscent of winter, were the sightings made on Amherst Island last evening by a Codrington resident.  An amazing 15 SNOWY OWLS were seen, many of them comprising the very white males. Also seen, more than a dozen ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS.  Winds have been from the south over much of the southern US, allowing migrants already around to make it a little farther north, so spring migrants are on their way, but are being delayed by the Polar Vortex which keeps extending down into our area. As an example, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS were seen in Washington, DC, and the first PRAIRIE WARBLERS, HOODED WARBLERS, and WORM-EATING WARBLERS were seen in Alabama and Louisiana. The first BLUE-HEADED VIREOS and SUMMER TANAGERS have arrived in Tennessee. But, winter does not want to go away, and there have been strong north winds that kept birds from making it much farther than the mid-Atlantic region.  But with each new day, there is fresh hope as some of those species just mentioned will eventually arrive here, in time for this year’s spring banding at Prince Edward Point, which begins on April 15th. The Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory (PEPtBO) has set its  goal at 100 memberships by the time it celebrates its 20th anniversary in May. If you haven't yet joined, why not do it now?  By supporting PEPtBO through your membership you can: 1) Stay up to date on birding activities and opportunities through our newsletter; 2) Learn how to become a PEPtBO volunteer during spring and fall banding; 3: Have a say in how PEPtBO is run by voting at the Annual General Meeting; 4) Meet a group of people like yourself who care about nature; See birds – common and rare – up close; 5) Help contribute to research to learn more about migratory and resident birds. Join our 20th birthday celebration on May 30th, at the Prince Edward Yacht Club Picton. Learn more about the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, March 24: At least a dozen AMERICAN COOTS, most of them on shore, were present today at Cobourg Harbour. A pair of  RING-NECKED DUCKS also showed themselves at the harbour as this species continues to appear this spring, and increase in numbers. They will hang around for about another four or five weeks, before moving on to nest, mainly in northeastern Ontario, although increasingly, they are turning up during the breeding season in our area. At Barcovan today, lots of MUTE SWANS, scaup, REDHEADS, COMMON GOLDENEYE and singles of LONG-TAILED DUCK and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS. A HORNED GREBE today was present in Consecon Creek, below the dam across from the Cascades Restaurant. Another HORNED GREBE  was present in the Wellington Harbour area where it was mostly about CANADA GEESE – hundreds! At Athol Bay, at Sandbanks Park, conditions are gradually improving there where the goose population is similar to that at Wellington – an estimated 300-400 today. Thirty to 40 LONG-TAILED DUCKS  were there along with a half dozen COMMON GOLDENEYES. At Kingston today, it was a beautiful day for a walk along the trail at the Marshlands Conservation Area where I found several AMERICAN ROBINS and a din of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS happily singing away proclaiming spring, despite the below freezing temperatures. This trail is part of the Rideau Trail and pretty much follows the west side of the Cataraqui Golf Course, entering the cattail marsh via a boardwalk  at a couple locations. The north woods are also a pleasure to walk through and the trail crosses the railway tracks at its north end, enters Polson Park, and continues on its way north through Frontenac Park and ultimately Ottawa. I also walked through the coniferous section near the parking lot, coming up with GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH and DOWNY WOODPECKER. A Napanee area resident took advantage of the exceptional day today and tried his luck at Vanderwater Conservation Area, near Thomasburg. In addition to the expected chickadees, etc. he stumbled upon a BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER  going to town on a tree and also heard a PILEATED WOODPECKER. Along Marlbank Road, he saw 4 WHITE-TAILED DEER outside of Marlbank and near Selby saw 6 WILD TURKEYS and a lone WHITE-TAILED DEER. At Napanee’s Springside Park, a male REDHEAD was in the middle of all the MALLARDS, CANADA GEESE and AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS. The WOOD DUCKS that have been present all winter were heard, but not seen. As the Napanee birder was watching the REDHEAD, a MINK came out of nowhere and attacked a male MALLARD and dragged it away to a den near the water’s edge. Life and death in the fast lane. 

Monday, March 23: Despite the fine weather, it was a slow day today, so not much to report. One Trenton resident who did take advantage of the abundant sunshine, explored the Carrying Place and Barcovan areas in an effort to see how many bird species he could find this early in the spring. Even though it was still very cold today, the total species count was 51 which is a bit less than expected. The waterfowl count however was better than expected at 23. The following waterfowl were seen: RED-THROATED LOON, COMMON LOON, (both in winter plumage), RED-NECKED GREBE, TRUMPETER SWAN, MUTE SWAN, CANADA GOOSE, WOOD DUCK, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, AMERICAN BLACK DUCK, MALLARD, NORTHERN PINTAIL, GADWALL, AMERICAN WIGEON, CANVASBACK, REDHEAD, RING-NECKED DUCK, GREATER SCAUP, LONG-TAILED DUCK, WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, COMMON GOLDENEYE, BUFFLEHEAD, COMMON MERGANSER and HOODED MERGANSER. Wow! What a list!  For the other species, this observer was pleased to see three KILLDEER and again, COMMON REDPOLLS far outnumbered the small number of PINE SISKINS and AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES. Lots of COMMON REDPOLLS today in the Barry Heights area of Trenton along Telephone Road, dropping in like locusts at first light, then twice more during the day. Best count was 50. The resident also saw and heard a pair of COMMON RAVENS, with one carrying a branch in the beak heading southeast. A SONG SPARROW on Airport Parkway on the east side of Belleville, confirms that many species of birds are arriving despite the abundance of ice and snow and cold temperatures. Certainly, the ducks are anyway, evidenced by the above list. Scattered sightings today included 4 SANDHILL CRANES at Tweed, and another two at the Quinte Isle Campark on Salmon Point Road near Sandbanks. Three TURKEY VULTURES  were seen at Tweed, a COOPER’S HAWK in a backyard along Fry Road, a RED-TAILED HAWK at Fenwood Gardens, and a PILEATED WOODPECKER in the city of Belleville. And this VIRGINIA OPOSSUM visted a feeder a few days ago in the Barry Heights area of Trenton (photo by John Charlton of Trenton). Sad news in the birding news today with the passing of another well know birder, Ron Scovell. He died yesterday morning at Lanark House in Waterloo.  after suffering from progressive dementia for several years and recently was recovering from hip surgery. He was a long time Toronto resident, having moved to the long term care facility in Waterloo where his daughter resides. Over the past years he had been active in a number of wildlife and birding organizations.  While his first love was birding, his second was the study and collection of ferns. He was a world birder; led birding tours locally and internationally; collected bird books and bird art and was skilled at drawing birds and wildlife.

Sunday, March 22: At area feeders, patronage by COMMON REDPOLLS continues. A dozen or so were at a feeder in Napanee yesterday, 20 at a Dunnett Blvd feeder in Belleville, and if you want to see numbers, the feeder at Algonquin Park’s Visitor Centre has averaged from 80 to 100 birds this past week, where 2-3 HOARY REDPOLLS also visit daily. A BALD EAGLE  was seen today at Odessa and another flew over the heads of two hikers at Frontenac Park today. As though defying the winter-like temperatures, a KILLDEER  was seen today east of Northport in front of County Shores Campground. Five waterfowl species were present today on the Moira River across from the Belle Pub – 24 CANADA GEESE, 14 MALLARDS, 3 COMMON MERGANSERS, 2 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS and one COMMON GOLDENEYE. At Kingston, the Invista area (Dupont Lagoon) offered 6 waterfowl species yesterday – 10 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 4 REDHEADS, 4 MUTE SWANS, 2 AMERICAN COOTS and one each of TRUMPETER SWAN and PIED-BILLED GREBE. Three GADWALL, 2 WOOD DUCKS and a NORTHERN PINTAIL  were added to the list today. Over at the Wolfe Island Ferry Ramp in the city, seven species were tallied there today, among them 2 LESSER SCAUP. And, at Algonquin Park, the death of one animal is an opportunity for others. The MOOSE carcass placed in the Sunday Creek valley off the Visitor Centre deck over five weeks ago has been  visited by an EASTERN WOLF since  Thursday and a BALD EAGLE landed near the carcass that evening.  One EASTERN WOLF was feeding on the carcass when I checked their webcam this evening at 6:00 p.m. To watch the action at the carcass daily, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, March 21: Spring is coming, although it is painfully slow in arriving. However, the brisk winds are starting to move the ice around a bit. Athol Bay at Sandbanks Park, which was frozen solid as recently as last Sunday, has begun to give in to the season with sections of it opening up all along the shore. Two days ago, around 100 LONG-TAILED DUCKS were present in the limited open water along the shoreline. Yesterday at Wellington, the makeup of waterfowl had changed again with 8 species present, among them 4 CANVASBACKS, 200 CANADA GEESE (absent last Sunday), 30 MUTE SWANS and both COMMON and  RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. GREATER SCAUPS were also seen in the last few days.  There were 2 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS at Kingston’s Marshlands Conservation Area today. AMERICAN KESTRELS continue to turn up here and there around the area. There were 3 on Amherst Island today along with a dozen RED-TAILED HAWKS, as well as two spring migrants – 7 KILLDEER and a NORTHERN FLICKER. Six TURKEY VULTURES were seen at the corner of Division Street and Highway 401 in Kingston today, but birders need to travel to Picton to see them in any numbers. Today, 26 were kettling over Argle Crescent, just north of Main Street, off Talbot Street. For years, this area of Picton has attracted large numbers of TURKEY VULTURES, and even through the dead of winter, there were several that circled here and spent the nights in a grove of conifers off Rogers Street, just in behind the Whattam Funeral Home. As  morbid as it sounds, I still believe the presence of the funeral home has something to do with it, but if so, why is the Hicks Funeral Home in another part of town being ignored by these birds? An e-mail just received from Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee reports that the REDHEAD  received a few days ago, is doing much better now, 4 grebes, 3 LONG-TAILED DUCKS, 4 mergansers and 2 MALLARDS thriving, as well as 2 NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS. If readers are of my vintage, they may well remember Jim Woodford who I met back in the late 1960s when he was the Executive Director of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists (now Ontario Nature). Jim was also one of the founding pioneers of Long Point Bird Observatory in Lake Erie. Jim and his wife Pat were part of the small group of birders and banders who first visited the Tip of Long Point on Thanksgiving weekend , in 1959, and who went on to launch the Observatory in the spring of 1960. Jim and Pat were actively involved in all aspects of developing and running the Observatory in its early years. They remained keen supporters of LPBO in the ensuing decades.  After retiring in 1995 from conservation-related work and writing, he earned a diploma in addictions counselling. He went on to work in the detox units at Toronto Western and St. Michael’s hospitals, and volunteered with Hospice Orillia and at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. Sadly, Jim passed away a few days ago, but he will be fondly remembered and missed by those who knew him. A celebration of his life will be held at Carden Alvar in late May.

Friday, March 20: Damned the remaining snow and ice – full steam ahead on this first day of Spring! Lots of subtle signs of a Spring Awakening. A SONG SPARROW showed up at a bird feeder on Narrow Street in Wellington, as did a repeat visit by a GREAT BLUE HERON at the harbour. A GREAT BLUE HERON was also seen at Yarker a few days ago, and TURKEY VULTURES have been seen at Prince Edward Point and at Point Petre. At least a couple  WOOD DUCKS  continue to be seen at Springside Park in Napanee. Prince Edward County’s second spring sighting of a CANVASBACK was made today with one showing up this morning at Cressy Lakeside Road. Two were at Wellington Harbour on the 14th. Here and there, continued signs of spring. At Napanee, an AMERICAN CROW  was spotted carrying what appeared to be nesting material, AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES  are starting to turn shades of yellow, and  WILD TURKEYS continue to come out of winter hiding and be spotted foraging in fields. Two COMMON RAVENS  were observed today east of Marysville, and also in that area, an AMERICAN KESTREL was seen at the corner of Wyman’s Road and Highway 2. Another AMERICAN KESTREL was spotted along Beach Road in Tyendinaga, south of Shannonville, and  a RED-TAILED HAWK soared in front of my car on Airport Road, just west of First Nations Air Service. NORTHERN SHRIKES have turned up at Prince Edward Point, and another was seen along County Road 6, just north of Picton today. Still, those COMMON REDPOLLS  persist. Two are still hanging in there at a feeder in Napanee, and a Wellington feeder had 30 bellying up to the feeder today. Two birders driving along County Road 5 in the Elmbrook area slammed on the brakes when they saw a hawk-like creature with a white belly and face markings but, alas – it was only a stature. We must assign more scientific names to these mistakes in identity. We already have a scientific name for the distant Javex bottle floating on the water – Javex cloranatus and, the often seen insulator on utility poles – Insulatus nonconductus. This Sunday, “Leap Into Spring” at the H.R. Frink Centre, 9 km north of Belleville as Friends of the Frink Centre and Quinte Conservation celebrate the history of making maple syrup. Proceeds from admission and maple product sales go to Friends of the Frink and any money raised from pancake sales go to a local youth group.There will be guided hikes through the sugar bush, outdoor displays, sales of pancakes and maple products and visitors can even learn how to tap a tree. To view details, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, March 19: Along Cressy Lakeside Road in the North Marysburgh peninsula at the far east side of the County, the ice is giving way to wind and warmer temperatures. Today, there were literally thousands of waterfowl, mainly REDHEADS and GREATER SCAUP. One LESSER SCAUP had been present there on Monday. Meanwhile, across Prince Edward Bay, at  Prince Edward Point, a different story. Prince Edward Point is still 100% frozen. However, things are happening there as southwest winds continue to work away at the ice which can be quite audible in the distance.  At Point Petre – the complete opposite, with everything open as far as the eye can see, except for a 50-100 metre wide ice pack along the shore. At Wellington, open water is increasing with the West Lake ice edge getting farther away and the ducks concentrated there getting smaller and more distant. The channel is completely open. CANADA GEESE have returned and are taking advantage of the more hospitable conditions. COMMON REDPOLLS  are still hanging in there at many local feeders, as though making certain that winter is truly over before they start heading north. Twenty to 25 are still coming faithfully every day to feeders in the Barry Heights area of Trenton at Telephone Road, where over 25 DARK-EYED JUNCOS experienced during the winter, have dropped steadily to five or six this past week. Sixty COMMON REDPOLLS descended on a feeder in Wellington yesterday, but in Brighton, only three were counted there, so some are getting a bit restless and eager to return north. At a feeder along Fry Road, a RUFFED GROUSE  is a regular visitor, and an active EASTERN CHIPMUNK made its appearance in Wellington today. At Sandbanks Provincial Park, this industrious PILEATED WOODPECKER was photographed today by Serge  de Sousa of the Crofton area. Three TURKEY VULTURES  were circling above Picton today, so however slowly, spring migrants and other signs of spring are appearing. Don’t expect any TREE SWALLOWS however this week as the Polar Vortex will reach down into the Bay of Quinte area resulting in below average temperatures for a few days. RED-THROATED LOON, RED-NECKED GREBE and COMMON RAVENS were seen today at Presqu’ile Provincial Park, as the migration begins to kick into at least second gear for there with RED-THROATED LOONS, GREAT BLUE HERON, SONG SPARROWS and numerous duck species arriving this past week. To see Fred Helleiner’s Presqu’ile Park Bird Report for this past week, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, March 18: COMMON REDPOLLS are still holding their own at many bird feeders such as these two – just two of about 60 that were present at a feeder on Narrow Street in Wellington this morning. This colourful species which arrived en masse as predicted this winter, should be departing for more northern nesting grounds within two week’s time. About 30 WILD TURKEYS  were present last evening two kilometres past Goodyear Road, north of the 401 at Napanee. And also still around are two SANDHILL CRANES that have been travelling around a bit in the Allisonville to Melville area of the County. Today, they were just north of Wellington, foraging away in a field of corn stubble. Two immature BALD EAGLES today in the Marlbank Road area, south of Tweed. Another BALD EAGLE  seen flying over the Quinte Skyway Bridge at Deseronto. A BARRED OWL was seen yesterday in the Fish Lake area. New admissions today at the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee included RED-THROATED LOON, several NORTHERN PINTAILS, REDHEAD, and several grebes. Just a reminder not to miss renowned nature film producers John and Janet Foster’s presentation in Ivanhoe tomorrow evening. “Stories from the Wild” is the fourth chapter in the Winter Speaker Series hosted by the Hastings Stewardship Council. In this presentation, the Fosters  will be sharing personal stories, slides, and videos drawn from wildlife encounters on their rough, old 500-acre farm along Crookston Road, a short distance south of Madoc. John and Janet’s farm represents the diversity of landscape and wildlife that characterizes much of this county. Together, we have led several interesting hikes on this piece of property. These are local tales everyone can relate to, including funny and endearing rendezvous with WILD TURKEYS, WHITE-TAILED DEER, RACCOONS, a BARRED OWL, and many others with whom they share a rich rural habitat.  John and Janet are television producers, cinematographers, and still photographers specializing in natural science television programs and nature photography. They have hosted many nature programs for television, including the CBC series To the Wild Country and Wild Canada.   All are welcome tomorrow evening at 7 pm at Huntingdon Veterans Community Hall on 11379 Highway 62 in Ivanhoe, Ontario (just north of the Ivanhoe cheese factory). An entrance fee of $5.00 (or a donation) will help cover costs; children are free. For information, contact Matt Caruana at 613-391-9034 or . To see a poster advertising this event, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, March 17: Other than lots of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS being present at most bird feeding stations today, no sightings came in at all today, except for a small group of 8 WILD TURKEYS  that I saw just two fields north of Demorestville, and NORTHERN FLICKERS in Wellington. However, one birder who spent some time today along the Murray Canal at Carrying Place, came up with a few good species, including a HORNED GREBE right at the Highway 33 bridge at Carrying Place. Other species noted on his walk were 1 HOODED MERGANSER, 21 COMMON MERGANSERS, 7 COMMON GOLDENEYE, 3 CANVASBACKS, 18 REDHEADS and several CANADA GEESE and MUTE SWANS. Birder extraordinaire, 24 year old Josh Vandermeulen, likes to dispel the myth that all birds fly south for the winter. Nothing could be further from the truth, and Josh set out to prove this once again this winter, tallying a list of an even 200 confirmed reported species of birds seen between December 1st and February 28th, the dates recognized by birders as the “winter season”. Josh comments, “For two years in a row we received harsher than average winters, and the relatively small winter lists during these winters when compared to the previous few years reflect that.” Some of the highlights from the winter of 2014-2015 included SORA, FORSTER’S TERN, EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE, SWAINSON’S THRUSH, TENNESSEE WARBLER and NORTHERN PARULA.  Very few  "regular" species were missed, though some of the most notable absentees included VIRGINIA RAIL, CALIFORNIA GULL, SLATY-BACKED GULL and BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE. Anyone interested in seeing this past season’s Winter List can do so by CLICKING HERE. Josh concludes by exclaiming, “Bring on Spring!” .  

Monday, March 16: Lots of Kingston birders out and about today with at least two of them making the pilgrimage to the County to ferret out some signs of spring. Two TURKEY VULTURES  were at Point Petre, 5 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, COMMON GRACKLE and 2 NORTHERN PINTAILS along Cressy Lakeside Road, a NORTHERN FLICKER along County Road 13 and a KILLDEER at Adolphustown. As the ice in the lakes and bays slowly surrenders to warmer temperatures, viewing opportunities to see waterfowl are improving. There were  80 REDHEADS, 1 LESSER SCAUP and a RING-NECKED DUCK along Cressy Lakeside Road. WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS (35) were present at Point Petre. One Kingston resident who continued to bird while riding the Glenora Ferry, tallied 6 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, 5 COMMON MERGANSERS, 2 COMMON GOLDENEYE, 4 GREATER SCAUP and 2 LONG-TAILED DUCKS in the ferry channel. Bonus sighting - three BALD EAGLES. At Wellington, the mixture of ducks was pretty much the same as what I saw yesterday afternoon, along with a GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL which I also saw out on the ice yesterday, but failed to mention in yesterday’s report. A Trenton birder today found some good stuff at Presqu’ile, including RUDDY DUCK, RED-NECKED GREBE, CANVASBACK and COMMON MERGANSERS. Back in Prince Edward County, a few isolated sightings here and there included a NORTHERN FLICKER along County Road 13, a RED-TAILED HAWK at Prince Edward Point and another along County Road 10 just south of Picton, a NORTHERN SHRIKE along Long Point Road, and a COMMON RAVEN along Babylon Road. Just north of Wellington were large numbers of AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, a COMMON REDPOLL, NORTHERN CARDINALS, BLUE JAYS, DARK-EYED JUNCOS, HAIRY/DOWNY/RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS and  MOURNING DOVES at a residence north of Wilson Road. Also present nearby, AMERICAN CROWS and a group of WILD TURKEYS in a back field.  Numerous sightings of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS have been coming in via e-mail, but COMMON GRACKLES, although they have been here for six days, seem slow in building up their numbers, appearing so far in just ones and twos. Always good to see in March, but also good to see depart in April ! And to finish off this evening’s report, the Kingston PEREGRINE FALCON was seen again today, at the corner of Princess and Queen Streets.

Sunday, March 15: Conditions continue to change and improve at Wellington Harbour. Yesterday, a Belleville birder stopped at Wellington Harbour and reported that there still was not much open water, but there were large numbers of REDHEADS, some Scaups, COMMON GOLDENEYES, MALLARDS, a few COMMON MERGANSERS and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, 1 LONG-TAILED DUCK,  a single TUNDRA SWAN, 2 CANVASBACKS and one BUFFLEHEAD. When I stopped there this afternoon, many of the ducks including a dozen or so TUNDRA SWANS were loafing at the ice edge, now a considerable distance from the dock, requiring the use of a spotting scope to identify those present. Still present was the AMERICAN COOT in the harbour itself, still hundreds of REDHEADS , the single BUFFLEHEAD, but the CANVASBACKS had disappeared. GREATER SCAUPS  were present in good numbers, and LONG-TAILED DUCK numbers had increased to at least a half dozen. Also present were COMMON GOLDENEYES, MALLARDS, and both RED-BREASTED and COMMON MERGANSERS. Six RING-NECKED DUCKS  were new arrivals today. MUTE SWANS  numbered at least 60 and were widely scattered. The big bonus was a a very detailed TRUMPETER SWAN  trumpeting away right beside the wharf. There was no sign of the male and female  WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS that had been there for several days, although they could have been closer to the mouth of the channel and out of sight. RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS  were present at the harbour yesterday. Also yesterday, a KILLDEER flew over the fields on the east side of Belleville. A male COMMON GRACKLE  arrived in the Barry Heights area of Trenton yesterday, and up to a dozen COMMON REDPOLLS are still coming to a feeder there. SIX AMERICAN ROBINS  were spotted today along County Road 12 at Athol Bay (Sandbanks), but that’s all Athol Bay had to offer as it is still frozen solid as far as the eye can see out into the lake. Something to consider this spring. RUSTY BLACKBIRDS have endured severe population declines. In 2014, the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group and its partners launched a three-year Spring Migration Blitz that challenges birders to scour the landscape for Rusty Blackbirds during this species’ northward migration. Year 1 was hugely successful, with 4750 birders submitting 13,400 checklists containing Rusty Blackbird observations. You can help maintain this momentum – be part of Year 2! Watch for Rusty Blackbirds passing through your area in late March and April. Please submit your sightings to eBird Canada using the observation type “Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz.” All Rusty Blackbird sightings are welcome, but whenever possible, please include the Areas of Interest for 2015 in your birding outings. For information CLICK HERE.

Saturday, March 14: TwoWHITE-WINGED SCOTERS are present at Wellington Harbour where they were observed for about an hour on Thursday. The male was alone swimming and feeding in the channel for about an hour, with the female mingled among scaup, REDHEADS and COMMON GOLDENEYE with a flock of swans closer to the main part of the harbour. Then she joined him out the channel about half way, and for the next hour or so, hung fairly close to him, and occasionally, after he emerged from a dive with a mouthful of mussels (usually pointed away from the camera), she would make a run at him and try to grab some mussels. She was also feeding independently. The male made no noise when he gave the open mouth display caught in the first image. At Cobourg Harbour, two TRUMPETER SWANS have returned and nine MUTE SWANS are there, but mostly MALLARDS and a few CANADA GEESE. Supplementary feeding has all but ended at the harbour in Cobourg now, as well as at Wellington. And more news about ducks. The first day of the annual Presqu’ile Park Waterfowl Weekend was successful with 15 species present, the most notable being a HARLEQUIN DUCK  near Salt Point, just east of the government wharf. Numbers today were: 2,200 GREATER SCAUP, 500 REDHEADS, 120 LONG-TAILED DUCKS, 100 COMMON GOLDENEYE, 100 CANVASBACKS, 25 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 18 MUTE SWANS, 13 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, 12 BUFFLEHEAD, 9 CANADA GEESE, 3 GADWALL, 3 HOODED MERGANSERS, 3 COMMON MERGANSERS, and 1 RED-BREASTED MERGANSER. The majority of ducks were concentrated near the government wharf. Also seen was a RED-THROATED LOON, and an immature BALD EAGLE. A BARRED OWL was seen near Jobes’ Woods Trail. Wouldn’t you know it? Right after mentioning in yesterday’s Report that WILD TURKEY concentrations were very small this past winter, consisting of only a handful of birds each time, at least 60 were seen this morning marching across a field along Caughey Road at the west end of Big Island. WILD TURKEYS – about a dozen – are also present on a property at the bottom end of County Roads 8 and 9, at Hay Bay, where 50 SNOW BUNTINGS, 20 COMMON REDPOLLS and 20 DARK-EYED JUNCOS  have also been present through the winter. A Belleville resident today e-mailed to say he was driving north on County Road 50, north of Campbellford when he saw 15-20 WILD TURKEYS along the side of the road. He stopped his vehicle about 150 metres beyond them to get some photos, but by the time he got back to where they had been grazing, they instinctively moved back into the woods for safety. WILD TURKEYS are very wary birds, and even when I stopped along the roadside at Big Island to get a quick count, they immediately quickened their pace and headed for the woods. A few more signs of spring, with the arrival of 6 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS  at our bird feeder early this morning. And, in Mississauga today, two very optimistic AMERICAN WOODCOCKS were seen in a small muddy area.

Friday, March 13: Five SNOWY OWLS were seen today on Amherst Island Yesterday, 4 ICELAND GULLS and a presumed spring arrival of 2 COMMON GRACKLES were seen by another birder on the island. More spring arrivals at Invista in Kingston – NORTHERN PINTAIL three days ago and SONG SPARROWS have been singing there since Tuesday. In the upper reaches of Kingston Inner Harbour today, were AMERICAN WIGEON and GREEN-WINGED TEAL. Nearby, at Bell Island, a singing male PURPLE FINCH was the first of the season. WILD TURKEYS which have remained hidden for much of this winter are starting to wander out of wooded areas where they probably wintered, and 15 were seen today along Highway 41 just north of Goodyear Road, two kilometres north of Napanee. In Wellington where a GREAT BLUE HERON was seen in flight today,  the water is beginning to soften up a bit with the channel now wide open with fewer waterfowl showing any interest in the daily offerings of corn, which was started earlier this month in response to numerous dead and starving waterfowl. No new cases of mortality evident today. Currently present in the open water at the harbour are 50 Scaups, 20 REDHEADS, 90 MUTE SWANS, 4 TUNDRA SWANS, around 20 merganser, and over 30 CANADA GEESE. Now that agricultural fields are starting to reveal some bare spots, CANADA GEESE and a few ducks are starting to be seen there. Ron Tozer, retired Algonquin Park Naturalist, reports that beautiful sunny days and well-above-freezing temperatures this week made it feel like more early migrants should be arriving soon in the Park despite the deep snow and little open water. GRAY JAY researchers in the Park had found fifteen nests by today. The first female incubating was observed on March 10, and now there are three of them. For the first time since a MOOSE carcass was placed in the Sunday Creek valley off the Visitor Centre deck four weeks ago, something finally visited it, Ron reports. Two COMMON RAVENS fed on it occasionally during the morning of both yesterday and today. The Visitor Centre and restaurant will be open daily (9 am to 5 pm) from March 14 to 22. Two RUFFED GROUSE were fairly regular visitors below the Visitor Centre feeders this week, and one was in the Spruce Bog Boardwalk parking lot a few days ago. A BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER has been heard drumming in the Park, and GRAY JAYS are still being seen at Spruce Bog Boardwalk and Opeongo Road  As more females start incubating, there will be fewer Gray Jays around to see, however. Up to three BOREAL CHICKADEES continue to visit the suet feeder on Spruce Bog Boardwalk. COMMON REDPOLL  numbers increased, peaking at 60 birds at the Visitor Centre feeders on Tuesday, and a high of three HOARY REDPOLLS were seen at the feeders as well. A lone PINE SISKIN was along Opeongo Road last weekend  and another showed up at the Visitor Centre feeders today. So, if you missed seeing some of these boreal specialties in the Bay of Quinte region this winter, there is still time to see a few of them before spring really arrives at Algonquin, and winter takes its departure. And to close off this evening`s Report, The Presqu’ile Provincial Park Weekly Bird Report by resident birder Fred Helleiner has been uploaded for this week. You can read it by CLICKING HERE.

Thursday, March 12: Bill Thompson of Cobourg who rose to dubious fame for feeding starving waterfowl at Cobourg Harbour in defiance of a bylaw that prohibits the feeding of waterfowl continues to advise similar volunteers at Wellington who are feeding waterfowl there. In an e-mail received today, he says despite lots of open water waterfowl continue to die, although the situation is gradually improving. The snow on the marina side, he says,  is starting to thaw,but there still is a lot of thick ice below it. He thinks it will be the same as last year and the harbour will be vacant (except for the resident wildfowl ) by the 31st of March or earlier. A Belleville birder says, if you want to see MUTE SWANS, then Wellington is the place to be. Forget Cobourg, forget Barcovan!  As you walk onto the wharf, over a hundred white necks torn from all directions and head towards you like some great Elizabethan Navy.  They are so tame that they hang around the docks and stare you right in the eye. However, one aggressive swan challenged a local photographer a few days ago. Also a good number of REDHEADS ... very few MALLARDS, some COMMON GOLDENEYE and Scaup. A single male RED-BREASTED MERGANSER was in the channel yesterday, as well as at least one TRUMPETER SWAN  and one TUNDRA SWAN mixed in, and the resident WHITE-WINGED SCOTER  was there again today. Over 200 MALLARDS were present this afternoon at the Glenwood Cemetery Pond in Picton, a postage stamp-sized enclosure that also hosted a dozen or so AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS and one REDHEAD. Volunteers have been busy there too, judging from the reaction of the ducks when I drove in. A COOPER’S HAWK today at the Kingston Marshlands Conservation Area beside the Cataraqui Golf and Country Club. COMMON REDPOLLS continue to dominate many local feeders. Thirty are still coming to a Brighton feeder where there have also been 2 HOARY REDPOLLS. A PILEATED WOODPECKER appeared at a feeder just a few feet from a patio door! Just to remind us, that spring may be on the way, the season’s first KILLDEER in Prince Edward County was seen at South Bay yesterday. And while I still have a bit of space left in this evening’s report, a hearty thank you to those who attended my 15th annual Marsh Monitoring Program workshop in Belleville on the 4th. Forty-seven were in attendance, and from those, I was able to acquire 24 new volunteers to monitor for wetland birds and amphibians in this season’s monitoring program in the Bay of Quinte marshes, and beyond. Since 2001, I have been the coordinator for the Bay of Quinte Remedial Plan’s effort, and am also Regional Coordinator for Bird Studies Canada, responsible for the area from, about Port Hope east to beyond Kingston and north to Highway 7. If the fine weather holds, I will be on the road off and on for the next two weeks, approving some of the monitoring locations. Did I not mention that I had retired?

Wednesday, March 11: Three SONG SPARROWS yesterday in Kingston and one today in Ameliasburgh along Victoria Road seems to confirm that spring is arriving in spurts, although unsure of its welcome. Victoria Road today also had COMMON GRACKLE, singing NORTHERN CARDINALS and HOUSE FINCHES,  as well as a NORTHERN HARRIER heading north. All good signs including today's annual spring arrival of a few TUNDRA SWANS at Lake Erie’s Long Point, a spectacle worth seeing later in March. In the Victoria Road area there still are ten COMMON RAVENS and two subadult BALD EAGLES. The birds are now nearby at a poultry farm on Highway 33.  Most feeders around the Quinte area are still enjoying good numbers of  COMMON REDPOLLS, and any day now, we may see the bird feeder clientele augmented by arriving numbers of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, always a welcome sight in March, but all but totally ignored as we get further along into the spring season.  Two separate parties of birders today at Amherst Island, collectively found AMERICAN KESTREL, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK,  RED-TAILED HAWK, AMERICAN ROBIN, 2 RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS, 2 COMMON RAVENS and a BALD EAGLE. Five waterfowl species were present at the Kingston Invista ponds – 2 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 2 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 25 GADWALL, 2 AMERICAN COOTS, and a single TRUMPETER SWAN.

Tuesday, March 10: A GREAT BLUE HERON  turned up on the ice at Wellington today, another optimistic spring arrival that may have to wait a few days before it can wade in any shallows. AMERICAN ROBINS  were seen today in Wellington and at Presqu’ile Park, and another was seen in a wet ditch in the Barry Heights area of Trenton. A commuter on his way to work yesterday came upon a STRIPED SKUNK sauntering along the centre line. The observer said that skunks seem to be a bit sluggish after coming out of hibernation, and on a dark morning on a black road at 6:00 a.m., can be a recipe for disaster! Another sighting in Trenton today involved a VIRGINIA OPOSSUM about the size of a cat moving slowly, and with purpose, through the snow at 4:00 a.m. The attraction was seed on the ground under the feeders. The observer  got within six feet of it to get some pictures whereupon it gave him a fearsome grin and hissed. A dedicated animal enthusiast, he thoughtfully left the the lid off the composter as it might find the contents more sumptuous. The male and female WOOD DUCKS  in the Napanee River in town were joined today by another drake, so things are beginning to happen around the Quinte area, with some obvious migrants moving in, albeit slowly, as the temperatures rise. Also in Napanee, an East Street resident looked out his office window to see a PILEATED WOODPECKER land on a tree right outside the window. Birding doesn't get much better than that! Two birders today walked The Big Circle at Presqu’ile Park – the only real way to find birds. They could hear  LONG-TAILED DUCKS wailing and there were other indistinguishable species of ducks out there. AMERICAN ROBINS were poking about where the grass had miraculously appeared from below the snow and there  was a single CEDAR WAXWING. COMMON REDPOLLS  were heard as they walked walked along from the lighthouse parking lot towards Jobes' Woods. HAIRY WOODPECKERS, NORTHERN CARDINALS, EUROPEAN STARLINGS and AMERICAN CROWS were letting everyone know that spring had arrived! If only it were really true. The long range forecast for April doesn’t look that great.

Monday, March 09: Heard a strange sound this afternoon. Turned out to be snow and ice melting off the roof of the house and dripping onto the ground. When was the last time we heard something like that? And with that sign of spring, came another sign of spring – the arrival of two SANDHILL CRANES, male and female, first seen last Tuesday on McFaul Road at Allisonville, then reappearing on Melville Road near Adams Lane, in the Consecon Lake area, March 5th and through the weekend. According to the observer, they were warming their feet on a pile of manure! Birds sure know how to take advantage of what’s around. And to add even more optimism was the sighting of an EASTERN PHOEBE in Cambridge, and more locally, 9 AMERICAN ROBINS in the Sophiasburgh area, and three more were present today along Long Point Road near Prince Edward Point.   However, we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that winter has given up just yet. A female RED-BREASTED MERGANSER  was found at a driveway entrance, right in the middle of County Road 12. According to the finder, it didn’t take much effort to her her up as she was starved.  At the feeders, over 100 COMMON REDPOLLS  were reported at The Birdhouse store in Wooler. At Barcovan in Wellers Bay, conditions are improving with even more open water according to one observer who found a mixture of MUTE, TUNDRA and a tagged TRUMPETER SWAN among five that were there. Sprinkled in amongst them were scaup, COMMON GOLDENEYES, REDHEADS, and MALLARDS. At Wellington Harbour, much the same makeup of species, but among them, a single WHITE-WINGED SCOTER. At Presqu’ile Park today, an observer there decided to walk over to Gull Island before the March 10th deadline arrives when access to the islands during the nesting season is prohibited. RING-BILLED GULLS numbered in the hundreds, and also present were about a dozen SNOW BUNTINGS. Also at Presqu’ile Park, but last evening, were two BARRED OWLS and a PILEATED WOODPECKER. In the Codrington area, 30 EVENING GROSBEAKS have returned to a feeder on Goodrich Road after an absence of 10 days. Odessa’s Violet Dump today had 70 AMERICAN CROWS, 4 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS, and 75 HERRING GULLS, all of them performing their duties as the clean-up brigade. Among some of the more notable sightings at Amherst Island today were 3 RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS, 3 RED-TAILED HAWKS, 1 NORTHERN SHRIKE, a NORTHERN FLICKER, 5 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, 2 SNOWY OWLS and 3 SHORT-EARED OWLS. 

Sunday, March 08: Despite the warmer weather today and the promise of better days ahead, a GREATER SCAUP  was found along County Road 18 near the Sandbanks Park entrance, presumably landing there in an exhausted and weakened condition, or so we thought. But, then he flew away strongly like a Ruffed Grouse! Headed toward Lake Ontario, where some distant open water could be seen. By the way, Cathy Caley is the featured photographer this week on the NatureStuff website. Her photos can be seen by clicking on eight of the Main Menu items, commencing with EVENTS. It’s mostly about waterfowl in this evening’s report. At Barcovan today in the channel leading from Wellers Bay, present were REDHEAD, all three swans species – MUTE, TRUMPETER and TUNDRA, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, COMMON GOLDENEYE, GREATER SCAUP and  LONG-TAILED DUCK.  In the Moira River today, across from the Belle Pub in the downtown area of Belleville, 4  COMMON GOLDENEYE, 3 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 7 CANADA GEESE and 300 MALLARDS. Departing from waterfowl for just a moment, 80 COMMON REDPOLLS  continue a feeding frenzy at a feeder in Wellington, and 30 were seen today along Cressy Lakeside Road at the far east end of the County. Also seen down there were 4 BALD EAGLES. In the Hay Bay and Napanee areas today, 50 SNOW BUNTINGS  offset by a good sign of spring – 83 HORNED LARKS.  Two PILEATED WOODPECKERS  were seen today at Sandbanks. And getting back to waterfowl to finish off this evening’s report, be sure to attend the Presqu’ile Waterfowl Weekend this coming weekend,  March 14-15th, when there will be plenty of volunteers in the Park to help visitors identify the many waterfowl  species that should be in the bay migrating north.  Ducks have been around for some time now,  and with the forecast for next week actually calling for temperatures above freezing, it is anticipated there will be some waterfowl posing for everyone this weekend. In additions to the ducks of course there will be waterfowl themed  displays - carving with Gary McPherson, taxidermy with Steve Dingman as well as other displays and children’s crafts and scavenger hunt at the Nature Centre.  The Lighthouse Centre will be open with artist’s Sherrie Greig and Lynda Barber displaying, and as well, the gift shop open.  Dave Richards, the Bushnell representative, will be there with different spotting scopes and binoculars to look at, all at special prices.  The Friends of Presqu’ile will also have their BBQ starting at 11:00 a.m., so there will be lots more than just ducks to look at this weekend.  Everything goes 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. both days and entrance is $10.00/vehicle, with proceeds to the Friends of Presqu’ile. Existing season passes, of course, will be honoured.

Saturday, March 07: A sure sign of spring, although optimistically early, was a KILLDEER on Amherst Island. Some excellent sightings today at Kingston’s Lemoine Point Conservation Area, beside Norman Rogers Airport: 60 COMMON REDPOLLS, 1 HOARY REDPOLL, 45 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS, a COMMON RAVEN and a PILEATED WOODPECKER, 9 WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES and a RED-TAILED HAWK. Definitely one of my favourite conservation areas to visit whenever I am in Kingston. A few other sightings from Kingston include a PEREGRINE FALCON and CAROLINA WREN. Also of note was an immature GOLDEN EAGLE just north of Perth Road Village, a HERMIT THRUSH at the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area, and a WHITE-WINGED SCOTER at Chaffey’s Lock. Moving west, at least one of two WOOD DUCKS continues to be seen at Springside Park in Napanee, there was a NORTHERN GOSHAWK seen at Hay Bay a few days ago, and 2 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS in the community of Moscow, north of Yarker. A Camden East birder on a KFN field trip to Amherst Island today reported seeing 4 SNOWY OWLS, 8 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, 4 COMMON RAVENS (a pair nesting), and 3 RED-TAILED HAWKS. At Camden East, a RED-TAILED HAWK and a COOPER’S HAWK. Moving even farther west, Barcovan waterfowl at the Wellers Bay channel included dozens of MUTE SWANS and CANADA GEESE. four TRUMPETER SWANS, and a mixture of well over 300 other waterfowl comprising COMMON GOLDENEYE, scaup, REDHEADS, LONG-TAILED DUCKS, COMMON MERGANSERS and a couple of  BUFFLEHEAD – all packed into a hole of open water, smaller than a front lawn in a closely inhabited subdivision. At Barry Heights in Trenton, a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER appeared at a feeder there. And deciding it had waited long enough for spring’s arrival, an EASTERN CHIPMUNK had managed to tunnel straight up through knee-high snow and was seen perched on a snow bank behind one residence. But, just to remind us that there may be lots of winter yet, a large flock of SNOW BUNTINGS lifted off from the side of the road near the Empire Cheese Factory, east of Campbellford.

Friday, Marc 06: The majority of sightings this evening came in from the Kingston area. One Kingston birder whose photos we feature this evening noted lots of waterfowl on the Rideau Canal, near Brewer’s Mills. There were COMMON MERGANSERS, HOODED MERGANSERS, COMMON GOLDENEYES, MALLARDS, CANADA GEESE, and all three species of swans – TUNDRA, MUTE and TRUMPETER. And, also a few GADWALL as well as a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER who hit the jackpot while diving, coming up with a CRAYFISH. Three Prince Edward County birders at Amherst Island yesterday found 3 SNOWY OWLS on the ice, 3 RED-TAILED HAWKS, 1 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, a NORTHERN SHRIKE and a pair of PILEATED WOODPECKERS. At the Glenora Ferry crossing, 2 adult BALD EAGLES  were perched in a tree. And 60 COMMON REDPOLLS  were reported at a feeder in Wellington. The resident NORTHERN HARRIER is still seen almost daily at Big Island, and a RED-TAILED HAWK was reported today from Deseronto. This week’s Presqu’ile Park Bird Report by resident Fred Helleiner has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website. To see what has been observed at the park this past week, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, March 05: In addition to the two EASTERN SCREECH-OWLS reported yesterday, another was found yesterday – dead – along Kleinstuber Parks Road at West Lake in the evening. Not surprisingly, it had starved to death, as it showed no signs of having been attacked, but was greatly emaciated. It must be difficult this winter for smaller owls like the screech and saw-whets that have been reported within the week when the snow is so deep. A lone TURKEY VULTURE  was seen Tuesday soaring over the Black River ravine from County Road 17. When there is death, there is life. Vultures and gulls and even BALD EAGLES  accept their role in nature as the clean-up brigade and take advantage of the mortality this winter. Wellington Harbour is still seeing mortality, too. Two more dead ducks were present today and two dead swans were in the channel itself, but these may have been on their way out anyway well before volunteers started putting out cracked corn. Waterfowl seen today in the Moira River from the Lion’s Park off Station Street in Belleville were a COMMON MERGANSER, 5 COMMON GOLDENEYE and 14 MALLARDS. Farther up the Moira River, near the Belleville Yardman Dam, birds seen there were 3 male and 4 female  COMMON GOLDENEYE, a lone CANADA GOOSE, 2 RING-BILLED GULLS and a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK. At bird feeders, COMMON REDPOLLS  continue to dominate the scene with 25 at a Low Street feeder in Picton, and an estimated 100 clustered around feeders on Victoria Road toward the west end in Amerliasburgh. At an aptly named “Seed and Feed Grill” in Wellington, COMMON REDPOLLS, RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER and BLUE JAYS by the dozens were present today. Still, a few signs of spring, although likely only individuals that wintered over, was an EASTERN BLUEBIRD along Elmbrook Road towards Bethesda, and about 8 AMERICAN ROBINS at Macaulay Mountain on the eastern outskirts of Picton. These are no doubt the same robins that have been seen off and on at this location all winter.

Wednesday, March 04: Raptors and other birds of prey were really on the move today. One resident north of Camden East has been on a quest to find a screech owl, peering in every hole, in every tree, with no luck. However, one EASTERN SCREECH-OWL decided to find her, perching nonchalantly on a garden bench in the backyard. A neighbour not far away had a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL in their shed. On the east side of Kingston, another EASTERN SCREECH-OWL was seen scoping out a backyard feeder for possibilities. An immature BALD EAGLE  was seen soaring over the fields near Seeleys Bay and another immature BALD EAGLE was at Presqu’ile Park today. A COOPER’S HAWK did some active birdwatching of its own in a backyard at Wellington today, while at West Lake near Sandbanks, a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK made off with a BLUE JAY. This particular hawk has been a regular visitor for the past two months where there seems to be no end to menu items. Another SHARP-SHINNED HAWK was seen a few days ago at Kingston Mills. At Wellington Harbour where the water there is starting to soften up a bit, a dead and bloodied COMMON GOLDENEYE was spread out ignominiously on the wharf with no indication of what may have killed it, and departed without it. As the Presqu’ile Waterfowl Weekend approaches on March 14-15, the ice in Presqu’ile Bay is still holding firm. Certainly the ponds and channels in Presqu’ile Marsh won’t be open by the big Weekend like they were some years ago when I was set up at one of the viewing stations. Presqu’ile Park today had a few AMERICAN ROBINS and a small flock of CEDAR WAXWINGS. “Things can only get better” said the birder who sent in that report. At Brighton, 45 COMMON REDPOLLS covered a couple feeders there, and our 6 at our Big island feeders make daily appearances as if wanting to be entered in my files that I had at least a few this winter. At Kingston East, a female PILEATED WOODPECKER and a lone male RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER are regulars at a feeder. There was a rafter of WILD TURKEYS (15) near Brewer’s Mills a few days ago and 150 on Wolfe Island, numbers which we don’t seem to be seeing this winter in the Bay of Quinte area. Thirty-two were counted on Middle Road in Kingston. Also at Kingston East, there were 25 CEDAR WAXWINGS recently, and increased to double that number a few days ago.

Tuesday, March 03: A short bird report this evening as we wait out yet another snowfall. If this is accompanied at any time by freezing rain, Internet connection may be affected until the ice thaws from my antenna, so this could potentially delay tomorrow evening’s report. The antenna is at the top of a 60 foot free standing tower in my backyard and as dedicated as I am to filing a bird report, I will not be climbing the tower to shake off any ice! Locally, in Prince Edward County, 2 WILD TURKEYS  were seen today along Highway 49 near Essroc Cement, just north of Picton. And a BARRED OWL was seen at Presqu’ile Park. PILEATED WOODPECKER, NORTHERN FLICKER, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET and COMMON RAVEN – only one of each species – were tallied today at Lemoine Point Conservation Area in Kingston, while at Adolphustown and the Hay Bay area, 2 AMERICAN ROBINS, a BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD and a BARRED OWL were seen today. A HERMIT THRUSH was seen at the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area.

Monday, March 02: Birders are reminded to keep up an alert for early signs of the return flight of SNOWY OWLS that have wintered this year farther south from the south, particularly along Lake Ontario. Activity dropped off significantly from the peak in late December up to mid-January with February being the low point and it is not all due to fewer birders reporting. The initial stage of the movement from the Arctic in November and early December was dominated by birds that seemed to be males including many apparently older birds. Most of these owls, said a report on the Ontario Birds listserv today,  departed later in December and early January, some of which were possibly pushed out by a flight of females that showed up and established winter territory. Also of note was that heavily barred birds, suggesting juvenile females, only appeared in numbers after mid- December. Based on last winter's massive flight with this year being a significant follow through, there should be SNOWY OWLS present in increasing numbers from now into early April with a peak likely coming in a few weeks. Many of these birds could be adult males. Unlike SNOWY OWLS on winter territory, it is not uncommon to see several migrants in close range of each other. In Cobourg, yesterday’s Feeding Fest at the harbour resulted in many observers being present, all of them concerned about the plight of this winter’s waterfowl due to the severe ice conditions. Present  were about 20 swans including 3 TRUMPETER SWANS. Today, a female COMMON MERGANSER  was found along Gilead Road, near Bloomfield, which had seemingly fallen from the sky due to its weakened condition. The presence of BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS and a few vocalizing RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS at Lynde Shores at Whitby made it really sound like spring, although they could have been nothing more than wintering individuals. Certainly the TURKEY VULTURES – four of them – soaring around along Highway 62 and at Wilson Road at 11:30 a.m. this morning may have created thoughts about spring, but they were the same individuals that have been there for some weeks, and had earlier been seen over the Picton area in December and January. 

Sunday, March 01: Still a little chilly in the mornings; however, there are signs of spring, albeit subtle at times.   One of the earliest migrants is the HORNED LARK and there are lots of them now to be seen as they forage along the roadsides in areas scraped bare by the snowplow. COMMON CROWS seem to be increasing somewhat in numbers, but it will be a few days yet before that first TREE SWALLOW swoops across the backyard. For now, the only thing doing the sweeping are COOPER’S and SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS.  Comments have been made that the usually ubiquitous CEDAR WAXWING seems to be all but absent this winter, with a small number seen at Presqu’ile Park a day or two ago being the only recent sightings. Small numbers had been hanging out near Prince Edward Point earlier this winter, surviving on what few Red Cedar berries there are this season. It was no sooner expressed that no BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS had turned up this winter yet when 12 showed up today along Elmbrook Road, north of Picton, by a birder who was out snowshoeing. It was predicted last fall that most BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS would stay in the north this winter because the Mountain-ash berry crop was generally very good to excellent across most of the boreal forest except in northeastern Ontario. When BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS move south they are attracted to berries on European Mountain-ash, small ornamental crabapples and buckthorn berries. With the recent breeding range expansion east across northern Quebec and the annual abundance of buckthorn berries in settled areas, BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS now occur almost every winter in varying numbers in southern Ontario, southern Quebec and New York State. We may see more BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS in the weeks to come though as over 300 were seen raiding buckthorn berries in Merrickville along the Rideau Canal today. This morning, a SNOWY OWL was seen along County Road 2, north of Wellington. With today’s slightly warmer temperatures, Wellington Channel freed itself of ice and four TUNDRA SWANS  were taking advantage of the new open water. However, there are still issues as a LONG-TAILED DUCK was found along the side of Huyck’s Point Road today and subsequently delivered to the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee. In Bath, a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER showed up at a feeder there, and a NORTHERN SHRIKE  was spotted near Kingsford, north of Deseronto.  

Saturday, February 28: A few interesting sightings today, starting north of here with a a dozen SNOW GEESE, seen in flight along Crookston Road upon entering Tweed. And right behind them was an adult BALD EAGLE. Another sighting today was that of a HERRING GULL who hit pay dirt with his search for food in Wellington Harbour. The water was a bit more open there today, giving rise to some optimism.  Closer examination of the item in its bill revealed a MUDPUPPY. Wonder what they taste like? In the Moira River today across from the Yardman Arena in Belleville, present were 6 male and 5 female COMMON GOLDENEYES. Along Tufftsville Road east of Stirling, an immature BALD EAGLE has been seen regularly. COMMON REDPOLLS  are showing no signs of heading north yet – over 100 turned up today at a feeder in Wellington, where the appearance of a  COOPER’S HAWK kept the flock on high alert. At the Big Island Marsh, a NORTHERN HARRIER  is seen almost daily, and a RED-TAILED HAWK has been seen on more than one occasion at nearby Demorestville. Interested in surveying for Marsh Birds or Amphibians this spring? Each spring, hundreds of active Citizen Scientists in Great Lakes States and in Ontario dedicate 8 or more hours to survey marsh birds and/or amphibians in Great Lakes coastal and inland marshes.  Marsh Monitoring Program volunteers are awarded with a great opportunity to spend time in these unique habitats - enjoying nature, improving their skills, and supporting wetland conservation. At the same time the important data they collect contributes to our understanding of these species, their habitat needs and the health of the Great Lakes area. I have been the coordinator of the effort in the Bay of Quinte watershed since 2002, and once again I am seeking volunteers to monitor a marshland in their area. As well as being coordinator for the Bay of Quinte effort, I am also the coordinator and contact person  for Bird Studies Canada from roughly Oshawa to beyond Kingston and north to Highway 7. So, if you live in any of these areas and would like to take part in the program, please get in touch with me. Monday evening, commencing at 7:00 p.m., I will be conducting my annual Marsh Monitoring Program workshop at Quinte Conservation, at 2061 Highway 2, just west of the Loyalist/Wallbridge Road traffic lights. Chocolate cookies are standard fare at my workshops. Learn more by CLICKING HERE.

Friday, February 27: Very few reports came in today. A small rafter of  WILD TURKEYS was spotted on Fry Road, north of Picton today, along with a RED-TAILED HAWK. Near the junction of County Road 5 and Fry Road, a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  visiting a feeder there, and a dozen or so AMERICAN ROBINS were seen in the same area feasting on Buckthorn berries. In Napanee, a male PURPLE FINCH came to a feeder on East Street this morning. At Algonquin Park which is always a special place to visit in February, the breeding season there is underway despite the frigid temperatures. The first GRAY JAY nest under construction was found a week ago, and a COMMON RAVEN carrying a stick in its bill seen yesterday on Opeongo Road was nest-building. The average date of the first observation of ravens building or re-lining nests in Algonquin is March 5, so today's sighting was actually a little early. They must be really hard up. Remarkably, the road-killed moose put out in the Sunday Creek valley opposite the Visitor Centre over two weeks ago has still not attracted any birds or mammals. Surely that will change soon. GRAY JAYS are still being seen regularly at the Spruce Bog Boardwalk, and Opeongo Road at the closed gate at Cameron Lake Road. Two BOREAL CHICKADEES continue to be observed  at the suet feeder along the Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail. The parking lot of the Algonquin Logging Museum is another site for this species; one was reported feeding from the hand along with BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES there last week. At the Visitor Centre feeder 25 COMMON REDPOLLS  are still regular guests, as are 3 HOARY REDPOLLS. The Visitor Centre exhibits and restaurant at km 43 are open on weekends from 9 am to 5 pm. There is access with limited services on weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm. I don’t think it is about to thaw back there anytime soon, so a visit to Algonquin Park at this time of the year is always a rewarding experience, especially at the Mew Lake Campground where winter enthusiasts are actively camping, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, and enjoying what winter has to offer to the fullest.

Thursday, February 26: Almost a mirror image of yesterday. Swans and other waterfowl at Wellington Harbour doing well, thanks to the help from a dedicated team of volunteers.  Very small patches of open water. Mostly MUTE SWANS (70+) but some ducks as well. Small numbers of COMMON GOLDENEYE, MALLARDS, Scaup, LONG-TAILED DUCKS and at least 2 pairs of REDHEADS.  The only non-mute today was a TUNDRA SWAN. The lower Moira River is also iced up with diminishing patches of open water for the MALLARDS, COMMON GOLDENEYE and COMMON MERGANSER. Unlike last year there are no RED-BREASTED or HOODED MERGANSERS  present. An observation made by several birders is the absence of CANADA GEESE at ALL locations. Really different and puzzling says one birder who was out and about today to Wellington and the Moira River in Belleville. No report from Barcovan as to how the waterfowl are doing up there. Bird feeder-wise, 30 to 40 COMMON REDPOLLS and both HAIRY and DOWNY WOODPECKER at a Napanee feeder and close to 100 COMMON REDPOLLS at a feeder on Wellington’s Narrow Street. The Wellington numbers dropped to between 60 and 80 during “snack time”, said the bird feeder operator. A small flock of SNOW BUNTINGS were on the same Huyck’s Point roof top that were seen there on the 11th. It was soon easy to see why as there was a feeder on the house. There were 40 hanging around and another 60 in the next field farther down the road. A flock of HORNED LARKS  was also seen along the same road. South of Doyle Road in the Camden East area yesterday, an adult BALD EAGLE was seen flying over County Road 4. From the Frankford area, the now dwindling open waters under #33 Bridge in Frankford has been home all winter to a large permanent host of CANADA GEESE and COMMON GOLDENEYES. Periodic fly-overs of BALD EAGLES in the distance have been seen but today there was a pair of them roosting in the treeline, accompanied by the sudden arrival of eight swans - 2 TRUMPETER and 6 MUTE - which have not been seen in the area before.The Presqu’ile Park Weekly Bird Report by Fred Helleiner has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website. To find out what has been seen this past week at Presqu’ile Park, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, February 25: An adult BALD EAGLE  was seen a couple days ago as it made a single pass overhead at Glenora. The Glenora Ferry Channel's current condition is  relatively little open water and full of ice chunks in the middle 80%. Incredibly, a few waterfowl are making good use of what little open water there is – about 20 COMMON GOLDENEYE and 1 RED-BREASTED MERGANSER. The situation at Wellington Harbour has improved tremendously and affected waterfowl seem to be recovering. The Great Lakes this winter are 85% solid ice, although Lake Ontario is in a bit better shape than some. COMMON REDPOLLS keep a comin`. Numbers range from a mere handful, singles in some cases (put your hand up Sprague!) to other feeders who are experiencing 150+ . The 32 that are coming to a feeder in Brighton is about the average number though at most feeders. In the South Bay area near what is known as Smuggler`s Cove, three EASTERN BLUEBIRDS  were seen yesterday. Bluebirds and Robins commonly winter over – Robins more so – but both species are as rare as the proverbial hen`s teeth this winter due to a poor wild food crop compared to most years. A juvenile SHARP-SHINNED HAWK made a pass through the bird feeder area, sending birds scattering, at the Education Centre, at Goodrich-Loomis Conservation Area, north of Brighton. News from the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee includes a half frozen LESSER SCAUP that was brought in today and now eating voraciously. Other victims from this winter`s conditions that were admitted today were 2 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS (high mortality of these in the County last winter), and 2 LONG-TAILED DUCKS stranded and emaciated, and now doing well. These were all brought in from the Whitby area. Four MALLARDS  are also at the facility that were rescued in the Kingston area, so waterfowl are arriving to the popular Napanee rehabilitation centre as the relentless winter continues.

Tuesday, February 24: Waterfowl this winter are facing the same dilemma as last winter at this time – starvation. Areas particularly affected have been Cobourg Harbour, Barcovan and, now – Wellington Harbour. The big question is always – do we interfere or let Nature takes its course? As always, a big controversy with the invasive MUTE SWAN also entering the picture. Much of Lake Ontario is frozen again this winter and remaining open areas are few and far between resulting in an acute scarcity of food for surviving waterfowl to feed on as this cold snap continues, shrinking available areas. It is a tug of war match between unfeeling purists who prefer to do nothing, and the caring who show compassion to animals that are suffering.  In an outpouring of compassion, Wellington residents provided copious quantities of corn at the village harbour today to stave off the hunger.  I realize there are mixed feelings about feeding waterfowl, especially invasive MUTE SWANS, but my personal feeling is that this is no time to be discussing or worrying about ethics. We wouldn't see our fellow man suffer in winter extremes like this, so why should we stand by and watch waterfowl suffer a lingering death? MUTE SWANS did not ask to be brought to this country; they are only behaving as Nature has dictated them to do. Yes – MUTE SWANS are invasive and annually destroy breeding habitat for native waterfowl and they are extremely aggressive during the breeding season and none of us is blind to the damage they do. However, this winter, we need to put all that aside and offer some assistance to ALL waterfowl who may be having a difficult time in this harbour, until this cold snap passes and more feeding areas become accessible. It is not advisable to feed bread; instead offer them cracked corn which can be purchased locally at feed mills for a very small amount of money. It is really cheap food and will go along way in helping these critters.  I fed the waterfowl at the Glenwood Cemetery pond in Picton last winter when similar conditions forced well over 100 MALLARDS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, and a few AMERICAN WIGEON into this postage stamp-sized pond, and I apologized for nothing. Once spring arrived, they all departed to feed in the wild as Nature dictated. I am confident that the Wellington waterfowl will do likewise, and any efforts to feed them will do nothing to encouraging these birds to stay around once winter decides to end. At the east end of the County, along Cressy Lakeside Road, there is no open water as far as the eye can see, except a couple of small leads about 100 metres offshore, maybe 10 or 15 m wide, in which 5 swans were about to freeze in, and a few COMMON GOLDENEYE of both sexes were diving. One dead male RED-BREASTED MERGANSER frozen in the ice , head under wing, about 30 metres offshore. Two immature BALD EAGLES were seen flying offshore at the foot of Kaiser Crossroad, and crossed County Road 8 at the Fifth Town Cheese, heading north.

Monday, February 23: Birds are still flocking to feeders as winter refuses to release its grip. COMMON REDPOLLS descended on a Wellington feeder today. Narrow Street feeder operator Sydney Smith says, “The  Redpoll army sent a battalion to my house this morning instead of merely a troop!  They were everywhere (on and under feeders, in the trees and bushes, on my back deck).  After a 2-hour feeding frenzy, they basked in the sun and stayed around until noon and then left for parts unknown.  I think they numbered in the area of 150.  I was in awe of the wonder of it all.” Other feeders seem to be averaging 10 to 30 in number. I say 10 because that is the number I managed to attract as we head closer to March and little hope of numbers increasing. One feeder along Glenora Road has only one, but 30 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES are at that particular feeder, a species that seems to have burgeoned in numbers at most feeding stations this past week, with close to 60 at my feeder. A male RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER is also at the Glenora Road feeder. An adult BALD EAGLE today flew over Bay Meadows Park at Pleasant Bay. And on North Big Island Road, a half dozen AMERICAN ROBINS  were noted. The WOOD DUCKS are still present at the falls at Napanee`s Springside Park, but only the male was present today. Also present in the river, 50-60 MALLARDS, 5 CANADA GEESE, 1 female  COMMON GOLDENEYE and 1 COMMON MERGANSER. At Amherst Island yesterday, birds of note seen were 2 SNOWY OWLS one of which was on the ice within sight of the ferry. Most of the ferry route is filled with slush and ice and so only three ducks were present near Stella, a pair of MALLARDS and a female RED-BREASTED MERGANSER.  Also seen during the day on the island were COOPER`S HAWK, 5 RED-TAILED HAWKS and a probable juvenile BALD EAGLE. COMMON RAVEN and RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  were also seen.  

Sunday, February 22: Open water continues to persist in the harbour and in the channel at Wellington. Today, there were approximately 30 MUTE SWANS, 7 of them juveniles, and one mortality as the winter begins to take its toll on waterfowl like it did last year at this time. Of course, nothing in nature goes to waste. Any waterfowl that succumb to the winter conditions are quickly scavenged. There was a duck wing on the dock, swan carcass on the edge of ice in West Lake, and a scavenged duck carcass on the Sandbanks side of the channel, perhaps by the immature BALD EAGLE  that was seen on the dunes side of the channel.   Also present were 2 COMMON MERGANSERS, 1 REDHEAD, 2 male scaup of undetermined species, 1 RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, 2 COMMON GOLDENEYES and 5 LONG-TAILED DUCKS. Yesterday in the Moira River beside the Lion’s Park on Station Street in Belleville, there was a single COMMON MERGANSER, 29 MALLARDS, a male  COMMON GOLDENEYE, and a female RED-BREASTED MERGANSER. Meanwhile at Invista (Dupont lagoon) in Kingston, nine waterfowl species were tallied today, with the highlights being  5 GADWALL, 1 AMERICAN COOT, 1 TRUMPETER SWAN and four AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS. In the Adolphustown/Hay Bay area today, a NORTHERN FLICKER and a BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD  were seen. At Lemoine Point Conservation Area, an AMERICAN KESTREL and a COMMON RAVEN put in an appearance. Two distant BALD EAGLES  were at Presqu’ile Park, and two WILD TURKEYS  were seen along County Road 2, north of Wellington. Two hawks on Conley Road (Wellington) – COOPER’S and RED-TAILED. At West Lake near Sandbanks, a PILEATED WOODPECKER  was working on a Scot’s Pine. Despite the relentless cold (dropping again tonight!), signs of spring are happening with HORNED LARKS showing up everywhere as their migration gets in full swing. Thirty were seen along Gilead Road. COMMON REDPOLLS continue to work fields and feeders. Ten were seen today feasting on weed seeds along Sprague Road, ultimately appearing at my feeder, finishing their meal on niger seed. And AMERICAN CROWS? What can we say about them? Certainly here all winter, but their presence and cawing seems to suggest warmer days in the offing. Three were in Napanee today, and three to four are regular guests now at our own feeder on Big Island. NORTHERN CARDINALS  are starting to sing enthusiastically and BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES  have even been heard delivering their whistled spring song. And, along County Road 14, west of Demorestville, a half dozen WHITE-TAILED DEER put in an appearance in a field within sight of the road.

Saturday, February 21: No bird sightings came in today, despite it being a half decent day, at least, temperature-wise. The only e-mail today referred to a field trip organized by the Quinte Field Naturalists to Wolfe Island. On the island, the wind was fairly strong and began to blow with even more intensity after lunch. During their visit, the members noted a small flock of SNOW BUNTINGS about 500 metres from the dock, 2 COMMON REDPOLLS, and at least one SNOWY OWL. There were also HORNED LARKS in groups of two to four in a few places. Returning to Kingston, the group took King Street to the Invista pond where they found 3 AMERICAN COOTS, 3 GADWALLS, large numbers of MALLARDS , a half dozen CANADA GEESE and 3 MUTE SWANS. In total, the group saw 25 species.

Friday, February 20: Lots of birds reported today under bright, sunny skies.....except for Wellington receiving the effects of a heavy cloud bank hanging over Lake Ontario. In Wellington, open water continues to persist at the harbour where waterfowl numbering between 50 and 60 were taking advantage of any areas free of ice that they could find. Present were numerous swans but other than MUTE SWANS, the swan species present weren’t determined by the birder, whether TUNDRA or TRUMPETER,  who was without his binoculars (an oxymoron?). Within viewing range though were 4 COMMON GOLDENEYE, and a pair of LONG-TAILED DUCKS. A first year immature BALD EAGLE flew along the beach. In the open water at Glenora Ferry were 7 male  COMMON GOLDENEYE and 6 females, a male LONG-TAILED DUCK, and something a bit unexpected in the channel – a male WHITE-WINGED SCOTER. But given the hardness of the water this winter, ducks gravitate to where open water beckons.  In the Codrington area, an adult BALD EAGLE was seen circling over a birder’s house, and another was seen circling high above the Quinte Conservation office yesterday in Quinte West. Quite unexpectedly, a dozen EVENING GROSBEAKS showed up at a feeder off Talbot Street in Picton where the same number appeared on December 1st, but never appeared again, until today. At Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area, an observer there found a half dozen somewhat cold looking AMERICAN ROBINS last weekend. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW  was reported along County Road 28 near Fenwood Gardens, and a COMMON RAVEN was present today at Glenora. A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was seen in flight along South Shore Big Island Road near the causeway. Bird feeder-wise, lots of COMMON REDPOLLS around with 80 at a feeder on Narrow Street in Wellington, and 30 at a feeder in a small backyard along Dunnett Blvd in Belleville. A NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL, found in Kingston,  was brought in to the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee yesterday. Also brought in was a CANADA GOOSE, entangled in monofilament fishing line, always a serious threat to water birds when it is carelessly discarded into the water. Anglers need to be reminded that broken fishing line must be disposed of properly in a garbage receptacle and not thrown carelessly into the water where water birds can become entangled in it. I have several photos of loons, gulls and goldeneye ducks hopelessly entangled in fishing line, all of them dead.

Thursday, February 19: A good sighting always makes a visit to the washroom that much more rewarding! A NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL  was seen perched outside the observer's bathroom window early this morning along Elmbrook Road. One must wonder if this tiny owl has any hope of survival, given the depth of snow right now.  At Mountain View, an EASTERN SCREECH-OWL was feeling the cold and was seen warming up on a bare patch of ground on the south side of a barn. Also in raptor news today, a MERLIN was seen along County Road 7 near Bongard Crossroad today, there was a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK at a feeder at West Lake, and the resident COOPER’S HAWK did his usual morning pass through our bird feed area at Big Island. I think he just likes to see the birds suddenly scatter as his success rate so far has been very low. Even the MOURNING DOVES appear amused. Also on the predator side of things, an ERMINE has been observed frequently at Mountain View. One species, seemingly in low numbers this winter or, at least, not much in evidence, has been the WILD TURKEY. Six were seen crossing Caughey Road at the west end of Big Island today where last winter at this time, from 30 to 65 could be depended on most days there. Along North Shore Big Island Road, just west of Allison Road, two SNOW BUNTINGS come daily to feed on a driveway. COMMON REDPOLLS number only two at that address, but a respectable 80 were seen again covering the feeders on East Street in Napanee. A RUSTY BLACKBIRD is visiting a feeder regularly in the Thomasburg area, just south of Tweed. Three and sometimes four COMMON CROWS are daily visitors at my feeder on Big Island. There was no need to put out feed for them today as they spent most of their time hammering away at a frozen EASTERN COTTONTAIL carcass on the roadside. The Presqu'ile Park Weekly Bird Report by Fred Helleiner has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website and can be see by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, February 18: Despite the unrelenting low temperatures and snow, a hardy little YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER is still a regular visitor to her bird feeders at The Birdhouse store in Wooler. In an e-mail today from Connie, she commented, “This past Monday I was afraid he wasn't going to make it.He arrived at the feeder around 9  a.m. He stayed on the edge of it for almost two hours.The whole time he shook all over with his head under his wing.Every now and then he would straighten up and eat a bit of sunflower chips that were in the feeder but never went near the suet that was there too.  (The suet that he has been eating for months now) By noon the temperature had risen from -29 to -15. Also this little guy had been in the sun all this time.I looked once and he was gone and I figured we would not likely see him again.To my great surprise he showed up some time later and seemed none the worse for his ordeal.” It was literally a red letter day for me at my feeders when five NORTHERN CARDINALS  showed up, all at once. Once again, the activity today at my feeders was non stop with close to 30 BLUE JAYS, 40 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS, 50 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES and roughly 30 MOURNING DOVES. Oh, yes – one COMMON REDPOLL! I look forward to each new day with fresh hope that he will bring along the rest of his troupe. At Wellington, about a dozen COMMON REDPOLLS  coming to a feeder on Narrow Street, there were 40 at a feeder in Brighton today, and the lucky operator one set of feeders  on East Street in Napanee enjoyed the presence of 100 birds, mostly Redpolls with AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS and some DARK-EYED JUNCOS mixed in. The operator said the Niger feeders were emptied by 2:00 p.m. RED-TAILED HAWKS today in downtown Demorestville, Elmbrook and another reported from Lemoine Point Conservation Area in Kingston. Also in Kingston today, 10 species of waterfowl at Invista (Dupont Lagoons), among them 1 TRUMPETER SWAN, 11 GADWALL, 3256 MALLARDS, and one AMERICAN COOT. 

Tuesday, February 17: The only report to come in today was a SNOWY OWL along Huyck's Point Road, likely the same one that was there yesterday. Wellington Harbour had the same species of waterfowl today as were present yesterday, including a single COMMON GOLDENEYE.

Monday, February 16: It was around –25 degrees this morning at daybreak, but it wasn’t too cold for 20 HOUSE SPARROWS  in a Brighton backyard, many of which were observed enjoying a polar swim today in a heated bird bath!  Elsewhere, their numbers have plummeted to the extent where they can be considered a Species of Concern – but not too much “concern” according to many operators of bird feeders. A female arrived at our feeders on January 24th this winter and was the first HOUSE SPARROW  to have been seen in our yard since 2002 ! In the Barry Heights area of Trenton, near Telephone Road, it was –27 degrees there this morning, and it translated into some extra COMMON REDPOLLS for the resident there – an impressive 30 accompanied  by 9 PINE SISKINS. A RED-TAILED HAWK comes by several times a day and perches in the grove of trees behind the house waiting for an opportunity and has built up a tolerance to any human movement around the property. Also appearing there today was a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER. On Elmbrook Road, north of Picton, the BARRED OWL turned up again and there was a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  at the feeder there too. At least one TUNDRA SWAN was at Wellington Harbour today, along with 3 TRUMPETER SWANS and 50 MUTE SWANS, and miscellaneous scaup, BUFFLEHEAD, COMMON GOLDENEYE and singles of CANADA GOOSE and LONG-TAILED DUCK. Along Huyck’s Point Road, west of Wellington, a SNOWY OWL was present, and and a small group of 10 HORNED LARKS  were found along Gilead Road. A SHARP-SHINNED HAWK was at a feeder along County Road 14, west of Demorestville. Along North Big Island Road, a small group of SNOW BUNTINGS were feeding nonchalantly on a driveway beside a garage.

Sunday, February 15: Incredibly, lots of birders out birding today, The SNOWY OWLS (2), have returned to Wellington, and TURKEY VULTURES – a dozen of them – were seen in the area of Highway 62/County Road 1/Wilson Road. Once again absolute pandemonium at most bird feeders today. Four PINE SISKINS , 2 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS and an AMERICAN ROBIN along Marsh Road at the Sawguin Marsh. COMMON REDPOLLS (2) are back at a Lake on the Mountain feeder after a bit of an absence, and a CAROLINA WREN in Picton today. At Wellington today, 30 HORNED LARKS  were seen as the species continues to arrive in numbers in the Quinte region. Yesterday, at Belleville, two ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS  were seen in flight. Picton and areas south seemed to have picked up a bit more snow yesterday than did the north half of the County, with 28 cm (11 inches) being measured. Open water is hard to come by in such temperatures, but one birding couple chose Point Petre to seek out some open water and, hopefully, a few ducks. Treading the snow was challenging and the wind chill was extreme, they reported. The area was teaming with scaup and LONG-TAILED DUCKS. Also seen by the duo was a SNOWY OWL that flew low across the road, disappearing into a field of Red Cedars. Down to -27 tonight. Put a couple more logs on the fire before retiring!

Saturday, February 14: “Just thinking...I may not feel like I know where I'm going sometimes, but at least I know where I've been. Gotta count for something.” claims one Pleasant Bay resident who e-mailed a photo of a set of tracks crisscrossing back and forth. Certainly birds knew where they were going today and that was straight for the bird feeders as Prince Edward County got dumped on again by heavy snow this morning, and after a brief explosion of sun, snow returned for an encore this afternoon. Lucks Crossroad lived up to its name this morning when a FOX SPARROW showed up at the feeder for breakfast. And turning up for supper this evening at 5:00 p.m. at a feeder along North Big Island Road was a BROWN CREEPER. Also a regular at this feeder is a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH. At our own feeder all day, it was mayhem. While shovelling the snow from the feeders, well over 60 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS gathered around my feet showing no fear at all, hurrying me on so they could feed. Also mobbing the feeders today were as many AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES and in amongst them – one COMMON REDPOLL. Can’t believe it after waiting all winter! Four AMERICAN CROWS fed at another table where I had pizza crusts piled up for them. Twenty-six BLUE JAYS, three NORTHERN CARDINALS, and the daily WHITE-THROATED SPARROW  were other notables. A feeder operator in Napanee today watched as a determined COOPER’S HAWK swooped in, landed in a tree, then turned and entered a discarded Christmas tree and calmly plucked out a DARK-EYED JUNCO, then flew away with its catch. Two BALD EAGLES were seen today along the Glenora Ferry channel. The snowfall today didn’t deter 12 TURKEY VULTURES in the area of Highway 62 and Wilson Road. One can’t help but wonder if these aren’t the same dozen that had been hanging out in the conifers at Roger’s Street in Picton for much of the winter. Some good sightings this week at Algonquin Park for those who may be planning a visit there. SPRUCE GROUSE and a possible BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER (identified by its drumming) along the Spruce Bog Boardwalk; GRAY JAYS at the Visitor Centre, Spruce Bog Boardwalk, Mew Lake Campground and Opeongo Lake; two to three BOREAL CHICKADEES at the Spruce Bog Boardwalk bird feeder; and a PINE GROSBEAK (very few present his winter) along Highway 60 through the Park. At the Visitor Centre feeder, both COMMON REDPOLLS (21) and HOARY REDPOLLS (3). In other Algonquin Park news, a MOOSE that was killed by a vehicle on Highway 60 in the Park has been placed in the Sunday Creek valley where it is viewable from the Visitor Centre viewing deck. It may soon attract ravens,  eagles and wolves. PINE MARTENS  have been observed this week at both the Visitor Centre and Spruce Bog Boardwalk suet feeders. Enjoy the snow conditions. It’s great weather to be outside. Well, perhaps not so much tomorrow with a wind chill of –33 degrees!

Friday, February 13:  Just north of Brighton two EASTERN SCREECH-OWLS were found today by someone walking their dog. One was a grey morph and the other was a red morph. South of Codrington, a bird feeder there still has 20 EVENING GROSBEAKS  appearing regularly, reminiscent of the days when these colourful finches with the voracious appetites turned up at most feeding stations, requiring operators to purchase sunflower seed by the hundredweight. Today, a NORTHERN SHRIKE showed up to look over the situation. COOPER’S HAWKS today at feeders in Brighton, Big island, Shannonville, and a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK at Wellington. An immature BALD EAGLE passed over Adolphus Reach at Lake on the Mountain today. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER at a feeder there, and in Wellington, a noteworthy five woodpeckers at a feeder on Narrow Street, including a RED-BELLIED. COMMON REDPOLLS well distributed across the reporting region including 11 at Napanee, but most feeders having only a few individuals. Two WOOD DUCKS continue to be seen at Springside Park in Napanee. A CAPE MAY WARBLER that has managed to challenge the rigours of winter successfully in Markham, surviving on crushed grapes, peanuts and suet, and being provided with a heated shelter, probably succumbed to the frigid temperatures last night. As the observers stated, “We became quite fond of him, and with all of life’s trials and tribulations he became a real source of joy to us”. Another CAPE MAY WARBLER in Belleville, first seen November 22nd, failed to see the arrival of the New Year, and was last seen on December 31st. One can only speculate why these insectivorous birds sometimes fail to migrate south in the fall with others of their kind. Similar problems in the Barcovan area with extremes in temperature. We can only suppose that the crowded open spot of water at Barcovan, is even smaller, if it exists at all, after last night’s temperatures. It was in this spot last winter when so many TRUMPETER and MUTE SWANS and other waterfowl species  died due to an insufficient food supply, brought on by the unforgivable conditions of last year. Last weekend, over 200 birds were present here as shown by this photo. It is reported that the birds are emaciated and unable to fly, and a small feeding program is in place. Anyone wishing to assist in the feeding program  again this winter, is asked to send an email to .  The program stops as soon as the ice frees up.

Thursday, February 12: Wherever one looks now, there are HORNED LARKS. Photos taken today along Conley Road, east of Wellington today, depicted some excellent examples of the northern sub-species that is migrating through right now and which breeds in the James Bay area, Eremophilia alpestris. Other photos submitted showed a few of the Prairie sub-species, E.a. praticiola which breeds locally. Both sub-species are expected here during the winter months, but when they start showing up in flocks along roadsides in areas scraped bare by the snowplow, we know the migration is underway. HORNED LARKS are considered one of our earliest ‘spring’ migrants, arriving, on average, February 8-12. I always look forward to their musical tinkling song, best described as a fast, high-pitched sequence of sharp, tinkling notes, often rising in pitch to a quick jumble of concluding notes. COMMON REDPOLLS continue to skirt past Big Island, although a large flock did appear briefly one day in our yard, spotted by an Oshawa birder who was driving by. A flock of 30 invaded a feeder at Cressy today. At Wellington, a few waterfowl there, including at least one TRUMPETER SWAN. This is FISH CROW  Awareness Week! In an e-mail from the Ontario Birds listserv, birders were advised to keep their ears and eyes open for this relatively new crow species in this part of Ontario. They first showed up in Prince Edward County in May of 2013, at Prince Edward Point, and again at the same location in April the following year. As the species continues to expand its range, and crows start their spring migration back into our area, listen for the higher pitched single or double nasal call that the FISH CROW gives. They are already a nesting species in Ontario, with at least one nest record in the Burlington/Oakville area. At Presqu’ile Park this week, the resident PINE WARBLER at the Sightings Board feeding station, WHITE-THROATED and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD and a HOARY REDPOLL were along some of the highlights. To see Fred Helleiner’s full report, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, February 11: SNOW BUNTINGS, about 80 in number, were seen along Huyck’s Point Road, west of Wellington today. They scurried to a rooftop from feeding alongside the road whenever someone across the street started up his saw. A couple nice sightings in a backyard along Elmbrook Road, north of Picton, involving a BARRED OWL checking out the feeders, and a NORTHERN FLICKER going up and down the hickories in the adjacent woods. Last evening, a SNOWY OWL was seen at the service centre sign at Odessa. Bird feeders continue to do a brisk business. Three species of woodpeckers – HAIRY, DOWNY and PILEATED were in a Napanee backyard where 11 COMMON REDPOLLS  were also present. Between 60 and 80 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES and 30 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS were among the regular visitors at our feeder on Big Island, along with three COMMON CROWS who are regulars now as well. With all the clientele present, hawks are sure to be there. Today, a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK was doing a little birdwatching of its own at our feeder. The BALD EAGLES along Victoria Road in Ameliasburgh seem to have ceased much of their activity in recent days.  There were two pairs of RED-TAILED HAWKS today in the Wellington area. Near The Ameliasburg sand dome today, 30 WILD TURKEYS and a flock of 20 SNOW BUNTINGS.  A NORTHERN HARRIER along Danforth Road rounds out our report for this evening. Gilles Bisson of Belleville who contributes photos regularly to my website (he is the featured photographer on my website this week), will have a few of his photos on display at the Quinte Mall (Belleville) starting tomorrow until Sunday closing time. The display will be part of PhotoNat’s annual exhibition. To see Gilles’ website, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, February 10: COMMON REDPOLLS are all around town, it seems, but the ain’t comin’ to my feeder. Not yet, anyway although with each new day there is fresh hope. Up to 20 are coming to a feeder on upper Victoria Road, and a half dozen or so to a Napanee feeder. Just one field south of the west bridge over the Murray Canal leading to Barcovan, a cloud of birds lifted from a weedy field in front of one observer, and assembled in four old apple trees near the road. They turned out to be all COMMON REDPOLLS – an estimated at 200 birds. A CAROLINA WREN showed up today at a South Bay feeder where a male RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD is also a guest. A male RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER at a feeder today in the Barry Heights area of Trenton off Telephone Road. The Moira River at the north end of the Belleville business section had 2 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS and 150 MALLARDS today. RED-TAILED HAWKS today in Belleville, and three along Highway 33 from Aldolphustown to Kingston. Two adult BALD EAGLES at the Amherst Island ferry landing, and at Glenora, 20 or so COMMON GOLDENEYES and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS enjoying a bit of angling, duck-style. To finish off this evenings report, a disturbing notice yesterday on the popular Ontario Birds listserv, regarding unacceptable behaviour by birders in the Kitchener area. Birder Ken Burrell reports: “It's just come to my attention that the owners who first reported the VARIED THRUSH and many of the neighbours where the Varied Thrush has been regularly coming to are very FED UP with birders coming to see the bird. Specifically birders trespassing onto private property and paying little regard for the people living in the area (i.e. throwing garbage, being disrespectful to people living in the area, and parking in non-parking areas). This absolutely CANNOT BE TOLERATED. I had assured the owners before reporting the bird that birders are polite, courteous people, who would be unobtrusive. I guess I've been proven wrong. The owners and the neighbours are asking birders NOT come to see this bird, as they are very upset with the behaviour exhibited by several people looking for the bird. Collectively they've agreed that if people continue showing up, they will stop putting feed out. We need to collectively think how our individual actions impact everyone else and be better neighbours.” This is not the first time arrogant birders have displayed such unacceptable behaviour, and is the very reason I no longer report rare birds to the listserv. Rare birds are reported in the Quinte Area Bird Report, but specific locations are not given, although may be obtained from me by e-mail on an individual basis. This way, we can monitor who is there, and when, resulting in minimal disturbance to the bird and to residents. Despite the Ontario Field Ornithologists’ Birders Code of Ethics, behaviour in recent years has been deteriorating. They didn’t used to be that way and I well remember the HENSLOW’S SPARROW  we had in a field beside our home in 1996. All 50 who travelled from as far away as London to see the bird, were polite and most parked at the roadside and refused our invitation to park in our driveway. Others declined our invitation to come in the house for coffee. They didn’t want to be a bother. What happened to those days and that behaviour? When I read Ken’s report, I was almost ashamed to call myself a birder.

Monday, February 09: You know you have a lot of snow around when SNOW BUNTINGS  coming calling at your bird feeder! A flock of two dozen SNOW BUNTINGS descended to a backyard feeding station on the west side of Trenton, not far from the hospital. Elsewhere, nothing too exciting. Three  COMMON CROWS are now semi-regulars at our feeder on Big island, and four are regulars at a feeding station near Northport. Today, birds at our feeders had little peace as a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK snagged a MOURNING DOVE and only a few minutes earlier, a RED-TAILED HAWK eliminated one of the GREY SQUIRRELS. A RED-TAILED HAWK was also seen at West Lake today near Sandbanks, but the most unusual sighting of all out there was not a bird, but a bat, believed to have been a BIG BROWN BAT. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources says that White Nose Syndrome (WNS), named for a fungus that grows on affected bats, may be responsible for disturbing the bats which are typically in hibernation right now. The fungus forces bats to awaken from their winter hibernation and become susceptible to winter’s elements.Bats so disturbed are usually doomed, as reserves, vital to their survival during winter, are expended. The fungus has killed more than one million bats so far, says the MNR, and is threatening some bat populations. Ontario bats are important to bio-diversity because they eat lots of insects. One bat can consume thousands of flying insects each night during the summer. If you see bats flying during the daytime in winter, or find sick or dead bats, contact the Canadian Co-operative Wildlife Health Centre at 1-866-673-4781 or the Ministry of Natural Resources Information Centre at 1-800-667-1940. White Nose Syndrome was detected in Ontario five years ago. There are eight species of bats in Ontario. Only the Hoary Bat, Silver-haired Bat and the Red Bat typically migrate out of the Bay of Quinte region. The remaining species hibernate.

Sunday, February 08: Gusty winds, blowing snow and a bit of freezing rain today. Not much birding today, unless from the comfort of your home. One exception was a Stirling birder who tried today for a repeat of yesterday with no success. Yesterday, she snowshoed along the Tuftsville Wetlands, east of Stirling and came across a large flock of SNOW BUNTINGS  cartwheeling across a meadow. Elsewhere, it was news from the feeders. And, it’s mostly about AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES and COMMON REDPOLLS. Thirty AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES and five NORTHERN CARDINALS were among the many dozens of visitors at a feeder along Luck’s Crossroad near Picton. AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES were also the order of the day at Napanee where up to 35 were at a feeder on East Street topday, 60+ at feeders on Sprague Road on Big Island, and 50 at feeders south of Codrington. COMMON REDPOLL numbers have dropped somewhat at a Belleville feeder from an estimated 100+ to about 40 today. Up to 40 COMMON REDPOLLS at a Napanee feeder, and lesser numbers, sometimes as few as only one, at other feeders across the region. Forty AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS appeared at a Big Island feeder again this morning before full light and 30 were present at the feeder near Codrington. Other highs today were 25 BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES and 30 DARK-EYED JUNCOS, once again, at the feeder near Codrington, and 11 juncos at the Napanee feeder. Meanwhile, at Waupoos today, a BLUE JAY  tried to enter the house the hard way. After recovering in a cardboard box, the stunned bird recovered and flew away through the open door.

Saturday, February 07: Today, when I went out to the bird feeders during the light continuous snowfall, I felt like the pigeon lady in the movie Home Alone Two! Never in the history of my bird feeders have I seen such activity in one day, and it never slowed. It started before full light with 20 or so AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS landing around my feet, and escalated from there. Highs today included 60 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, 40 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS, 34 MOURNING DOVES,  and 20-30 BLUE JAYS. Counting BLUE JAYS  is almost as frustrating as counting chickadees! No COMMON REDPOLLS today at our feeders although 65 were present in some trees beside the feeder yesterday. However, I didn’t see them; it was an Oshawa birder trying his luck on Big Island who came across them! He also found 2 PURPLE FINCHES and a NORTHERN FLICKER on his island travels. At Prince Edward Point yesterday, there was a fair bit of open water  where 700 LONG-TAILED DUCKS were seen. On the ice were 3 SNOWY OWLS, and also seen at Prince Edward Point were 2 BALD EAGLES and a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK. A nice flock of 200 SNOW BUNTINGS were seen on Victoria Road in Ameliasburgh, and at Point Petre, a MERLIN and an adult NORTHERN GOSHAWK were observed. All the visible portions of the lake there are covered with ice/slush and pack ice. On North Big island Road, a feeder there enjoyed the presence of 11 COMMON REDPOLLS today, while nearby Allison Road produced 2 COMMON RAVENS and SNOW BUNTING. Six WILD TURKEYS, a species not particularly in evidence this winter, at least, locally, were seen on Gomorrah Road at Demorestville. Another single COMMON REDPOLL and a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK along Fry Road. At a bird feeder west of Demorestville, two BLUE JAYS had a standoff which became increasingly aggressive, then one of the BLUE JAYS turned its frustrations on a female NORTHERN CARDINAL. A few interesting sightings outside the Bay of Quinte region reporting area included 6 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS on Howe Island, and there was a HARRIS’S SPARROW in Oakville today. If readers think only a few bird species may be around during the winter months, they might be surprised to learn that birder Josh Vandermeulen has amassed a list of 199 species to date since December 1st. Among them is an incredible tally of a dozen species of warblers! Others on his list include CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, SORA, 4 species of shorebirds, WHITE-EYED VIREO, every hawk species – except BROAD-WINGED HAWK, of course, both vulture species.......the list goes on. February 28th marks the close of the ‘winter’ season in birders’ records. This is an annual exercise for Josh, and his highest total ever was 224 species during the winter of 2011-2012.

Friday, February 06: A BARRED OWL near Camden East was a treat for a resident leaving for work early this morning. Other than that sighting, it was primarily a day for COOPER'S HAWKS with one at a feeder near Codrington, another in Wellington, and one that appeared quite surprisingly as I was filling my own feeders before it was even fully light out. Only the flock of 20+ AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS had arrived at that early hour and they scattered immediately. The hawk caught nothing as it wasn’t light enough to see yet! Two PILEATED WOODPECKERS were spotted at Pleasant Bay. At Napanee, feeder birds there on East Street today included a nice bunch of COMMON REDPOLLS, along with a dozen AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES. Meanwhile, a feeder in Belleville which earlier boasted a flock of 100 COMMON REDPOLLS saw none appear at his filled feeders today. In fact, there was nary a bird seen all day of any species. Zero, he emphasizes. Very unusual behaviour given that birds normally go into a feeding frenzy the day before a storm. And, there is snow  in the forecast for tomorrow (2 cm) and tomorrow night (5-10 cm), with possibly a little more for Sunday and Monday. All those birds (except for the redpolls!) must have been at our feeder for it was surely a circus out there today.

Thursday, February 05: Birding is addictive. It was quite evident by today’s reports that birders were anxious to get out today after snowy conditions yesterday prevented much activity. Just north of Rosehall, west of Wellington,  LAPLAND LONGSPURS were among the highlights today. There were about 30 in total, with a few SNOW BUNTINGS and at least one HORNED LARK thrown in for good measure. The birds were feeding along the roadside, and flushed numerous times due to passing cars. In Belleville, a HERMIT THRUSH was observed feeding on Euonymus shrubs in a backyard on Alexander Street. The bird was seen bobbing its tail slowly up and down in the manner of HERMIT THRUSHES and flew across the street to feed on some more Euonymus shrubs, where the bird was photographed by the observer as it perched on a wire and in a Silver Maple. The Victoria Road area in Prince Edward County had seven BALD EAGLES today. They were a bit easier to follow because of the updrafts. Otherwise birding seemed quite slow in that area as compared to past days. In the Napanee area, north of Selby, one backyard had 46 COMMON REDPOLLS  with at least one HOARY REDPOLL in the mix. Present too at this feeding station were 50 DARK-EYED JUNCOS among the usual species expected. The observer said bird feeding was non-stop, then at mid-afternoon, everything stopped except for one  DOWNY WOODPECKER who flattened himself against a peanut feeder, and froze as an incoming SHARP-SHINNED HAWK passed through the yard. On Sprague Road, Big Island, the Sharpie’s larger cousin the COOPER’S HAWK circled above a feeding area, doing several circles like a Turkey Vulture and deciding the sparse late afternoon birds weren’t worth the effort, and moved on. At Wicklow Beach at Colborne, a birder there has seen a SNOWY OWL hanging around for several months, along with a PILEATED WOODPECKER and a flock of SNOW BUNTINGS. Always a treat when winter visitors hang around in the same location for an extended period of time. At Kingston, some good sightings there as well with a  BALD EAGLE and BROWN CREEPER at Lake Ontario Park, AMERICAN ROBIN and RED-TAILED HAWK at Marshlands Conservation Area, and over in the Lemoine Point Conservation Area, 2 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS. The Presqu’ile Park Bird Report by resident Fred Helleiner for this week has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website, and can be read by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, February 04: No reports of sightings came in today, due to the weather.

Tuesday, February 03: Lake effect snow moved in along the southern parts of Prince Edward County today. Along the Bay of Quinte, the sun was shining. COMMON REDPOLLS are moving in, albeit it slowly at some feeders. One turned up at a feeder in Trenton today, and 20 made an unexpected visit at a feeder east of Lake on the Mountain. And, of course, the feeder in east end Belleville has become legendary with its 100+ Redpolls! In Napanee, 4 HOUSE FINCHES and a single PURPLE FINCH at a feeder on East Street. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW  is still coming to a feeder along C.R. 2 north of Wellington, just past Wilson Road. At West Lake near Sandbanks Park, a RED-TAILED HAWK dropped by at a backyard bird feeder, where a PILEATED WOODPECKER  has also been seen occasionally. At a feeder along Huyck`s Point Road, a SONG SPARROW was seen, as well as a NORTHERN HARRIER in the same spot where it was seen in mid-January. On the east side of Wellington along Conley Road, a flock of AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS is still there where they were seen about a month ago, this time numbering only 20 from an earlier estimate of 50 in early January. A COOPER`S HAWK was seen in Wellington. At Wellington Harbour, conditions allowed for at least a few waterfowl. Present today were a pair of REDHEADS, 2 female RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, 2 female Scaup of undetermined species, whether GREATER or LESSER, and 2 male COMMON GOLDENEYE.  There was also a large patch of newly formed ice on which were resting 40 swans, mostly MUTE SWANS and four CANADA GEESE all curled up and covered with snow. One bird feeder operator north of Brighton, near Codrington,  is making regular bird feed runs to the store, reminiscent of the days when EVENING GROSBEAKS used to descend on bird feeders by the hundreds. Although this person`s flock is smaller in size at 30 individuals, their appetites are no less voracious. And finishing off our Report this evening, a look at what Kingston offered today. A GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET was found along the trail at the Marshlands Conservation Area, on the west side of the Cataraqui Golf and Country Club. Across the road at Lake Ontario Park, a SONG SPARROW and 2 BROWN CREEPERS were seen.

Monday, February 02: No one was out birding today! The wind has died down, temperatures will improve tomorrow, so we will resume the Quinte Area Bird Report tomorrow evening. 

Sunday, February 01: A bit slow today, except for the lucky resident in the east end of Belleville who has the 100+ COMMON REDPOLLS at his feeders. In commenting today, he says they require consistent and expensive maintenance. Completely covering his available two niger seed feeders, he has had to clear a table on his deck and press that into service too, spreading the seed on its surface. The flock is roaming. If there is a disturbance they all fly off in a cloud and may not come back for hours so they must be feeding somewhere else in the neighbourhood. Typically, there would be 40-60, but more showed up before the last snowfall. More snow is forecast for tonight and tomorrow! Meanwhile, we have no such numbers in Prince Edward County although a half dozen or so are coming to a feeder in the Ameliasburgh area, with the potential for more as a flock of 40 showed up on Victoria Road, accompanied by a lone SNOW BUNTING. That`s the best we can do around here. The photo above is some of a rafter of WILD TURKEYS that one observer, James Buck,  saw today on Shannonville Road just north of 401. A large flock of SNOW BUNTINGS showed up on nearby Bronk Road. Two Trenton birders yesterday tried their luck on Wolfe Island, coming up with little, although they did tally 6 SNOWY OWLS, 125+ WILD TURKEYS, 65 SNOW BUNTINGS and a NORTHERN HARRIER. Some friends have formed a committee and are throwing me a celebration (a roast ???) on April 18th in Wellington in recognition of my retirement from 50 years of conducting interpretive events in the Quinte area. So much for sort of melting away into the horizon when I retired last month!   : - )  The organizers would love to have you, if you can make it. More information by CLICKING HERE.
Last Updated ( May 30, 2015 at 06:05 PM )
Presqu'ile Provincial Park Bird Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
May 28, 2015 at 03:00 AM

Presqu'ile Provincial Park Bird Report


Presqu'ile Provincial Park

courtesy of Fred Helleiner


 May 22 - May 28

Again this week, a few rarities spiced up the birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, indicating that the spring migration is not over.

A lone BRANT spent a few days on the shore of Gull Island.  Both  RING-NECKED DUCK (May 22) and LESSER SCAUP (May 24 and 25) were among the late waterfowl migrants.  Fifteen WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS flew past on Sunday.  A RED-THROATED LOON flew past Owen Point on May 26.  At least one HORNED GREBE, the first in several weeks, appeared on May 25.  This morning a LEAST BITTERN flew past in the marsh.  The GREAT EGRET colony on High Bluff Island appears to have been destroyed by raccoons, but a few individuals have been seen there in the past week.  At least for this year, the species is no longer one of the common summer birds.  Two SANDHILL CRANES were at the marsh boardwalk on Saturday.

Shorebirds have been the news-makers this week, with thousands descending on Presqu'ile on Sunday and respectable numbers on every other day.  There were double-digit numbers of BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS on at least three different days.  The expected WHIMBRELS did not disappoint, with small groups on the traditional date of May 24 and singles on at least two subsequent days.  RUDDY TURNSTONES have also been present in good numbers.  One of the biggest attractions was a flock of 50 RED KNOTS on May 24 that stayed only briefly. SANDERLINGS, while present every day this week, have not yet reached their expected numbers, but SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, now in the Dunlin. Photo by Ian Dickinsonhundreds, are currently the dominant shorebirds.  For two consecutive days a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was present.  All the foregoing sightings notwithstanding, the unquestioned shorebird highlights, marveled at by birders and non-birders alike, were the thousands of DUNLINS (photo by Ian Dickinson of Belleville) that occupied, it seemed, every square metre of shoreline and much of the air space.  SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS were seen on May 24 (10 birds on Gull Island), 25, and 26.  All of the few ARCTIC TERN records for Presqu'ile have fallen between May 26 and June 2, and the one on Owen Point yesterday was within that window.

Two fledgling BARRED OWLS accompanied by an adult in an undisclosed location provided an opportunity for a close-up photo of one of the young birds.  COMMON NIGHTHAWKS were seen on May 24 and 25 and CHIMNEY SWIFTS on May 22 and 25.  RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS are apparently here to stay for the summer.  MERLINS appear to be nesting in the Park, though no nest has yet been found.  A PEREGRINE FALCON was attracted to the shorebird swarms on Sunday.  At least one OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER was seen on Sunday.  A PHILADELPHIA VIREO on Sunday was on the late side.  A COMMON RAVEN on Monday was the only one noted this week.  A BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER on Sunday was one of the few seen in the Park this year.  The latest RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET was on May 22. Surprisingly, no one has yet reported a GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH or a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD this spring.  Although the warbler migration has definitely slowed down, Sunday's birdathon yielded a good variety of both early and late species.  Since the most recent PROTHONOTARY WARBLER record for the Park was in June, birders should not yet give up on their search for migrants, rare or otherwise.  CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS continue at the calf pasture. One of only three Presqu'ile LARK SPARROW records was on May 29 (in 2002), so even rare sparrow sightings can not be ruled out even this late in the season.  A LINCOLN'S SPARROW on May 24 was rather late.  A BOBOLINK on the ground at Owen Point on May 22 was a bit of a surprise.  ORCHARD ORIOLES will likely remain a fairly common bird in the Park for the rest of the summer.

To reach Presqu'ile Provincial Park, follow the signs from Brighton. Locations within the Park are shown on a map at the back of a tabloid that is available at the Park gate. Access to the offshore islands is  restricted at this time of year to prevent disturbance to the colonial nesting  birds there. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.

Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to:


Last Updated ( May 28, 2015 at 10:42 PM )
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