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Alec In Wilderland PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Sep 04, 2014 at 03:00 AM

 

  ALEC IN WILDERLAND 

                              Thursday, September 04, 2014                                      

The excellent book “Last Child in the Woods” takes a good look at how we can save children from Nature Deficit Disorder. The disorder refers to the hypothesis that paranoid parents have literally "scared children straight out of the woods and fields", while promoting a litigious culture of fear that favors "safe" regimented sports over imaginative outdoor play.       Today’s electronic world is keeping many children indoors glued to computer screens and discouraging them from connecting with nature. It is sad and it is epidemic.
 
Just when I wondered who, then, will be around to teach us about nature after we are gone, along comes Alec J. Fischer of Texas. I found him on YouTube one night when I was surfing through the YouTube subjects that pop up randomly in the side bar. He has been the star of his own “Alec in Wilderland” series since the age of 11. In one promotional video, he sadly laments how his friends talk about their high score on Call of Duty, but emphasizes that he has never been that way. He finishes this video with, “My name is Alec and I don’t play video games. I play outside.”
 
His Internet videos are fast paced and focus on survival, adventure and just simply being outside and exploring. I have seen him eat insects, start fires from scratch and demonstrate survival techniques from what’s close at hand. With his knife and scabbard always hanging from his belt and his infectious energy, he reminds me somewhat of a curious blend of an animated Crocodile Hunter (Steve Irwin) and a Crocodile Dundee on steroids!  He knows his stuff. There’s no doubt about that, and he has spent at least the past four or five years rigorously training for the YouTube episodes which are financed through private donations. He has visited several different countries filming these episodes where he continues to add to his bank of knowledge. Alec is quite at home in the water and many of the episodes I came across seemed to focus on that theme as he demonstrates how to catch and prepare fish, and responsible fishing (leaving no litter and discarded fishing line dangerous to wildlife). In fact, one viewer commented, “You always seem to be washing up on shore in many of your episodes!”
 
In one episode, Alec travels from Texas to South Africa to raise awareness about rhino poaching and to deliver a donation on behalf of his show. His passion and concern for the subject is clearly evident as he hugs one of the rhinos that has been saved and offers some poignant thoughts about the species’ future. Clearly, this was not acting, but rather, an expression of genuine love for this animal which also comes across in all of his other videos. In a truly emotional moment, he promises the rhino that one day he would be wild and free from poaching, and one day “I will see you again, and that is my promise”. If poaching rhinos for just their horns continues, Alec may lose that chance of ever seeing a rhino alive, much less in the wild with its horn still attached.
 
In one hilarious episode which had me laughing hysterically, he demonstrates how to use a condom to scoop up water from a stream. What is baffling is why any kid of 11 or 12, camping alone in the wilderness, would choose to pack such an item in his survival kit. His efforts to be professional are thwarted as he attempts to gain control of the unwieldy object, now full of water, and make his way doubled over, back to his campsite. In another, he demonstrates how it is possible to purify urine so it is drinkable. That one was a bit hard to take. Thanks, but in an emergency I will take my chances, and procure my water from a stream -  a natural stream, that is, flowing over rocks.
 
Mostly though, his episodes focus on grass roots survival techniques, something that most kids iPod thumbing their days away, have absolutely no knowledge of in today’s electronic world. Kids today can learn a lot from this young man’s drive and energy. It is so encouraging to see someone of that young age so fascinated and in love with the outdoors and know it is not just an act.  There is no nature deficit disorder with this young man.
 
As Alec enters his teens, we hope that he will maintain this level of energy and compassion for the outdoors, and continue recording his adventures on YouTube to inspire us all. “When you trust your wild side, anything is possible.  And if you ever decide to trust your wild side, just make sure you’re ready, because it just might lead you around the world on the greatest adventure of your life.”
 
And, that it has, for Alec J. Fischer of Texas.
 

 

Alec In Wilderland PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Sep 03, 2014 at 03:00 AM

 

  ALEC IN WILDERLAND 

                              Wednesday, September 03, 2014                                      

The excellent book “Last Child in the Woods” takes a good look at how we can save children from Nature Deficit Disorder. The disorder refers to the hypothesis that paranoid parents have literally "scared children straight out of the woods and fields", while promoting a litigious culture of fear that favors "safe" regimented sports over imaginative outdoor play.       Today’s electronic world is keeping many children indoors glued to computer screens and discouraging them from connecting with nature. It is sad and it is epidemic.
 
Just when I wondered who, then, will be around to teach us about nature after we are gone, along comes Alec J. Fischer of Texas. I found him on YouTube one night when I was surfing through the YouTube subjects that pop up randomly in the side bar. He has been the star of his own “Alec in Wilderland” series since the age of 11. In one promotional video, he sadly laments how his friends talk about their high score on Call of Duty, but emphasizes that he has never been that way. He finishes this video with, “My name is Alec and I don’t play video games. I play outside.”
 
His Internet videos are fast paced and focus on survival, adventure and just simply being outside and exploring. I have seen him eat insects, start fires from scratch and demonstrate survival techniques from what’s close at hand. With his knife and scabbard always hanging from his belt and his infectious energy, he reminds me somewhat of a curious blend of an animated Crocodile Hunter (Steve Irwin) and a Crocodile Dundee on steroids!  He knows his stuff. There’s no doubt about that, and he has spent at least the past four or five years rigorously training for the YouTube episodes which are financed through private donations. He has visited several different countries filming these episodes where he continues to add to his bank of knowledge. Alec is quite at home in the water and many of the episodes I came across seemed to focus on that theme as he demonstrates how to catch and prepare fish, and responsible fishing (leaving no litter and discarded fishing line dangerous to wildlife). In fact, one viewer commented, “You always seem to be washing up on shore in many of your episodes!”
 
In one episode, Alec travels from Texas to South Africa to raise awareness about rhino poaching and to deliver a donation on behalf of his show. His passion and concern for the subject is clearly evident as he hugs one of the rhinos that has been saved and offers some poignant thoughts about the species’ future. Clearly, this was not acting, but rather, an expression of genuine love for this animal which also comes across in all of his other videos. In a truly emotional moment, he promises the rhino that one day he would be wild and free from poaching, and one day “I will see you again, and that is my promise”. If poaching rhinos for just their horns continues, Alec may lose that chance of ever seeing a rhino alive, much less in the wild with its horn still attached.
 
In one hilarious episode which had me laughing hysterically, he demonstrates how to use a condom to scoop up water from a stream. What is baffling is why any kid of 11 or 12, camping alone in the wilderness, would choose to pack such an item in his survival kit. His efforts to be professional are thwarted as he attempts to gain control of the unwieldy object, now full of water, and make his way doubled over, back to his campsite. In another, he demonstrates how it is possible to purify urine so it is drinkable. That one was a bit hard to take. Thanks, but in an emergency I will take my chances, and procure my water from a stream -  a natural stream, that is, flowing over rocks.
 
Mostly though, his episodes focus on grass roots survival techniques, something that most kids iPod thumbing their days away, have absolutely no knowledge of in today’s electronic world. Kids today can learn a lot from this young man’s drive and energy. It is so encouraging to see someone of that young age so fascinated and in love with the outdoors and know it is not just an act.  There is no nature deficit disorder with this young man.
 
As Alec enters his teens, we hope that he will maintain this level of energy and compassion for the outdoors, and continue recording his adventures on YouTube to inspire us all. “When you trust your wild side, anything is possible.  And if you ever decide to trust your wild side, just make sure you’re ready, because it just might lead you around the world on the greatest adventure of your life.”
 
And, that it has, for Alec J. Fischer of Texas.
 
Quinte Area Bird Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Sep 01, 2014 at 06:00 AM

Lesser Yellowlegs. Photo by Gilles BissonLesser Yellowlegs. Photo by Gilles BissonTHE QUINTE AREA BIRD REPORT


 

with sightings from the Bay of Quinte region, and beyond

 

*******

Please e-mail your sightings 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. 


Dickcissel. Photo by Mark ReadMonday, September 01: The big news today, of course, came from Prince Edward Point when a juvenile male DICKCISSEL (photo by Mark Read of Kingston) was captured in the bobolink nets, and banded. In Prince Edward County, we have an amazing 16 records of this rare prairie species, dating back to mid-summer of 1940 when author Farley Mowat saw one perched on a fence near Consecon. The species didn’t turn up again until the winter of 1969 to 1970 when one was a sporadic visitor at a feeder on North Big Island Road. With increased interest in bird movement at Prince Edward Point, individuals started showing up there, with the first bird seen in 1970. One was banded in 2001, another showed up the following year, with more sightings in 2004, 2010 and 2012. This one, however, was the first one actually banded at the Observatory since 2001. Other confirmed sightings since 1940, have been made at Highway 62 near Jericho Road, one at a feeder near Cherry Valley, an individual at the west end of Big Island, and one at Point Petre. There is also a 1989 record of an individual at a feeder for two days in Trenton. NORTHERN PARULA, CANADA and WILSON’S WARBLERS were among 11 species of warblers that turned up today at Prince Edward Point. In amongst the ATVs and trucks, piles of rubbish and bonfires at Charwell Point along the County’s south shore, south of Army Reserve Road,  one brave birder today managed to check off SANDERLING and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER before retreating. At the Glenora Ferry this morning there was a movement of about a dozen COMMON TERNS. The wetland at Wilton Creek was very quiet today with only 2 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, 1 LEAST SANDPIPER and a few yellowlegs being present.

Sunday, August 31: Six species of warblers were tallied today at the Marshlands Conservation Area in Kingston off Front Road/King Street, just across from Cataraqui Bay. Among them were BAY-BREASTED and CAPE MAY WARBLER,  MAGNOLIA WARBLER and BLACKPOLL WARBLER. Other sightings there today included 4 GRAY CATBIRDS, and EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, 6 RED-EYED VIREOS and a CASPIAN TERN. Great spot to bird. I have birded that area since the mid 1960s. Lots of action still at the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville. Seen Friday night and Saturday night from the fence at the edge of the road were 34 GREAT EGRETS and one COMMON NIGHTHAWK each night. On Friday night, a GREAT HORNED OWL flew in to the trees at the observation spot at the fence, at almost the same time each night. Two SANDHILL CRANES that have appeared in past days off and on made an appearance both days, flying in from the south landing in the west end of the wetland. Lots of natural curiosities coming in these days for identification.

Saturday, August 30: Sometimes the best birding can happen right in one’s own backyard! While we were away enjoying some birding at a location several kilometres north of Tamworth, birder Jeff Haffner dropped in at 23 Sprague Road, Big Island,  and got a shot of one of  5 AMERICAN KESTRELS that were on the wires near our house. This one was on our 60’ free standing tower making use of a decommissioned TV antenna. Meanwhile, along Arden Road where we were exploring a piece of property, we found 2 BROAD-WINGED HAWKS – one calling in the distance, and one that remained in a dead tree limb for 60 seconds or so directly in front of us. BELTED KINGFISHER, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH, DOWNY WOODPECKER, RUFFED GROUSE, WILD TURKEY and GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER were also seen during a four-kilometre hike. At the Hamilton Wetland at daybreak,  5 GREATER YELLOWLEGS and 3 LESSER YELLOWLEGS were present. A total of 38 GREAT EGRETS flew out of their night roost at daybreak and headed in their usual northeast direction across Big Island and the Bay of Quinte. Thirty-five MALLARDS  were counted as were four WOOD DUCKS, a BELTED KINGFISHER, one DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (always present), and 8 BLUE-WINGED TEAL. Two SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER  were present again today in Wilton Creek south of Morven, and further away at Kemptville, 6 AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS (another on Wolfe Island yesterday) were found in a damp field on the sod farms just south of French Settlement Road. Closer to home, BELTED KINGFISHER, a juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPER and a GREEN HERON  were seen today along the Bayshore Trail in Belleville. A couple of weekend events in which you might be interested. Frontenac Outfitters 30th ANNUAL FALL SALE began today, and will continue for nine days, an excellent opportunity to get some great deals on kayaks, canoes and supplies. And at Presqu’ile Provincial Park, their MONARCHS AND MIGRANTS WEEKEND  continues tomorrow with bird banding demonstrations, guided bird walks, and Monarch Butterfly tagging. Senior Natural Heritage Education Leader David Bree will be offering a search for butterflies at the Nature Centre at noon. 

Friday, August 29: On Wilton Creek at Morven today, birds of note seen included 2 LEAST SANDPIPERS, 3 WILSON’S SNIPE, 2 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, and a SEMIPALMATED PLOVER.  Along Belleville’s Bayshore Trail, a GREEN HERON was seen and a SOLITARY SANDPIPER was seen on the east side of Belleville in a stormwater pond behind some mailboxes. Amherst Island did very well today with 6 AMERICAN REDSTARTS, 3 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, a BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER, 1 BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, TENNESSEE WARBLER,  WILSON’S WARBLER, 2 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, 1 MAGNOLIA WARBLER,  3 CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLERS, 7 BLUE-WINGED TEAL, a RUDDY TURNSTONE, and 4 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS. Twenty BONAPARTE’S GULLS  were seen at the Amhestview Sewage Lagoons. At Prince Edward Point, volunteers have been seeing a nice variety of warblers passing through with the first BLACKPOLL WARBLER, CAPE MAY WARBLER and BAY-BREASTED WARBLER caught over the last few days. There was a big movement of hawks yesterday with over 200 BROAD-WINGED HAWKS seen passing over and 1 banded. About 60 birds were banded today. Among the species recorded were WILSON'S, CHESTNUT-SIDED, TENNESSEE, NASHVILLE, and MAGNOLIA WARBLERS, AMERICAN REDSTART and NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH. As well, RED-EYED VIREO, SWAINSON’S THRUSH, VEERY, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK, DOWNY WOODPECKER and three immature BALD EAGLES.

Thursday, August 28: In the Quinte Area Bird Report, we very seldom give much space, if any, to the real common birds – the dirt birds, they are sometimes called. Like HOUSE SPARROWS, EUROPEAN STARLINGS or the DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT.  Bloomfield resident Ian Barker did pay some attention to a major flock of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS, comprising several thousand birds, at Prince Edward Point yesterday. As he describes what he saw between 2:20 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.”  While standing on the shore of Prince Edward Point at the open day use area just north of the banding station, facing the end of Timber Island, I noticed a long thin black line in the water to the north, extending from just west of Timber Island, and trending west, perhaps a kilometre or more off shore. I can't give a solid estimate of its length, but it may have been as much as a kilometre; many hundreds of metres at least. When I got my long lens on it (effective magnification c.1100mm), it proved to be comprised of a mass of cormorants, with the odd gull. The cormorants were swimming and diving west, and skeins would rise out of the water intermittently and fly to the head of the line, where they would begin swimming/diving again, so that the line moved westward, with flying birds hop-scotching over those in the water.  The distance and haze off the water make the image indistinct, but I think you can get the gist of what I am describing, though there aren't many birds flying in that shot.  Driving back toward the base of the Point at about 4:30 p.m., we encountered the flock again, along the north side of the Point where there is a height of land and a view of the water, a km or 2 east of Little Bluff. The birds were behaving the same, but closer to shore.” The accompanying image shows birds in the water headed west, and flying along in the same direction to get to the head of the line. Ian’s description describes a feeding frenzy, much similar to what I have seen with mergansers during autumn forming a wedge-shaped line, driving the fish ahead of them, and as though governed by a single impulse, diving simultaneously to harvest the fish. In the case of the Prince Edward Point birds, the cormorants first described seem to have been advancing in line abreast, while in Prince Edward Bay, they were clearly more or less in line astern. They were moving at perhaps more then a walking pace as a group, to have moved so far in two hours. Cormorants can be interesting. We just need to pay attention. This evening, five of us including the owner of the property, spent an hour or so at the Hamilton Wetland west of Demorestville, where we counted 24 GREAT EGRETS. Only this time, they did not gather in the trees, but rather, arrived one at a time from a northeasterly direction, and disappeared well into the wetland, out of sight. The number of GREATER and LESSER  YELLOWLEGS was beyond count as they were on the move constantly, but like numbered around 20. GREEN-WINGED TEALS numbered 52, but MALLARDS were fewer in number than our previous count, CANADA GEESE were absent, but a handful of AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS were present. Numerous KILLDEER, a single DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT that sat statue-like in a tree for 90 minutes. Also, BELTED KINGFISHERS were on hand and at least two MUTE SWANS appeared momentarily from behind the cattails.  The  WHITE IBIS at Napanee failed to put in an appearance today, but a GREAT BLUE HERON and a MERLIN were present. The Presqu’ile Bird Report by Fred Helleiner has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website and can be seen by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, August 27: Over the last two days banders and volunteers have seen a heavy movement of BOBOLINKS, with 210 banded! This is great to see especially for a Species at Risk in Ontario. A sad day today for hopeful birders who waited around for the WHITE IBIS to appear at Napanee. While it may still be around somewhere, it sure refused to put in an appearance today. The bird was first seen by Demorestville area resident Robert Lane who saw the bird in flight while on his way to work very early Sunday morning. The bird reappeared on Tuesday for Napanee resident Jeff Haffner, and was seen again later that same morning by Kingston area birder Mike Burrell who supplied the photo in last evening`s bird report. This is only the fifth time that a WHITE IBIS  has been recorded in Ontario. Keep your eyes peeled; it may show up again. At Sandbanks Provincial Park today, two adult BALD EAGLES were seen by one lucky hiker who crossed over the dunes from West Lake to the Lake Ontario shoreline in the area of Garrett`s Island. One eagle flew towards Wellington, and the other in the opposite direction, towards West Point. The juvenile BALD EAGLE  was still on the False Ducks two days ago (first seen earlier this month) along with a MERLIN that was having a tussle with an EASTERN KINGBIRD, with the latter narrowly escaping. Also present there was a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK. All the action was captured while the observer was fishing from a boat near the shoreline.   Along Nugent Road in the Napanee Limestone Plain area, a few interesting sightings today included LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO, YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, 2 SOLITARY SANDPIPERS, and an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER. And this just in from David Bree, Sr. Natural Heritage Education Leader at Presquìle Park, “This weekend is the Monarchs and Migrants weekend.  We are going to look at migrating birds, butterflies and maybe even dragonflies.  I’m doing the butterfly walk on Sunday at 12 noon and never can resist a passing dragonfly.  Of course we have our special guests Elizabeth Kellogg and Roger Frost  doing bird banding from 8am until 12 noon both Saturday and Sunday weather permitting.  I’ll give you a hint – the best time to come is shortly after 8am.  I know its early but the first net sweep usually has some birds.  And Don Davis will be here both days from 1pm to 3pm at the Lighthouse centre tagging Monarchs.  He has been doing this here on this weekend for 30 years! (he doesn’t look old enough) but has a  wealth of knowledge about monarchs a gives you a chance at a close-up look at one of nature’s marvels.Don’t forget our Nature Centre either – we are letting all the animals go on Sunday afternoon so get in there before that to say goodbye to our summer guests. And I’ll give you one more insider secret.  Not on the schedule but our last Marsh Cart of the year will be going on out at the boardwalk from 10am to noon on Friday morning so one last chance to dip a net into the marsh and see what you can discover.”  DETAILS

Tuesday, August 26: The WHITE IBIS was seen again this morning by two observers. Jeff Haffner of Napanee found it at 7:00 a.m. in the small creek that flows beside Walmart, located south off Highway 401 at Exit 579, and west a short distance on Jim Kimmett Blvd. Park before the bridge but be sure not to block the fire hydrant. The bird was north of the bridge in the creek before the bend. The bird showed up again at 9:30 a.m. for birder Mike Burrell, so it seems like the ibis may hang around for a bit with any luck. The bird was first spotted on Sunday by Robert Lane of Fish Lake (Prince Edward County). There have only been five previous sightings of this rare southern ibis in Ontario, one of them, in 2009, at Prince Edward Point. At Pleasant Bay today, Alderville First Nations residents and biologists, Rick and Jeff Beaver, spent the morning exploring what they said was one of the largest wild rice beds they have ever encountered, covering almost 350 acres, with an interest in harvesting some, once it ripens in a week or two. Watching them totally disappear into the forest of wild rice with their canoe, they scared up numerous waterfowl feeding on the bountiful crop including MALLARDS and WOOD DUCKS. Over a patch of sparse open water, a BELTED KINGFISHER hovered like a helicopter, then dove into the water for a successful catch. At Prince Edward Point, there has been a large movement of BOBOLINKS with over 200 banded and many more missing the nets. Other sightings down there have included MOURNING WARBLER, WARBLING VIREO, 2 VEERIES, 3 BAY-BREASTED WARBLERS, and one each of CANADA WARBLER, BLACKPOLL WARBLER, and TENNESSEE WARBLER. Two SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS were also observed.

Monday, August 25: The big news was the sighting of a juvenile WHITE IBIS in flight at 6:30 a.m. yesterday morning in Napanee. The bird was flying over the creek by Walmart in the area of 401. Keep your eyes peeled! BALD EAGLES seem to be migrating as there have been numerous sightings of them in Prince Edward County, especially involving adult birds. One was seen today at Smith’s Bay, joined a few minutes later by an immature bird. Today, at Beaver Meadow Conservation Area, near East Lake, birdlife was slow, but the 220-acre wetland did not disappoint. Two AMERICAN BITTERNS flew out of the cattails upon our approach to the first lookout. MUTE SWANS, WOOD DUCKS, BELTED KINGFISHERS, a vocal COMMON GALLINULE, GREEN HERON and a MARSH WREN were noted. In the wooded area, a RED-EYED VIREO kept up its persistent vocals. GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, two  COOPER’S HAWKS, GRAY CATBIRD, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES, EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, TURKEY VULTURE, NORTHERN FLICKER, PILEATED WOODPECKER and AMERICAN GOLDFINCH were also noted. No report from Prince Edward Point today, although ALDER FLYCATCHER, BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER, CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER and EASTERN PHOEBE were seen by a Belleville resident down there yesterday.

Sunday, August 24: Lots of great stuff at the Hamilton Wetland this evening, west of Demorestville. One of the highlights was a RUDDY DUCK at the wetland`s extreme east end. My purpose though in being there was to survey the GREAT EGRETS, which was difficult considering the presence of a beautiful adult BALD EAGLE that hung around, perched in a deciduous tree during the hour or so that I was there. The egrets were just beginning to get restless when I arrived at 6:50 p.m. and the count this evening was 24. Nearby was a GREAT BLUE HERON and a BELTED KINGFISHER, both poised in trees and fixated on the water below them. Four GREATER and 1 LESSER YELLOWLEGS were present in the shallows along with at least 8 KILLDEER. But the most interesting part of the evening was when the birds started to retreat deeper into the wetland for the night. The egrets soon started leaving, one by one, and by 7:10 p.m,., there were only 10, with the last individual departing at 7:27 p.m. During this time, the waterfowl were starting to get restless too. First to go were the 55 CANADA GEESE, followed 10 minutes later in a massive exodus of 450 MALLARDS. Next to go were 11 WOOD DUCKS, a dozen GREEN-WINGED TEAL, but the AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS (13) appeared to be staying  for the night for a late movie, while everything that left before them were now making a tremendous din in the depths of the wooded wetland as they vied for space. An OSPREY and some 300 EUROPEAN STARLINGS also dropped by as it was getting dusk. A SANDHILL CRANE has been seen in the pasture field adjacent to the wetland some mornings. The owner says winter is on its way as she spotted a WOODCHUCK running from her barn with several pieces of hard Styrofoam. Insulation for its burrow ? What`s next – hydro ? BALD EAGLES are on the move too. In addition to the individual seen this evening, an adult was seen on East Lake, and 2 more eagles were spotted at Prince Edward Point. OSPREY, WOOD DUCKS, YELLOW WARBLERS and BALTIMORE ORIOLES were also present at Prince Edward Point. It is also the season for shorebirds and, of course, Presquìle Park is a good spot to go. Today, about 60 juvenile SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, 40 juvenile LEAST SANDPIPERS, 3 molting adult SANDERLINGS, about 10 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS (adults and juveniles), an adult RUDDY TURNSTONE, a KILLDEER and 2 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS  were tallied. As the season advances and more juvenile birds arrive to join the earlier arriving adults, shorebirding should improve over the next few weeks because the abundant decaying algae along the shoreline is full of fly larvae (a shorebird favourite) and because the water level on Lake Ontario normally continues to drop in August providing more muddy habitat.  A RED-THROATED LOON was close to Owen Point as well. Don`t forget, there is still time to take in some of the interpretive events at Presqu`ile Park before the summer season ends. Also, this coming weekend is their Monarchs and Migrants Weekend. You can see all the events by CLICKING HERE.

Saturday, August 23: The GREAT EGRET season has arrived once again at the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville, and I suspect at other identified roosting areas as well. Last evening, from about 7:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m., there were 24 GREAT EGRETS preparing to roost in the trees just beyond the standing water, including a blue wing-tagged egret #94B. That egret was banded and tagged by Canadian Wildlife Service on June 26th this year at Nottawasaga Island near Collingwood and was too young to fly at that time. Now that there is some action in there, Chip Weseloh (retired from the CWS) and I will be monitoring the activity some mornings and evenings until they finally migrate south in October. Anyone wishing to get in on the action can easily set up a spotting scope at the fence right at the side of the road and see quite clearly from there. Due to the high water level, binoculars will work well too. Birders are asked not to cross the fence as there are cattle pasturing in there. COMMON NIGHTHAWKS are still on the move. Three were in a feeding frenzy with TREE SWALLOWS over a residence along Fish Lake Road near Demorestville last night. An incredible 56 COMMON NIGHTHAWKS  were counted over Barry Road in the Barry Heights area of Trenton, all in a rapid, loose flock moving in a southwest direction. An immature BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON continues to hang out in the Moira River off Station Street in Belleville. Banding at Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory was rained out this morning, but 4 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS were seen in the harbour.

Friday, August 22: Now we’re movin’, and so are the birds! Warblers of several species are appearing, and a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH , likely a migrant, showed up at a peanut feeder along Swamp College Road, north of Wellington where other species present included juvenile ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, NORTHERN FLICKERS and both HAIRY and DOWNY WOODPECKERS. At Consecon Lake, a GOLDEN EAGLE has been seen several times this week. COMMON NIGHTHAWKS are still on the move with 9 seen over the Moira River at Lost Channel near Thomasburg and two seen last night flying over the Napanee Hospital parking lot. At Prince Edward Point, today there was a nice mix of early migrants: CANADA, YELLOW, NASHVILLE, and  MAGNOLIA WARBLERS, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, AMERICAN REDSTART, TRAIL'S FLYCATCHER (Alder or Willow), SONG SPARROW, BOBOLINK, DOWNY WOODPECKER, RED EYED VIREO, BLACK CAPPED CHICKADEE, CEDAR WAXWINGS and RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS. A WILLET was reported from Wilton Creek early this morning and was still present there at noon. WILSON’S SNIPE, MERLIN, LEAST SANDPIPERS, GREEN HERON and ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK were some of the sightings made today at the wetland south of Morven. At the Amherstview Sewage Lagoons, WOOD DUCKS, LESSER YELLOWLEGS, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER, and HOODED MERGANSER were some of the highlights at that location. Earlier in the week, a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE was present there for a couple days. North of Kingston, at Bedford Mills, an adult male EVENING GROSBEAK came to a feeder on 18th but was too large to enter the cage feeder and join the AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES. A little further south, a SANDHILL CRANE was again reported from the Elbow Lake Environmental Educational Station four days ago.

Thursday, August 21: Once again, a good day with quite a few reports coming in. But, it was a mixture of birds, mammals and insects. Depending on where you lived, some had showers, while others did not. The Hastings Farm Show on Salem Road, northwest of Stirling, at which I was staffing a booth for the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan had fog, heavy overcast conditions, almost blistering sunshine, and a one hour rainfall, all in the space of seven hours. While I was extolling my wisdom to visitors about septic beds and septic tanks, down in Prince Edward County, at Lake on the Mountain, an adult BALD EAGLE flew over. At Prince Edward Point, it was a mixed bag of observations this morning including GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, DOWNY WOODPECKER, 5 GIANT SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLIES, 4 MONARCH BUTTERFLIES and a LONG-TAILED WEASEL. The first few day of banding have been good, a steady number of birds moving through with a nice selection of species to start the season off. Banders have already broken the fall species count record for BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS with a total of seven individuals caught. At Shannonville, a WALKING STICK was found attached to a door frame. At Smith’s Bay, a birding couple there noted a BELTED KINGFISHER chasing another one, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, GREAT BLUE HERON, GREEN HERON, NORTHERN FLICKER, WOOD DUCK, AMERICAN KESTREL and OSPREY. At the Brighton Constructed Wetland, birds present there included VIRGINIA RAILS, COMMON GALLINULE, LESSER YELLOWLEGS, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, KILLDEER and LEAST SANDPIPERS. Visitors to the wetland are reminded that you need to purchase a $5.00 permit to access the wetland. GREAT EGRETS -  a quick-while-driving count of 8 GREAT EGRETS at the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville. Six COMMON NIGHTHAWKS flew over Brighton at 6:30 p.m. this evening.  One mammal decided that he “OTTER”  use the dock to take its noon nap. Cottage owners at Smith's Bay said they usually see see RIVER OTTERS  once a year or not at all but they have been around quite a lot this year. They enjoyed their listing dock which made a perfect ramp when the water was higher. They had only seen them four times but they leave fish heads on the dock sometimes and clods of mud. One morning last month the resident MINK used the ramp, checked out a fish head and carried it home.  Not bad for a half hour viewing. What a treat to have a location where nature may be viewed and enjoyed right from the front lawn.The Presqu'ile Park weekly bird report has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website. You can access this week's report by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, August 20: Well, considering the weather today, there was a surprising number of sightings that came in today. The Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory had a normal mix of warblers including the first few NASHVILLE WARBLERS (3 banded) and a GREAT EGRET fly over. Twelve GREAT EGRETS were present in the Hamilton Wetland west of Demorestville when I passed by there late this afternoon. Toward the west end of Black Road, there are now two YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS  visiting a peanut feeder there, along with BOBOLINK, EASTERN MEADOWLARKS, five EASTERN KINGBIRDS and an EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE in the adjacent fields and wooded area. Three NORTHERN FLICKERS have been present at Bay Meadows Trailer Park at Pleasant Bay, as well as good numbers of BALTIMORE ORIOLES. Last evening in Napanee, the sky in the area of the hospital was full of COMMON NIGHTHAWKS, swooping and diving from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. At least 15 to 20 were seen on a 30-minute walk from Dundas Street north to Bridge Street by a Napanee resident.  At Picton’s Armoury Mall, CHIMNEY SWIFTS began entering the chimney there last night at 8:06 p.m., but were interrupted when an AMERICAN KESTREL appeared on the scene at 8:15 p.m. and commenced to chase them around the building. The flock headed toward the Marsh Creek area of Delhi Park just east of there, but within five minutes some began to return. Total county at the old armouries building ended at 39 CHIMNEY SWIFTS. Results are beginning to trickle in from The August 09-10 Bio Blitz at the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block near Prince Edward Point. Complete lists are still being compiled and will be released as soon as everything is completed. However, we can say that bird species numbered 47, there were 23 butterfly species  and four moth species documented. Ten species of dragonflies were found, 7 species of grasshoppers, and other species of insects numbered 56. Six species of mammals were found, 3 amphibian species and one reptile – a LITTLE BROWN SNAKE (DeKay’s Snake). 

Tuesday, August 19: The day started off today with a RED-TAILED HAWK perched on a hydro pole along Fry Road, south of Picton.  Five EASTERN KINGBIRDS and a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER were highlights near the west end of Black Road, near Demorestville. At Kingston’s Lemoine Point Conservation Area, EASTERN TOWHEE, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, BALTIMORE ORIOLE and GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER were tallied. And at the Amherstview Sewage Lagoons, interesting finds there chalked up included 1 WOOD DUCK, 5 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, a MERLIN and a LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 3 GADWALL, 175 BONAPARTE’S GULLS, and a BALD EAGLE made for a good day there. SOLITARY SANDPIPER, YELLOW WARBLER, RED-EYED VIREO and 2 ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS were among the finds along Washburn Road in the Joyceville area. The GRAYLAG GOOSE  is still present at Presqu’ile Park where it has been along the beach for much of the year, associating with CANADA GEESE. The fall bird banding program is underway now at Prince Edward Point and this space will be reporting what volunteers have seen and banded down there as sightings come in. Over the weekend, six species of warblers and one hybrid were seen – TENNESSEE, BLACKBURNIAN, CANADA, CAPE MAY, and CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLERS, AMERICAN REDSTART and a BREWSTER’S WARBLER. Other sightings from Prince Edward Point on the weekend included 3 ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, 48 BOBOLINKS, 4 BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS, 3 CEDAR WAXWINGS, 2 EASTERN TOWHEES, 3 ROS-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, 3 PURPLE FINCHES, and singles of GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, EASTERN KINGBIRD, and DOWNY WOODPECKER. It’s happening! The fall migration is starting to happen. Weren’t we doing a spring Birdathon just a little while ago?

Monday, August 18: Clearly, birds are getting restless with signs of the fall migration already underway. If you didn’t read last evening’s report, do so now to get an idea of the shorebirds to be found at Presqu’ile Park. We can assume that the presence of more observers in the field these days can attribute to no dearth of GREEN HERON sightings, such as this one seen in the Bay of Quinte at Belleville. Juvenile birds are turning up everywhere and confusing many new birders with their juvenile coats and incomplete songs. A juvenile NORTHERN HARRIER, very orangy in colour on the breast, was present in the marsh off the boardwalk at the H.R. Frink Centre this morning. At South Bay, one resident there reported dozen of EASTERN KINGBIRDS and CEDAR WAXWINGS feasting on the berries of a large Pagoda Dogwood in his yard over the past few days. In previous years, there would be hundreds of EUROPEAN STARLINGS that would start stripping the tree at the top and work their way down until not a single berry was left. Starlings are few and far between along his road this year, he says. In the Big Island Marsh, 30 or more CANADA GEESE settled on Sprague Pond this evening and created a din unlike anything I have heard before, and inside of 30 minutes, were still present, but uncharacteristically quiet. The EASTERN SCREECH-OWL on Sprague Road was calling again early this morning before light, and two BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS were calling in its place this afternoon. At Shannonville this morning, a GREAT BLUE HERON flew low over the train trestle near the community of Milltown, and another GREEN HERON was reported from the Salmon River at the Kingsford Conservation Area. A SORA at the Moscow Marsh, a GREAT EGRET near Sunbury, and a PIED-BILLED GREBE at the Camden Lake Provincial Wildlife Area were other sightings reported today. There have been a number of queries about our first ever Bio Blitz at the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block two weekends ago, and the results of that are still being compiled. However, a story and photo collage about the event and some of what we saw can be seen on the NatureStuff website by CLICKING HERE. Our thanks, of course, to the 60 or more participants who took part and made it a resounding success.

Sunday, August 17: And amazing Sunday today with lots of signs of the autumn season upon us, despite the date. Small skeins of CANADA GEESE have been flying back and forth for the last several days at Big Island (and likely elsewhere too), and one skein was even heading south over Lake on the Mountain. Birds at Amherst Island were performing well, and found at Amherst Island today were NORTHERN HARRIER, 9 EASTERN KINGBIRDS, 11 LEAST SANDPIPERS, 3 MARSH WRENS and 17 CASPIAN TERNS. Shorebirds in the Brighton area are arriving thick and furious. The highlight today was a juvenile RED-NECKED PHALAROPE at the Brighton Sewage Lagoon along County Road 64. Directly across the road at the Brighton Constructed Wetland, 35 LESSER YELLOWLEGS and 10 SOLITARY SANDPIPERS  were counted and a WILSON’S SNIPE along with the usual complement of KILLDEER and SPOTTED SANDPIPERS, and a handful of LEAST and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS. However, at Presqu’ile Park’s Owen Point, the scene was a bit different where SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS numbered between 110 and 120. Two juvenile BAIRD’S SANDPIPERS, 2 adult SANDERLINGS, 12-15 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, 4 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, 7 juvenile LEAST SANDPIPERS, 4 juvenile (and 1 adult) RUDDY TURNSTONES and a juvenile RED KNOT were all tallied today. As expected, the juvenile shorebirds seem to be rolling in right now, as they always do a few weeks following the arrival of the adult birds. An adult WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was at Owen Point yesterday. At the Harmony Road Wetland, off Highway 37 north of Belleville, a GREEN HERON narrowly avoided capture by a young PEREGRINE FALCON.  Lots of young COMMON GALLINULES, VIRGINIA RAILS and a MARSH WREN.  An OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER made a brief appearance. At Ameliasburgh, three AMERICAN KESTRELS were seen – two along the east end of Salem Road, and another just south of there at Melville Road. An EASTERN SCREECH-OWL was calling enthusiastically along Sprague Road at 4:00 a.m. this morning despite the chorus of COYOTES calling from the same direction. A BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO showed up along Gorsline Road near Demorestville for one surprised hiker. Near Smithfield, a PILEATED WOODPECKER flew over Telephone Road and a WILSON’S SNIPE flew across the road in front of a motorist along Stoney Point Road between Highway 2 at Smithfield and County Road 64 at the Murray Canal. A MERLIN was seen along Coltman Road beside the Brighton Wildlife Area. And a female VIRGINIA OPOSSUM was found dead today on County Road 10 about two kilometres south of Cherry Valley. Could be the same one that was visiting a feeder all winter closer to Sandbanks Park.

Saturday, August 16: Birding focal points were hopping today, but if you wanted to enjoy their offerings, you needed to be out and about in the morning, as it surely rained this afternoon. Four CASPIAN TERNS were present this morning at the Camden Lake Provincial Wildlife Area, north of Camden East. The lake was busting with 2 OSPREY, 2 GREAT BLUE HERONS, 40 RING-BILLED GULLS, and 9 COMMON LOONS. Not to be outdone was Memorial Park along the Moira River off Station Street in Belleville where a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON  was the highlight there. Also present were BELTED KINGFISHER, 4 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS, a GREAT BLUE HERON, 3 OSPREYS and a MERLIN. Birders in the Kingston area were in an active mood too and among the areas visited was Lemoine Point Conservation Area near the Norman Rogers Airport. Seen here were EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, 3 EASTERN KINGBIRDS, 3 COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, 30 CEDAR WAXWINGS, a BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER and a BALTIMORE ORIOLE. Five kilometres east of there, at the Marshlands Conservation Area, similar success was had with 4 ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, 3 LEAST FLYCATCHERS, 6 CHIMNEY SWIFTS, a CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, 2 COMMON LOONS and a GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER among the more than a dozen species noted there. At Adolphustown, two COMMON TERNS  were noted at the Glenora Ferry landing. South-east of Napanee, along Wilton Creek, shorebird numbers seem to fluctuate daily but SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, SOLITARYSANDPIPER, LESSER and GREATER YELLOWLEGS, LEAST SANDPIPER, KILLDEER, SPOTTED SANDPIPER and WILSON'S SNIPE can all still be found. For all of us MONARCH BUTTERFLY enthusiasts out there, Quinte Conservation has about 100 COMMON MILKWEED plants left over from their summer programs. QC would like to give them all to someone for a large project such as naturalizing a field. A pamphlet with planning ideas and an explanation of the importance of milkweed is included. Contact Maya Navrot at Quinte Conservation, 613-968-3434 (131), or e-mail .

Friday, August 15: "Nothing goes better together than a goldfinch on a sunflower." For much of spring and all of last month they didn’t have a care in the world as they travelled in loose flocks, bounding over the fields in typical roller coaster flight. They are especially busy right now, because unlike some other birds that are migrating south right this month, AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES are just now getting down to the business of nesting. For them, the wait is intentional as they put off nesting until the thistles ripen. Not only do they line their nests with the ripening thistle down, but they feed their young the seeds from thistles. So why don’t other seed eating birds also wait for the seeds of their favourite plants to ripen before they begin nesting? Many songbirds, while seed eaters themselves, catch insects for their young as the stomachs of young birds are simply too underdeveloped to handle mature seeds. They must have meat. Goldfinches, however, are highly specialized little birds, and thistle seed it has to be. How the young birds manage with a diet of seeds is rather interesting. Obviously the young birds are no better able to handle the digestion of mature seeds than any other seed eating bird. So, the parent birds eat it for them - partially digest it, then regurgitate the viscid seed porridge into the mouths of its young. Often this slippery concoction will be garnished with partially digested bits of worm, insects and other animal matter. Bon appetit. They depend on thistle for their livelihood, much the same as Monarch butterflies depend on milkweed. In fact, even their Latin name Carduelis tristis reflects their dependance on thistle seed, carduelis being Latin for thistle. But it’s more than just food for these lovable little "wild canaries." Their nests are also lined with plant fibres and down from the thistle, small cup-like structures that are woven so tightly, they can actually hold water, which can spell doom for some nestlings during periods of heavy rain - not a problem this year! Goldfinches are regarded as migratory birds with spectacular numbers noted at Prince Edward Point during both September and October. But large numbers winter over too, and do very well between feasting on exposed thistles and the fine fare offered at winter bird feeders. But the males no longer carry their handsome coats of yellow. Later this fall they will throw off their gaudy dress and assume the more sombre tones of the females. Those people who maintain bird feeders through the winter and on into spring will notice small flocks of goldfinches in the winter, and delight in the transformation of the males as they swing back into their black and yellow coats.

Thursday, August 14: It can only be considered a coincidence that after mentioning in last evening's report that the BLACK VULTURE is being seen more frequently now in the area, that a probable BLACK VULTURE should turn up today at South Bay. The bird was seen about a half kilometre west of the South Bay Mariner’s Museum along County Road 10. If accepted by the Rare Birds Committee (me !), this will make the eighth year since 1997 that this southern species has been recorded in Prince Edward County. Today seemed to be a write-off for birders in the Quinte area due to cloudy, windy conditions, and misty rain in the afternoon, but on either side of us, it was business as usual. An hour spent by two observers at the Brighton Constructed Wetland yielded 10 shorebird species: 1 SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, 5 KILLDEER, 3 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS, 11 SOLITARY SANDPIPERS, 3 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 75+ GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 1 STILT SANDPIPER, 16 LEAST SANDPIPERS, 3 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS and 1 WILSON’S SNIPE. For a relatively small wetland, this is a phenomenal list of shorebirds with excellent numbers. Yesterday, a birder at Point Traverse chalked up 27 species of birds, among them 2  BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS, 7 COMMON TERNS, CASPIAN TERN, LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 3 MERLINS, and 3 NORTHERN FLICKERS. At Kingston’s Lemoine Point Conservation Area, two RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS  were seen. In Wellington, a juvenile BALTIMORE ORIOLE found out the hard way that it is quite impossible to fly through a window, no matter how enticing the reflection of the trees. However, unlike many, this one survived to re-join its sibling out in the trees. Among the warblers seen this week at Presqu’ile Park that were probably migrants were a NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH, a BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, two MOURNING WARBLERS, and a CAPE MAY WARBLER.  Two EASTERN TOWHEES were seen yesterday, and a PURPLE FINCH on Sunday. To see this week’s Presqu’ile Park Bird Report by Fred Helleiner, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, August 13: Very little birding today except at Kingston’s Lemoine Point where highlights there included EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, RED-EYED VIREO and 10 CEDAR WAXWINGS. It was a bit too drafty today for much serious birding. The following story that came in from Cornwall, could be titled “Engine Knock”. Ontario Birding News reported that there are some car problems that your mechanic simply cannot fix. A PILEATED WOODPECKER earlier this year decided to check out someone’s car for resonance, because it liked the sound it made when he put his beak to work. Kicking tires to see how a car stands up to scrutiny is one thing, but tapping vigorously on the surface with a chiseled beak is quite another. The newsletter said that this was the scene off and on since spring in a residential section of Cornwall. Local club president Mike Chegrinec said he had been dodging his neighbours, not wanting to admit that he is a birder and is guilty by association. Thankfully for Mike, the bird gave him a pass, but we still don’t know whether the bird prefers domestic or foreign. A few other interesting bits of trivia from the same newsletter. SANDHILL CRANES – Their breeding range in Ontario is expanding and hundreds even overwinter in the Long Point (Lake Erie) area, as two did successfully west of Wellington two winters ago. FISH CROW – Since the first Prince Edward County sighting in May of 2013 at Prince Edward Point, followed by one at the same spot just this past April, they are popping up all over Ontario, so expect a few of these to be breeding locally within the next few years. WHITE PELICAN – It is no longer necessary to travel all the way to northwestern Ontario to see this species as it is a regular now during migration in the southwest and appears annually in the Hamilton area. They are even showing up almost annually in the Bay of Quinte region. BLACK VULTURE – Again, more sightings are occurring each year, and may even be nesting in the Niagara area. Since 2002 when the first sighting of one took place at Prince Edward Point, they have shown up in seven different years in the Quinte area. So forget the bird guides that claim a certain species is not to be expected in our area. That is no longer the case. Anything is possible these days.

Tuesday, August 12: Well, it isn’t surprising that no one appeared to be out birding today. I had great aspirations of spending a couple hours at Beaver Meadow Conservation Area near Picton, but the rain refused to let up while I was in Picton running errands, even though the conservation area at that point was but a five minute drive away. However, the rain was a welcome sound when I got up this morning. Three CHIMNEY SWIFTS were foraging over a house east of Lake On the Mountain yesterday, and an EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE was singing from a dead tree in the same backyard. Folks are still talking about the Ostrander Point Bio Blitz that was held over the weekend in an effort to document all creatures that make this part of the South Shore Important Bird Area their home. An exciting new discovery for Ostrander Point was the HARVESTER BUTTERFLY, the caterpillars of which feed only on a particular group of plant lice, which in turn feed only on a few kinds of woody shrubs in swamps. It is our only carnivorous butterfly. This remarkable, rare and local insect is not only new for Ostrander Point; it is also the first and only record for Prince Edward County, again establishing the biodiversity value of Ostrander.  Also documented was the rare APPALACHIAN BROWN BUTTERFLY, also an inhabitant of swamps. The data will allow us to answer some of the questions about Ostrander Point that have been left unanswered by the “studies” done by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Gilead Power.  It will be added to the County’s Natural Heritage System data base and help to inform the Official Plan Review on the environment of the South Shore. I will have a photo collage of last weekend on my website in a few days. Meanwhile, read a bit about the successful survey by CLICKING HERE.

Monday, August 11: Early this morning, I birded the Menzel Provincial Nature Reserve on Roblin Road, 18 km north of Deseronto. On the 2.4 km walk in, the deer flies and mosquitoes were relentless, but two hours later on the return walk, they had all but vanished, resulting in some pleasurable birding. There were two COMMON LOONS on Mud Lake when I arrived at the end of the trail, and NORTHERN FLICKER and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT were present in the deciduous woods beside the lake. The highlight came when  2 CANADA WARBLERS, still in brilliant breeding plumage, were found singing in a single tree beside the trail. Also found along the trail this morning were BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO, 3 EASTERN TOWHEES, 2 FIELD SPARROWS, RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, 4 COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, and one UPLAND SANDPIPER (along Deseronto Road near Shannon Road). To see a short video about this amazing spot, CLICK HERE. BARRED OWLS  were heard calling today along County Road 1 (Schoharie Road), northwest of Bloomfield. A few reports came in too late last night for inclusion for last evening’s report, but included an impressive 24 CHIMNEY SWIFTS  circling above the Armoury Mall in Picton (Prince Edward County Field Naturalists reportedly counted 36 last Tuesday). The SANDHILL CRANES, in the accompanying photo were seen on Schoolhouse Road near Point Petre where other birds of note included INDIGO BUNTING, 20 BOBOLINKS and 6 UPLAND SANDPIPERS. At Ostrander Point yesterday, one birder found  6 LEAST FLYCATCHERS, 1 MERLIN, RED-EYED VIREO, 2 YELLOW WARBLERS, and YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO. A MERLIN  was seen at Prince Edward Point. The Gray’s Wetland south of Morven, in the Napanee area, is still holding its own with shorebirds. Species of note seen there yesterday included SPOTTED SANDPIPER, LEAST SANDPIPERS, GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, and WILSON’S SNIPE. Planes, Trains and Automobiles – three days ago, an observer noted that a LEAST BITTERN had been hit by a train south of Napanee. Today, the same observer while driving 401 between Trenton and Belleville watched as a GREAT BLUE HERON  passing over the highway was struck by the roof air deflectors of an 18-wheeler. The force of the impact propelled the heron to the shoulder of the road where it appeared to have survived, but had disappeared when the same observer returned a couple hours later. No absence of BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS these days as their monotonous phrases can be heard almost everywhere. Their abundance may be attributed to the high number of FALL WEBWORM tents that we are seeing right now in bushes and trees. Cuckoos are one of few species that will tackle the spiny caterpillars and are able to do so because they have a disposable stomach lining which is regurgitated, stomach lining, indigestible spines and all once it becomes full, whereupon the bird promptly grows another stomach lining.

Sunday, August 10: For an incredibly hot day, there were a lot of birders out today. It appeared that I started the day with a bird walk at Ostrander Point at South Bay at 7:00 a.m. with a nice little crowd of people. Twenty species were seen, among then GRAY CATBIRD, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT. The highlight came when one of three BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS heard during the two hour walk, started singing from a bush very close to a roadway we were following to the lakeshore. When I played its song on the iPod so those on the walk could have a chance to see it, the bird became very agitated and flew right over my head, missing my hat by six inches according to one participant. The bird made two more passes before deciding that we simply were not worth the effort on such a warm morning. The wildlife survey was part of a 24-hour Bio Blitz with several leaders in various fields of interest assisting, among them Dr. Paul Catling who entertained his group with a sighting of an APPALACHIAN BROWN butterfly in a wetland along Ostrander Point Road. At Point Petre, a birder there had 54 species, certainly a respectable total for August, among them 7 warbler species, including BLACKBURNIAN, NASHVILLE and BLACK-AND-WHITE. A possible immature LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was also seen at Point Petre a day earlier. At the H.R. Frink Centre today, juvenile VIRGINIA RAILS, GREAT BLUE HERON and NORTHERN HARRIERS, GREEN HERON, NORTHERN FLICKER and BELTED KINGFISHER. Two birders/anglers fishing off Timber Island at Prince Edward Point had an eagle day  yesterday, finding 1 immature BALD EAGLE on Swetman Island and 2 adult BALD EAGLES on Timber Island. The immature BALD EAGLE  was approached to within 50 yards. The Hamilton Wetland west of Demorestville, produced much the same totals as the previous night, the highlights being 20 GREAT EGRETS, 4 GREAT BLUE HERONS, and PIED-BILLED GREBES. In Belleville, an east end Belleville birder was out for an hour and said he found more birds in a development area at Haig Road than he ever has seen on established trails elsewhere in the area. His list included NORTHERN FLICKER, GRAY CATBIRD, AMERICAN GOLDFINCH, AMERICAN ROBIN, MOURNING DOVE, SONG SPARROW, VESPER SPARROW, GRASSHOPPER SPARROW and TREE SWALLOW. He also reported seeing many Odonate species, several Skippers, and both BLACK and GIANT SWALLOWTAIL butterflies.

Saturday, August 09: Six species of shorebirds were present today at  Morven’s Wilton Creek – 14 LEAST SANDPIPERS, 7 KILLDEER, 5 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS, 5 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 12 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 1 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER. A nice gathering of BOBOLINKS took place today near the west end of Black Road when 38 were counted perched on the backyard fence and more in the field, along with 4 EASTERN MEADOWLARKS, HOUSE FINCHES and a SONG SPARROW. Lots of action these days at the Hamilton Wetland west of Demorestville. The egret roost that was first discovered there last year at this time, is building in numbers with 20 GREAT EGRETS counted last night at sunset. Also present, 4 GREAT BLUE HERONS, OSPREY, PIED-BILLED GREBE, EASTERN KINGBIRDS, WOOD DUCKS, CANADA GEESE and a family of MUTE SWANS. It seems that birds are killed these days not only by speeding cars, but by speeding trains as well. A LEAST BITTERN was found dead beside the railway tracks at the Gray’s Wetland, south of Napanee today. Near the west end of Big Island,a pure albino TREE SWALLOW has been joining the flocks of swallows up that way. Just a reminder that I will be leading a hike at Ostrander Point tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. sharp. Join me if you can. The walk is part of the very first OSTRANDER POINT CROWN LAND BLOCK Bio Blitz. My group will be looking for birds, but other groups will be out until noon recording aquatic insects, butterflies and alvar birds. Details and a schedule of events can be found by CLICKING HERE.

Friday, August 08: The Quinte Area Bird Report is pleased to offer congratulations to Brighton resident Barry Kant for the Honourable Mention he received for a photo of a BALTIMORE ORIOLE at its nest. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Inthaca, New York contacted Barry this week on behalf of its Home Tweet Home photo contest. The contest was run by Nestwatch at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  Barry Kant’s photos appear often on the NatureStuff website.   A good area to do some birding is at the Camden Lake Provincial Wildlife Area, located about 15 km north of Camden East. The area comprises over 4,000 acres, 1700 acres of which is open lake. There are two trails within the area as well. Today, according to one observer, the property was full of wildlife. In just two hours, seen were OSPREY, TURKEY VULTURE, AMERICAN BITTERN, both BLACK and CASPIAN TERNS, 4 COMMON LOONS and a PIED-BILLED GREBE. Also present were several species of dragonflies and butterflies, including 3 GIANT SWALLOWTAILS and a MONARCH BUTTERFLY. There were also AMERICAN ROBINS, MOURNING DOVES, COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, GRAY CATBIRDS, EASTERN KINGBIRDS, CANADA GEESE, RING-BILLED GULLS, MARSH WRENS and BLUE JAYS. Over 60 PURPLE MARTINS were present throughout the day at 23 Sprague Road – quite a sight and quite the musical conversation happening. Along Sprague Road, FIELD SPARROW, EASTERN TOWHEE, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO were present all day and calling. A COMMON LOON in flight over the Bay of Quinte at Northport today and elsewhere in the Bay of Quinte today, LESSER YELLOWLEGS, GREAT EGRET, OSPREY and SPOTTED SANDPIPER  were reported. At Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area, a BARRED OWL was present again today, and RED-EYED VIREO, SWAMP SPARROW, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT and PILEATED WOODPECKER  were also present. In a Lake on the Mountain backyard, a hatch-year DOWNY WOODPECKER and a family of BALTIMORE ORIOLES have returned for an encore and similar species including HAIRY WOODPECKERS and lots of ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS at feeders are being reported daily now. Those who take down their bird feeders for the summer are missing the best season of the year. It’s a great season and the fall migration of confusing fall warblers will be happening soon, if it hasn’t started right now. Already BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLERS and NASHVILLE WARBLERS have been reported from many locations, although they could be just local breeders. From the Codrington area, a new nature blog has just started called LESLIE ABRAM PHOTOGRAPHY and it features both photo galleries and descriptions full of the amazing wild things the author has found in her area just north of Brighton. Leslie Abram often submits photos and sightings to the Quinte Area Bird Report.

Thursday, August 07: An immature BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON was hunting along the Moira River today in Belleville, a fairly regular spot for this species in August. Fish Lake, near Demorestville, tucked away secretly and accessible only on private land, has had at least 10 COMMON LOONS this past week, highest number ever according to observer and resident Mia Lane.  Good birds present at a residence along Black Road today have included YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, and EASTERN PHOEBE. Two SANDHILL CRANES continue to be seen in the Point Petre area with an earlier sighting along Brummell Road involving three birds, and today two along Soup Harbour Road. Highlights today at Wilton Creek near Morven included SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, 2 SOLITARY SANDPIPER, 4 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER,  18 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 4 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 18 LEAST SANDPIPERS, along with SPOTTED SANDPIPER and KILLDEER. At Presqu’ile Park, RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS were at 83 Bayshore Road on at least two recent days.  What may have been a MERLIN was seen near where the species nested a few years ago.  CEDAR WAXWINGS have been ubiquitous all week.  A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was heard singing one evening.  ORCHARD ORIOLES continue to feed at 83 Bayshore Road. To see Fred Helleiner’s full Presqu’ile Park Report, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, August 06: More birders today to the South Shore Important Bird Area in Prince Edward County, south of Army Reserve Road. The good sightings down there continued into today with 2 OVENBIRDS early this morning, along with BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLERS, YELLOW WARBLERS, lots of EASTERN KINGBIRDS, EASTERN TOWHEE, and five EASTERN MEADOWLARKS. A Monday evening count of 8 COMMON NIGHTHAWKS along a 1 km stretch at the east end of Station Street in Belleville, a high for the year, suggests successful breeding or perhaps some migrants have joined local birds. On Big Island, a late calling LEAST BITTERN was heard mid-afternoon near the east end of the Big Island Marsh. At the Hamilton Wetland today, in addition to a hopeful OSPREY, other birds seen were 25 CANADA GEESE, 100 MALLARDS, a family of MUTE SWANS (2 adults, 3 young), 1 WOOD DUCK, 3 HOODED MERGANSERS, 2 GREAT BLUE HERONS and 5 GREAT EGRETS. Bird feeder operators are starting to report ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS – both adults and young of the year – visiting feeders now. Today, reports came in from Schoharie Road (near Bloomfield), Wellington, and at Lake on the Mountain, a female and a hatch year male visited a feeder there. A bicyclist biking the old rail bed north of Foxboro toward Stirling, came across a LITTLE BROWN SNAKE (DeKay’s Snake) in the Oak Hills area. And from Fish Lake, an interesting story that could only happen to a naturalist. Wildlife artist Mia Lane found a huge and elegant LUNA MOTH  (about a 5 inch wingspan) outside Tim Horton’s in Picton. So, she took the insect home with her so it wouldn’t get caught up in the night lights of town. When she opened up her box of TimBits to let the moth free, she discovered that her moth had remained quite busy during the trip home to the Demorestville. Inside the box, the moth had laid 57 eggs on the paper towel that had been placed over the TimBits. Ten days later, 35 brand new LUNA MOTHS had hatched out. I seem to remember her telling me a similar story some years back about some rescued FLYING SQUIRRELS!  And that’s it for today. Things are picking up a bit, so be sure to share your sightings and stories with others by e-mailing me at the link above.

Tuesday, August 05: Two separate birders – one from Wellington and another from Belleville – were lured to Army Reserve Road along the South Shore Important Bird Area near Point Petre today. Simpson Road to the Lake Ontario shoreline was a hive of activity with young birds all along the road. Highlights included large flocks of CEDAR WAXWINGS, many YELLOW WARBLERS, an AMERICAN WOODCOCK (along the stream that the road crosses), 3 calling BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS, 2 CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS, small BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE groups accompanied by NASHVILLE WARBLER, BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLERS and WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES. Young BROWN THRASHERS, GRAY CATBIRDS, FIELD SPARROWS, BALTIMORE ORIOLES, EASTERN TOWHEES and NORTHERN FLICKERS were all seen, and calling ALDER FLYCATCHERS were encountered in a few places. Paddlers on the Salmon River from Croydon to Roblin reported BELTED KINGFISHER, WOOD DUCK, GREAT BLUE HERON, GREEN HERON, EASTERN KINGBIRDS and OSPREY. Birders from Kingston last night surveyed the western portion of Prince Edward County for possible swallow roosts. They reached Huycks Point Road at about 7:45 pm. There were about a hundred swallows at that location with a large proportion of PURPLE MARTINS but they appeared to be moving north from there. The observers sped towards Bakker Rd and at the communication tower west of the dump, they observed about 500 swallows perched near the top at 8:30 pm. At the end of Bakker Rd , there were thousands of swallows swirling over Pleasant Bay. At 9 pm, these were still flying around but it became very difficult to see them. At the same time that the swallows were gathering at the mouth of Pleasant Bay, gulls were streaming by in a slightly different direction. They seemed to be heading for the beach at Huyck’s Bay. Two CASPIAN TERNS were seen on a shoal at Prinyer’s Cove Crescent, and a BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO was calling at Big Island this morning. A large pasture field along County Road 14, west of Demorestville yesterday morning, hosted what appeared to be an autumnal recrudescence mating display by two SANDHILL CRANES, leaping and jumping into the air with wild abandon. All this makes my one hour along the Whattam’s Memorial Walkway at Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area this morning, pale by comparison when all I could dredge up were 2 BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES and a NORTHERN CARDINAL !  

Monday, August 04: A few interesting species today at Kingston’s Collins Creek, to start off our report for this evening: CAROLINA WREN, 2 CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLERS, 9 AMERICAN REDSTARTS, WOOD THRUSH, SCARLET TANAGER, and a couple INDIGO BUNTINGS. Kingston’s Lemoine Point produced a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER. Here, closer to home, a couple days ago, a “flock” of 10 YELLOW WARBLERS  was seen at Smith’s Bay, and two SANDHILL CRANES  flew over. Two ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS turned up today at a feeder on Black Road, near Demorestville. Action at the Hamilton Wetland along County Road 14 has been steady with regulars being MALLARDS, GREAT BLUE HERON, GREAT EGRETS (up to 13 so far), EASTERN KINGBIRDS, WOOD DUCKS, CANADA GEESE and MUTE SWANS. My invitation for sightings outside the Quinte area was taken seriously when an e-mail came in today from Thunder Bay where a PEREGRINE FALCON was seen. They also noted a  nest of AMERICAN KESTRELS (recently fledged)…the nest located in a cavity of a hydro pole, thanks to the effort of a woodpecker. A pair of  WHITE PELICANS was seen too by the residents, likely from a colony that nests on Lake Nipigon. Closer to home again, a PILEATED WOODPECKER was in a backyard this morning in the Hillier area and a GRAY CATBIRD was seen in a Belleville backyard. GREEN HERON, VIRGINIA RAIL, COMMON GALLINULE, AMERICAN BITTERN and BLACK TERNS were all seen today at Beaver Meadow Conservation Area near East Lake.

Sunday, August 03: Except for a GREEN HERON  at the Gray’s Wetland at Napanee, and a juvenile YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER at a feeder near Demorestville, and a pure albino female COMMON GRACKLE at a South Bay feeder,  this evening’s report is mostly from the Kingston area. Starting at Kingston’s Bell Park on the Cataraqui River, birds seen there today included BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, 2 PIED-BILLED GREBES, and 2 WOOD DUCKS. Along the waterfront, The Marshlands Conservation Area had among its interesting sightings, a WILSON’S SNIPE, 6 COMMON TERNS, WARBLING VIREO, 7 RED-EYED VIREOS, 2 EASTERN WOOD-PEWEES, and a LEAST FLYCATCHER.  Meanwhile at Lemoine Point Conservation Area, 2 RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS  were seen. Yesterday, Napanee’s Gray’s Wetland had the GREEN HERON in this evening’s photo, along with 11 LEAST SANDPIPERS and a SOLITARY SANDPIPER as its highlights.  As many as four MERLINS have been seen in the northwest portion of Trenton, and have also been noted on the golf course beside the Trenton Hospital. Four NORTHERN HARRIERS  continue to be seen almost daily over the Big Island Marsh and neighbouring meadows, and today, there was a GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER at 23 Sprague Road, Big Island.

Saturday, August 02: I have commented in past evening reports about the serious decline in some species of birds, namely TREE SWALLOWS and BARN SWALLOWS. I have fond memories of watching the dark clouds of swallows emerging from their night roosts in the local cattail marsh, and their silhouettes blanketing the sky at the first hint of daylight as they made their way to our farm where they settled noisily on the hydro wires and jockeyed for space along a two kilometre stretch fronting our farm. Those that arrived late chose our three weeping willow trees and the movement of hundreds of swallows seeking out suitable branches would cause the entire tree to seemingly sway under the turbulence of so many birds. Counting the swallows was impossible. There were undoubtedly many thousands. I learned later that our marsh at Big Island was one of several such major night roosts in the Bay of Quinte area.  Another was Huff’s Island, south of Belleville. Birder John Blaney of Belleville remembers those days. A couple of days ago he came across one of his old birding journals. The entry for September 22, 1985 noted that there were 20,000 to 30,000 swallows, mainly TREE SWALLOWS, on the wires just west of the woodlot beside the Sawguin Creek marsh on Huffs Island Road. He remembers counting the birds on one wire between two utility poles and multiplying by the 3 wires between two poles and then multiplying by the spaces between the poles for about a kilometre. Birds occupied every available space beside this stretch of the road. Last evening he and his wife, Sharron, decided to have a look along Huffs Island Road to see what changes in population had taken place in the last 30 years.  Descendants of those early swallows were still gathering as they have done for three decades but the wires were all but bare. Admittedly, it is still too early for a reasonable comparison  just yet, but given that swallows start to gather in late July right after the nesting season, the prospects don’t look good for numbers to even come close to those of 30 years ago in the weeks to come. There were about 300 swallows which included about 275 TREE SWALLOWS and 25 BARN SWALLOWS. We will post further updates as the fall season approaches.

Friday, August 01: Approximately 12 species of shorebirds have been tallied in the area so far as the adults make their way through this area from their sub-arctic breeding grounds to their wintering grounds in South America. Their numbers will increase later this month as the young of the year start arriving. The migration will continue until that last purple sandpiper leaves the ice encrusted shorelines of the Lake Ontario shoreline.  At least 8 of the originally seen CHIMNEY SWIFTS two days ago, were present again last night in the Sir Mackenzie Bowell Public School area on Leland Drive near Sydney Street, in Belleville. Last night though, they were circling mostly above the apartment building at the corner of Leland Drive and Sidney Street. At about 8:15 they disappeared over the building and this is probably where they roost.  Also, in Belleville, an Albert Street resident reported “all kinds of MERLINS” nesting in Belleville this summer. As we spoke about this, one was perched atop a tall conifer near the corner of Albert Street and Victoria Avenue.  Be sure to join me next weekend (Aug. 09-10) for Prince Edward County’s very first BioBlitz in an effort to document the species that call the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block in the South Shore Important Bird Area home. Whatever your interest, whether birds, moths, butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles, amphibians or plants. The event runs from noon Saturday, August 9th to noon August 10th. Then join us at noon on Sunday for the final tally and a barbeque. Details of the BIOBLITZ can be found on my website. I will be doing a guided bird walk down there at 7:00 a.m. on the Sunday, so join me if you can. I will be at the corner of Helmer Road and Babylon Road.

Thursday, July 31: Wilton Creek at Morven, east of Napanee had a nice selection of birds today. Nine species of shorebirds were tallied, among them 4 WILSON’S SNIPE, 12 LEAST SANDPIPERS, both GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS and a PECTORAL SANDPIPER. Other highlights included WARBLING VIREO, BELTED KINGFISHER and GREAT BLUE HERON. Patronage at the Hamilton Wetland, along County Road 14, west of Demorestville, varies from day to day. There is some indication that GREAT EGRETS are once again staging there, although the roost is deep in the wetland, out of sight. Last fall, there was a high of 60 GREAT EGRETS roosting overnight here. Present there now, and viewable from the fence at the edge of the road, are PIED-BILLED GREBE, COMMON GALLINULE, WOOD DUCK, BLUE-WINGED TEAL, CANADA GEESE, GREEN-WINGED TEAL and GREAT BLUE HERON. A MARSH WREN can be heard most days singing, and a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW has been heard singing periodically from the cedars near the road. Best viewing is from the roadside at the far west end, and there is another spot that has been cleared about half way along, marked by a No Trespassing sign and a broken tennis ball jammed over the top of one of the steel fence stakes. At South Bay, an unidentified albino blackbird has been visiting a feeder. A GREAT HORNED OWL has been seen most mornings at 4:00 a.m. or so, roosting in an oak tree west of Sprague Road on Big Island. The big HISTORY WEEKEND at Presqu’ile Park, starting tomorrow, has dawn to dusk events happening for young and old alike. New this year will be their Silent Movie tomorrow night, starring Cobourg’s Marie Dressler. Saturday night will feature a recreation of the 1814 burning of the Schooner being built at Presqu’ile.  Almost exactly 200 years later the flames will fly again.   And speaking of Presqu’ile Park, Fred Helleiner’s regular weekly report has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website and can be viewed HERE.

Wednesday, July 30: I took my binoculars for a walk today and explored the new hiking/biking trail at Sandbanks Provincial Park. The trails runs for 2.5 km, one way, from West Point in the Lakeshore Lodge Day Use area to MacDonald Lane at County Road 12.  The 5-km walk produced a COOPER’S HAWK, along with HOUSE WREN, RED-EYED VIREO, GRAY CATBIRD, CASPIAN TERN, TURKEY VULTURE, EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, 30 PURPLE MARTINS, 8 FIELD SPARROWS, and 4 SONG SPARROWS representing some of the more noteworthy species. Last evening, a Belleville birder noted 11 CHIMNEY SWIFTS in the air above Sir Mackenzie Bowell Public School on Leland Drive near Sydney Street, commenting that this was the highest number he had seen in that part of the city for a number of years. A volunteer with the Osprey Monitoring Program monitors six OSPREY nests in the Belleville area of Prince Edward County including Zwick’s Park, Massassauga Road (including Massassauga Point Conservation Area) and Weatherhead Road off County Road 28 at Sawguin Creek. Thirteen birds were tallied, with four of them being adults. A few reports of ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS  revisiting feeders after a summer hiatus have come in over the last two weeks or so, with the most recent sighting today on Haig Road in the east end of Belleville. Birders who have assisted with GREAT EGRET roost counts in the past are reminded to head out soon and see if your roosts are active yet. Large roosts are usually active by late June and smaller ones by late July. This year, with the late spring, things seem to be behind a little. Please send your information to Chip Weseloh at:  

Tuesday, July 29: A Belleville birder today checked out Lighthall Road, south of Army Reserve Road east of Point Petre, birding the area known as Gull Pond.  Lots of young birds eating berries in the bushes - AMERICAN ROBINS, CEDAR WAXWINGS, GRAY CATBIRDS, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, BALTIMORE ORIOLES, etc. In the wetland were GREAT BLUE HERONS and 1 GREAT EGRET, MARSH WRENS, and many calling WILLOW FLYCATCHERS. Also present were GREEN HERON, BELTED KINGFISHER, WOOD DUCK and OSPREY. Along the partly flooded gravel roads and flats were a few shorebirds:  KILLDEER, WILSON’S SNIPE, 3 SOLITARY SANDPIPERS, 2 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, and a LEAST SANDPIPER. In the wet fields there were ALDER FLYCATCHERS, and mixed floocks of swallows, a small flock of PURPLE FINCHES, lots of  EASTERN TOWHEES, FIELD SPARROWS and COMMON YELLOWTHROATS. It has been a great year for SWAMP MILKWEED and this species, popular with MONARCH BUTTERFLIES, was everywhere, along with KALM’S LOBELIA and another species of lobelia, believed to be Lobelia inflata, often known as INDIAN TOBACCO. Birds seen today at Lemoine Point Conservation Area at Collin’s Bay included EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, WARBLING VIREO, 2 RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS & 8 RED-EYED VIREOS.

Monday, July 28: Despite the rain – and it was sure a welcome rain – at least one birder was out today, birding Wilton Creek at Morven, east of Napanee. Recorded were WOOD DUCK, 2 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 8 LEAST SANDPIPERS, 15 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 1 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, 4 SOLITARY SANDPIPERS, 8 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS, and a WILSON’S SNIPE.  No responses about the deformity in yesterday’s WOOD DUCK photo, taken at Beaver Meadow Conservation Area, so we will have to chalk that one up to nature film makers John & Janet Foster’s favourite comeback, that the best ending to a wildlife story is a mystery. However, several responses came in regarding the lack of hummingbirds this season, not only at feeders, but in the entire overall Quinte area. The general consensus is that hummingbirds are fewer in numbers this year which is no surprise since many bird species are on the decline for a number of reasons. In other news, a PINE WARBLER was in a backyard along County Road 12 near Sandbanks Park today, and a male ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK continues to visit a feeder at the same location.

Sunday, July 27: A WOOD DUCK was photographed at Beaver Meadow Conservation Area today by Tom Wheatley of Belleville, with a strange, flesh appendage hanging from the bottom of its chin. Was that its tongue that has fallen through a mysterious opening under its chin, or was it a deformity or growth of some sort? And while I am posting queries, how about hummingbirds this past month? Have you seen any in your travels or at your nectar feeders? A Wellington resident and a few other feeder operators, have noticed a decline in hummingbirds that typically frequent their feeders. This person usually has five active feeders and the oriole feeder - plus a garden that boasts new blooms regularly. Today, she saw the first hummingbird she has seen in a month. Anyone else noticing the same decline? Shorebirds continue to trickle through and five species were present today at Wilton Creek, south of Morven:  WILSON’S SNIPE, 3 SOLITARY SANDPIPERS, 17 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 4 GREATER YELLOWLEGS and 13 LEAST SANDPIPERS. Although the bird banding season doesn’t get underway for two or three weeks yet at Prince Edward Point, bander in charge David Okines made a house call several days ago to a residence along Highway 62, near Jericho Road. This location traditionally has enjoyed a healthy population of PURPLE MARTINS, compared to other landlords who have experienced serious declines. Banded that day were 110 PURPLE MARTINS, an impressive number to be sure. A Belleville resident travelled today to the Trail of Two Lakes, just north of Ivanhoe at the south end of White Lake where he found a female BLUE-WINGED WARBLER. Juveniles of many species provided an additional challenge to birding today on the same trail; VIRGINIA RAIL, CEDAR WAXWING, PURPLE FINCH, SWAMP SPARROW, BALTIMORE ORIOLE, YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER and INDIGO BUNTING were among other species on his tally. Other birds of note reported today were six GREAT EGRETS at the Harmony Road wetland north of Belleville, and what appeared to be an injured GREAT HORNED OWL on Foster Road, east of Northport.

Saturday, July 26: GREAT EGRETS continue to show up in small numbers at the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville. This wetland has become a significant overnight roost for GREAT EGRETS and birds can be seen arriving and departing from this roost at daybreak and at sunset. Another major roost is located on Indian Island in the Bay of Quinte opposite Trenton. During June of this summer, staff and volunteers with the Canadian Wildlife Service wing-tagged approximately 154  flightless GREAT EGRETS on Nottawasaga Island, near Collingwood at the south end of Georgian Bay, Lake Huron. This year, the birds were tagged with blue wing-tags but it has been noted that adult egrets with orange or green wing-tags from previous years have also been seen. All  wing-tags carry three characters: number-number-letter, e.g. 27H, 98K  etc.  If you see a wing-tagged egret, please note the colour of the tag, the characters on the tag and the date and location of the sighting. Please email the information to Chip Weseloh at:   Two birders from Napanee and Brighton birded Beaver Meadow Wildlife Area at East Lake today and found BELTED KINGFISHER, BLACK TERNS, PIED-BILLED GREBE, MUTE SWANS, GREAT BLUE HERON, and GREEN HERON. Meanwhile, I birded some of the trails at Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area at Picton early this afternoon., following an appointment, and came up with a BROAD-WINGED HAWK which sat on a limb almost above me beside the trail and called beautifully while I watched it for five minutes or so. Also calling briefly was a BARRED OWL. This species is seen and heard at Macaulay Mountain Conservation every year, usually very close to the pond area along the wooded escarpment.  Other birds seen and heard on my four kilometre trek were INDIGO BUNTING, 3 RED-EYED VIREOS, EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, EASTERN KINGBIRD and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT. An observation yesterday that one doesn’t often see was a BALTIMORE ORIOLE picking at seeds at a Lake on the Mountain feeder. Other sightings around the area include a SHORT-EARED OWL cruising the cattail marsh at Sheba’s Island in West Lake. At the Big Island Marsh, MARSH WRENS are very vocal before daybreak, and four NORTHERN HARRIERS continue to be seen periodically over the marsh and adjacent meadows during the daylight hours. A PILEATED WOODPECKER  was reported from the Cedar Sands Trail at Sandbanks Park today, and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER at West Lake. Just a reminder that if you make any sightings during your travels in the general Quinte area, and beyond, be sure to e-mail them to me. We`d love to hear what you have been seeing. 

Friday, July 25: A NORTHERN FLICKER seen at Wellington is just one of many species of birds  around if you just stop and let things come to you. As we creep even closer to August, some species will be still nesting next month and other birds will be migrating next month. CEDAR WAXWINGS  and AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES are late nesters in the Bay of Quinte region and these species will be nesting on into the latter part of August. SONG SPARROWS may try a third brood this month, but with these exceptions, few birds will be seen nesting far into August. MOURNING DOVES will often produce several broods of young during the year, occasionally nesting into late September. Meanwhile at the beach, while shorelines at Sandbanks are saturated with summer sunbathers, less busy beaches elsewhere will continue to see some evidence of shorebirds passing through as they stop to feed in mats of decaying algae along shores and in mudflats. The adults of shorebirds usually migrate first, and through July we have watched as LESSER YELLOWLEGS and LEAST SANDPIPERS passed through. This coming month, others are apt to show up such as BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, SANDERLINGS, and more SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS. The numbers of adult shorebird migrants come to a peak about mid-month, then will taper off in August as we wait for the arrival of the juveniles. This month, our shorebird surveys at local beaches revealed adult birds being outnumbered by the juveniles as their numbers steadily increase. We can expect to see 20 or more species of shorebirds as they work their way south. These birds are on a remarkable migration that is taking them from their sub-Arctic breeding grounds, south to South America, some as far as Argentina. Warblers too will be appearing in a couple weeks, on their southward migration. The deciduous woods at Prince Edward Point and Presqu’ile Park  will reveal NASHVILLE, CHESTNUT-SIDED, MAGNOLIA, CAPE MAY, BLACK-THROATED BLUE, YELLOW-RUMPED, BLACKBURNIAN, CANADA, BAY-BREASTED, AMERICAN REDSTART, OVENBIRD and NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES this coming month. Most of the warblers passing through will be in drab fall plumage, thoughtfully referred to in the Peterson Guide as “confusing fall warblers.” It is this month when volunteers at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory return to commence the fall banding of migratory birds, that will continue right into the September and October with the NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL banding program. If exploring the Point Traverse Woods this fall, don’t expect the trails to be mowed just yet. We wait until early November to do that, once all the spiders and their webs have disappeared! This will be my final year with the trail maintenance this fall. We’re still waiting for volunteers to step forward to carry on with the routine maintenance.

Thursday, July 24: Lots happening at Presqu’ile this week and next. Be sure to check the EVENT CALENDAR for details, updated today.  Lots of fun and interesting events to go to and don’t forget to check out their two visitor centres if you are in the park.  The Lighthouse Centre has new Jack Atkins’ Videos, and the Nature Centre with live animals of course is always changing. And just on the horizon on Aug 1st, 2nd and 3rd is their annual History Weekend with all the old favourites and a new, very dramatic re-enactment of the 1814 burning of a British schooner at Presqu’ile by American Raiders during the war of 1812 on Saturday Night! And while on the topic of Presqu’ile Park, Fred Helleiner’s weekly report has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website and you can access it by clicking HERE. In other birding news, an immature BALD EAGLE  was seen sometime late this month at Prince Edward Point, but no further details are available. The accompanying photo by Wayne McNulty of Wellington was taken earlier this year at the Prince Edward Point Harbour.  At Beaver Meadow Conservation Area at East Lake, VIRGINIA RAILS, AMERICAN BITTERN, SWAMP SPARROWS, GREEN HERON, MARSH WRENS and BLACK TERNS  were reported. Last evening, the Hamilton Wetland produced GREAT BLUE HERON, 7 GREAT EGRETS, 21 WOOD DUCKS and 3 PIED-BILLED GREBES.

Wednesday, July 23: This morning at 8:00 a.m., I birded the  two-kilometre Jack Lange Memorial Trail along the Trenton Greenbelt Conservation Area, as far as Lock Station Number 1. Not a bad walk through some great habitat, with 32 species noted. Among them were WARBLING VIREO, GRAY CATBIRD, HOUSE WREN, YELLOW WARBLER, CASPIAN TERN, CHIMNEY SWIFT, and both CHIPPING and SONG SPARROW.  We can safely assume that the GLOSSY IBIS is long gone from the Hamilton Wetland west of Demorestville, as it has not been seen since initially spotted Last Sunday. However, quite a few wetland birds can be observed right from the roadside fence, including WOOD DUCKS, CANADA GEESE, MALLARDS, PIED-BILLED GREBES, and last evening, there were 12 GREAT EGRETS. At Charleston Lake Provincial Park yesterday, north of Lansdowne, a YELLOW-THROATED VIREO, along with BROAD-WINGED HAWK and MAGNOLIA WARBLER were seen.

Tuesday, July 22: As always, there are unanswered mysteries in the bird world. The GLOSSY IBIS which left the Hamilton Wetland yesterday, heading in a southern direction very purposefully, took its secrets with him as to why it was here in the first place instead of along the Atlantic coast where it normally makes its home. We shall never know. Another mystery today was A female WHITE-WINGED SCOTER that was found in Athol Bay across from the Woodland Campground entrance at Sandbanks Provincial Park. This represents the only July record of this Hudson Bay Lowlands resident for Prince Edward County. Numbers don’t usually start arriving until September, although we do have a few August sightings on record, with the earliest being 55 on August 17th, 2000, at Prince Edward Point. Was the Sandbanks individual an exceptionally early fall arrival, or did it for reasons best known to itself, stay in local waters all summer as a non-breeding bird? As the bird sat out there in the water by itself, it declined to share any secrets. The presence of northern birds in the Quinte area during summer is a rare, but not unheard of. Once while kayaking on South Bay on a July evening , a LONG-TAILED DUCK flew weakly ahead of me low to the water, and appeared to be injured, thus accounting for its presence here on July 31st, 2000. The following year, on June 27th, I found another in the middle of lake Ontario between Prince Edward Point and Main Duck Island. Surprises like this are what adds zest to the hobby of birding. The thrill of the unexpected. Certainly, the SNOWY OWL last month on Amherst Island was unexpected as was one on May 13th three years ago on an island in Wellers Bay. So, what gives anyway? An adult BALD EAGLE that has been seen at East Lake, and another at Huff’s Island this summer should not be here as they no longer nest along the Lake Ontario north shoreline, but migrate out of the area in spring. Immatures take five years before they are of breeding age, so their occurrence here is to be expected, but what are these two adult BALD EAGLES doing here when there hasn’t been a confirmed nesting of the species in Prince Edward County since they last disappeared as a nesting species in the late 1940s. Addictive, isn’t it, this birding thing?  

Monday, July 21: The best sighting today – actually a “hearing” though at the Hamilton Wetland was a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW. However, the GLOSSY IBIS that turned up yesterday was nowhere to be seen when we checked this morning. The original observer returned to the wetland late yesterday afternoon and observed it for an additional 30 minutes.  A few loose groups of LESSER YELLOWLEGS formed a group of 17 and flew into where the Ibis was feeding.  The chatter was probably a bit too much for the Ibis, and it flew high and south with strong purpose. Present  today was the usual complement of MALLARDS, and 7 GREAT EGRETS.  Some scattered sightings elsewhere today.:8 TURKEY VULTURES and FIELD SPARROW at Taylor-Kidd Blvd east of Coronation Blvd at Kingston. BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO, CASPIAN TERNS, CHIMNEY SWIFT, EASTERN BLUEBIRD, GRASSHOPPER SPARROW, RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, 4 VESPER SPARROWS, WOOD THRUSH and GREEN HERON at Sandbanks Provincial Park. GREEN HERONS were also seen today along Victoria Road in Ameliasburgh, and at Fry Road. YELLOW WARBLER, BELTED KINGFISHER, BONAPARTE’S GULLS, GRAY CATBIRD and WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH at Wellington. VIRGINIA RAILS and SORAS are still being reported at the H.R. Frink Centre at Plainfield,  and a PEREGRINE FALCON was seen yesterday flying east across County Road 8 about 200 metres north of the intersection with County Road 13.

Sunday, July 20: The mystery GLOSSY IBIS, earlier reported almost a month ago at Point Anne, was re-found this morning by Belleville resident, Tom Wheatley. Embarrassingly enough, it was almost in my backyard, at the Hamilton Wetland on County Road 14, west of Demorestville. The bird was on the move a lot when he found it this morning at 8:30 a.m. or so and was located at the east end of the wetland. By the time I got there only 10 minutes later, the bird had made it to the west end of the wetland and was gradually making its way eastwards again. It appearance in June at Point Anne is likely the first record for Hastings County, but the species has been seen in eight different years in Prince Edward County. The first was in 1971 when I counted 7 in a mucky field along Schoharie Road near Picton. These were part of a major incursion of them into Ontario that year. Eight were seen at Prince Edward Point in 1976, and four were found on Huff’s Island in 1982. One showed up in the fall, in 1981, at Wellington, and one was seen by numerous observers along Wesley Acres Road at Bloomfield in 2001. One appeared in 2002 at Prince Edward Point, followed by another at the same location in the fall of 2010 where it was seen sitting amongst the mallards at the entrance to the harbour. The most recent sighting involved 2 birds seen in the spring of 2011 near Bloomfield with another two (likely the same birds) turning up in a wet corner of a hay field just west of our house. Regarding today’s sightings, if you are interested in trying for the bird at the Hamilton Wetland, another reminder that trespassing is absolutely prohibited by the owner whose house is within sight of the wetland. There is enforced to prevent a herd of cattle on the property from being spooked and to protect the fence since few people know how to cross a fence correctly without damaging it. Remember Sirloin the bull. He’s in there again this season! Viewing is excellent from the roadside with a spotting scope. We saw the birds clearly through the binoculars as the water is high this year and close to the road. Also present while we were there were both GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, MARSH WREN, GREAT BLUE HERON and tons of MALLARDS along with a few BLUE-WINGED TEAL. In the Kingston Mills area, at the Rideau Acres Campground, birds of note seen there today included CASPIAN TERNS, WARBLING and RED-EYED VIREOS, OSPREY, AMERICAN REDSTART, 18 YELLOW WARBLERS, BALTIMORE ORIOLE, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK, and 4 GRAY CATBIRDS.

Saturday, July 19: Some good finds at the H.R. Frink Centre, 9 km north of Belleville last evening, among them, a BARRED OWL calling, and a MERLIN. VIRGINIA RAILS and SORAS are also present off the marsh boardwalk. As the shorebird migration gets underway this month, all eyes are on any and all wetlands in the area, whether large or small, as these long distance fliers take advantage of receding water levels. At the Harmony Road wetland off Highway 37, birds seen there were about 20 WOOD DUCKS, a COMMON GALLINULE, 3 VIRGINIA RAILS, 7 BLUE-WINGED TEAL, and a fleeting glimpse at a LEAST BITTERN. Meanwhile, at the Aitken Road extension east of Belleville, just north of Elmwood Drive and Airport Road, water there is quickly disappearing. The only shorebirds present were an adult SPOTTED SANDPIPER and two very young fledglings, not long out of the nest. Three HORNED LARKS were present, along with 2 VESPER SPARROWS. BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS are being reported from everywhere – there was one calling monotonously from a maple in front of my office window last evening – likely due to the appearance now of FALL WEBWORM. Now, here is a bit of trivia for you to enjoy during the supper hour tonight. Normally, birds avoid eating hairy caterpillars as the spines will puncture their stomachs. Cuckoos, both black-billed and the less common yellow-billed, have evolved to get around this as caterpillars, especially tent caterpillars, are considered a delicacy to them. They will consume as many caterpillars as they can, and when their stomach is full, they will regurgitate the stomach of indigestible spines, stomach lining and all. Everything comes up neatly packaged as though it were a miniature Glad Kitchen Catcher. Then the bird grows a new stomach and prepare for its next cache of caterpillars. Bon appetite!

Friday, July 18: As a follow up to last evening’s report on patience, it paid off well for photographer Kenzo Dozono of Belleville who waited patiently for over two hours to improve on the photo of the same SORA that he took yesterday. This one finally came out into view for him along the boardwalk at the H.R. Frink Centre at Plainfield. Three SANDHILL CRANES, turned up along Brummell Road near Point Petre where two had shown up some weeks earlier. Anyone who has ever birded Beaver Meadow Conservation Area at East Lake already knows what a prolific area it can be for birds in the spring. That 28 species were seen here today attests to its potential during the summer months as well. One birder trying his luck there today didn’t leave disappointed. Afew of the highlights in the wetland portion were:  3 WOOD DUCKS, 3 PIED-BILLED GREBES, LEAST BITTERN, GREEN HERON, COMMON GALLINULE, 5 BLACK TERNS, BELTED KINGFISHER, SWAMP SPARROW, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT,  and 4 MARSH WRENS. The adjacent wooded habitat contained   EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE,  GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, 2 WOOD THRUSHES, and RED-EYED VIREO. To reach Beaver Meadow from Picton, take Lake Street at the traffic lights at the LCBO (County Road 10) and follow for 5 km, then turn right onto County Road 11 and drive for one kilometre and watch for the conservation area entrance. Follow it right to the very end to the parking lot. When you see a grossly under-sized green gate which serves no purpose, you have arrived. Following that on foot and then right on the trail will take you to a lookout. Another trail veers off to the left from the parking lot and follows the edge of the wetland along to a second lookout. Do not take the snowmobile trail that veers away from the marsh and heads off through the woods as that is all private property. It was here at Beaver Meadow where the first 20 WILD TURKEYS were released in 1989, who, upon being released from their boxes flew off into as many directions. Obviously they reconnected as WILD TURKEYS are now firmly established from one end of the County to the other, even down as far as Prince Edward Point. Be sure to visit Beaver Meadow, but do it soon as my party of volunteers have all retired from our many years of trail maintenance in there, and the trails are not apt to be maintained again, at least, to the degree that we did. Amherst Island’s LARK BUNTING seems to have given up hope of finding a mate, and has moved on. Shorebirds there though are picking up at the island’s east end where highlights this week were both GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, LEAST SANDPIPER, WILSON’S PHALAROPE, SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER and SOLITARY SANDPIPER. Shorebirds are also still going strong at Gray’s Wetland along Wilton Creek south of Napanee.

Thursday, July 17: Kenzo Dozono of Belleville took a photo of a SORA at the H.R. Frink Centre today, shortly after chatting with other birders who commented that the marsh was dead today with virtually no bird activity at all. Kenzo’s training as a karate instructor has taught him about patience and concentration, and it always pays off in handsome dividends for him when he spends his spare time stalking elusive birds. He has been known to remain motionless for up to three hours just waiting for his quarry to come within shooting distance (with a camera, of course!). Just ask his wife or his faithful and unbelievably quiet Pomeranian, Cody. Ask any photographer or birder if patience isn’t the answer to achieving your goal. Waiting and watching unidentified birds fly into the distance is common in birding. I guess that’s what makes birding so intoxicating and addictive. Birding is a game of chase, even if we are only voyeurs. But what an exhilaration when all that time spent waiting for just the right moment, pays off. In birding, patience is everything. Not so much so if you are bird lister, otherwise known as a listhound. If a quarry fails to show itself, you move on, hoping that it will show up elsewhere as time is of the essence to the frantic birder in quest of the list. But, for those who just want to have a nice long look at an invisible bird, then patience is paramount. Sometimes the best birding technique is to plant yourself and wait. You go where birds go and you stay put. As you quietly sit, birds go about their business searching for food, drinking water, singing their little hearts out, and finding a mate, and nesting material. So place yourself where the birds you want to see go in the course of the day.  Eventually, birds that had avoided you earlier, will become accustomed to your presence and reward you with their own presence. How many of us have seen photos of birds perched on camera lens? You can’t say that patience wasn’t required for that. Some exceptional award winning photos have been taken through extreme patience. Many photographers who contribute regularly to the NatureStuff website have graciously permitted me to use their photos of birds taken at their finest moments. Some have been so priceless that appropriate captions could easily have been added to their photos. I have an entire file of photos of birds staring straight at the camera, seemingly scowling, as though admonishing the photographer for even pointing a camera at them. I have been watching birds since the early 1960s, long before birdwatching was abbreviated to birding. I learned early on the value of patience, a virtue that was well reinforced after I waited for close to three hours for a rare SANDWICH TERN to appear at Presqu’ile Provincial Park many years ago, then I left in a huff after it refused to appear, only to learn that it had made its appearance not 10 minutes after I had left the parking lot. Birding has been described as a lifetime ticket to the theatre of nature. To get the most out of the hobby, we need to be more like Kenzo Dozono.

Wednesday, July 16: Remember the popular folk song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”? We could ask the same question, but replace the word “flowers” with the word “birds”, more specifically, swallows. If you are of my vintage, you may remember the droves of TREE SWALLOWS  that used to congregate by the thousands on utility wires and trees commencing about now, and growing in numbers until they departed for the south. When I was farming back in the early 1970s, every morning, just as a faint hint of light was beginning to show in the eastern sky, I would bring the cows in from their night pasture for their morning milking. I would marvel at the tens of thousands of swallows that would darken the sky as they made their way toward the farmstead. I didn’t understand at the time where all these swallows were coming from, but as my birding experience grew, I learned that they had spent the night in the extensive Big Island Marsh less than a kilometre away from the north shore where our home used to be. As the sun peeked above the horizon, the hydro wires from our house, west as far as the eye could see, would seem to sag beneath the thousands of swallows, and the surplus would fight for space in our weeping willows, the branches visibly moving under the flurry of many wings. During the day, others would warm themselves on the road surface and become casualties of car traffic. Memories now. Just memories. Where have they gone? TREE SWALLOWS are still common but have declined by one percent per year between 1966 and present day, and the decline is showing no indication that it is about to stop anytime soon. The decline is likely from a combination of factors, not the least of which is their insect diet and subsequent ingestion of high levels of pesticides and other contaminants. Natural cavities, where most TREE SWALLOWS build their nests, have been disappearing for the past 200 years as people clear the land, manage woodlands, cut down older trees, and remove dead trees (this out-dated trend is changing, fortunately, as we learn the value of snags). The interest in providing nest boxes has certainly aided in filling this gap, but  boxes, surprisingly, account for only a small fraction of TREE SWALLOW nest sites.  As spring temperatures have warmed since the 1960s, TREE SWALLOWS’ average date of laying their first egg has moved nine days earlier in the year. Late winter weather events could be another factor. Remember April 11, 2003? That was the day that will stand out in memory when  snow, sleet, freezing rain and frigid temperatures persisted for several days. It wiped out the entire population of swallows in the Quinte area that arrived to that point. On Massassauga Road, 36 carcasses were found on one property, another 18 crammed in a nest box, frozen. A Trenton resident found an incredible 37 swallows in one of her boxes, dead, likely from suffocation. Fortunately, it was early enough in the season that the population rebounded with the arrival of more migrants. We are seeing similar declines too, in BARN SWALLOWS, but that’s another story.

Tuesday, July 15: The leucistic DUNLIN was present again at Cobourg Harbour. There were 8 species of shorebirds present at Wilton Creek at Big Creek Road south of Morven: KILLDEER, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, SOLITARY SANDPIPER, 2 LESSER YELLOW LEGS, 3 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, and 2 WILSON’S SNIPE. At another location along Wilton Creek, 5 species of shorebirds there included 8 KILLDEER, 4 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS, 6 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 10 LESSER YELLOWLEGS and 3 LEAST SANDPIPERS. At the Aitken’s Road extension in Belleville which is increasing in popularity for birds and watchers of birds, a GREAT BLUE HERON was present today, a SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER, and AMERICAN KESTREL,and interestingly, a covey of no fewer than 20 MOURNING DOVES covering the utility wires on both sides of the road. Four juvenile NORTHERN HARRIERS have been coursing to and fro over the Big Island Marsh in recent weeks and can be seen most days, along with at least four AMERICAN BITTERNS and a now and again VIRGINIA RAIL. The latter species has been seen most days too at the H.R. Frink Centre at Plainfield. Lots of activities going on At Presqu’ile Provincial Park this week as part of their Interpretive Program. Check the EVENT CALENDAR for details.

Monday, July 14: An update from Kenzo Dozono regarding the GLOSSY IBIS  he photographed last month. The bird was found along the shoreline at the old Point Anne cement plant ruins. Shorebirds are arriving at the Aitkin Road extension in east Belleville. Today there were 8 species, notable singles of SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER, WILSON`S SNIPE, LEAST SANDPIPER, SOLITARY SANDPIPER, 12 KILLDEER, 4 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS, and a mix of 8 GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS. Also present was a GREAT EGRET with a reddish leg band above the knee on the left leg, and on the right leg possibly an aluminum band above ankle. The numbers could not be read, but it was probably banded in Collingwood before 2010. Retired Canadian Wildlife Service biologist Chip Weseloh comments on his GREAT EGRET tagging project.  To date, we have banded and colour-marked over 1500 Great Egrets in the southern Ontario area. Originally, we used coloured leg-bands but since 2010, we have used the wing-tags. So far we have nine recoveries, or re-sightings, of our birds from the Caribbean islands: three from Cuba, two from the U.S. Virgin Islands, two from the Dominican Republic, one from Jamaica and one from the Lesser Antilles. Canadian-banded GREAT EGRETS spend the winter in the Caribbean islands. In most of Canada, the GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) is a fairly rare bird. It only breeds annually in the Province of Ontario on isolated islands, or peninsulas, in the Great Lakes. Since 2001 young flightless egrets have been banded at four breeding sites in Lake Huron, Lake Erie and the Niagara River by the Canadian Wildlife Service. In the early years, egrets were banded with red leg-bands which carried white numbers and letters. Since 2010, they have been marked with orange or green wing-tags, one on each wing. The purpose of the study is to track the bird’s movements out of Ontario in the autumn and determine where they go for the winter. Of the 53 reports that have been received of banded or tagged egrets from outside of Ontario in December or January, nine (18%) have from Caribbean islands. This suggests that nearly 20% of the great GREAT EGRETS from Ontario spend the winter in the Caribbean islands. During that same time period, the other 82% of the egrets reported were found along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. from New Jersey to Florida. You can contribute to this study by examining egrets for red-leg bands or the orange or green wing-tags. If you see a banded or tagged egret, try to read the characters on it, e.g. 32A. Please report any sightings, include the date, time and location of the sighting, and the colour of the tag and the characters on it to Include your name and contact details. A colleague from New York (Susan Elbin: ) uses yellow wing tags – watch for hers, too.

Sunday, July 13: Does anyone else have any information on an immature GLOSSY IBIS that was apparently first spotted last month sometime along the Bay of Quinte? The sighting failed to make the birding circuit and I am just curious if anyone else had come across it. The photo was in the Belleville Intelligencer, but I missed it as I access only the online edition which carries only the top stories. Any information would be greatly appreciated. A Napanee birder found two AMERICAN WOODCOCK near Marysville this morning, followed by  5 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS at the Grays Wetland south of Napanee. A leucistic DUNLIN   was at Cobourg Harbour today. In the Sydenham area today, birds of note included AMERICAN BITTERN, SCARLET TANAGER, RED-EYED VIREOS, PINE WARBLERS, COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE,  and NASHVILLE WARBLER. At Cressy today, a LITTLE BROWN SNAKE (DEKAY`S) was found, and a young NORTHERN WATER SNAKE  was seen north of Brighton. An observer at the Goodrich-Loomis Conservation Area, south of Codrington,  hoped he would  find dragonflies and damselflies along Cold Creek but found mostly large mosquitoes. Lots of wildflowers though and some flying insects to take photos of in the meadow some of which were BUTTERFLY MILKWEED, SPOTTED ST. JOHNSWORT, COMMON MILKWEED, ANGELICA, YELLOW GOAT‘S-BEARD, COMMON SWEET PEA, WILD BERGAMOT, SULPHUR CINQUEFOIL (also known as Rough-fruited Cinquefoil), and BLACK-EYED SUSAN. Then he visited the large pond in the Brighton Wildlife Area and got some dragonflies and damselflies from the viewing platform, namely, EBONY JEWELWING, BLUETS, WIDOW SKIMMERS, DOT-TAILED WHITEFACE and MEADOWHAWK. Other insects found included VIRGINIA CTENUCHA MOTH and NORTHERN CRESCENT butterfly. Back to birds again, 2 COMMON RAVENS successfully made it onto our`yard list at 23 Sprague Road on Big Island when they landed in a silver maple tree on the property. I am a bit of a purist when it comes to yard lists and the bird must touch terra firma to be included, although any bird in flight that looks down and shows interest in our yard may be included. Therefore, the Henslow`s Sparrow that appeared in a field beside our house in 1996, only a few metres from our fence, was not included, but a Great Gray Owl that was a few feet away another year, was included as I walked in front of it and accidentally frightened it toward my property where it landed on the fence. Another species added !  I`m not odd – My wife says I`m  “special” !

Saturday, July 12:  All the reports this evening are from four wetlands. The Grays Wetland just south of Napanee had a nice assortment of shorebirds to herald the start of the fall migration for this family of long distance fliers. Present this afternoon were 2 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 3 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 2 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS and 2 LEAST SANDPIPERS. A BELTED KINGFISHER  was also seen. At the Sprague Pond and Beyond in the Big Island Marsh, a paddle through some of the ponds and meandering channels yielded four NORTHERN HARRIERS, BELTED KINGFISHER, GREAT BLUE HERON, PURPLE MARTIN, 2 SWAMP SPARROWS and MARSH WREN. Another observer at the same location was scanning the pond with binoculars when an AMERICAN BITTERN flew across the pond and landed on the edge of the pond only a few metres from the observer. At the Harmony Road Wetland, north of Belleville, 6 GREAT EGRETS foraging there at 11:00 a.m. Also seen, 3 GREAT BLUE HERONS, MARSH WRENS, 3 COMMON GALLINULES and AMERICAN BITTERN. To reach the wetland, turn onto Harmony Road off Highway 37 and drive east to Civic Address #1350. At the H.R. Frink Centre on Thrasher Road just a bit north of there, VIRGINIA RAILS are getting a bit more obvious now, and four were seen today. An interesting sighting this afternoon when I was relaxing under our maple tree beside the driveway. I became aware of something running up the driveway out of the corner of my eye, and I turned around in time to see a DEER fawn  racing on up the driveway full tilt, and disappearing out into the hay field.

Friday, July 11: A LEAST BITTERN  appeared for a kayaker yesterday on West Lake. Quite a treat to have this shy, retiring bird come out for a photo like that. A few good sightings today. Two PURPLE FINCHES arrived at a feeder along the west end of Victoria Road in Ameliasburgh today. Yesterday, a GREAT BLUE HERON in Belleville at the Aitken`s Road extension. Numerous BONAPARTE`S GULLS showed up today at Pleasant Bay. At the Harmony Road Wetland yesterday evening, north of Belleville, a nice list of 26 species in just an hour`s time. There were at least 15 WOOD DUCKS and probably more including one family of 9 young. They were hard to count as they were moving around behind clumps of cattails and in and out of the swamp on the far side. The same was true of 40 or so MALLARDS. There were 7 GREAT BLUE HERONS including some flyovers headed south. Also, one GREEN HERON appeared. Other wetland species - 2 VIRGINIA RAILS, 4 COMMON GALLINULES, 2 MARSH WRENS, and numerous RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS. Today at Amherst Island, a few of the highlights there included MERLIN, 5 GRAY CATBIRDS, 10 EASTERN KINGBIRDS, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, 20 BARN SWALLOWS, 50 PURPLE MARTINS, WILLOW FLYCATCHER, and 60 TREE SWALLOWS. Staff at Presquìle Park completed their butterfly count yesterday and staff naturalist David Bree is pleased to report that 40 MONARCH BUTTERFLIES were counted.  That is up from the 3 last year!  MONARCH numbers are still low but with the great milkweed crop this year and some MONARCHS, there is hope hope that numbers may go up from the all-time low last year.  If you like butterflies check out the walk on Tuesday morning  at Presquìle Park. The Park has a couple of MONARCH caterpillars in their display at the Nature Centre (courtesy Don Davis). Check the EVENT CALENDAR on the NatureStuff website for more details.  

Thursday, July 10: Fifty species of birds were seen by one observer on Amherst sland today, which proves, although bird activity during July is at a low ebb, it is by no means dead. Among the noteworthy sightings were 3 COMMON LOONS, BALD EAGLE, LEAST FLYCATCHER, EASTERN BLUEBIRD, 10 BROWN THRASHERS, NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, AMERICAN REDSTART, YELLOW WARBLER, 15 SAVANNAH SPARROWS, 2 GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS and ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK. The GREAT EGRET was present again today near the entrance to the the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area, north of Kingston. A GREAT BLUE HERON has been seen on more than one occasion, enjoying the good fishing near the old Baldwin Mill along Consecon Creek in the village of Consecon. One pair of birders spent this morning doing Point Counts along Army Reserve Road in the South Shore Important Bird Area. There was certainly no absence of sparrows CLAY-COLORED, SONG, FIELD, GRASSHOPPER, CHIPPING, SAVANNAH, SWAMP, WHITE THROATED, as well as EASTERN TOWHEES at every stop! A few warblers must be nesting in the area as the party heard - OVENBIRD, BLACK-AND-WHITE, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, and  YELLOW . There were other common birds but those were the  highlights, they said, reiterating what I just stated earlier that anyone who has put away their binoculars for the season  should really stop and just listen, especially in the morning, and especially along this naturally wild part of the County where both the MOE and the MNR and largely misinformed proponents of wind energy believe 500-foot wind turbines should be located. They might understand why these wild areas are so important to preserve in this current age where, at the end of the day, in the face of money and powerful development, nothing is really protected at all. The term “green” is nothing more than a marketing term across Ontario and the only thing green about so-called “green energy” is the dirty kind of folding green that can be be realized from the highest bidder.   You have heard me make casual reference to it this past year. Now, it is official. Save the Date! On April 18th, 2015, there will be a celebration of my RETIREMENT at The Highline Hall in Wellington. A group of friends have started the ball rolling but look forward to any input, suggestions or help to make this a memorable event. Please contact Kathy Felkar at  if you would like to be on the committee or have any ideas. More information to follow regarding tickets, times etc. as decisions are made. Interpretive guided hikes, speaking engagements, my column of 50 years, will all end at the close of the year as I celebrate my 70th birthday and the close of an exciting career. Plan to attend this memorable event as I start a new journey, one involving writing books and some involvement in the new Prince Edward County radio station. And don’t worry – the NatureStuff website and the Quinte Area Bird Report will continue and EXPAND. If things work out, perhaps even a bird feeder cam will be added! I am not dying – just restructuring! Other than what I have just mentioned, I have no other details about what is being planned, as I am not involved. In 1972, I did interview Dolly Parton once, so I have hinted that perhaps she might be invited to attend. Have heard nothing back. All I can remember is that she had lovely hair! She is still alive, isn’t she?

Wednesday, July 09:  Butterflies are out and about in good numbers right now and I have been taking some time on a trail I walk every day trying to figure out what some of them are by using my new Butterflies of Prince Edward County book, written by Dr. Paul Catling and launched a few days ago at the Picton Library. One birder from Belleville had a great hike this morning along an old railway line that runs  from Madoc Junction on the Tuftsville Road in Rawdon to Goods Road. He calls it the Grand Junction Trail since that was the name of the old railroad.  There is a great variety of habitats, lots of wetlands, three bridges over Rawdon Creek, a nice pond, deciduous woodlots, rough pastures and old fields. Found was a total of 45 species, nothing unusual but a nice morning. A highly recommended hike as the trail is flat and wide enough for a vehicle. The only minus is that it's a shared use trail so you do meet the occasional ATV or dirt bike but almost without exception drivers are polite and slow down. The pond provided WOOD DUCK, BELTED KINGFISHER, GREEN HERON and several SWAMP SPARROWS. The trail itself could be called catbird alley as he counted at least 14 GRAY CATBIRDS, several of which were probably half of mated pairs. The variety of habitats is proved by a list including KILLDEER, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, WILSON’S SNIPE, YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, COMMON RAVEN, VEERY, WOOD THRUSH. Also seen were AMERICAN REDSTART, EASTERN TOWHEE, SCARLET TANAGER, INDIGO BUNTING, EASTERN MEADOWLARK, and several other species which are ubiquitous in the Quinte area. Comic relief was provided by a CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER which had caught an earthworm almost as long as itself. The worm wriggled vigorously while the bird tried to beat it to death on a branch. Every so often the warbler would pause in its exertions to sing its typical "Pleased, pleased to meetcha" song while the worm continued to squirm in its beak. Eventually the bird flew off with the worm, presumably to present the kids with a very lively meal, and let them figure out how to consume it.

Tuesday, July 08: It seems to be a good summer for INDIGO BUNTINGS. In addition to the locations mentioned in yesterday’s report, another was reported today coming to a feeder at the far end of Prospect Avenue in Picton. Ever notice in the checklist of birds for Ontario, or for Prince Edward County, that some of the names of our birds appear to be spelled incorrectly – CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, GRAY CATBIRD, SAVANNAH SPARROW, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER........Actually, they are spelled correctly. The agency responsible for assigning official names to all our birds is the AMERICAN Ornithologists Union; hence, the American spellings. Well, you say – that is not how we spell these names here in Canada. We are going to change “a” in gray to “e” and insert a “u” where there seems to be only an “o” in any bird names that contain the word color. Changing the spelling of our birds, or even the names themselves to suit our fancy would be almost as offensive as telling Jon from Holland that we are going to spell his name thusly, “John”, because that's how we usually spell it in Canada. You cannot do it to the names of persons as that is the spelling that has been chosen by the parents whether it is Jeffery, Jeffrey or Geoffrey, and you cannot do it to the names of birds as those are the names that have been assigned to them by the A.O.U. So, we need to be conscious of the fact that the wood pewee is an EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (and don’t forget to stick that little hyphen in there). Similarly with Northern Flicker, and not common flicker. And Eastern Screech-Owl and not just screech owl. Once again, we insert a hyphen, also remembering to capitalize the “O” in Owl, which doesn’t seem grammatically correct, but that’s the way it is, the same as it doesn’t seem right to have only one “l” in Northern Shoveler. Spell Check will catch that one every time.  Does it matter to me whether you call a Northern Harrier a Marsh Hawk (its former name) or throw in a “u” in colored, or drop the “h” in savannah? Not really. As long as the name you choose is reasonably close and creates no confusion – like calling a heron a crane. Do you mean heron or do you mean crane, as we have both? I promise not to rap your knuckles if you misspell a bird’s name. Like you, I am in this pastime to have fun, and prefer not be dragged down by technicalities. However, if you are submitting a technical report or a Rare Bird Report in an attempt to convince those on the Rare Bird Committee sitting around the discussion table that you did, in fact, see what you claim, backed up by several pages of convincing details, you will lose your creditability almost instantly if you should submit an incorrect spelling of that species. Am I sounding too much like a purist? Probably so, but it is something to be aware of if you should reach that pinnacle in your birding career when you are submitting official reports to the birding Gods and have hopes of seeing your work in print. Regional checklists always have the correct spelling; field guides also, if they are recent enough to reflect any changes made by the A.O.U.  Just when you thought you were beginning to enjoy birding, along I come to put a damper on your enjoyment! However, as you pursue this addictive hobby, it would behoove us to make an effort to learn the correct spellings and names as we go along. Jon, Karl, Bryon and Larraine will love you for it.

Monday, July 07: This evening, we’ll just whip across the region, from west to east, starting with the LARK BUNTING  which is still on Amherst Island trying to win the heart of a lady who refuses to show. Today it was about 100 yards north from Civic Address #550 McGinn Road. South of Napanee, the Gray Wetland is starting to show signs of things happening, now that the water level is lower, exposing some suitable feeding areas. GREATER YELLOWLEGS and SPOTTED SANDPIPERS  were present there today at this wetland located south on Old Hamburg Road (south off Highway 2 just east of Napanee), and east on Little Creek Road. Moving into Prince Edward County, three days ago, two birders did a WHIP-POOR-WILL survey along Babylon Road and Army Reserve Road, stopping at one kilometre intervals. Counted were 30 WHIP-POOR-WILLS calling. The CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW that had been present since May 19th, and last reported on June 29th, was not heard. And to the far west side of Prince Edward County, to Pleasant Bay, a first summer male ORCHARD ORIOLE visited a nectar feeder at Bay Meadows Park today. Several BALTIMORE ORIOLES are also regulars at the feeders.

Sunday, July 06: Two pairs of ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS and their kids are regulars at a feeder along County Road 1, just west of May Road, and INDIGO BUNTINGS were seen near the Bowerman-McFaul Cemetery on County Road 1 west of Bloomfield, and another was spotted in Wellington. A GREAT BLUE HERON was present at the old Baldwin Mill (Consecon Dam) and another was struggling in a head wind early this morning on Sprague Pond at the Big Island Marsh. At least 2 NORTHERN HARRIERS are regulars west of Sprague Road and the CLAY-COLORED SPARROW is being heard less frequently these days in the same area, although BOBOLINKS and EASTERN MEADOWLARKS are present every day, along with both BARN and TREE SWALLOWS swooping over the recently harvested fields of hay. Also present, EASTERN TOWHEE, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and the family of AMERICAN CROWS seldom let up their incessant raucous calling as they feed their young in the same tree every day. A TRUMPETER SWAN was seen yesterday on Murvale Creek south of Harrowsmith, and a BALD EAGLE was on Amherst Island. At the Brighton Sewage Lagoon today -  LESSER YELLOWLEGS, OSPREY, COMMON GALLINULE , GREAT BLUE HERON and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON were among the species seen at the Brighton Sewage Lagoons today. For the Odonata enthusiasts, there were plenty of species on hand including BLUE DASHER, EASTERN PONDHAWK, SKIMMING BLUET, EASTERN FORKTAIL, and WHITE-FACED MEADOWHAWK. Along Babylon Road, birds of note seen there were GRASSHOPPER SPARROW and 2 WILSON’S SNIPE, and a FIELD SPARROW was on Army Reserve Road. Whether it’s Family Day at Beaver Lake at Erinsville, Odessa Fair, or any one of a number of interpretive events at Presqu’ile Provincial Park, there is lots going on this week so take a look-see on the EVENT CALENDAR on my website.

Saturday, July 05: A BELTED KINGFISHER appeared today for a photo shoot at the Sawguin Creek beside County Road 28, in the Fenwood Gardens area south of Belleville. In addition to the family of kingfishers, there was also as OSPREY, as well as GREAT BLUE HERON, a large family of WOOD DUCKS, a vocal COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, and a MUSKRAT. It seems hard to believe, but signs of the fall migration are already taking shape. And it is more than just the appearance of TREE SWALLOWS starting to gather on the hydroo wires. Two LESSER YELLOWLEGS that have been on Amherst Island since the 2nd are not late spring migrants as earlier reported, but rather, two fall migrants, albeit a bit early. Other shorebirds like LEAST SANDPIPERS and SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, also early fall transients, are bound to follow in the weeks to come. Speaking of Amherst Island, the LARK BUNTING hasn't given up hope just yet that his impressive nuptials won’t win the heart of a female somewhere, if only she were able to see his admirable performance from the Great Plains. The rare visitor which first appeared on June 23rd, has attracted scores of eager birders, all of whom have enjoyed success. LARK BUNTINGS are rare, but certainly not strangers, to eastern Ontario. Birds of the Kingston Region gives two area sightings, one of which was at Prince Edward Point, in 1995. Not only seen, but successfully banded as the bird obligingly and thoughtfully turned up and remained for several days right beside the banding station! Another LARK BUNTING  was seen near Elginburgh in 1993. One additional record from outside the the Kingston Field Naturalists 50-km field study area, involved an individual seen in 1969 along the Millennium Trail at Consecon Lake, observed by the writer, as well as several staff from Presqu’ile Park. Another was seen in 1983 at Presqu’ile Provincial Park. Six years later, another LARK BUNTING  appeared in Algonquin Provincial Park.  GREAT BLUE HERON, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, and  COMMON YELLOWTHROAT were among the 14 species of birds seen by one observer today at the College Street bridge over the Moira River in Belleville. Twenty-six species were checked off at the H.R. Frink Centre on Thrasher Road today, among them, WOOD DUCK, GREAT BLUE HERON, 2 VIRGINIA RAILS, NORTHERN FLICKER, 2 GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHERS, OVENBIRD, and 2 COMMON YELLOWTHROATS. Who says birding in July is at its lowest ebb? Best to keep those binoculars dangling from your neck as there is no telling what will turn up. Like the female NORTHERN HARRIER that made a few swoops over my Shih-tzu this evening in the fields west of our house.

Friday, July 04: Two SANDHILL CRANES were seen on Brummell Road, near Point Petre Road today. As the species continues its expansion in Prince Edward County, sightings are becoming more regular now. There are at leat two locations in the County where they are known to have nested. It may be a bit of an exaggeration to call it a hotspot but for the  past few years a cultivated field on Harmony Road, north of Belleville, has graduated to a wet field, a flooded field and finally a marsh. It's really an extension of the H.R. Frink Centre Marsh with Harmony Road going through the middle. Among other things today it had a GREAT EGRET, at least 2 MALLARD families, a GREAT BLUE HERON and a couple of MARSH WRENS.The same observer from Belleville spent most of the morning at the nearby Frink Centre. There was nothing particularly unexpected. Two musically dueling WOOD THRUSHES near the parking lot were a nice start. It didn't seem to be around today but the MERLIN which probably nests just east of the main entrance was particularly vocal on Wednesday. Near the beaver lodge a VIRGINIA RAIL taunted the birder with various squawks until a couple of weak "kidick-kidicks" confirmed its identity. On the Boundary Trail two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS called for "Old Sam Peabody." The most noteworthy thing may have been the number of singing OVENBIRDS, 11 in all. There were representatives of several of the expected woodland species – RED-EYED VIREO, EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, and GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER. There was a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER nest in a tree near the Parks Creek lookout. A great morning even if it was dominated by 135,856 mosquitoes.

Thursday, July 03: A PRAIRIE WARBLER was seen today at a known site near Kaladar. Although the bird sang from a variety of perches, it was not observed carrying food or visiting a nesting site. North of the Cataraqui Conservation Area at Kingston, a GREAT EGRET was seen this morning. Just a reminder that this is the season when GREAT EGRETS begin their post breeding dispersal and numbers of them may show up in suitable areas and use these locations as overnight roosts involving many dozens of birds. The LARK BUNTING  was present again today at its usual location on Amherst Island. Yesterday, four of the fields west of 23 Sprague Road on Big Island were cut for hay. These fields which had been traditionally cut later in the season in past years had successfully built up an annual population of some 15-20 pairs of nesting BOBOLINKS and several pairs of EASTERN MEADOWLARKS. Upon inspection today, I was delighted to see numerous fledged young flying about so the success of these fields continues in providing habitat for these two species. As a bonus, some 200 TREE SWALLOWS and BARN SWALLOWS were exploiting the cut fields for insects at noon, a sight that I had not seen before in past years. Also present in the adjacent fence rows were SAVANNAH SPARROWS, FIELD SPARROWS, EASTERN TOWHEES, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO and a very noisy family of AMERICAN CROWS  feeding their young. A NORTHERN HARRIER  was present as well. A family of AMERICAN KESTRELS  was performing a high-wire act near the entrance to the Cassidy Block (Ervine Rd and Vanderwater Rd east of Thomasburg). Lots of birdsong in the Cassidy Block – otherwise known as Deroche Lake – at 10 a.m .with overcast skies; RED-EYED VIREO, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, OVENBIRD, FIELD SPARROW, EASTERN TOWHEE and a BARRED OWL was calling. No CERULEAN WARBLER heard or seen although this tree canopy species has been found here in the past.

Wednesday, July 02: Late this afternoon, a BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO was calling energetically at 23 Sprague Road. Other than that, virtually no one out birding at all in Prince Edward County today. Outside the area, birders seemed fairly active. The now famous LARK BUNTING on Amherst Island was found again today, where it has been reported from earlier, on Arts McGinn Rd. The bird was feeding mostly on the side of the road close to the grassy edge.The lingering SNOWY OWL was seen by many just to the west of the Martin Edwards Reserve property down at the shoreline. A total of at least 6 WILSON’S PHALAROPES, 1 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 2 LESSER YELLOWLEGS and a WILSON’S SNIPE were seen, as well as many KILLDEER and a SPOTTED SANDPIPER. Birds of note seen yesterday at the Amherstview Sewage Lagooons (not mentioned in yesterday’s report), were 12 WOOD DUCKS, 3 GADWALL, 20 MALLARDS, 3 LESSER SCAUP, 5 HOODED MERGANSERS, BLACK TERN, NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW, 20 BANK SWALLOWS, a CLIFF SWALLOW and 10 TREE SWALLOWS. At Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area, north of Kingston, interesting birds tallied there included a GREAT BLUE HERON and a GREEN HERON, BELTED KINGFISHER, GRAY CATBIRD, 3 COMMON YELLOWTHROAT and a PINE WARBLER. At the Blessington Creek Marsh near Baz Auto in Belleville, a LEAST BITTERN was seen a few days ago, perhaps the same one that was observed several weeks ago from another Marsh Monitoring Program station closer to the mouth of the creek. And an e-mail from Toronto, reported not one, but two, albino VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS crossing the observer’s yard in North York. Something you will want to attend – Renowned plant taxonomist and botanist Dr. Paul Catling, has just finished publishing a new book, “Butterflies of Prince Edward County.” At an official book launch this Saturday, July 5th, at the Picton Library (1:00 p.m.) , Paul will  speak on what inspired him to create this beautiful field guide and will answer questions about butterflies. Copies of his book will be for sale.

Tuesday, July 01: This evening’s report encompasses sightings from the last three days. Starting with today, the LARK BUNTING was present again at the same location on Amherst Island. Directions to it are as follows, as posted on the OntBirds listserv. “From the ferry dock take the only road south then right on 2nd concession. Travel quite a way west past the jog in the road then left on McGinn. Travel to around #550 and check wires and surrounding area.” Today at Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area, EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, MARSH WREN and RED-EYED VIREO were some of the highlights there. A Belleville birder at Kingston’s Lemoine Point today – one of my favourite areas to bird and walk -  found INDIGO BUNTING,. GRAY CATBIRD, HOUSE WREN, AMERICAN REDSTART, and WOOD THRUSH. Also tallied were 20 BARN SWALLOWS, an impressive number for this declining species. Yesterday at Newburgh Road, highlights included EASTERN TOWHEE, GRASSHOPPER SPARROW and CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, while the Napanee Limestone Plain offered WILSON’S SNIPE and a LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE.   Last evening at Massassauga Point Conservation Area, birds seen and heard included EASTERN TOWHEE, GREAT BLUE HERON, OSPREY, SAVANNAH SPARROW, CHIPPING SPARROW and YELLOW WARBLER. While July is often thought of as the month when birds are at their lowest ebb, it is surprising what can be found, if we but stop and listen. And it’s not just during the day. I have never made any secret, or apology, about the fact that I am well under way every morning by 4:00 a.m. One of the first things I do is don my LED head lamp and walk my 1 km trail around the fields west of our house. I continue to be amazed at the number of species that seemingly do not sleep, but continue to communicate. Calling today in the blackness of early morning were WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, EASTERN TOWHEE, BOBOLINKS, EASTERN MEADOWLARK, COMMON CROW, and a bevy of MARSH WRENS from the nearby Big Island Marsh. The 4:00 a.m. chorus was very impressive – so much so, that it will be the topic of my next column in the Picton Gazette and Napanee Beaver on July 12th. Why do birds that normally sing during the day, also communicate at night? Find out why in that column. Those columns are also carried on my website, and usually appear a week before the newspaper publication date.

Monday, June 30: The dependable LARK BUNTING on Amherst Island was seen by several observers.  In the past few days, there have been numerous reports of GREAT EGRETS across the Quinte region, usually in ones and twos, but sometimes in larger numbers. What we are seeing right now is a post breeding dispersal. I have been following this movement now for about three years, where in the past there have been only incidental sightings. Two years ago, the first major late summer roost was discovered on Indian Island in the Bay of Quinte just east of Carrying Place with a high of 112 egrets seen arriving in the evening to the island to roost for the night. These egrets are very nomadic so the ones we have been seeing are coming from not only breeding colonies at Presqu’ile and east of here at Kingston, but from all over Ontario and even the US as these birds move around prior to migrating south. Pretty spectacular. Last year, a roost was found at the Hamilton Wetland west of Demorestville and retired CWS employee Chip Weseloh and I took turns monitoring it, arriving to the site daily 30 minutes or so before first light and counting the birds as they left their roost to head off for feeding grounds. Our high here was only 55 birds, but still a significant roost. My last count was on October 23rd when 6 birds were seen flying off and the following day there was none which is typical of most other roosts in late October in Ontario. This year, another  major roost – at Kaiser Crossroad where they appear to be roosting in the trees behind the berm in the Cressy Marsh area. Twenty-eight has been the high counted here as of a week ago. Whether it develops into anything as significant as the Hamilton Wetland or Indian Island remains to be seen. Since we are trying to piece all this information together, please let me know whenever you see any egrets around the Bay of Quinte area at any time of the year, especially right now as these roosts continue to seemingly build. The Quinte Area Bird Report which is updated daily will include these sightings as I hear about them. To the best of our knowledge, there are no nest sites yet of Great Egrets in Prince Edward  County. Just a matter of time though.

Sunday, June 29: Few reports came in today from Prince Edward County, and is it any wonder with today’s temperatures. However, a few sightings came in last night after last evening's report had been filed. As we approach the month of July, the CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW on Hilltop Road south of Milford, has not given up hope. The bird was calling again last night at 9:20 p.m., this time, about 200 metres to the south. WHIP-POOR-WILLS were also present, along with a MERLIN. At Kingston’s Hillview Pond, a Belleville observer found 2 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS.  A GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, WOOD THRUSH and an INDIGO BUNTING were among the highlights at the Taylor-Kidd Dog Park (Collin’s Bay), and at Kingston Mills WARBLING and RED-EYED VIREOS were tallied, along with EASTERN TOWHEE and four GRAY CATBIRDS. At the Kingston Marshlands Conservation Area today, birds of note seen were WOOD DUCK, 3 COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, WILLOW FLYCATCHER, and BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER. An out of town cottager visiting Point Petre today came up with 2 WILSON’S SNIPES, 3 WOOD THRUSHES, a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, 4 ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS,  a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, OVENBIRD, 6 INDIGO BUNTINGS, EASTERN BLUEBIRD and CLAY-COLORED SPARROW.

Saturday, June 28: One observer birding Amherst Island today for the LARK BUNTING which was still  present, left the island with a bonus bird – a quick look at a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher just west of Civic Address #4505. The bird landed on the utility wire, then disappeared.  I guess at this time of the year, it is a case of expecting the unexpected, so keep your binoculars with you at all times when you are out and about. The SNOWY OWL that inexplicably turned up on Amherst Island two days ago is a good example of being prepared. Elsewhere today, CASPIAN TERNS, 150 RING-BILLED GULLS and COMMON LOON at Sandbanks Park (Outlet sector). BARRED OWL, 6 COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, 4 AMERICAN REDSTARTS, 4 ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, 10 RED-EYED VIREOS, 3 PINE WARBLERS, and an EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE at Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area at Amherstview. At Massassauga Point, birds of interest there today included BELTED KINGFISHER and 2 INDIGO BUNTINGS. Two GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS at Cherry Valley. Point Petre produced OVENBIRD, NASHVILLE WARBLER, WOOD THRUSH, and two CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS.

Friday, June 27: CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, GRASSHOPPER SPARROW, and WINTER WREN were a few of the species seen today along Nugent Road on the Napanee Limestone Plain. Yesterday’s CLAY-COLORED SPARROW  was also present again early this morning along a fence row in a field west of 23 Sprague Road, Big Island. Also present again today was the now famous LARK BUNTING on Amherst Island, and several observers managed to get a look at it as it once again performed it nuptials for a female that won’t likely show up anytime soon. Last night, just before dark, an UPLAND SANDPIPER  was spotted near the corner of County Road 4 (Ben Gill Road) and Doxsee Road. A residence along the west end of Black Road had about 100 TREE SWALLOWS lined up along their fence. Is it fall already? Back on Amherst Island, the Martin Edwards Reserve at the east end of the island has been host to WILSON’S PHALAROPE, GREAT EGRET, AMERICAN BITTERN, and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON all week, as well as a couple unseasonal GREATER YELLOWLEGS.

Thursday, June 26: The Amherst Island LARK BUNTING was present again at its usual location. Belleville photographer Ian Dickinson took A photo of the LARK BUNTING at noon as it flew back and forth from an open field to its favourite perch on a utility wire. Says the photographer, “The poor horny guy flies up onto a wire, sings for a bit then flies down and perches on a low perch and waits for a female to show up then goes back to the wire and repeats. Unless someone goes out West and brings a female back, the poor guy will soon die from exhaustion. A very late SNOWY OWL elsewhere on the island was an unexpected surprise. Also down that way, 4 GREAT EGRETS were seen this morning in a small marsh off Taylor Kidd Blvd. west of Kingston. Along the Dunes Trail at Sandbanks tonight, the evening air was filled with bird song. Found were YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, EASTERN TOWHEE, GRAY CATBIRD, BROWN THRASHER, HOUSE WREN and FIELD SPARROW. Among the species seen on Lucks Crossroad today was a YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER. This is the first summer sighting in Prince Edward County of this typically northern flycatcher, although the Kingston area does have a few summer records of this species. A CLAY-COLORED SPARROW  was “singing” this morning in a hay field west of 23 Sprague Road. The Presqu’ile Park weekly bird report by Fred Helleiner has been uploaded to the website and it can be accessed by clicking HERE. 

Wednesday, June 25: A BALTIMORE ORIOLE at a nectar feeder at Pleasant Bay, serves to remind us that while winter feeding is enjoyable, summer feeding offers a whole new dimension to the pastime. This is when some of our most colourful and interesting species may decide to become guests at the bird feeder. Hummingbird feeders don’t attract just RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS. Many dozens of species of birds develop a fondness for a sugar fix and will often end up being guests as well. If you see some interest being displayed by other species at the hummingbird feeder, it might be wise to hang up one or two oriole feeders which have larger feed ports and also perches for the birds to stand on while they drink. It is not necessary to purchase coloured powder mixtures for the feeder. A simple 4 to 1 mixture of sugar water will work just fine. It isn’t the colour of the water that attracts the birds, but rather, the colour of the feed ports and accompanying structure.   Do not put honey, Jell-O, brown sugar, fruit, or red dye (also known as food coloring) in your feeder! Honey ferments rapidly when diluted with water and can kill hummingbirds. There are unverified reports that red dye can cause tumours in hummingbirds; this may or may not be true, but why take the chance? As with any feeder, cleanliness is important. Liquid should be changed regularly and the nectar feeders thoroughly cleaned. Those who feed birds already know that we don’t feed birds because we feel an obligation to do so in order to lend them a helping hand. We’re just another stop in many that birds make during the course of the day. We feed birds because we want them around our premises, pure and simple, and there is nothing wrong with that. There are, however,  a few precautions we must take, of course, like being a little more vigilant with cleanliness than we would be in the winter. You might also want to alter the feeders a bit from platform feeders to smaller, silo-style feeders in order to thwart the efforts of starlings and blackbirds which can become invasive and aggressive at a feeder during the summer. I find it a treat to sit out in my yard and watch DOWNY and HAIRY WOODPECKERS bringing their young to the feeder. We often have BLUE JAYS with young in tow as well, and we always seem to have a pair of BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES that nest nearby in one of my nest boxes who bring their kids to the feeder. We have had GRAY CATBIRDS at the suet feeders, BROWN THRASHERS bringing their young to the ground area beneath the feeders, while others have had EASTERN BLUEBIRDS (feed them mealworms!). So, just forget the soothsayers this summer, watch for any sign of food spoilage, perhaps include a bird bath as part of the feeder setup, let yourself go, and just sit back and enjoy the show.

Tuesday, June 24: The LARK BUNTING was relocated easily this morning on Amherst Island where it was found yesterday. The bird was singing loudly from a telephone line at the corner of the 2nd Concession and McGinn Road where it would sing cardinal-like for five minutes, then flew to the field where it sat quietly for a couple minutes, and then repeated the performance. This bird of the west central nearctic has been observed in the area before. One turned up, of all places, right at the bird banding station at Prince Edward Point in 1995, and remained in the area from May 15th to the 28th. The bird, a female, did get caught in the mist nets eventually and was subsequently banded. I well remember taking the hour drive down there in the hopes of seeing it, and the bird did not disappoint as it foraged on the ground only a few feet from the banding station. The very first LARK BUNTING that I ever saw, a male this time, appeared in 1969 along what is now the Millennium Trail near where it crosses County Road 1 (Schoharie Road) at Consecon Lake. The bird was initially seen by Don Lafontaine of Ottawa who was a staff naturalist at the time at Presqu’ile Park. He spotted the bird while driving in the area, and contacted two other staff naturalists at the park, Martin Parker of Peterborough and Ian Seddon of Richmond Hill. They made a return visit to the site later that evening at which time I joined them. The bird repeatedly flew back and forth across the highway from one field to the other, following the same pattern for several days, and numerous birders from Toronto came to see the new arrival. It was a new entry on my life list of birds. We hope the male LARK BUNTING at Amherst Island is as cooperative, giving birders a chance to see this rare visitor.

Monday, June 23: A BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO turned up today at a residence along Black Road near Demorestville. An impressive addition to the yard list. The big news though came from Amherst Island where a singing male LARK BUNTING has been present for almost a week, and just came to light yesterday. The bird was still there this morning and is on the east side of Art McGinn's Road and 2nd Concession and apparently prefers the top wire between the first and second poles. Please respect the property rights of local landowners and view the bird from the roadside.If anyone wishes to see the bird, take the Amherst Island ferry leaving from Millhaven. From Stella head south approximately 1 km and turn west on the 2nd Concession. At Emerald 40 ft Road make a quick jog (left then right) to continue on 2nd Concession to Art McGinn's/back beach. This evening, amidst the hum of mosquitoes at Goodrich-Loomis Conservation Area, north of Brighton, the woods rang with the flute-like notes of at least two VEERIES. Also present along the edges of Cold Creek were three separate NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES. Also calling were RED-EYED VIREO, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, HOUSE WREN and several OVENBIRDS. There was a GREAT EGRET  foraging in the marsh along the Millennium Trail east of Hillier.  A birder at Point Petre had good luck yesterday morning with about 60+ birds in the area, notably UPLAND SANDPIPER and a CLIFF SWALLOW colony. He commented that  ratio of shotgun casings to balloons along the south shore was about  200  to 5. Yesterday, there was a MERLIN along Taylor Kidd Blvd. in Kingston. At Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area, north of Kingston, birds of note seen there included 2 WOOD DUCKS, GREAT BLUE HERON, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, 2 MARSH WRENS, WOOD THRUSH,  and 2 GRAY CATBIRDS.  And if you have always thought that chipmunks could stuff a lot of seeds in their cheeks, check out this story. A Lake on the Mountain area resident accidentally shut an EASTERN CHIPMUNK in the garage this afternoon. It was in such a panic that it dropped all the food it had stowed in its cheeks: 27 sunflower seeds and about 1 teaspoon of smaller seeds. Amazing. It was so glad to get free again that it didn’t come back for its food.

Sunday, June 22: The CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW, first heard calling on May 19th along Hill Top Road, west of South Bay, hasn’t given up hope just yet that a female might be around. It was heard calling last night at 10:30 p.m. This is the second CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW in as many years to show up along the South Shore Important Bird Area – you know – the very area where wind turbines have been approved. One was heard and seen at Prince Edward Point proper May 18-20 in 2013. WHIP-POOR-WILLS  were also calling along Hill Top Road. NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRDS are still being seen down that way too, along Long Point Road (C.R. 13). At least one of them – actually a pair – very close to where one was seen at #4898 on May 28th. This time it was at Civic Address #4866. Another on Saturday was spotted at Civic Address #3379.  There seems to be no absence this year of OSPREYS with new nests springing up everywhere. One observer monitoring a handful of them in the Belleville/Massassauga Road area noted one adult standing on the edge of the nest at the Zwick’s park platform at Belleville. Weatherhead Road off County Road 28 at the Sawguin Creek revealed another adult standing on the edge of the nest, while another nest along County Road 28 had one adult standing on the edge of the nest with two young visible in the nest. Another adult was on a pole nearby eating a fish. On Peat’s Point Road, a nest there had two young in the nest with an adult standing on the edge. On a small island off Massassauga Point, an adult there was seen flying into the nest, but the the nest was too far away to see if any young were present. And the nest on the platform at Massassauga Point Conservation Area had one adult standing on the edge of the nest. Visitors to the conservation have noted young in the nest. In the Collin’s Bay area, a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON was seen flying over.

Saturday, June 21: Spent the day birding in the Castleton, Centreton and Alderville areas today. Along a six-km trail in the Northumberland Forest on Beagle Club Road, we found several HERMIT THRUSHES singing, likely nesting there, although they don’t at our latitude down here. Also heard were WOOD THRUSH, RED-EYED VIREOS, SCARLET TANAGERS, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, also BLUE-HEADED VIREO – another species that apparently breeds there, but not down in the Prince Edward County and Belleville areas. ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK, lots of BLUE JAYS, DOWNY WOODPECKER and a possible AMERICAN WOODCOCK. It was a distant blur – a G.B.B. (Gone Before Binoculars). At the Alderville Black Oak Savanna, EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were nesting in several of the boxes, one pair just outside the Interpretive Centre. Peter’s Woods, north of Centreton, had WOOD THRUSH, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, RED-EYED VIREO, SCARLET TANAGER and EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE. Two PILEATED WOODPECKERS were seen along County Road 64 near the Barcovan Golf Course, but the biggest find was a road killed VIRGINIA OPOSSUM. We didn’t stop this time at the Brighton Constructed Wetlands, but another birder who did found numerous wildflowers and birds, including this BLADDER CAMPION and this MARSH WREN. Also present, OSPREY, COMMON GALLINULES, MALLARDS, MUTE SWANS, CANADA GEESE, MUSKRAT, SNAPPING TURTLE and insects such as COMMON RINGLET BUTTERFLY, WHITEFACE MEADOWHAWK and TAIGA BLUET, and numerous wildflowers including WHITE and PINK FIELD BINDWEED, PURPLE CROWN-VETCH, and VIPER’S BUGLOSS. The GREAT EGRET population continues to burgeon at Kaiser Crossroad. Late this afternoon, there were fully 28 in the wetland along with 3 GREAT BLUE HERONS. Birds present these days at the Hamilton Wetlands, west of Demorestville, have been MUTE SWANS, NORTHERN HARRIER, GREAT BLUE HERONS, MALLARDS and GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER.  The KENTUCKY WARBLER at Parrott’s Bay is remaining faithful to his territory and maintaining hope that a female may appear, though one hasn’t shown up since the warbler first appeared May 20. At the Martin Edwards Reserve on Amherst Island, WILSON'S PHALAROPES and UPLAND SANDPIPER continue to be seen, as do GREAT EGRETS and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON. LEAST BITTERN, 2 BLUE-WINGED TEAL,  BROAD-WINGED HAWK, 1 COMMON GALLINULE, MARSH WREN and  WOOD THRUSH were among some of the good finds at the Little Cataraqui Creek conservation Area, north of Kingston today.

Friday, June 20: I had an adventure today, accompanying 34 staff members from the Lake Ontario Management Unit from Glenora Fisheries, on a boat trip to Main Duck Island, located some 19 km in Lake Ontario from Prince Edward Point. The island has considerable history from the days of a commercial fishing village, a hideout during the notorious rumrunning days, to the island being once owned by Secretary of State (under Eisenhower) John Foster Dulles, and it being a private picnic site in 1984 for Queen Elizabeth. My role was to regale the staff with stories of the past and how the island acts as a bird migration magnet in spring and fall. From 2000 to 2012, I operated boat tours to the island, so it was great to have a chance to get back again for a visit. Seen today out there were AMERICAN BITTERN, WILSON’S SNIPE (nesting), HERRING GULLS, CASPIAN TERN, OSPREY, WILLOW FLYCATCHER, KILLDEER, CANADA GEESE, COMMON MERGANSER, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, BARN SWALLOWS (nesting) and BOBOLINKS. Along the Millennium Trail today at Consecon Lake, birds seen included COMMON LOON, a family of COMMON GALLINULES, 2 families of PIED-BILLED GREBES, 14 MUTE SWANS, GREAT BLUE HERON, LEAST BITTERN, about a dozen BLACK TERNS and a few CASPIAN TERNS fishing. On Amherst Island today, a few of the more significant birds seen were AMERICAN BITTERN, AMERICAN REDSTART, BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO, GRASSHOPPER SPARROW, WILLOW FLYCATCHER, and WILSON’S SNIPE. Those who have been following the wind turbine issue in Prince Edward County's Important Bird Area, will be interested in hearing that the Ontario Court of Appeal has granted leave and will hear the case involving the threatened BLANDING’S TURTLE of Ostrander Point. In July of 2013, the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal revoked the approval issued by the Ministry of the Environment to Ostrander Point GP. to operate nine wind turbines, citing “serious and irreversible harm” to the turtle population. In February 2014, the Divisional Court reversed that ruling. Today, the Court of Appeal indicated that it will hear the appeal of this decision. “This is an important step forward in the public’s efforts to protect one of the Province’s most ecologically sensitive habitats” said Myrna Wood, representing the Appellant Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN). In March 2014, the Court of Appeal also halted further construction at the site. The granting of leave to appeal today will continue that stay. “It normally takes at least a few months for an appeal to be heard. Everyone is looking forward to moving ahead” said Eric Gillespie, legal counsel for PECFN. Hard to imagine that the Ministry of the Environment has so little regard for the environment. Species at Risk, Important Bird Areas and migration corridors,  are all available, with no apology, to the highest bidder.

Thursday, June 19: I once had a teenaged girl on one of my Main Duck Island boat tours a few years ago. As the rest of the group of 12 stood spellbound as I regaled them with stories of rumrunners, Queen Elizabeth who once had a private picnic on this remote island and stories about one time owner of the island John Foster Dulles, not once did this person look up from texting during the entire five hours we were there. Absolutely oblivious to the real world around her. How she navigated through the dog strangling vine and poison ivy remains a mystery. A Belleville resident today, Ian Dickinson, made reference to the current texting mania and obliviousness to the rest of the world around us as he referred to it as a phenomenon that happens all of the time, and how much people miss when things are happening all around them. In particular he was making reference to the nightly concert of COMMON NIGHTHAWKS, in particular, the attention he generated when he and another person stared into the evening sky near Belleville Wal-mart.  He pointed the birds out to others who gathered to ask what they were looking at. Despite the obvious loud calls, no one had even paid attention to the odd calls coming from the sky. As he showed his small crowd the photos on his camera, some people who had gathered were amazed that the little beeping dots above actually had a form. “It’s funny that you can not see something all of your life, and once it is pointed out to you it is everywhere”, Ian observed. The recent storm and high winds that blew through the Quinte area seemed to be hit and miss with some areas escaping damage, while other areas were hit hard. The village of Wellington was one of the hardest hit in Prince Edward County. In Wellington, the wind blew, the cradle rocked and the bough was whipped around, but it didn't break and the cradle didn't fall and the babies weren't hurled like a lacrosse ball to the ground, observed resident Sydney Smith as she monitored a nest of BALTIMORE ORIOLES. At Presqu’ile Park, only one BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER was found in the past week, though there are undoubtedly more around.  Twice this week a VEERY was heard singing.  A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was in the day use area on June 15.  Among the seven warbler species found in the past week were a MOURNING WARBLER and a CANADA WARBLER, the latter being rare at Presqu’ile in summer.  To see the full Presqu’ile Park Report by Fred Helleiner, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, June 18: Bird song was once again the high point during a guided walk at the Menzel Provincial Nature Reserve, north of Deseronto. The NIGHTHAWK was not present as it was a week ago, but in its place, were others – FIELD SPARROW, EASTERN TOWHEE, and in the distance, a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW. The treed swamp was alive as two NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES poured out their songs, one of them only an arm’s length away. Both WOOD THRUSH and VEERY were present, along with SCARLET TANAGER, ALDER FYCATCHER, OVENBIRD, EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE,  BROWN THRASHER, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT. Sharp eyes from one person in our group spotted a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER in the the dark woods as it made its way up a tree. At Kaiser Crossroad, 4 GREAT EGRETS were present yesterday, and today there were six. Birds seen yesterday morning at Consecon Lake along the Millennium Trail causeway were COMMON GALLINULE, 2 families of PIED-BILLED GREBES, 1 BLACK TERN, GREAT BLUE HERON, LEAST BITTERN, YELLOW WARBLER, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, MARSH WRENS, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, WOOD THRUSH, EASTERN KINGBIRDS and 14 MUTE SWANS. Also about were CASPIAN TERNS. In Smith’s Bay at Waupoos, a WOOD DUCK and nine ducklings were seen. An AMERICAN KESTREL was along County Road 15 at Northport this morning.

Tuesday, June 17: An UPLAND SANDPIPER was seen the other day at Selby. While UPLAND SANDPIPERS  are still relatively common in suitable areas across the region, Prince Edward County, however, has lost many of its former UPLAND SANDPIPER breeding habitats to succession. Old Milford Road used to be a dependable location where one could stop their car and hear the bird’s distinctive “wolf whistle” coming from different areas of two fields on either side of the road. As many fields do in Prince Edward County, these are now thick with Red Cedars and no longer attractive to UPLAND SANDPIPERS. Somewhere deep in an archival box of Super 8mm film, I have some close-up footage of a nest full of UPLAND SANDPIPERS, just breaking out of the eggs. The nest was located, of all places, on someone’s lawn, and within a few metres of County Road 7, east of Lake on the Mountain. While I was filming, the mother bird was walking nervously up and down the middle of the paved road. No bird would dare do that now with today’s unforgiving traffic! The year was about 1967 and I had made the 45-minute journey to the nest site on a Honda touring motorcycle! The only way to bird back in those days when you could screech to a halt, and whip out the binoculars. It was around that time when the UPLAND SANDPIPER had just enjoyed a sensible name change from “UPLAND PLOVER” . Birders agreed that it was a sandpiper and not a plover and should be so-named. Additionally, it was a long legged wader that seldom wades, and was a shorebird that never goes near the shore except by accident. Birds of Prince Edward County (1984), states “the many hay and pasture fields provide plenty of suitable nesting sites for this species.” The 1984 publication by some fellow named “Sprague” said that “flocks” collect on short grassy fields in late July and linger into early August. I recall back in those days having no problem adding several on the day’s birding list. Today, one has to really search and listen intently, for any sign of UPLAND SANDPIPERS  in their former nesting haunts. Sightings in Prince Edward County this year have been made at Ben Gill Road, Point Petre, Milford and Highway 49 at the Quinte Skyway Bridge.

Monday, June 16: Anyone who hasn’t tried for the CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW that was first heard along Hill Top Road, west of South Bay, on May 19th, may still have a shot at it. It was heard again on Saturday evening, along with WHIP-POOR-WILL and AMERICAN WOODCOCK. You gotta give this bird some credit. It has been calling every night for a month. Somewhere out  there, there has to be a female and this CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW is not about to give up until he finds her! At Smith’s Bay an immature BALD EAGLE has been hanging around the west end of the bay, and a GREEN HERON was also seen, and a COMMON GALLINULE  was heard calling. Yesterday, EASTERN BLUEBIRDS showed well at three locations on the south slopes of the Oak Hills, northwest of Belleville.  Civic Address #975 Fish and Game Club Road had a pair with two immatures, #300 Flying Club Road had a pair carrying food, and #187 Airport Road had 2 males and a female.  An agitated BROAD-WINGED HAWK at Sidney Conservation in the same area suggests probable nesting activity.COMMON NIGHTHAWKS remain active along Airport Road in east Belleville, along the 2 km stretch of railway tracks heading east from the Belleville VIA station, where 7 COMMON NIGHTHAWKS were observed,  with 4-5 displaying between 8:45-9:15 pm.  They dispersed after that. This evening at the Quinte Conservation Area, there were several EASTERN PHOEBES, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK, both WARBLING and RED-EYED VIREOS, MUTE SWANS with two cygnets, and WHITE-THROATED SPARROW. From the mouth of Potter Creek, a GREEN HERON called briefly, but was never seen.

Sunday, June 15: A few interesting sightings today including 6 LEAST BITTERNS in the East Lake marshes this morning. A BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO hit a window on Highway 33 between Bloomfield and Wellington, but it fully recovered in about 90 minutes. And south of Codrington today, there was a BLUE-WINGED WARBLER singing at the corner of Pinewood School Road and Goodrich Road.  I want to talk about SWAMP SPARROWS for awhile. It is difficult enough trying to learn the songs of over 300 species in the area, but when one throws a curveball at you, it just adds to the difficulty. On May 23rd, I was doing my bird survey for the Marsh Monitoring Program in the Robinson Cove Marsh at the northwest corner of Big Island. I noted what appeared to be a CHIPPING SPARROW  singing, hidden, behind a shrub deep in the cattails. I concluded that it was just a SWAMP SPARROW, singing a really fast and dry chipping rattle identical to the CHIPPING SPARROW instead of  the heavier, more laborious song we more closely associate with the SWAMP SPARROW. A little research into the songs of the SWAMP SPARROW  confirmed that among the variations of the SWAMP SPARROW’S  song, there is a delivery that is almost identical to the song of the CHIPPING SPARROW in both speed of delivery and tonal qualities. This evening at 8:00 p.m. or so, the same SWAMP SPARROW was present again, in the very same bush, delivering the very same song – and this time I got a good look at it – SWAMP SPARROW. The bird sang from its perch for three or four minutes, then broke into the more familiar and heavier song with which we are all familiar. That it was singing from the same perch after 23 days would seem to suggest that this individual had been unsuccessful in attracting a mate for there was no other SWAMP SPARROW  around in the immediate area, although there were plenty of them on the other side of the marsh where I had a second survey station.  No mate? The song perhaps?

Saturday, June 14: An interesting sighting today involved 9 GREAT EGRETS at the Kaiser Crossroad flooded cornfields, in a drainage ditch that separates two of the fields. These birds are being monitored for possible nesting as the Cressy Marsh is just on the east side of the flooded fields, and there has been a colony of GREAT BLUE HERONS nesting in there for many years. OSPREYS  continue to burgeon in population in Prince Edward County. At Waupoos, there is a total of five nests, three of them new this season and all built on utility poles. In Belleville, up to seven CHIMNEY SWIFTS  were seen over the Moira River at Station Street. At the H.R. Frink Centre on Thrasher Road, north of Belleville today, among the notables seen there were BELTED KINGFISHER, MARSH WREN, GREAT BLUE HERON, COMMON RAVEN, YELLOW WARBLER, EASTERN KINGBIRD and SONG SPARROW. Two COMMON RAVENS were also present at Big Island east today. BOBOLINKS and EASTERN MEADOWLARKS are once again nesting in the two fields west of our house in good numbers, where I have a one kilomtetre mowed trail around the perimeter. The new owner of the property has no plans to rent out the fields, so the  nesting birds are safe once again this year. Anyone wishing to take a stroll around the fields on the trail is welcome to do so. Just let me know if you are planning a visit. The entrance to the trail is at the end of our driveway at 23 Sprague Road, Big Island. Surprises abound. This morning, there was an AMERICAN BITTERN standing right on the middle of the trail with its beak pointed straight to the zenith, seemingly unaware that there was nothing behind him to blend in with as he stood his ground until I approached to within two metres. Binoculars, of course, but no camera. Other sightings of note included a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER on Kleinstuber Parks Road near West Lake, and GRASSHOPPER SPARROW, EASTERN MEADOWLARKS and BOBOLINKS at Point Petre. The best sighting down there was a LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE on a telephone line at the military communications receiver site. Other sightings today included a MAP TURTLE laying eggs near Bond Road in Milford.

Friday, June 13: An IMPERIAL MOTH was found today on the outside wall of Pinecrest School at Bloomfield. Through the summer when bird sightings may become few and far between, feel free to send me any photos and/or sightings of wildlife or plants and I will include them in this report. Having said that, there is still lots of avian stuff around to keep us happy for at least a little while. Anyone wanting to see COMMON NIGHTHAWKS can be assured of some success on Airport Road on the east side of Belleville. At 8:15 p.m. tonight one appeared, flew around a bit and then headed off in an easterly direction. Last Sunday, there were seven swirling and diving for an hour before it got dark, so their spring nuptials may be drawing to a close now. The Aitken’s Road extension in east Belleville today had a few birds to hold the attention of birders, including 75 CANADA GEESE, 30 MALLARDS, 1 GREAT BLUE HERON, OSPREY, SPOTTED SANDPIPER,  and BROWN THRASHER.   Along Washburn Road in the Sunbury area, north of Kingston, EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK, SCARLET TANAGER, WARBLING VIREO and WILSON’S SNIPE were among the birds present there today, and at the Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area at Amherstview, the long present KENTUCKY WARBLER was still happily singing away. At the Amherstview Sewage Lagoons, a few of the noteworthy sightings there were: 54 CANADA GEESE (including 34 goslings), WOOD DUCK, GADWALL, 34 MALLARDS (including 14 ducklings), LESSER SCAUP, HOODED MERGANSER, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, 2 EASTERN KINGBIRDS, NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW, 5 BARN SWALLOWS, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, YELLOW WARBLER, FIELD SPARROW and  2 BALTIMORE ORIOLES.

Thursday, June 12: Well, this sighting is more than a week late, but significant enough that everyone should be made aware of it so we can keep our eyes open this month. On June 5th, Fisheries Biologist with Quinte Conservation, Brad McNevin , was assisting Sharone Ostrovsky with a filming segment for Oasis TV on Blessington Creek near Baz Auto in Belleville. They happened to look up as two AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS flew over, and the film crew was able to capture the flyover with no problem. Most of us can recall when the AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN on the Trent River near Frankford was seen on December 6th last year, and which enjoyed quite the storied adventure. First seen on August 21st at Trident Point near the mouth of the Salmon River, the bird over the course of the next 10 days, slowly rode the currents of the Bay of Quinte toward Deseronto, first appearing at Northport, then seen later at Telegraph Narrows before settling in for a week or two. On September 21st, the bird was seen at the mouth of the Napanee River by resident Donna Tebo where it remained until November 24th. As the ice began to close in, the bird retreated to Deseronto again, where it was seen at Unger Island before turning up again two days later, this time, at the Norris Whitney Bridge at Belleville. Four days later, the same bird turned up at Frankford where it remained for four days. Presumably homesick, the bird returned to the Napanee River mouth again where conditions had improved somewhat, but disgruntled over winter closing in, the pelican once again returned to the Frankford and Glen Ross areas where the bird was last seen on December 8th when this photo was taken. It is rare to see a pelican that late in the season and one has to wonder if it eventually succumbed to the frigid conditions or, did it, in fact, get back on track, and fly south for the winter. Nowhere else in the general Bay of Quinte region has one ever remained this late in the season. The AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, as a species, is not that unheard of in these parts and one or two usually show up every year, somewhere. It breeds locally through Canada’s western provinces, as far east as extreme western Ontario at Lake-of-the-Woods. They spend the winter in the southern United States to Guatemala. So, it is anyone’s guess why this AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN failed to migrate south and it was not seen anywhere in Ontario after the December 8th date. So, keep your eyes peeled this month for two AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS that were seen over a week ago, as they may still be around the area. 

Wednesday, June 11: Unless you were birding in a monsoon this morning, it is dubious if anyone was birding today, at least, not this morning. It seems like a good time to talk about wetlands and what might be seen there these days. The Hamilton Wetland west of Demorestville. there is sometimes a SANDHILL CRANE in with the ducks (mostly MALLARDS) that hang out here most days, along with GREAT EGRET, GREAT BLUE HERONS and MUTE SWANS. Birders are reminded again that this wetland is on private property which hosts a herd of beef cattle. They are not to be disturbed. Volunteers last year, with the permission and encouragement of the landowner, spent an hour removing some of the Red Cedars to provide better viewing opportunities from the roadside fence. This spring with the water level so high, binoculars are all one really needs, although a spotting scope will make viewing easier. The open space is about half way along the length of the wetland and is marked with a No Trespassing sign as well as a broken tennis ball over one of the steel stakes. Another wetland, the Big Island Marsh, where a massive wetland rehabilitation project has been underway for two years, involving three large “ponds” (one is 12 acres!) and interconnecting channels, will be a year or two before it reaches its potential, and starts to produce much in the way of waterfowl or other species. However, as a few of us found one day, a quiet early morning paddle through the channels can be an enjoyable experience where one can literally rub shoulders with AMERICAN BITTERNS, MARSH WRENS, and SWAMP SPARROWS. If interested in enjoying the same experience, there is a convenient pull off area where you can park and launch your canoe or kayak near the corner of Sprague Road and South Big Island Road. Reserve at least two hours if planning to explore all the ponds and channels. Another wetland that requires no paddling, is Beaver Meadow Conservation Area along C.R. 11 at East lake, where SORAS, VIRGINIA RAILS, COMMON GALLINULES, AMERICAN BITTERN, BLACK TERNS, MARSH WRENS, SWAMP SPARROWS and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT can all be found. Another great wetland, although relatively unknown to all but avid birders, is the Danforth Road wetland, west of Wellington, along the Millennium Trail. LEAST BITTERNS are regulars here although you do have sneak up on them in the night to hear them calling. I have heard as many as four at one time. Although the trees are now in full foliage, wetlands around the area do provide a few open areas, and some great opportunities to maintain your interest in birds now that things have slowed a bit. 

Tuesday, June 10: The focus has now changed from migrating birds, to nesting birds, and with that season of the year, there are always lots of interesting stories and photos coming in. I will be posting these photos as they come in and sharing some stories in an effort to keep the Birding blog going through the lean months of summer. One of our major accomplishments during the past 40 years at our home, has been changing what started out as a barren two acres with nary a tree or shrub anywhere – we often joke that it was so barren that even the KILLDEERS were suspicious - , into a habitat where now it is difficult to determine what exactly is attracting who! Since our efforts started producing results, we have enjoyed 23 species of nesting birds, ranging from GRAY CATBIRD, EASTERN BLUEBIRD to BROWN THRASHER & BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE. Our “yard list” stands at 116 species, and these are not species seen or heard from our yard, but those who have actually touched terra firma on our premises. The list also includes aerial foragers like the NORTHERN HARRIER or any species passing over that showed an interest in what’s below, without stopping. So, the BALD EAGLE  that flew over once did not get added because it never looked down! Neither did the rare HENSLOW’S SPARROW in 1996 in the field beside our house that could clearly be heard from our sundeck. Too much of a purist perhaps?? Maybe so, but the list accurately reflects on our efforts to attract birds,  and only those that seem clearly interested in what we have done are added to our list. The way to attract birds is not through the planting of nursery grown ornamentals, but rather, in selecting native trees and shrubs birds are already familiar with and on which they routinely feed. Going native really works, along with nest boxes, shelters, bird baths, feeding, just to name a few of the possibilities one can embark on to attract birds to the backyard. It is a treat now to sit under our tree and watch all our efforts working together and for us. We like to think of our backyard as our very own little ecosystem. By the way, Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee has a couple two-week old goslings that are ready to be released. If you know any CANADA GOOSE families with goslings that young, the adults will readily adopt the two orphans, no problem. If you are aware of such a family of geese in the Napanee/Deseronto area, or even Prince Edward County, please conact Sandy Pines at right away. 

Monday, June 09: The woods at Beaver Meadow Conservation Area south of Picton near East Lake resounded with birds this evening. Both a SCARLET TANAGER and a ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK were singing almost side by side. A WOOD THRUSH called out his flute-like notes throughout the evening and it was difficult to hear much else for a very loud and persistent RED-EYED VIREO singing his monotonous robin-like phrases from the tree canopy. At the wetland itself, a VIRGINIA RAIL responded, not to a recording of its own species’ voice, but rather, to a recorded SORA song. COMMON GALLINULE, MUTE SWANS, PIED-BILLED GREBE, SWAMP SPARROW and a handful of very vocal MARSH WRENS were also present in the marsh. At least six BLACK TERNS were coursing to and fro, snatching up insects as they went. An OVENBIRD call once from deep within the woods, as well as a GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, BALTIMORE ORIOLE, and an EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE. Upon our arrival to the parking lot, two of four raptors riding the thermals so high in the sky that they were mere specks, turned out to be a BALD EAGLE and a RED-TAILED HAWK. The remaining two drifted away before we could pin down their identities. The best find was a singing, and very loud,  YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, along one of the trails.

Sunday, June 08:  A YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO was seen today, carrying nesting material near the community of Read, north of Shannonville. The observer though, was on a different quest, that of finding GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLERS in the same area. A Brewster’s hybrid with gold wingbars, and an “almost Brewster’s” with white wingbars and yellow tinged breast were also found. The latter hybrid sang a BLUE-WINGED WARBLER  two-part song, except the second part was with a stutter. Interesting birds, these GOLDEN-WINGED and BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS and the Brewster’s and Lawrence’s hybrids. Six COMMON NIGHTHAWKS  were counted last night along Airport Road at the east side of Belleville. The nighthawks come out at 8:15 p.m., but it isn’t until 8:45 p.m. that they really get moving and displaying. This is in contrast to one seen and heard today during a guided hike at the Menzel Provincial Nature Reserve along Roblin Road, 18 km north of Deseronto. When I arrived at 8:30 a.m., a single COMMON NIGHTHAWK was actively displaying, complete with the power dives and resounding boom noise as the bird came out of its dive each time. The bird was still displaying when we returned to our cars in the afternoon. The 2,000-acre property was alive with birds. Heard singing were VEERY, SCARLET TANAGER, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK, FIELD SPARROW, EASTERN TOWHEE, 2 NASHVILLE WARBLERS, 2 NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES, OVENBIRD, RED-EYED VIREO and EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE. Identified along the 2.4 km trail were numerous PITCHER-PLANTS, COTTON GRASS, ROYAL FERN, YELLOW LADY’S-SLIPPER, DWARF BIRCH and THIMBLEWEED. Just south of the Quinte Skyway Bridge into Prince Edward County, an UPLAND SANDPIPER  was seen. Yesterday, an adult BALD EAGLE was seen at Mountain View Airport, sitting atop the most westerly pile of gravel. It is likely the same adult BALD EAGLE  that has been present all spring at nearby Huff’s Island.

Saturday, June 07: COMMON NIGHTHAWKS are really cool birds. I used to see and hear them regularly in Picton in the evenings years ago, attracted there by the insects around the street lights, and by the suitable nesting opportunities on the flat gravel and tar roofs of many of the buildings. I always enjoyed their dramatic booming display flight. I haven't heard them in Picton in recent years, but perhaps that is more of a case that I am not much of a night hawk myself, preferring to be at home in the evenings. Anyway, four nighthawks were seen last night at 251 Airport Parkway West. If you would like to take in the display, go east on College Street past Tim Horton's then turn right on to Airport Parkway.   In about one km, there is an abandoned building with an open field on the south side of the road.  An old broken sign says "251 Byro" (we assume the road used to be called Byron Street). It is basically at the easternmost end of the rail yard. Today in the Springbrook area, two BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS and 6 GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLERS, were seen, along with six GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS,  2 BROAD-WINGED HAWKS,  CLAY-COLORED SPARROW and 4 UPLAND SANDPIPERS. A BLANDING'S TURTLE  was also seen. CLAY-COLORED SPARROW and UPLAND SANDPIPER were also seen today on the Napanee Plains during a Quinte Field Naturalists outing, led by Mike Burrell of the Kingston area. Some distant looks of a LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE were enjoyed, but there were other good grassland birds too, including EASTERN MEADOWLARK, BOBOLINK, BROWN THRASHER, COMMON SNIPE, AMERICAN KESTREL, SONG and CHIPPING SPARROWS and plenty of FIELD SPARROWS. There were a few BLACK TERNS at the Moscow Marsh. At the Camden Lake Provincial Wildlife Area, GRAY CATBIRD, HOUSE WREN and PIED-BILLED GREBE were added to the day's list. And, in the Palmer Road area of Belleville, there has been a MERLIN present.

Friday, June 06: A volunteer with the Marsh Monitoring Program, doing an early morning survey at the Blessington Creek Marsh caught sight of a LEAST BITTERN today. Volunteer Gilles Bisson of Belleville said the bird responded when he played the CD provided by Bird Studies Canada for the monitoring program. When the 15 minute survey was completed, he made an effort to re-locate the bird and saw it briefly as it flew off to the other side of the creek.  No further word on the CHUCK-WILL`S WIDOW on Hill Top Road, west of South Bay. If anyone has recorded the bird since May 31st, please let me know. It was first heard on May 19th. However, as of today, the KENTUCKY WARBLER at Parrott`s Bay Conservation Area was still singing away. The Aitken’s Road extension on the east side of Belleville continues to produce good birds. Seen at 6:25 a.m. this morning were AMERICAN WIGEON, 18 MALLARDS, 4 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS, 3 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS. An UPLAND SANDPIPER was in a field on the east side of the road near Airport Parkway. The parkway also had a male and female AMERICAN KESTREL. Above the Royal Bank in Belleville, a half dozen CHIMNEY SWIFTS were seen. Birds seen at Beaver Meadow Conservation Area today, and in recent days, have been BELTED KINGFISHER, GREEN HERON, WOOD DUCK and both VIRGINIA RAIL and SORA.

Thursday, June 05: A single SURF SCOTER seen at Amherst Island today, is a late date for this species. More common for this time of the year were seven other waterfowl species, among them 3 COMMON LOONS, 2 HOODED MERGANSERS, a GADWALL and a NORTHERN PINTAIL. Both ALDER and WILLOW FLYCATCHERS were found, as were NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS, MARSH WREN, AMERICAN REDSTART and EASTERN  WOOD-PEWEE. Interesting that the latter species has been seen in at least two backyard settings today, a somewhat unusual habitat for this flycatcher species that prefers deciduous and mixed woodlands. One has been calling for two days at 23 Sprague Road on Big Island, and another was in an open backyard near the west end of Black Street, west of Demorestville. At Presqu`ile Park, there is an active nest of a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH beside Paxton Drive near Atkins Lane.   There have been repeated records of a CAROLINA WREN in the past week, from the calf pasture and 83 Bayshore Road, perhaps the same individual in each case. To see Fred Helleiner`s full report from Presqu`ile Park this week, CLICK HERE. At Parrott`s Bay Conservation Area, it is a case of one remaining and one gone. Presumably moved on today is the WORM-EATING WARBLER that has been creating some excitement there in the last few days, but still present, is the KENTUCKY WARBLER which, unlike the two seen at Prince Edward Point this spring, this one whistled and sang till the green wood rang, but he could not win (or even find) the heart of a lady. There has been no update since the weekend on the presence (or absence) of the CHUCK-WILL`S-WIDOW on Hill Top Road in Prince Edward County. The LAUGHING GULL at Cobourg Harbour, first seen yesterday, was there again this morning, preening itself amongst the CASPIAN TERNS and RING-BILLED GULLS. In Belleville today, an estimated 40 CHIMNEY SWIFTS joined 5 TREE, 2 NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED and 2 BARN SWALLOWS above the old vacant Trudeau Motors car dealership on Station Street this afternoon. The nesting EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were seen again today at Sandbanks Provincial Park, near the Dunes Beach Day Use Area, and an unspecified number of CASPIAN TERNS  were present early this morning at the mouth of the Outlet River.

Wednesday, June 04:  Yesterday, and again late this afternoon, a breeding plumaged LAUGHING GULL was found and photographed on the east pier of Cobourg Harbour,  and seen by others. A little closer to home, the removal of the visitors' birding benches at Point Traverse signifies the close of the spring birding season at Prince Edward Point, and the return of the well beaten trails to Dog Strangling Vine and a maze of spider webs. Today, however, a few species were making themselves known, like SCARLET TANAGER, BALTIMORE ORIOLE, AMERICAN REDTSTART, YELLOW WARBLER, NORTHERN FLICKER, EASTERN KINGBIRD, BROWN THRASHER, and GRAY CATBIRD, all of them singing enthusiastically, and a very vocal GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER.  A pair of EASTERN BLUEBIRDS continue to occupy a nest box at the West Lake Sector of Sandbanks Provincial Park and have been seen carrying food into the box. It has been a dog eat dog world at one bird feeder east of Lake on the Mountain. As a sequel to the feeding frenzy of hawks this past winter, a RED FOX now comes through every morning, seeking out squirrels and MOURNING DOVES. Yesterday, a RED SQUIRREL was taken by a RACCOON, of all things.  Other interesting behaviour came from Luck’s Crossroad today where the residents there grow a number of bulbs called Voodoo Lily (Amorphophallus konjac) for their lovely stems and leaves. Before the foliage grows they put out a flower spathe that smells like carrion. Fortunately the flower only lasts a day. This morning the TURKEY VULTURES were circling at treetop level trying to figure out were that lovely stink was coming from. It is not nice to fool Mother Nature. A GIANT SWALLOWTAIL was seen there today, and two were seen north of Tamworth on Sunday. A LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE  was seen today on the Napanee Limestone Plain, where also seen were EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, BOBOLINKS, BROWN THRASHERS and 20 BARN SWALLOWS – an encouraging number for a species that seems to be declining. On Canoe Lake Road, north of Frontenac Provincial Park, seen today were CERULEAN WARBLER, 2 YELLOW-THROATED VIREOS, 5 INDIGO BUNTINGS, 2 BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLERS, and a BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER. On Opinicon Road, 2 YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOOs turned up.

Tuesday, June 03: Two RED KNOTS were found at the Kaiser Crossroad wetland four days ago.  According to the observer who e-mailed today, they were picking through the mud/corn stubble on the south edge of the south pond. They were with 3 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS. One of the knots had an orange flag on its left leg.  Today, there was a post on the OntBirds listserv perhaps questioning the identity of the WORM-EATING WARBLER at the Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area near Kingston. The bird had turned up last month in the same location as a rare KENTUCKY WARBLER, and although the KENTUCKY WARBLER has been seen by several observers, the WORM-EATING WARBLER has been more secretive, calling tantalizingly in the thickets, and identified by its voice by the many observers who came to add this species to their lists. However, the observer today offered that perhaps the bird is not a WORM-EATING WARBLER, but instead, a more common PINE WARBLER which sounds similar. This person did manage a fleeting glimpse and in that brief instant, saw a bird that resembled a PINE WARBLER. This person does agree though that the song certainly appeared to be that of a WORM-EATING WARBLER, but what he got a glimpse of, was not. Could both species be present? Familiar with the songs of both species myself, I am inclined to still support the WORM-EATING identification, and there has been no further discussion on the sighting, that dozens of other experienced birders have heard for several weeks, and subsequently identified as a WORM-EATING WARBLER. Of course, as we all know, birds are very good sometimes at fooling us with their songs, so the jury is still out. I submit that the WORM-EATING WARBLER identification is correct, based on what I heard, but  perhaps a PINE WARBLER has moved into the area as well, if only to test our identification skills to the limit! If anyone has any updated information on this discussion, I would appreciate an e-mail about it. As the migration winds down, and fewer sightings are apt to come in, I would really like to keep this daily blog going. In past years, I have been a bit creative and focused on unusual behaviour among some of our more common species, or included a bit of bird trivia, just to keep the blog vibrant during the summer months. Doesn’t have to be about birds – anything during the summer will be fair game – mammal sightings, herptiles, wildflowers seen, insects.....Anyone want to submit something on the clouds of midges we are seeing right now? Must be a few bicyclists and motorcyclists have a few stories!!

Monday, June 02: We hear AMERICAN BITTERNS, but we seldom ever see them in action. David Allan of Toronto captured a great photo at Presqu’ile Park a few days ago that clearly showed the throat gyrations of a bittern as it produces its weird, squelching noises. As of Saturday night, the long present CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW was still singing his heart out at Hill Top Road, west of South Bay. Also present, a WHIP-POOR-WILL, FIELD SPARROW and an EASTERN TOWHEE. On Sunday, there was an immature BALD EAGLE  seen flying over Smith’s Bay, heading east. Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area’s two very special birds – the KENTUCKY WARBLER and the WORM-EATING WARBLER, were both present again today. The WORM-EATING WARBLER seemed to stop singing in early afternoon, while the KENTUCKY WARBLER sang nonstop. This evening along the Cedar Sands Trail at Sandbanks Provincial Park, present were GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, NORTHERN FLICKER, BALTIMORE ORIOLES and HOUSE WREN.

Sunday, June 01: At a privately owned piece of property along Arden Road, north of Tamworth today, CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLERS were singing everywhere – obviously good habitat on this 200-acre property we were on that extended to the Salmon River. SCARLET TANAGERS, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, lots of OVENBIRDS and a lone NASHVILLE WARBLER were also heard singing. Lots of GREEN FROGS, GREY TREE-FROGS, lots of DEER FLIES (non-biting), and lots of fresh evidence of BLACK BEAR. We were not alone on our five km hike. A Belleville birder  took a bicycle up to Springbrook/Marmora area for two days on the backroads and trails. He saw 10 GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLERS and one BLUE-WINGED WARBLER in 8 different locations.  Notable was a very vocal colony of at least 4 GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLERS at #2177 Old Marmora Rd at 6 am this morning. A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD and three UPLAND SANDPIPERS were in the same field at #1434 Springbrook Rd, a TRUMPETER SWAN was on a nest on the Trans Canada Trail at Wood Road. After a whirlwind visit by hundreds upon hundreds of shorebirds a few days ago, Presqu’ile Park today had only a few remnants of that earlier passage, including RUDDY TURNSTONE and SEMIPALMATED PLOVER. A late BRANT was also present on the beach. This morning at 8:30 a.m. a resident birder found a NELSON’S SPARROW (formerly Sharp-tailed Sparrow) at the lighthouse. The bird was seen close to the most east platform. Although looked for by a few birders and not found, there is a good chance the bird is still around. At Prince Edward Point today, present were COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, lots of CEDAR WAXWINGS, EASTERN KINGBIRDS, a GRAY CATBIRD, WILSON’S WARBLER, and YELLOW WARBLERS, not to mention clouds of MIDGES  still present. A GREAT BLUE HERON was walking around nonchalantly on the beach at Wellington, and wandered a bit toward the Devonshire Inn. At West Lake, near Sandbanks, BALTIMORE ORIOLES, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS and RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are present in one backyard, and a BROWN THRASHER showed up today, and PURPLE MARTINS  are well established there now.  At one of my favourite places to walk, Lemoine Point Conservation Area in Kingston, highlights today were 8 CHIMNEY SWIFTS, 2 RED-EYED VIREOS and WARBLING VIREO. Nearby Marshlands Conservation Area had MOURNING WARBLER, and GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET. A COMMON NIGHTHAWK was seen yesterday at Hill Top Road, west of South Bay.

Saturday, May 31: Despite it being a weekend, and a beautiful day, not a single bird sighting came in today!

Friday, May 30: It is mostly about shorebirds in today’s report, although none of the sightings came from Prince Edward County, except for 14 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, 100+ DUNLIN, and 50 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS seen earlier in the week, and mentioned in this week’s Kingston Report by Mark Read. The place to go today was Presqu’ile Park where species seen there were 450+ DUNLIN, 55 RUDDY TURNSTONES, 60 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, 3 GOLDEN PLOVERS, 1 RED KNOT, 2 SANDERLINGS, 1 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, 125 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, plus the breeding SPOTTED SANDPIPERS and KILLDEER. Also present today was a WILLET, two SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, LEAST SANDPIPER, and 3 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS.  At Cobourg at 11 am on the rocks at the south end of the harbour were 10 RED KNOTS, 15 RUDDY TURNSTONES and a flock of DUNLIN. Four DUNLIN were also present today in Belleville, at the Aitken’s Road extension. Up to 10 WILSON’S PHALAROPES were present this week at the Martin Edward’s Reserve on Amherst Island. And to round out the list of shorebirds seen today, was an UPLAND SANDPIPER along Newburgh Road. The KENTUCKY WARBLER and WORM-EATING WARBLER, two rarities almost side by side at the Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area at Amherstview, were present again today to the delight of visiting birders. If they were a plus then others present there today only added to the excitement, including HERMIT THRUSH and SWAINSON’S THRUSH, not to mention the SCARLET TANAGER, WARBLING and RED-EYED VIREOS whose songs have been echoing through the wooded area. An amazing spot to bird this week. The CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW on Hill Top Road, west of South Bay, was present again last night and the night before. It couldn’t be easier to get this life bird on your checklist. Just park at 9:00 p.m., listen, and drive home! In Belleville, 18 CHIMNEY SWIFTS were seen above the city, a late BRANT was at Presqu’ile Beach today, along with an even later LONG-TAILED DUCK which appeared ill. At a residence on North Big Island Road, the homeowner there had no need to jump in the car and drive somewhere to bird; it was all right there including both a GREEN HERON and an AMERICAN BITTERN, GREAT BLUE HERON, BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO, 1 RUSTY BLACKBIRD, 2 BALTIMORE ORIOLES, an EASTERN TOWHEE, both a PHILADELPHIA and a WARBLING VIREO and a BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER. The latter sighting reminds us that although the warbler migration is winding down, there are still some leftovers from the season. At the Marshlands Conservation Area in Kingston, MOURNING WARBLER, BLACKPOLL WARBLER and ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER were seen there today, and at nearby Lemoine Point Conservation Area, 2 BLACKPOLL WARBLERS were reported.

Thursday, May 29: It was a good day to see KENTUCKY WARBLER and WORM-EATING WARBLER at Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area, west of Kingston. My wife and I found the KENTUCKY WARBLER with no problem at high noon,  a little surprised that it remained much higher in the growth than where I have seen this skulking species in the past. The WORM-EATING WARBLER was also present, singing energetically not far from the observation deck. At least four other parties found the two birds today as well, at different times of the day. In fact, the forested area there was absolutely alive with bird song, and we found SCARLET TANAGER, BALTIMORE ORIOLES, WOOD THRUSH, OVENBIRD, NASHVILLE WARBLER, CHESTNUT-SIDD WARBLER, EASTERN TOWHEE, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS,  RED-EYED VIREOS and BLUE JAY. It is an amazing area and I have done several guided hikes on this property in past years. Lots of excellent habitat. The 250+ DUNLINS seen at Pleasant Bay on Monday, have departed, leaving  behind only a PILEATED WOODPECKER, OSPREY and BROWN THRASHER. A male COMMON NIGHTHAWK was observed today above Belleville’s Northeast Industrial Park at dawn displaying its “beeent” and “vrooom”. At Presqu’ile Park, CAROLINA WREN, GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH, and a plethora of shorebirds were a few of the highlights there this week. If you are visiting the Park on Saturday, you might wish to attend the official opening of the refurbished Jobes’ Woods trail at 1:30 p.m. The Presqu’ile Weekly Bird Report has been uploaded to the Naturestuff website and you can access it HERE. At the Marshlands Conservation Area along Front Road in Kingston, highlights there included AMERICAN REDSTARTS, 5 EASTERN WOOD-PEWEES, 2 COMMON YELLOWTHROATS and a VIRGINIA RAIL. At Big Island, a PHILADELPHIA VIREO spent several minutes singing from a maple tree at 23 Sprague Road late this afternoon. EASTERN MEADOWLARKS and BOBOLINKS have descended in the abandoned hay fields west of this address and are nesting again this year. A mowed trail around the perimeter of the two fields provides good viewing opportunities, and the owner of the farm has graciously permitted this trail to continue, and has even added a few of his own from adjacent fields. Feel free to stop by anytime to walk the kilometre-long mowed trail. An e-mail prior to your visit would be appreciated. 

Wednesday, May 28:  Prince Edward Point today was still fairly busy with birds, but birding was a challenge as huge clouds of Midges swarmed us every time we’d stop to look at something. However, we did manage to find EASTERN TOWHEE, BALTIMORE ORIOLES, YELLOW, NASHVILLE, CHESTNUT-SIDED,  BLACK-THROATED GREEN, BLACKPOLL, MOURNING and WILSON’S WARBLERS. One WHITE-WINGED SCOTER between Point Traverse and Timber Island was our grand total of waterfowl. The LONG-TAILED DUCKS have headed north. Rather sad to no longer hear their conversational, yodeling calls, one of my favourite sounds of the spring season at Prince Edward Point. RED-EYED VIREOS seemed to be in good numbers yet, and GRAY CATBIRD and a very vocal BROWN THRASHER were also present in the Point Traverse Woods. Two NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRDS were seen along Long Point Road – one at Civic Address #4898 and a second one at #5363. As birds get settled around as to where they should be, they may turn up up wherever you find them. In a backyard that is high and dry above Adolphus Reach, east of Lake on the Mountain, a pair of GREEN HERONS turned up there today. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER is also at this location, and another RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, (different from the West Lake individual mentioned in Monday’s report), is presumably nesting along County Road 18 beside Sandbanks Provincial Park. As we get well into the nesting season, interesting reports are arriving daily. The nest of a TURKEY VULTURE was reported in a barn at an undisclosed location west of Bloomfield. Open barns appear to be their favourite locations to nest, at least, in Prince Edward County. On Long Point Road one year, I found a nest of vultures in the manger of an old horse stall ! The fragrance of rotting flesh, as I recall, was overpowering!  Once again, the KENTUCKY  WARBLER and WORM-EATING WARBLER were still at the Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area near Kingston, at 5:30 a.m. Anyone trying for the CHUCK-WILL’S WIDOW along Hilltop Road, west of South Bay, may want to try their luck near Civic Address 482, which is the location of the unmarked Miller Family Nature Reserve. That is where we heard it last night.  The more familiar WHIP-POOR-WILLS can be heard calling there too, and one has been calling along County Road 13/Long Point Road near Gravelley Bay Road. Three CHIMNEY SWIFTS were seen this morning at 9:45 a.m., circling over the Royal Bank on Belleville’s Front Street. There is also the nest of an OSPREY atop a farm silo at Airport Parkway and Elmwood Drive on the east side of the city. Two INDIGO BUNTINGS  were seen today at Huyck’s Point. As the warbler migration winds down, I think you may be very interested in this three-minute video, set to music, that was created by photographer Ian Dickinson of Belleville. It’s all about WARBLERS. Enjoy it as much as I did !

Tuesday, May 27: Congratulations to nature photographer Garry Kirsch who contributes photos regularly to the NatureStuff website. Garry lives in Belleville, and his astounding photo of an EASTERN BLUEBIRD feeding its young was chosen as one of the images that will represent Canada in this year’s 4 Nations Photography Competition. The "4-Nations" is a multi-national photography competition held between Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW was at its usual location along Hilltop Road, west of South Bay last night. My wife and I located it again tonight at 9:05 p.m., and it was challenging with a bit of wind and a din of GRAY TREE FROGS! However, after hearing nothing at its usual location 1 km west of C.R. 13 along Hilltop Road, we moved further west along the road and heard it clearly at Kilometre 1.3 calling along the edge of the woods almost directly across from the Miller Family Nature Reserve. Also found while waiting for it to call was a COMMON NIGHTHAWK, BROWN THRASHER, FIELD SPARROW, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and EASTERN TOWHEE. Not to be outdone by its persistence at this same location now for nine straight nights, was the KENTUCKY WARBLER, still present at the Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area west of Kingston, was heard and seen again today. A WORM-EATING WARBLER was also at Parrott’s Bay along with BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO, SCARLET TANAGER and WOOD THRUSHES. Early this morning, a quiet paddle through the maze of ponds and channels that has become the Big Island Marsh since a massive rehabilitation project began there two years ago, were GREEN HERON, 4 AMERICAN BITTERNS, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, several unidentified sandpipers in flight, ALDER FLYCATCHER, NORTHERN HARRIER, 6 MARSH WRENS, and SWAMP SPARROWS. Prince Edward Point today was still pretty active with WILSON’S WARBLER topping the list of BLACKBURNIAN, MAGNOLIA, YELLOW, CHESTNUT-SIDED, BLACK-THROATED GREEN, and CANADA WARBLERS, along with COMMON YELLOWTHROAT and AMERICAN REDSTARTS. A COMMON NIGHTHAWK was also present. Kaiser Crossroad is back for a feathered encore. Today there were 14 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, 100+ DUNLIN, 50 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, 2 male NORTHERN SHOVELERS, and three AMERICAN WIGEON.  At Presqu’ile Park, DUNLIN were there too – at least 500 of them this evening and a couple of RUDDY TURNSTONES. At the Presqu’ile lighthouse, BLUE-HEADED VIREO, AMERICAN REDSTART, and YELLOW and WILSON’S WARBLERS  were present. Invading feeders at Cressy today, were a dozen BALTIMORE ORIOLES and three pairs ofROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, with the resident having to fill his two hummingbird feeders twice daily. A PURPLE MARTIN house on the property has a pair of GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHERS building a nest, and a solitary GREAT EGRET continues to be seen at the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville.

Monday, May 26:  What a spectacular sight on a guided hike this evening along the Lake Ontario shoreline between North Beach Provincial Park and the channel from Pleasant Bay. Over 250 DUNLIN feeding almost at our feet, caring not a whit about 34 people gawking at them as they fed along the shoreline, some of them coming up to within a metre or so of our feet as we watched. With them were 3 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, 2 LEAST SANDPIPERS and one RUDDY TURNSTONE.  Two SPOTTED SANDPIPERS were seen farther up the beach, a COMMON LOON was in Pleasant Bay, and about 30 CASPIAN TERNS were loafing on the edge of the channel between Pleasant Bay and Lake Ontario along with 100 RING-BILLED GULLS and one HERRING GULL. On the mainland at Island Point in Pleasant Bay, several BOBOLINKS had established  nesting territory. Also seen and heard there were COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, YELLOW WARBLER, SONG SPARROW and HOUSE WREN. A very vociferous male ORCHARD ORIOLE sang near the entrance to North Beach Provincial Park, and in the Park itself, AMERICAN REDSTART, CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER and YELLOW WARBLER  were heard singing near the gatehouse.  Today at Codrington, a BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO was seen. A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was at a peanut feeder along County Road 12 at West Lake between The Tambo and Isaiah Tubbs Resort today. The KENTUCKY WARBLER was still present today at Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area west of Kingston, and Prince Edward County’s CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW, first discovered seven days ago, was singing again last night around 9:00 p.m. along Hilltop Road, west of South Bay. Two PRAIRIE WARBLERS were seen yesterday at Presqu’ile Park, singing and feeding low about 50 metres north of the Beach 2 parking lot along the bike path. Hundreds of DUNLIN were present along the beach and with them were RUDDY TURNSTONES and BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER. Two WHIMBREL rested for most of yesterday near the shore at Beach 3 and RED KNOTS were also seen there. A CANADA WARBLER, seen at Prince Edward Point recently, was photographed with a beak full of nesting material. For some years we have suspected nesting due to summer sightings of the species at the Point, but this latest sighting is pretty strong evidence of nesting. A SANDHILL CRANE was spotted at sunset in the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville. A SORA called loudly last night from the Big Island Marsh and an AMERICAN BITTERN calls nightly there. So far, very few MARSH WRENS being seen or reported. Has anyone else had a similar experience this spring?

Sunday, May 25: The male KENTUCKY WARBLER found at Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area on May 20th, was still actively singing in full view this morning. At Prince Edward Point today, conditions were pretty good with  still lots of warblers, among them CANADA, WILSON’S MOURNING, BAY-BREASTED and BLACKPOLL WARBLERS, and a NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH. Also present today, 2 SCARLET TANAGERS, 4 YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHERS, a  BALD EAGLE, a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD and 3 PHILADELPHIA VIREOS. Warblers will never be totally forgotten as several species will stick around a little while yet. However, it is difficult to slide then to the back of the mind when shorebirds are starting to take centre stage. Shorebirds were  teeming at Cobourg Harbour this morning, There were up to  an incredible 2000 DUNLIN present this morning, with (at least) 14 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS,  BAIRD’S SANDPIPER, 5 RED KNOTS, 10 RUDDY TURNSTONES, 5 SANDERLINGS and  scattered SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS. A WHIMBREL also flew over. Other birds present included 2 BUFFLEHEAD, 3 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, a juvenile GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL and an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL. Best viewing, according to a posting on the OntBirds listserv this morning, is from the east pier, but you need a spotting scope, as the largest numbers (and variety) are along the south breakwall, although there were also numbers along the east side of the pier itself, just down from the lighthouse.  Inside the harbour there are flocks of (mainly) DUNLIN along the west shoreline, which are very active. In the northeast part of Belleville, along the Aitken’s Road extension, LEAST SANDPIPER, 4 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS and 2 DUNLIN were present there, along with a NORTHERN SHOVELER. No shorebirds were seen today at the H.R. Frink Centre on Thrasher Road at Plainfield, but a respectable 25 species of other species were seen by an observer there early this morning. Making their way onto the checklist during 45 minutes of birding along the 500 metre Marsh Ecology Boardwalk, were two WOOD DUCKS, 3 HOODED MERGANSERS, a  PIED-BILLED GREBE, AMERICAN BITTERN, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT and 8 EASTERN KINGBIRDS. A SANDHILL CRANE flew northwest over Bronk road towards the H.R. Frink Centre this afternoon. The GREAT BLUE HERONRY at #125 Moneymore Rd, East of Chisholm Mills/Roslin has 16 occupied nests, one of which contains 2 young GREAT HORNED OWLS  about to fledge. Back in Prince Edward County, a birder exploring the Millennium Trail off the Danforth Road, west of Wellington, found  BOBOLINKS, SAVANNAH SPARROW, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, YELLOW WARBLER, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, EASTERN KINGBIRD and a BLUE-WINGED TEAL. The latter species gave at least two birding teams on last week’s Baillie Birdathon the slip as they tried to locate what has become a regular appearance at this location for the past two years.  

Saturday, May 24: Warblers were moving inland from Prince Edward Point this morning, so anyone birding a little to the north was in luck. Birds were dripping off the trees. A BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER and an AMERICAN REDSTART in the binoculars  at the same time? Check! BLACKPOLL WARBLERS counter singing from the left and the right? Check! The warbler migration is ending on a high note. TENNESSEE WARBLERS are still plentiful, as well as late migrants such as WILSON’S, BAY-BREASTED and BLACKPOLL WARBLERS. COMMON YELLOWTHROATS also seemed abundant. There were many of the “usual suspects”, both warblers and vireos, and a handsome male SCARLET TANAGER. Perhaps the most interesting bird was a male AMERICAN REDSTART in the process of moulting into adult breeding plumage. The bird had bright orange shoulder flashes; the others were dull yellow. Small specks and patches of black were starting to appear among the olive-brown feathers on his back and head. Thanks in part to the storms last night it was a pretty quiet morning though at the Observatory. There were MAGNOLIA, WILSON’S and YELLOW WARBLERS still coming through. The flycatchers have now appeared and LEAST, and a GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER were banded.. The highlight of the morning was a leucistic VEERY removed from the nets! Some past raptor sightings at Prince Edward Point included a BALD EAGLE on the 21st, a PEREGRINE FALCON on the 22nd, and a COOPER’S HAWK on the 23rd. Most of the waterfowl have departed from the Hamilton Wetland west of Demorestville, but last night there were GREAT BLUE HERONS , a GREAT EGRET and 2 WOOD DUCKS. Also last night, the Robinson Cove Marsh on the northwest corner of Big Island had a nice assortment of birds present including OSPREY, CASPIAN TERN, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, SWAMP SPARROW, and both LEAST and WILLOW FLYCATCHERS.   Ten BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER were present today in Belleville,along the Aitken Road extension. At 12 0’Clock Point in Carrying Place at the west end of the Bay of Quinte an incredible 84 CASPIAN TERNS loafing on the pier. Highlights at Presqu’ile Park today included 24 SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, 12 DUNLIN, 2 LEAST SANDPIPERS, and two SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS. At the campground marsh, a PIED-BILLED GREBE  was present and at Owen Point, 8 RUDDY TURNSTONES and a RED KNOT were present to complement the above mentioned shorebirds farther down the beach. Lots of  COMMON TERNS on the island. The final KAISER CROSSROAD WATERFOWL and SHOREBIRD REPORT has been uploaded. Our thanks to Pamela Stagg of Picton for providing these updates and for diligently monitoring the wetland almost every day since the ice melted, and also for contributing many of the sightings above. But we need your sightings too to round out these daily reports.

Friday, May 23: Sightings of shorebirds as they migrate through to northern breeding grounds, are starting to filter in now, but the warblers at Prince Edward Point are not about to let them dominate the scene any time soon. TENNESSEE WARBLERS, CAPE MAY WARBLERS  and WILSON’S WARBLERS continue to be numerous at Prince Edward Point, and today CANADA WARBLER and ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER were seen, along with a SWAINSON’S THRUSH. On Thursday, a MOURNING WARBLER, typically one of the later migrants, was seen. Both WILSON’S WARBLER and and PINE WARBLER turned up today at the Marshland’s Conservation Area along Kingston’s Front Road. As the shorebirds begin to edge into the birding scene, there was quite a bit going on at Presqu’ile Park today with  350+ DUNLIN, 55 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, 23 RUDDY TURNSTONES, a RED KNOT, 1 SANDERLING, 25+ SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS,  and, of course, SPOTTED SANDPIPERS and KILLDEER. At Prince Edward Point, a flock of DUNLIN  flew by today. At Wilton Creek in the community of Morven, LEAST SANDPIPER, SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER and SPOTTED SANDPIPER  were present. On Amherst Island, WILSON’S PHALAROPES  are regularly seen at the Martin Edwards Reserve at the east end of the island. However, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, DUNLIN, LEAST SANDPIPER, GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS have all been observed over the week, and 9 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS were seen a few days ago. Birders are reminded that you  must be a member of the Kingston Field Naturalists (KFN) or be accompanied by a member to access the Martin Edwards Reserve. At Prince Edward Point, 2 OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS, a species not often encountered there in spring, were present this week, and a late DARK-EYED JUNCO was seen there on Monday.  Birders birding the Point Traverse Woods will find both SURF SCOTERS and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS scattered in Prince Edward Bay off the north escarpment. INDIGO BUNTINGS have arrived at a feeder in the Codrington area, along with BROWN THRASHERS and EASTERN TOWHEES and a GREEN HERON. Now that some nice weather has arrived, the Quinte Area Bird Report may be uploaded later some nights than it has been in the past. However, it will definitely be available for viewing before 5:00 a.m. the following morning. I have aspirations of keeping this report running through the summer months, although some reports may not be as lofty as in the past. Submitting your sightings to me through the summer will greatly assist in meeting that goal. Tonight’s report is earlier than usual as I have a Marsh Monitoring survey to do this evening. It’s called “retirement” !

Thursday, May 22: And the excitement at Prince Edward Point continues. One birder described the scene this morning as “birds dripping from the trees”. It was a question of where to look first. TENNESSEE WARBLERS  were still abundant, and there was a big influx of flycatchers since yesterday, including LEAST FLYCATCHERS, EASTERN WOOD-PEWEES, EASTERN PHOEBES and even a WILLOW FLYCATCHER. Warbler numbers were more numerous, but the species makeup was pretty much the same as yesterday with the addition of a few WILSON’S WARBLERS. Along the north shore of Big Island, one backyard and adjacent area contained BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO, numerous YELLOW WARBLERS, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, ORCHARD ORIOLE, PHILADELPHIA VIREO, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK and an EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE. Even a WHIP-POOR-WILL stopped in. Speaking of which, WHIP-POOR-WILLS were calling again last night from Hilltop Road at South Bay, where once again the CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW was also calling for the third night in a row. An AMERICAN WOODCOCK was also seen here too. Along Soup Harbour Road at Point Petre, four SANDHILL CRANES were seen and also heard bugling. An UPLAND SANDPIPER was present today along Jericho Road off Highway 62, between Crofton and Bloomfield. During a Swiftwatch survey at the old North Marysburgh School at Lake on the Mountain, 3 CHIMNEY SWIFTS were seen, and a BLACKPOLL WARBLER was in the woods beside the school. Moving west to Cobourg Harbour, at 4.15 pm today, there were over 40 WHIMBREL on the rocks of the Cobourg harbour breakwater. As they were being observed, two long low flocks of WHIMBREL flew west behind them, low over the lake, numbering in total at least 100 birds. Also on the rocks were 20 breeding-plumaged DUNLIN, 3 bright RED KNOTS, and 2 RUDDY TURNSTONES. At Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area near Kingston, birds seen there today included 138 BRANT, a WOOD THRUSH, MERLIN and SCARLET TANAGER. At the Marshlands Conservation Area in Kingston, SWAINSON’S THRUSHES  were found as was a PINE WARBLER, WILSON’S WARBLER, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER and a RED-EYED VIREO. Hang on to those binoculars. This week has a lot more to offer yet!

Wednesday, May 21: We have arrived at that time of the year when the last vestiges of the spring migration continues to be apparent along with some of the locals that are well into nesting. And now the nesting photos come in. The CLIFF SWALLOW is gathering mud for its nest, located under the eaves of the old lighthouse. Territorial disputes are common at this time of the year, and some birds simply have no concept of size when defending their territory. As birds make their territories known, a BALTIMORE ORIOLE today was singing like a CAROLINA WREN in a backyard near Lake on the Mountain. The home owner looked everywhere for the wren and decided it was the oriole doing a perfect rendition. Several years ago a BALTIMORE ORIOLE had many birders fooled when it did likewise in the Point Traverse Woods during the Birding Festival. Is the song delivery coincidental, or is it actually imitating a CAROLINA WREN? The observer wondered if it learns the song at staging areas during migration. We all know birds imitate other birds but the question is why? It is easy to understand the rationale for the BLUE JAY around here imitating the RED-TAILED HAWK, but an oriole imitating a wren? Meanwhile at Prince Edward Point, the excitement continues as migrants continue to dominate the scene with at least 16 species of warblers remaining for the binocular brigade, with TENNESSEE WARBLERS and their staccato phrases being heard everywhere today . At least one HERMIT THRUSH is still around which is getting late for them. Continuing on the subject of birds imitating other species, an AMERICAN REDSTARTat Prince Edward Point was heard doing a near perfect rendition of a BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER, although the observer noted that it couldn’t quite hit the highest notes. Near Fish Lake today, two birders walking a low traffic Gorsline Road  came upon four sparrow species - GRASSHOPPER, CLAY-COLORED, SONG, and CHIPPING, as well as BOBOLINKS, EASTERN MEADOWLARKS, EASTERN KINGBIRDS, CEDAR WAXWINGS, EASTERN TOWHEE, TURKEY VULTURES, and an immature BALD EAGLE. At Stirling, there are CHIMNEY SWIFTS in the downtown core, using the chimney at the Stirling Creamery beside Rawdon Creek. And at Pleasant Bay today in Prince Edward County, , a PILEATED WOODPECKER was seen and a COMMON LOON was out on Lake Ontario. BALTIMORE ORIOLES are nest building on Narrow Street in Wellington  and INDIGO BUNTINGS continue to show up at all feeding stations in the area – all of them, that is, except mine!

Tuesday, May 20: The shorebird migration seem to be less than exciting this week. No shorebirds are present now at either Kaiser Crossroad or the creek above Jackson’s Falls near Milford. And Presqu’ile, renowned for its shorebird migration, had only two species present today - a RUDDY TURNSTONE and a SPOTTED SANDPIPER. However, the warbler migration is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. A quick visit to the Point Traverse Woods early this morning produced about 20 species in as many minutes, among them a possible MOURNING WARBLER that didn’t show itself. TENNESSEE WARBLERS were singing throughout the woods, as well as NORTHERN PARULAS. Both CAPE MAY and BAY-BREASTED WARBLER WERE in evidence as were BLACKPOLL, OVENBIRD, MAGNOLIA, YELLOW, both BLACK-THROATED BLUE and BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLERS. A female CERULEAN WARBLER was seen by another observer In almost the same spot that it, or another, was seen during our Birdathon on Wednesday. SCARLET TANAGERS were present and lots of BALTIMORE ORIOLES. A RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET spent three or four minutes scooting around amongst the Blue Phlox and Prickly Ash on one of the trails. A handful of lingering LONG-TAILED DUCKS were still producing their conversational calls on Prince Edward Bay, and both WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS and SURF SCOTERS were also seen . The CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW was calling again last night on Hilltop Road, one kilometre west of County Road 13 at South Bay. This is the second record in as many years of this southern version of our more familiar WHIP-POOR-WILL. Still lots of birds around as evidenced by two birding teams on the Birdathon a day or two ago with one party getting 143 species and another getting 144 species in a 24-hour period. Yesterday, 21 species of warblers were seen by another party, among them 20 TENNESSEE WARBLERS, a  GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER, more than a dozen each of CAPE MAY and BAY-BREASTED WARBLER. Also seen were CANADA WARBLER, WILSON’;S WARBLER, YELLOW-THROATED VIREO and NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD. BOBOLINKS that nested last summer in three abandoned hay fields west of 23 Sprague Road, Big Island, are gearing up for another successful season as the new owner has no immediate plans for those fields. Yesterday’s count was about two dozen birds, and several EASTERN MEADOWLARKS. Two to three SANDHILL CRANES  continue to bugle most mornings along County Road 15, immediately across the Big Island Marsh from our home and another was spotted a few days ago near the Hamilton Wetland west of Demorestville. A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER about 10 days ago was a surprise visitor at a peanut feeder in Wellington. Outside the immediate Quinte area, at 8:00 a.m. today, a KENTUCKY WARBLER was seen at Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area near Kingston. Unlike the individual that was at Point Traverse and, later, Prince Edward Point, this one was singing energetically. PILEATED WOODPECKER, RED-EYED VIREO, WARBLING VIREO, WOOD THRUSH and EASTERN KINGBIRD were also tallied there among the 34 species recorded at this popular conservation area at Collins Bay. With over 18,000 hits since the first of January, I would like to keep this blog running through the summer, so feel free to send me your bird sightings, as well as those of anything else in the natural world you come across for inclusion during the slower summer months. Try to have your sightings to me by 7:00 p.m.

Monday, May 19: There was still a nice showing of warblers today at Prince Edward Point  - YELLOW, BLUE-WINGED, CHESTNUT-SIDED, BAY-BREASTED, BLACK-THROATED GREEN and MAGNOLIA WARBLERS, as well as AMERICAN REDSTARTS were seen by one birder, and another found 21 warbler species, along with five species of vireo, HERMIT THRUSH, SWAINSON`S THRUSH, NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD,  and 2 SANDHILL CRANES.  Orioles busy with nest-building in 3 noted locations and a COMMON MERGANSER pair in vicinity of the lighthouse. Lots of stuff down there so don`t put away those binoculars just yet. But the big news down that way at 4:00 a.m. this morning during a Birdathon was the appearance of a CHUCK-WILL`S WIDOW singing along Hilltop Road at South Bay. It was a fun day for one birder at Camden Lake Provincial Wildlife Area. Birds found there today included AMERICAN BITTERN, GREAT BLUE HERON, AMERICAN REDSTARTS, YELLOW WARBLERS and 2 CHUKERS, the latter an upland game bird that has likely been released here. In fact, it was mostly about wetlands today. Kaiser Crossroad today contained only 3 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS and, at Jackson`s Falls Road, only a SPOTTED SANDPIPER  remained. At the Danforth Road wetland, west of Wellington, birds seen there today at this often prolific, but relatively unknown wetland, included AMERICAN BITTERN, WILSON`S SNIPE, VIRGINIA RAIL and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, while at Wellington Harbour, both CASPIAN and COMMON TERN, and BELTED KINGFISHER were seen. At the flooded agricultural field on Wesley Acres Road at Bloomfield, BLUE-WINGED TEAL, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, and LESSER YELLOWLEGS were some of the highlights. At the H.R. Frink Centre marsh, north of Belleville tonight, there were several VIRGINIA RAILS putting on a grand performance, along with a very vocal AMERICAN BITTERN. Also present, SWAMP SPARROW, and CANADA GOOSE. Elsewhere on this 510-acre property, OVENBIRD, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, and WOOD THRUSH were all heard vocalizing. A Belleville resident birding the Trans Canada Trail off Twiddy Road near Springbrook found 2 male GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLERS and a BLUE-WINGED WARBLER as well as what was probably a hybrid (Brewster`s Warbler). Near Wood Road, another BLUE-WINGED WARBLER was seen, and GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER  was heard singing.

Sunday, May 18: Warblers seen at Presqu'ile today included BLACKPOLL, CANADA, YELLOW-RUMPED, MAGNOLIA, TENNESSEE, YELLOW and BAY-BREASTED. The highlight today at Prince Edward Point was an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER. BAY-BREASTED and CAPE MAY WARBLERS were in abundance and also present today were CHESTNUT-SIDED, TENNESSEE, BLACKPOLL, BLACK-and-WHITE, NORTHERN PARULA, AMERICAN REDSTART, as well as SCARLET TANAGER and INDIGO BUNTING. A colourful day, to be sure. A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD has been seen off and on along Long Point Road, and a few days ago it was less than 200 metres from the Observatory. Except for the two TRUMPETER SWANS, the Kaiser Crossroad wetlands were deserted this afternoon, and the migration there has all but petered out. There were 5 LESSER YELLOWLEGS and 1 SPOTTED SANDPIPER at Jackson’s Falls Road. An UPLAND SANDPIPER was seen in the field east of Jackson`s Falls Road. A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was seen at South Bay.  South of Stirling today, there 7 BLACK TERNS flying around over the marsh along Baptist Church Road,  and in the old sand pit on the corner a nice colony of 60-70 BANK SWALLOWS was found. Moving east, the Martin Edwards Reserve (formerly known as the KFN Property) had 2 NORTHERN PINTAILS, a REDHEAD,1 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, 25 DUNLIN, 7 GADWALL, a GREEN-WINGED TEAL and 3 GREATER YELLOWLEGS today. The Amherst Island Owl Woods contained a WOOD THRUSH, RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, LINCOLN`S SPARROW, PEREGRINE FALCON, PHILADELPHIA VIREO, and a CANADA WARBLER. Some nice birds there. Moving east again to the Marshlands Conservation Area on Front Road at Kingston, a trail that I must visit again soon, after last walking it in the late 1960s ( ! ), a few highlights there were VEERY, 8 BAY-BREASTED WARBLERS, and a VIRGINIA RAIL. Some good stuff showing up yet throughout the Quinte area. The PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY SPRING BIRDING FESTIVAL continues tomorrow, its last day, and there will be the usual 8:00 a.m. guided bird walk along the groomed trails at Point Traverse, and another guided walk leaving at 10:00 a.m. from the Observatory and following the roadway all the way to the lighthouse. The hospitality tent will be open until noon. To everyone who supported the Festival this spring with their presence, purchased merchandise and made donations, we thank you. The Bird Observatory receives no government funding and is supported through donations and fund raisers only. And to those who supported our birding team, The SPRAGUE'S PIPITS, in our Birdathon to raise additional funds, a hearty thank you from me, Mr. Pipit and all the little pipits who helped me out this year. Collectively, my four member team raised over $3,000 !

Saturday, May 17: There was no report from the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory today, so it is not known what effect, if any, that yesterday`s rain had on the migration. From the two who did report their sightings, there were still plenty of birds to see for the start of the long weekend. One birder in search of a CANADA WARBLER that had been seen, failed in his bid to locate it, but came upon a BLACKPOLL WARBLER. A Demorestville area birder came up with a nice list of 42 species observed there today, a dozen of which were warblers. Among the more notable finds were an impressive 14 BAY-BREASTED WARBLERS, 8 BLACKBURNIAN WARBLERS, 40 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, 20 YELLOW WARBLERS, 5 TENNESSEE WARBLERS, and 8 CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLERS. Also present at Prince Edward Point today were SWAINSON`S THRUSH, both WHITE-THROATED and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, WARBLING VIREO, HOUSE WREN, 8 ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, and SCARLET TANAGERS. The presence of some of the latecomers like BLACKPOLL  WARBLER, WILSON`S WARBLER, and CANADA WARBLER signify the winding down of the warbler migration, but many will hang around for awhile, at least, through the weekend, for the finish of the Spring Birding Festival. It has been five years since a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT has been seen at Prince Edward Point, and we always hope for one of these southern birds, the largest member of the warbler group. There is still time for one to be seen. Still, we had KENTUCKY WARBLER and WORM-EATING WARBLER, so we can`t complain.  As always, when wandering around Prince Edward Point, do a thorough body check for the presence of any deer ticks, and always carry a proper tick puller with you at all times. Don`t depend on tweezers or sharp fingernails to pluck them off as you may break the body and leave the head still embedded. The most efficient tick pullers can be obtained from the local animal hospital and come in a package of two sizes for only $6.00 or so. Certainty a good investment. It`s like American Express. Don`t leave home without it. But it isn't always necessary to travel far to see spring migrants. Check your own backyard. One Wellington resident did today and found a female BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER and a female CANADA WARBLER (photo by Garry Kirsch of Belleville). Always nice additions to the yard list.   At Jackson’s Falls this afternoon there were 3 LESSER YELLOWLEGS. The Kaiser wetlands offered 1 LESSER YELLOWLEGS and 12 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, and a LESSER YELLOWLEGS was at the flooded agricultural field along Wesley Acres Road at Bloomfield. Thank you for your sightings. The Quinte Area Bird Report is compiled at 7:00 p.m. so be sure to have your sightings to me before then for inclusion in the day`s summary.

Friday, May 16: With 25 mm of rain overnight Wednesday and an additional 16 mm last night and 20 mm today, understandably, it was not the best day for birding unless you donned a good pair of rubber boots and a raincoat. And, we can assume that no banding took place at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory as it never stopped raining until well after noon. However a few stalwart birders were out today braving the elements. It came as no surprise to see water levels very high at the Kaiser Crossroad flooded cornfields. Flooded is the operative word in this case. There won`t be any corn planted there this week!  Present in the drizzly rain were 9 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS and the two TRUMPETER SWANS  were still hanging in there. Water was flowing swiftly at Jackson`s Falls Road  where 3 LESSER YELLOWLEGS were present. On Amherst Island, shorebird activity has been slow there as well. In addition to the resident WILSON`S PHALAROPES on the Martin Edwards Reserve, species present during the week have included LEAST SANDPIPERS, and both LESSER and GREATER YELLOWLEGS. Other good birds present on the island have been BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON, HOODED WARBLER, GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER, RING-NECKED PHEASANTS (3), UPLAND SANDPIPER and GRASSHOPPER SPARROW. An ORCHARD ORIOLE was seen today at Lemoine Point Conservation Area at Kingston next to Norman Rogers Airport. And a pair of ORCHARD ORIOLES are nesting along County Road 18 at Sandbanks Provincial Park. Near North Beach Provincial Park, a pair of AMERICAN BITTERNS are nesting in a marsh just off Partridge Hollow Road. A MOURNING WARBLER at Prince Edward Point signifies the arrival of some of the later arriving warblers and the eventual conclusion to the spring warbler migration. The mystery junco/sparrow–like bird at Prince Edward Point that was seen on Wednesday is still being discussed with no definitive answer. According to the observer and photographer, the experts are befuddled. It's not unanimous but most think that it is a female DICKCISSEL, likely with a pigmentation problem. It looks much like a "Townsend's Dickcissel", a problematic specimen collected in the 1830s. If indeed a DICKCISSEL, this common breeding bird of the Prairies and which resembles a miniature meadowlark, has been seen only six times in Prince Edward County, three sightings at Prince Edward Point, and three sightings, elsewhere in the County, the first one being sighted by author Farley Mowat at Consecon, in 1940. The SPRING BIRDING FESTIVAL continues with lots happening at Prince Edward Point this weekend through Monday. Join us, if you can.

Thursday, May 15: No report came in today from Prince Edward Point, but we can safely assume that at least 20 species of warblers remain at this now famous southeastern most tip of Prince Edward County. I have been birding this area since the mid-1960s, long before it was set aside as a national wildlife area, thanks mainly to the efforts of the Kingston Field Naturalists who conducted intense studies to support the belief that this was an important enough bird migration site to warrant protecting. The rest is history. Now that the leaves are starting to come out on the trees in this warm, rainy weather, now is the time to make a visit down there, if you haven’t already to catch the tail end of the spring migration before the foliage becomes too thick. The groomed trails that have become trodden with the feet of  many birders from all over Ontario, Quebec and parts of the northern states will be strangely quiet after the first part of June, occupied only by a maize of spider webs and dog strangling vine. As attention now focuses on some of the later migrants like BLACKPOLL WARBLERS, CANADA WARBLERS, and WILSON’S WARBLERS, all of which have already been seen, there will still be plenty see for a couple of weeks. Twenty-three e-mails came in today about INDIGO BUNTINGS at bird feeders and we can expect these, and ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS  to continue their backyard forays, with lucky property owners continuing to have  these colourful visitors through the summer as these species pair up and nest locally. One lucky feeder operator at Camden East has a FIELD SPARROW at her feeder, a species when present at all at feeders, is expected only during winter when the rare individual decides to challenge the rigours of winter rather than migrating. Beyond the backyard bird feeder, roving birders are paying close attention to the shorebird migration as various species stop and refuel at creek beds, mudflats and shorelines. Six GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 12 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, 2 LEAST SANDPIPERS and 1 DUNLIN were present today in the flooded Kaiser Crossroad corn fields. However, there were no shorebirds present this morning at Jackson’s Falls Road, but a few like DUNLIN, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER and LEAST SANDPIPERS can still be seen at a flooded agricultural field along Wesley Acres Road at Bloomfield. At Kaiser Crossroad, two TRUMPETER SWANS remain on the  wetlands. The third, present just yesterday, sadly, died on the south wetland. Shorebirds on the Aitken Road extension in Belleville hosted a BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, 3 KILLDEER, 2 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS, and several LEAST SANDPIPERS.  One Belleville birder explored a new road off Elmwood Drive in the east part of the city called Antrim and was rewarded by a GRASSHOPPER SPARROW. As the season advances, the upward spiraling notes of WARBLING VIREOS can be heard in treed backyards. And west of the general reporting area,  there was a first summer LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL sitting  with HERRING and RING-BILLED on the beach on the west side of the Cobourg wharf. 

Wednesday, May 14: The shorebird tally at the Kaiser wetlands today; 1 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 1 LEAST SANDPIPER, 2 DUNLINS and 12 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS. The 3 TRUMPETER SWANS and a late BUFFLEHEAD  are still present. Jackson’s Falls yielded an additional  5 LEAST SANDPIPERS, along with a LESSER YELLOWLEGS and a SOLITARY SANDPIPER. In the Bloomfield area, the flooded agricultural field along Wesley Acres Road held only a handful of CANADA GEESE and MALLARDS; however, probing away along the edges of the flooded field were KILLDEER, four DUNLINS, 2 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, 4 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS and LEAST SANDPIPER. At Prince Edward Point this morning, 20 species of warblers were present in the Point Traverse Woods, among the more interesting, a female CERULEAN WARBLER a female BLACKPOLL WARBLER, several BAY-BREASTED WARBLERS, CAPE MAY WARBLERS and at least two WILSON’S WARBLERS. TENNESSEE WARBLERS seemed to be in good abundance. All expected species of vireos were tallied – WARBLING, PHILADELPHIA, RED-EYED and BLUE-HEADED, and a YELLOW-THROATED VIREO was found along the roadway to the lighthouse.  Another party found a rather interesting hybrid sparrow/junco across from the Observatory. So far, the possibilities proposed are WHITE-THROATED SPARROW X DARK-EYED JUNCO hybrid or melanistic or hybrid DICKCISSEL. Does anyone have an opinion? Any information is much appreciated! CLICK HERE for more photos of the bird and some comments. LONG-TAILED DUCKS, WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS and SURF SCOTERS are still present in Prince Edward Bay, and a Kingston observer noted two BLACK SCOTERS. Other good finds at Prince Edward Point included several INDIGO BUNTINGS and SCARLET TANAGERS and an ORCHARD ORIOLE at the lighthouse. A stop at Beaver Meadow Conservation Area donated VIRGINIA RAIL, COMMON GALLINULE, PIED-BILLED GREBE, MUTE SWAN, SWAMP SPARROW, MARSH WREN and BLACK TERN were present. The latter species was seen at Log Cabin Point in East Lake, along with a COMMON TERN and COMMON LOON.  As someone had noted a few days ago, a rogue YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER came and began drumming away on a metal sign at the boat launch. The only WILD TURKEY of the day was found at Point Petre, and a GREAT EGRET was present along Old Milford Road. All six swallow species were found during the day in various locations. CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS  were found at several locations including Point Petre, but the first one of the day obliged us by perching on a page wire fence on Gorsline Road within a few feet of the car. A distant VESPER SPARROW  was heard singing on Jackson’s Falls Road. It was a good day of birding and we managed to miss most of the showers that arrived at noon which gave way to relentless sun and heat for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, May 13: BLACKBURNIAN, CAPE MAY, BAY-BREASTED, YELLOW-RUMPED, YELLOW, BLACK-AND -WHITE,  and NASHVILLE WARBLERS,and NORTHERN PARULA , were among the warbler species present at Prince Edward Point today, more or less, a continuance of what was present yesterday. Also noted were INDIGO BUNTINGS, SCARLET TANAGER, YELLOW THROATED VIREO, BROWN THRASHER, and ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK. The SPRING BIRDING FESTIVAL continues this week. There was a huge fallout of warblers today at Colonel Samuel Smith Park in Toronto with huge numbers of some 22 species of warblers. As threats of storms continue this week, there may be more grounding of migrants in the days to come, but one cannot sleep in for these. One needs to be quick before the birds disperse. We can only hope that the experience in Toronto will translate into more excitement at Prince Edward Point tomorrow in recognition of our 24-hour Birdathon!  At Jackson’s Falls today, there were 1 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 1 LESSER YELLOWLEGS and 5 LEAST SANDPIPERS. The Kaiser wetlands offered 1 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 12 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, 6 LEAST SANDPIPERS and 1 SPOTTED SANDPIPER. An ORCHARD ORIOLE showed up at an orange feeder this morning near Lake on the Mountain, a 2nd-year male just starting to moult into his adult plumage, and three CHIMNEY SWIFTS  over the Tweed Library on Metcalf Street at about 4:30 p.m. this afternoon . Tonight at Glenwood Cemetery, there were at least three EASTERN SCREECH-OWLS calling and a BARRED OWL was heard briefly at Macaulay Mountain, both in Picton. WHIP-POOR-WILLS were heard singing along Army Reserve Road and Dainard Road, and another was reported singing at South Bay and at the Woodlands Campground at Sandbanks Provincial Park. A WOOD DUCK was seen at the latter location, and there was also one seen at  Kaiser Crossroad this evening. As the migration surges along, INDIGO BUNTINGS and ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS are being reported at most feeders as these birds migrate through. However, there are bound to be casualties. One flew into a large window along Glenora Road, and was killed. One YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER that hit a window at West Lake was a survivor and flew off after a brief recovery. If you are interested in wetlands, you won’t want to miss this presentation on the Danforth Road wetland west of Wellington and the Slab Creek wetland at Hillier, both along the Millennium Trail at Hillier Hall on Thursday May 15th, Hillier Hall at 2:00 p.m. Field naturalist Pamela Stagg will be providing some insight as she takes us on a pictorial tour of these two lesser known, but very prolific, wetlands. BLACK TERNS, VIRGINIA RAILS, LEAST BITTERNS and many others nest in the Danforth Road wetland, and RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS have nested for several years at Slab Creek. Click here for more information on “A WALK ON THE WET SIDE”. Tomorrow we continue our 24-hour Birdathon to raise funds for the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. Complete report tomorrow evening. There is still time to support the efforts of THE SPRAGUE’S PIPITS.

Monday, May 12: Another successful day of birding at Prince Edward Point with the highlight being the return of the WORM-EATING WARBLER which was seen this morning in the vicinity of the Bird Observatory. Also present in the area, and banded, was a male HOODED WARBLER and the first GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH of the season was present too. In the Point Traverse Woods, birding was steady with some nice finds including good numbers of AMERICAN REDSTARTS and OVENBIRD. The OVENBIRD sang numerous times and at one point during a guided bird walk, nonchalantly strolled in front of me on the path for about 50 metres, allowing everyone an excellent look at it. BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLERS were present too , evidenced by their lispy song. One of the more common species today, other than YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS was the NORTHERN PARULA. An early female CANADA WARBLER turned up just as we were calling it a day. In total, 24 species of warblers. Also commonly encountered today were PALM WARBLERS, BAY-BREASTED WARBLERS and CAPE MAY WARBLERS. A species expected to be seen frequently, but was represented only by a handful of individuals, was the CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER. Also BLACK-THROATED GREEN heard and seen only a few times. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was seen several times, and a few RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS were present. Thrushes were represented by both WOOD THRUSH and VEERY. During a 6:00 p.m. evening hike, a GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER  showed up. In the corner of the wetland at the corner, an AMERICAN BITTERN was making its presence known this evening with its weird squelching noises. Four species of vireo were present during the day including RED-EYED, WARBLING, BLUE-HEADED, and PHILADELPHIA. A NORTHERN GOSHAWK did a flyover at the Point Traverse Woods in the late afternoon. Both WHITE-WINGED and SURF SCOTERS were present all day just off the escarpment, very close to shore and LONG-TAILED DUCKS were especially vocal and could be heard all day on the exceptionally calm water. SCARLET TANAGERS were everywhere! Along Jackson’s Falls Road this morning there were 6 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 5 LEAST SANDPIPERS and 2 SOLITARY SANDPIPERS. At the Kaiser wetlands, there were 13 – 18 LESSER SANDPIPERS, 13 LEAST SANDPIPERS and 3 – 4 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS. At Pleasant Bay RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS and an ORCHARD ORIOLE were present a feeder. Two ORCHARD ORIOLES were also seen with a plethora of BALTIMORE ORIOLES at Point Traverse. A male CERULEAN WARBLER  and  a BLUE-WINGED WARBLER were present at the the Presqu’ile Park Lighthouse area today. Both birds were very cooperative and showing well.

Sunday, May 11: Prince Edward Point today gave famous Point Pelee a run for its money with two dozen species of warblers present. Top of the list was a WORM-EATING WARBLER. The bird was actually first seen yesterday in the area of the Observatory and today the southern overshoot was banded. Although considered a rarity, this southern species has been seen about a dozen times at Prince Edward Point since 1973. Sharing top honours was a KENTUCKY WARBLER, spotted skulking about at the base of some lilacs along the east escarpment at Point Traverse. Few birders got to see it as the bird kept moving about to new locations very quickly. And to finish the list of rarities today was a YELLOW-THROATED VIREO, all birds seen within 30 minutes of each other. About 24 species of warblers were present today, among them this early WILSON’S WARBLER. YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, understandably, were among the most abundant, affectionately referred to by the birding types as “butter-butts”, and all but ignored by this date in favour of newer arrivals. CAPE MAY WARBLER was present today and BAY-BREASTED, along with several singing BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLERS, both GOLDEN-WINGED and BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS, NORTHERN PARULAS lots of NASHVILLES – well, you get the idea. Basically, a good portion of species on the checklist. SCARLET TANAGERS  were about and a SUMMER TANAGER was reported. One car load of birders coming from Kingston did a double take when they saw a lingering SNOWY OWL at Amherstview. Nearby Presqu’ile Park wasn’t shy about its sightings either. Highlights included 3 breeding plumage RED-THROATED LOONS off the beach, 25 + GREAT EGRETS on nests, 2 SANDHILL CRANES that did a flyby of Owen Pt., 1 first summer GLAUCOUS GULL on Gull Island,  1 AMERICAN PIPIT, a nice selection of warblers including scope views of a preening BLACKBURNIAN and an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER which is a rare spring migrant, several SCARLET TANAGERS including an orange variant at the Lighthouse, a RUSTY BLACKBIRD there, and 8 ORCHARD ORIOLES among the many BALTIMORE ORIOLES. ORCHARD ORIOLE was also seen at Kingston’s Lemoine Point Conservation Area, and a PEREGRINE FALCON turned up near Camden East. A birder at the the Quinte Conservation Area near Belleville found 2 GREEN HERONS, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, BELTED KINGFISHER, 4 HOUSE WRENS, 3 GRAY CATBIRDS and an OVENBIRD.  A RED-THROATED LOON, found in Picton Bay yesterday, was still present today. Birds of note at North Beach Provincial Park today included INDIGO BUNTING, BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER and an ORCHARD ORIOLE. A Hayward Long Reach resident near Picton observing birds in his backyard had four pairs of BALTIMORE ORIOLES breakfasting on pink grapefruit with great delight, a half dozen ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS and a bounty of AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES. A BROAD-WINGED HAWK was seen at County Road 7 and Keller’s Crossroad, and another was at Prince Edward Point. Along Jackson’s Falls Road today near Milford, there were  2 SOLITARY SANDPIPERS, 1 SPOTTED SANDPIPER, 2 GREATER YELLOWLEGS AND 10 LESSER YELLOWLEGS. At the Kaiser Crossroad wetlands, there were 4 LESSER YELLOWLEGS and 4 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS. The 3 TRUMPETER SWANS are still on the wetlands.  And finishing today’s report off in the backyard, three RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS were at one home at South Bay as well as two INDIGO BUNTINGS. Tomorrow morning, I will be leading a guided bird walk in the Point Traverse Woods at 8:00 a.m., and an evening walk at the same location at 6:00 p.m.

Saturday, May 10: It was a day for colour at Prince Edward Point today with  close to 20 species of warblers present again today, highlighted by brilliant BLACKBURNIAN WARBLERS, MAGNOLIA WARBLERS, NORTHERN PARULAS, HOODED WARBLER, CAPE MAY WARBLER, BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS, YELLOW-THROATED VIREO and SCARLET TANAGERS. Even the drab were spectacular by their very presence, among them a WORM-EATING WARBLER and the season’s first RED-EYED VIREO. At the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, it was an extremely busy banding day. Due to the large number and variety of warblers and other migrants, a large number of birds were banded today, among them, YELLOW-RUMPED, NASHVILLE, YELLOW and MAGNOLIA WARBLERS strongly represented. WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS were abundant  and the last of the RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS were moving through. Several highlights included BLACKBURNIAN and BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS and newly arrived TENNESSEE WARBLERS. A BLUE-WINGED WARBLER was seen in a Wellington backyard today!. The continuing shorebird migration was noted at two locations today. At the Kaiser Crossroad flooded cornfields, only a few waterfowl stragglers remain, including the 2 TRUMPETER SWANS. Representing the shorebird family there today were 30 LEAST SANDPIPERS, 1 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER and 12 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS. At the creek along Jackson’s Falls Road, 7 GREATER YELLOWLEGS and 4 LESSER YELLOWLEGS were present this afternoon, and LEAST SANDPIPERS and PECTORAL SANDPIPER had been reported earlier. Because the creek is very close to the road, it is suggested that birders remain in their cars as the birds are easily spooked once one steps out of the car. At the Brighton Constructed Wetland along County Road 64, a VIRGINIA RAIL was present today. A birder checking out the Stinson Block area, west of Consecon, came across a singing ORCHARD ORIOLE and a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW. On Edward Drive in the same area a hydro pole there had lots of red with both RED-HEADED and RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS! Even the urban areas had colour. A SCARLET TANAGER was present in West Park Village in Belleville. At one address on North Big Island Road today, one tree contained no fewer than 4 male YELLOW WARBLERS, along with both BALTIMORE ORIOLES and ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS. Lots of colour there. Other reports to come in included SOLITARY SANDPIPER,  YELLOW-THROATED VIREO, GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, GREEN HERON, and MERLIN, all in the general Prince Edward Point area. Good birds spotted at Amherst Island today were HERMIT THRUSH, CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER, and BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER. And the BARRED OWLS, first seen April 12th, in a wooded area along Elmbrook Road, north of Picton, are still present as of today. The Prince Edward County Spring Birding Festival continues tomorrow with several things going on. I will be leading a guided bird walk along the Point Traverse Woods commencing at 8:00 a.m. sharp.  Guided Hike sign will be along the roadside.

Friday, May 09: The moment I stepped off the tour bus at Sandbanks, it was apparent that the floodgates had opened! The spring migration of songbirds was under way, full tilt. YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS could be heard, and during  a walk along the Dunes Trail we found EASTERN TOWHEE, FIELD SPARROW, NORTHERN FLICKER, EASTERN KINGBIRD, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, numerous WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, WOOD THRUSH, LEAST and GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHERS and several ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS. In the binoculars at one time at the parking lot, a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER and EASTERN BLUEBIRDS. At Prince Edward Point, more of the same, but not to the point of it being a full fledged fallout,  as SCARLET TANAGERS added flashes of red in the still leafless trees. GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLERS were seen by observers at  various locations and one was singing along one of the trails at Point Traverse. Twenty species of warbler were present at Prince Edward Point and Point Traverse today, among the more recent arrivals being BLACK-THROATED BLUE, GOLDEN-WINGED, a Brewster’s hybrid, NORTHERN PARULA, CAPE MAY, MAGNOLIA, AMERICAN REDSTART, and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT. Other new arrivals, or those already present in even greater numbers included HOUSE WREN, RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD, LEAST FLYCATCHER, and ORCHARD ORIOLE. One observer found a sleeping COMMON NIGHTHAWK on a tree branch in the Point Traverse Woods. And the spectacular arrival of more birds was noted in backyards as well. One birder returned home north of Picton find her backyard an absolute din of AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS and BALTIMORE ORIOLES. No fewer than four ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS  were at at Glenora Road feeder and a Black Road feeder in the Demorestville area had four BALTIMORE ORIOLES, and RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS were reported coming to several feeders. An INDIGO BUNTING arrived at one Lake on  the Mountain feeder, where 11 WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS and 7 BALTIMORE ORIOLES  were also present.  RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS and ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK were all in a Napanee backyard. Bird song in a Wellington backyard at 7:00 a.m. was amazing, according to the homeowner there, with ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS and HOUSE FINCHES all joining in the fray. A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER  was seen at the County Road 28 turnoff from Highway 62 at Rossmore today, and a singing GRASSHOPPER SPARROW, NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH and WOOD THRUSH were all seen at a property along Victoria Road near Carrying Place. Nesting CLIFF SWALLOWS  were active at the Prince Edward Point lighthouse, and across the bay at Prinyer’s Cove, BARN SWALLOWS were nesting today. Another RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD was seen at Bay Meadows Park at Pleasant Bay this morning and another was seen west of Bloomfield. Notable at the Kaiser wetlands today: 3 TRUMPETER SWANS, 2 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 4 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 4 LEAST SANDPIPERS and a small flock of AMERICAN PIPITS.  Tomorrow at 1:00 p.m., I will be doing a two hour workshop at Jackson’s Falls Inn, east of Milford, on “Those Confusing Sparrows”. We had two cancellations so there are two remaining spaces if anyone interested in attending. The workshop is part of the Spring Birding Festival, starting tomorrow and running daily through May 19th.

Thursday, May 08: Southerly winds and warming temperatures brought in a good influx of migrants this morning at Point Pelee, so grab your binoculars and assume the position; the birds, they are a comin’ ! In fact, a few unexpected surprises have already arrived. At least 3 YELLOW-THROATED VIREOS were singing at multiple places at Chaffey’s Lock today on the Rideau Canal. Lots more warblers present, with at least 10 OVENBIRDS, NORTHERN PARULA and SCARLET TANAGER.  A SCARLET TANAGER and BLUE-HEADED VIREO were present at Prince Edward Point today. New warblers among seven species seen in Belleville’s east end today were NORTHERN PARULA, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT and BLACK-THROATED BLUE. East of Lake on the Mountain in recent days was a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, and a PILEATED WOODPECKER passed over the same area today. For the past several days a Bloomfield birder has been checking on the CASPIAN TERNS roosting at the mouth of the Outlet River at Sandbanks Park in late afternoon.  There have been about 20 birds hanging about on the beach, pairing up and consolidating pairs by courtship feeding. Among the more than a dozen species tallied along the Aitken Road extension in east Belleville today were these highlights: WOOD DUCK, NORTHERN PINTAIL, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, LESSER YELLOWLEGS and VESPER SPARROW. A VEERY was seen in that village today, first one to be reported this spring. BOBOLINKS have arrived west of Demorestville, Milford area and Bradley Crossroad. BOBOLINKS and BALTIMORE ORIOLE were seen at Bay Meadows Park today at Pleasant Bay, and at nearby North Beach Provincial Park, highlights there included AMERICAN REDSTART (first one this spring), BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, 3 BALTIMORE ORIOLES, NORTHERN CARDINAL and several WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS as the latter species begins moving into the County on their migration northward.  An interesting sighting along County Road east of Lake on the Mountain today was a BOBCAT. At the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville, 4 GREAT BLUE HERONS, 1 GREAT EGRET, 5 WOOD DUCKS, 2 MUTE SWANS, a GREATER YELLOWLEGS,  a CASPIAN TERN and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER. Birders are reminded that this is posted private property and with the high water level this spring, viewing can be done right from the roadside fence. Last fall the owner gave me permission to remove some of the red cedars to improve visibility. Presqu’ile Park was quite busy today with at least 10 BALTIMORE ORIOLES clustered around the lighthouse. Other highlights included a din of singing ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, a SCARLET TANAGER, ORCHARD ORIOLE, HOODED WARBLER, NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, PALM WARBLER, WARBLING VIREO and GRAY CATBIRD. Two SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS were the big excitement at the Kaiser wetlands today, joining 3 LESSER YELLOWLEGS and 2 GREATER YELLOWLEGS as the shorebirds are starting to move through. The 3 TRUMPETER SWANS are still present. Waterfowl numbers just keep on dropping: 32 CANADA GEESE, 4 MALLARDS, 12 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 4 REDHEADS and 4 LESSER SCAUP.  Also present were 4 TURKEY VULTURES, together on the ground along the south wetland, an OSPREY and 2 CASPIAN TERNS.The Kaiser Crossroad weekly report can be found by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, May 07: So far, the excitement that is currently taking place at both Pelee and Rondeau has not translated into similar excitement yet at Prince Edward Point. It took some slugging to get a respectable list of birds today and nothing new was noted, except for two GRAY CATBIRDS. Point Traverse had YELLOW WARBLER (5), YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS (3), and WARBLING VIREO (3). A PHILADELPHIA VIREO was reported but no details are available, same story with a CERULEAN WARBLER. A passing BOBOLINK did a few rollicking notes as it continued out over the lake toward Swetman Island and a small group of RUSTY BLACKBIRDS also passed over. Numerous LONG-TAILED DUCKS  were still present and calling in the open lake as were scattered numbers of WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS. EASTERN KINGBIRD and EASTERN TOWHEE were also checked off at Point Traverse, as well as several RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS and a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER. At Prince Edward Point,  a NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH was seen at the harbour and NASHVILLE WARBLER were added to our list as was RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER. At the Bird Observatory, a BLUE-HEADED VIREO was heard singing. Not a bad day, made much better with a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRDsighting along Long Point Road. At Jackson’s Falls, birdlife in the creek is picking up with 20 LESSER YELLOWLEGS present last evening. A SANDHILL CRANE was present behind Jackson’s Falls Inn. Kaiser Crossroad still has a few birds of interest and some new shorebirds arrived on last night’s south wind - 5 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 2 GREATER YELLOWLEGS  and a single LEAST SANDPIPER were present today, along with the remnants of the waterfowl migration: 36 CANADA GEESE, 24 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 4 REDHEADS, 3 LESSER SCAUP GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 3 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 15 BONAPARTE’S GULLS, 1 LITTLE GULL and 1 CASPIAN TERN. At Wellington, along with the dozens of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS going through, there were 3 BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLERS and the prerequisite RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, of course. Several WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS  are still around, along with a couple of WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, and a HOUSE WREN checking out local accommodations, along with a stray female PURPLE FINCH. Along the Millennium Trail at Bloomfield today, a BROWN THRASHER and a WARBLING VIREO were seen by a birder, and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW and EASTERN KINGBIRD were present along Black Road near Demorestville. A GREEN HERON was seen along Goodrich Road today, south of Codrington. On Nugent Road, off County Road 4, north of Camden East, one birder in just a 3 km drive  saw 3 AMERICAN KESTRELS, 1 BROWN THRASHER, 3 EASTERN MEADOWLARKS, 1 RED-TAILED HAWK, 2 TURKEY VULTURES, 1 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, and either a COOPER’S or a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK.

Tuesday, May 06: Two COMMON GALLINULES were seen today in the Bloomfield Marsh along Wesley Acres Road, and a pair of AMERICAN COOTS turned up at the Danforth Road Marsh along the Millennium Trail west of Wellington. Apart from 3 TRUMPETER SWANS and 175 CANADA GEESE, there wasn’t much to see at the Kaiser Crossroad wetlands today: 1 NORTHERN SHOVELER, 27 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 4 REDHEADS, 4 LESSER SCAUP, 2 MALLARDS and 1 NORTHERN PINTAIL. The waterfowl season appears to be drawing to a close. Nothing amazing today  in the way of sightings, but rather, little snippets of the spring migration from here and there across the region. The best is yet to come, hopefully by this weekend in time for the 18th annual Prince Edward County Birding Festival. Three SANDHILL CRANES were heard again today (first heard yesterday, but not mentioned), a trio that seems to alternate between the field west of our house on Big Island and the fields along C.R. 15 just across the Big Island Marsh. A C.R.15 resident said today that there have been up to four in the fields over there. Nothing alarming from Prince Edward Point today except for GREAT CREATED FLYCATCHER , 20 CLIFF SWALLOWS and a COMMON RAVEN. Along Black Road west of Demorestville, the backyard arrival of a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was a big treat for two residents there. A RIVER OTTER was also seen along the same road by another observer. North of Camden East, WILSON’S SNIPE and ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK. At North Beach Provincial Park, birds seen there today included an EASTERN BLUEBIRD, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER several YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, a BROWN THRASHER, 2 WOOD DUCKS, and on the North Bay side of the park, 10 BUFFLEHEADS. Birders at Amherst Island today found UPLAND SANDPIPERS, LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 2 EASTERN KINGBIRDS, WARBLING VIREO, RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER and SPOTTED SANDPIPER. BOBOLINK numbers at 23 Sprague Road on Big Island have now increased from yesterday’s two, to three, with no further reports of the species from anywhere else in the immediate Bay of Quinte region. I will be at Prince Edward Point tomorrow, leading a birding tour. Hopefully the birding Gods will smile on me and I will come home with some interesting species.

Monday, May 05: Two BOBOLINKS  were bubbling and carrying on in the trees beside our house bordering the hay field early this morning. You know it’s spring when you hear their rollicking song. Hopefully there will be another good population of them nesting in the three fields west of our house again this summer along Sprague Road at Big Island. Another new spring arrival was an EASTERN KINGBIRD along Victoria Road near Carrying Place yesterday, and in Picton, a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW appeared in a backyard today. Buckle up everyone – the spring migration has started, and with warmer weather and favourable winds coming our way, it is anybody’s guess what the weekend will produce as the Prince Edward County Spring Birding Festival kicks off. For information on the Festival CLICK HERE. Lots of stuff going on, starting off with a workshop that I am conducting on how to identify members of the sparrow family. Join us, if you can. Along South Big Island Road last night, two AMERICAN WOODCOCKS and an AMERICAN BITTERN were seen. At the Glendon Green Boat launch at the Outlet River, across from Log Cabin Point, there was a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER  pounding on a metal sign at the launch much to the amusement of two fishermen on the dock. The field on Wesley Acres Road at Bloomfield is still producing good sightings and has not been drained yet.  Yesterday there were 125 CANADA GEESE, 3 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 2 LESSER SCAUP, 20 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 2 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 4 CASPIAN TERNS,  50 TREE SWALLOWS, 3 SWAMP SPARROWS and 10 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS.     At Kaiser Crossroad, shorebirds are never numerous, so today’s total of 12 GREATER YELLOWLEGS is a respectable total for the site. It made up for the approximately 100 BONAPARTE’S GULLS (and possibly LITTLE GULLS, too)  disappearing towards Lake Ontario as the observer drove up. Also present: 40 CANADA GEESE, 6 MALLARDS, 2 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 40 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 4 REDHEADS, 6 LESSER SCAUP, 1 NORTHERN SHOVELER and, clustered on one side of the north wetland, 4 TURKEY VULTURES. Birds are where you find them, and one birder driving to a meeting in Trenton, decided to stop at the Quinte Conservation Area when he spotted a GREAT BLUE HERON. He said that in the two minutes it took to approach the heron for a photo, he also saw a BELTED KINGFISHER, TURKEY VULTURES, AMERICAN ROBINS, EUROPEAN STARLINGS, COMMON GRACKLES and heard a NORTHERN CARDINAL and a BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE calling.? Spring is definitely here.

Sunday, May 04: Cold north winds kept everything at bay today. One birder trying to seek out the elusive YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER at Presqu’ile Park lamented that there was nothing around at all – certainly not the warbler. However, there is promise in the air as birds today were flooding into Point Pelee and Rondeau Provincial Park in Lake Erie. At Rondeau today, the trees and bushes were alive with up to 17 species of warblers, among them a CERULEAN WARBLER and a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW. So we will just sit here, with our binoculars poised and wait for better days. Today brought the first mini-wave of shorebirds to Kaiser Crossroad: 5 GREATER YELLOWLEGS feeding on the north wetland. There wasn’t much else to see: 150 CANADA GEESE, 5 MALLARDS, 36 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 2 REDHEADS, 4 LESSER SCAUP, 2 BUFFLEHEADS, LITTLE GULL, 4 BONAPARTE’S GULLS and a pair of NORTHERN HARRIERS hunting together over the cattail marsh. A word to the wise: when the shorebirds are feeding close to the road, you will be able to observe them with binoculars from the car, rather than disturbing them by getting out. At Luck’s Crossroad, a pair of BROWN THRASHERS have set up housekeeping in a back yard – a nice bonus considering that thrashers don’t often choose a site close to human habitation. When they do though, it is a real treat. In our case several years ago, a pair of BROWN THRASHERS built their nest in a hedgerow of current and gooseberry bushes less than five metres from our house. That fall, I cut the bushes to repair an ornamental rail fence backdrop with the intention of letting the bushes grow again next spring. Next spring, the same male returned and walked up and down where the hedgerow used to be, trying to find the bushes he was sure had been there, and finally nested in a tangle of  multiflora rose bushes, also on the property. Both years, the parents brought their young to the feeder. Whenever the young would see me watching them, they would lean forward and scamper away like  roadrunners. ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS continue to arrive, and one was seen today at a feeder on Black Road west of Demorestville. A disconcerting sight, at least, for one Lake on the Mountain property owner, was a kettle of 10 TURKEY VULTURES circling above her house and nearby escarpment. A beautiful sight, she admitted, when they turned and the sun caught their silver underwings. And that’s it for today. May the 4th be with you.

Saturday, May 03: YELLOW WARBLER, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT and HOUSE WREN were new species to show up at Prince Edward Point today. At the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory though, it was a slow but steady banding day . There were numerous AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, and DARK-EYED JUNCOS banded.  CHIPPING SPARROW numbers are increasing daily as is the variety of warblers arriving and being banded. Today’s included several  YELLOW-RUMPED and NASHVILLE as well as a single BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER. A BLUE-HEADED VIREO and a LINCOLN’S SPARROW were highlights of the morning. Lots of BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLERS  being seen all over as the warbler migrations starts to pick up steam. A lone male ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK was flying in the vicinity of the banding station but stayed out of the nets. ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS seemed to arrive en masse on Thursday with BALTIMORE ORIOLES hot on their tail the following day as both species were reported at feeders, backyards and other suitable areas throughout the reporting area on those days through today. Best bird today at Presqu’ile Park was a YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, seen by Fred Helleiner about 600 metres along Paxton Drive from the lighthouse parking lot, where the road first begins to take a bend. It remained for only 20 seconds before taking off and wasn’t seen again. At the Kaiser Crossroad wetlands today,  10 LITTLE GULLS and 600 of their closest friends (BONAPARTE’S GULLS) took centre stage, not that there was much in the way of waterfowl to upstage: 150 CANADA GEESE, 6 MALLARDS, 2 LESSER SCAUP, 3 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 28 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 4 REDHEADS, 14 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 2 GREAT BLUE HERONS and 1 OSPREY. A brief, cameo appearance by 1 GREATER YELLOWLEGS and a single DUNLIN also provided excitement. Is this the beginning of a more substantial shorebird migration? Scattered reports today included NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD north of Camden East, BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER  at Wellington, 12 BARN SWALLOWS and the season's first CHIMNEY SWIFT flying above Cannifton Road North, and two BARRED OWLS  calling to each other at the H.R. Frink Centre on Thrasher Road north of Belleville. At Glenora, at a house set back some distance from the presence of water, a BELTED KINGFISHER surprised the residents there as it sat  in a tree so far from the nearest shoreline. In the Quinte Conservation Area property south of Highway 2 next to the Bay of Quinte,  a juvenile RED-TAILED HAWK was spotted high in tree by the bay and a NASHVILLE WARBLER in tree by the parking lot.  OSPREYS continue to snatch up nesting platforms and other suitable sites in Prince Edward County. One  OSPREY however, along County Road 7 at the edge of the Cressy Marsh, can’t seem to make up its mind at a new platform, erected a year ago. Two deaths to report – a very bloated BEAVER, the photo of which I choose not to run due to its graphic nature, washed up on shore at Prinyer’s Cove today and, at Black River, a very large WATER SNAKE (three feet long), that has been a fixture on the Black River waterfront for years, was run over and killed in the cheese factory parking lot.

Friday, May 02: Despite the winds and the cool temperatures, the spring migration continues, albeit slowly. Arriving today was some brilliant colour at Glenora – a male BALTIMORE ORIOLE. At Prince Edward Point, a few new arrivals trickled in. NASHVILLE WARBLER, WARBLING VIREO and OVENBIRD  were all new arrivals this morning. It was steady today at the Bird Observatory, but not big numbers. In addition to the three species just listed, other highlights were YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, PALM WARBLER, BLACK-AND-WHITE, and BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, along with EASTERN TOWHEE, BLUE-HEADED VIREO, EASTERN BLUEBIRDS, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, CHIPPING SPARROW, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, CEDAR WAXWINGS, HERMIT THRUSH and a few other regulars. Two observers birding Point Traverse reported 40 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS and 10 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS. It was drafty today at the Kaiser Crossroad flooded cornfields, but seen were RING-NECKED DUCKS, LESSER SCAUP and MALLARDS. On Pleasant Bay over 60 RING-NECKED DUCKS  were the highlight, BUFFLEHEADS and two AMERICAN BITTERNS. Throughout the region, there seems to be a migration of AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES happening as numbers seem to have increased, both at feeders  and in the field. On Parr Island in East Lake near Sandbanks, there were over two dozen there today. Along Nugent Road north of Camden East, birds seen there today were UPLAND SANDPIPER, NORTHERN FLICKER, 12 EASTERN MEADOWLARKS and a BELTED KINGFISHER. And to finish of this evening’s report, a Cressy resident today found a ginormous (your new word for today !) SNAPPING TURTLE on the shoulder of the road. The top of its shell measured 12 inches across and 15 inches in length!

.Thursday, May 01: A ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK, seen and photographed at Wellington today This is the first individual to be reported so far this spring. At Prince Edward Point, things continue to be rather slow with only five species of warblers recorded to date – PALM, YELLOW-RUMPED AND BLACK-THROATED GREEN, with NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH and BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER  added on Tuesday. So, we tend to pay more attention to backyards these days, especially those that have been left mostly wild, like one located on Fry Road, north of Picton. Today, its owners did a hike along a short trail they have established on their property and came across an indeterminate amount of RUSTY BLACKBIRDS squeaking away in the low brush. They also had 3 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, 3 FIELD SPARROWS, CHIPPING SPARROWS,  1 PILEATED WOODPECKER, 1 NORTHERN FLICKER, 2 NORTHERN CARDINALS, between 40 AND 50 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, 1 WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH, 1 female PURPLE FINCH, and 1 female WILD TURKEY sandbathing in a sand pit. Last night there was a WILSON'S SNIPE standing in their  backyard. Their wildflowers are amassing as well, with WHITE TRILLIUMS  unfolding, TROUT-LILY blooming, COLTSFOOT, and a CANADA MAYFLOWER patch that is just unfurling. Sounds a bit more exciting than some backyards that adopt the barren grass look. It was slim pickings at the Kaiser Crossroad wetlands this afternoon. Apart from a new wave of CANADA GEESE (500+) there were just small remnants of every species except NORTHERN SHOVELERS. Four ducks is on the high end for shovelers at Kaiser. Others: 5 MALLARDS, 32 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 4 REDHEADS, 8 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 2 AMERICAN WIGEON, 4 GADWALL and 1 OSPREY overhead. Up to 2 dozen WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS were in a Wellington backyard today, comprising both colour morphs. In Trenton, a leucistic RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD has territory staked out at the Jack Lange Memorial Walkway sign along the Trenton Greenbelt beside the Trent River. At Barry Heights along Telephone Road in Trenton yesterday, one dismayed resident opened the blinds overlooking his  back yard at 7 a.m. that morning and saw the lawn alive with 25+ WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS  busily scratching up and eating his grass seed that he had put down the previous morning.  At Presqu’ile Park, shorebirds generally arrive later in May but the vanguard appeared yesterday, with both BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER and DUNLIN on the beach, as well as two WILLETS west of the Park. To see the full weekly Presqu’ile Park Bird Report by Fred Helleiner, CLICK HERE. GREEN-WINGED TEAL, VESPER SPARROW and NORTHERN PINTAIL were a few of the highlights along the Aitken’s Road extension in east Belleville today, while at the Marshlands Conservation Area along Kingston’s waterfront produced PINE WARBLER, NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH, and the area’s first LEAST FLYCATCHER and VIRGINIA RAIL.

 

Last Updated ( Sep 01, 2014 at 07:54 PM )
Seeing the Forest Beyond the Trees PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Aug 28, 2014 at 06:00 AM

 

  SEEING THE FOREST BEYOND THE TREES  

                              Thursday, August 28, 2014                                      

The bird was upon us before we knew it. There were at least three black-billed cuckoos, droning their repetitive songs from deep within the shrubs and trees. Their presence did not surprise us as they were attracted there by the abundance of fall webworms. Still, not one would show itself for the group of birders I had with me at 7:00 a.m., so it was time to haul out the iPod. The song it played stirred its interest. Clearly we had its attention. When the recording reached the territorial alarm calls, the bird reacted. Like a torpedo, it flew horizontally in our direction, but its attention was focussed on me. There were six of us, but its keen sense of hearing identified me as the intruder and dive-bombed my head, missing me by only inches, according to one observer who ducked to allow the bird passage.
 
            Around us, there were catbirds, goldfinches and mourning doves. A song sparrow called weakly from a mullein and a red-breasted nuthatch’s nasal song drifted through the foliage of a nearby woodland. Someone else heard a clay-colored sparrow – not surprising since this is ideal habitat for them. The previous night, another party counted five whip-poor-wills calling. The alders and dogwoods were buzzing with insects and laden with fruit. For some who rarely venture beyond the living room couch and their own inner circles, it was scrubland – meaningless wasteland. For us, it was a biodiversity moment, of insects feeding on vegetation and a profusion of wildflowers, and birds eating insects, and passing birds of prey feeding on unwary birds. We were almost ashamed to be interrupting this delicate interaction among the residents who make the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block their home.
 
            Along another seldom travelled road, Dr. Paul Catling, an alvar and insect specialist, had penetrated a wetland with his group. Their efforts paid off, for in it, they found a harvester butterfly, not only the first for this block of land, slated for destruction if developers get their way under the guise of “clean and green”, but the very first record for Prince Edward County. Unlike other butterflies, the caterpillar of this species has no interest in feeding on leaves, but rather, on a specialized group of plant lice, which in turn, feed on a few kinds of wetland specific woody shrubs. It is our only carnivorous butterfly.
 
            However, Dr. Catling’s keen sense of ferreting out the unusual didn’t end there; a rare Appalachian butterfly, also an inhabitant of swampy wetlands, was also found there to the delight of his group. As Nature Ontario Executive member, Ted Chesky, also along for the experience, aptly stated, “It’s (Ostrander Point) about more than just birds. Those birds are eating things, and those insects are eating things.” It’s a hard sell to the uninformed and the stubborn who refuse to listen, when habitat, as diversified as this, is on the auction block to the highest bidder. At the end of the day, it’s all about money, and wildlife that government agencies are mandated to protect, don’t stand a chance. Meaningless legislation, in place to protect wildlife, is easily altered and re-worked so developers may forge ahead, with nothing to stop them.
 
            All of us were on a mission that weekend. There were more than 60 of us present, determined to survey this critical property thoroughly and properly. It has, after all, been designated as an Important Bird Area – the entire peninsula, from Point Petre to renowned Prince Edward Point where radar images and bird banding have documented the millions of birds that descend upon this “wasteland” as they work their way north to the boreal forests to breed, then return again in the fall to rest and feed, before attempting the lake crossing. Ted is right. It is not just about birds. It’s about everything that sustains those birds, the biodiversity that purrs along, undisturbed and delicately synchronized so that all wildlife there can depend on each other to survive. Animals eating animals may not be a pretty scene in the eyes of sloppy sentimentalists, but it’s life and death in the fast lane – survival of the fittest – that has worked for millennia, when not interfered with by humans.
 
            It takes real field naturalists to document this stuff and it cannot be left up to textbook “specialists” who may have an agenda. Field naturalists are the ones on the frontlines who see beyond a species’ scientific name, and recognize its importance in biodiversity and how it fits in with the natural scheme of things. How the bergamot, growing and blooming so rampantly this season, was likely responsible for the swallowtails, skippers and sulphurs we found. It is also the favourite flower of the hummingbird clearwing moth, a species that was easily found and photographed.
 
          Thomas E. Lovejoy, World Wildlife Fund once said, "Conservation is sometimes perceived as stopping everything cold, as holding whooping cranes in higher esteem than people. It is up to science to spread the understanding that the choice is not between wild places or people. Rather, it is between a rich or an impoverished existence for Man."

 

 

Last Updated ( Aug 22, 2014 at 06:38 AM )
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