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Our Dependence on Technology PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
May 01, 2014 at 03:00 AM



                              Thursday, May 01, 2014                                      

It seems difficult to imagine, that only 20 years ago, I refused to have anything to do with computers. Although our son and I played challenging games on his Vic-20, and later, a Commodore 64 (anybody remember Cosmic Cruncher?), the computer was an advance in technology that I found unnecessary, given that my Smith Corona electric typewriter did everything that I wanted. When asked by a former supervisor to input some data into the office’s one and only computer, I rebelled, but found myself pressing a few buttons on the machine one day at noon when the staff had left for lunch. Next thing I knew I had pulled up a chair and the rest is pretty much history. 
Today, I have several computers and a website, perform routine maintenance and upgrades on both, and cannot imagine functioning day to day without a computer screen in my face. I do most of my business now in this manner, everything from purchases and bank transactions to ordering dehydrated chicken treats for the dog. More than 40 e-mails a day come in with nature related questions and requests for information and I am beginning to think that the only people I actually talk to are those who attend my guided hikes, and possibly the cashier at the supermarket! I read all the local newspapers online, before they even arrive in our mailbox. 
In my earlier years, there were some amusing incidents as I forged bravely ahead into cyber world. All of us, I am certain, have sent e-mail messages to the wrong person, by incorrectly entering an e-mail address, and watching helplessly as the message sped off into cyberspace. Back when the Internet was in its infancy, I was with a service known as CompuServe. Its e-mail program was configured in such a way that only numbers appeared as the e-mail address, and unless the sender indicated their name, recipients were often at a loss to know from whom the letter came. One day I received one such e-mail from a person who signed herself, simply, as "Trish." In it, she apologized for her lack in communicating with me over the years and asked enthusiastically about the "kids." Not able to remember this person, I responded by saying that the kids were fine. Although our "kids" back then consisted of one son, a dog and a few goldfish, I thought her reply might give me some small clue as to who this mystery person might be. The exchange went on for several e-mails, when finally, I bluntly asked her to reveal her identity, as my wife was starting to get a little suspicious of all these chatty e-mails from "Trish" Turns out she was a Sprague from Indiana and was trying to reach her brother, "Terry Sprague" in Virginia, had typed in his name in an e-mail Search, and came up with my address. We both had a good cyber laugh over that one, but further correspondence revealed that we might even be related.
For the most part though, my computers, as well as the Internet, have been a positive experience, providing opportunities not available previously. It is through this instant access to people and places that the outdoor program I have operated for 19 years has enjoyed so much success and so much pleasure. It is a way to keep instantly connected and streamlines the opportunity to keep the programs operating and educate people on the fascinating world of natural history.
On another memorable occasion, someone sent an e-mail with an attached photo of a deer carcass, completely cleaned out except for the rib cage, and beside the eviscerated remains, a healthy pile of scats. The sender wanted to know what animal may have done this. I responded, by asking where he lived as this would help in determining what predators occurred in his area. When he replied that he lived in New Jersey, naturally I was somewhat curious as to how he got on track of me as someone who might have an answer for him. Using the popular "Google" Internet search engine, he had typed in "animal dung" and the Search immediately flashed my name on his computer screen. High praise indeed! In an effort to redeem myself, all my columns I do for three different newspapers are carried on my website, and his search had simply responded to one I had done on animal scats.
So, the Internet and e-mail can combine to be very educational as a research tool. Our dependence on the Internet has resulted in changes in our lifestyles. Some, like texting our way into automobile traffic, not so good, but most, very positive. Many, including ourselves, have cancelled our landline phone in favour of the more versatile cell phone since all communication is by e-mail now, and the phone seldom rings.  The only numbers that appeared on our call display screen were from telemarketers anyway, and I was tired of paying a monthly fee for touch tone, a feature that has been standard on phones for almost 40 years. Even mail is becoming obsolete in favour of electronic delivery.
The world is changing, becoming more streamlined and electronic. And we must change with it, if we are to stay on top of things. In a world that revolves around routers, NetFlex, Skype, iPods, iPhones and iPads, it is mandatory that we do, lest we get left behind.
Sometimes Birds Sing Because They Can PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Apr 30, 2014 at 03:00 AM



                              Wednesday, April 30, 2014                                      

The restaurant where we ate a few years ago was unusually crowded on this particular day, probably due in part to a tour bus that we saw parked in the adjacent lot. We were casually aware of four young ladies who sat in the booth across from us, their voices blending in with the cacophony of sound the restaurant produced that day. Heads turned though when, after these four paid for their meals, and without moving from their seats, suddenly punctuated the atmosphere with vibrant song. These four ladies were more than just casual diners - they were a barbershop quartet, and once they noticed that they had our attention, their choreography and blend of voices was unlike anything I had ever heard before. It was almost as though there were five voices, not just four as they pantomimed their way through an old classic. Thunderous applause ensued when they were finished, and all four quietly left the restaurant with barely another word.
It is unclear what motivated these four ladies to suddenly burst into song. It could have been a reflection on the chicken they just ate, or for no other reason, except they were in the mood. Whatever the reason, for us and those sitting nearby, it was an unexpected bonus.
We see this kind of behaviour in the world of birds too. We are programmed to believe that birds sing for a reason; either to establish territory, or to attract a mate. That’s what we learned in public school. It was always too anthropomorphic to believe that, like the barbershop quartet, birds might actually enjoy singing, and simply do it for happy. 
Birds do use song to communicate; there is no question about that. Flocks of starlings and blackbirds that gather in noisy flocks in trees in the fall, are using song to touch base, a sort of roll call as it were, to verify that everyone made it through the night and that all is well. Is that not something though that can be accomplished in a few seconds, instead of the usual 30 minutes of continuous chatter we often hear? We have to assume that the outpouring of song with such enthusiasm and exuberance is for no other reason except they are ecstatic.
However, why expend that much energy, when a bird has so much on its mind for which it should conserve precious energy? There are worries about food, young to raise, predators lurking everywhere, and an arduous migration to undertake, not once, but twice in the space of a year. We must assume that birds sing sometimes because it is a form of relaxation from these things. I know – it’s a bit anthropomorphic, but is there anything wrong in assigning human attributes to birds and other creatures? Must we always come across as superior when it comes to possession of knowledge or the ability to think and reason?
Birds communicate in other ways to, although we may never really know what the message is that they are sending. A yellow-bellied sapsucker I heard hammering away near Tamworth last week likely was attempting a communication with another sapsucker, but we heard none respond. What did it mean? A Stirling resident called a week ago, describing another sapsucker that was banging away on her eavestrough. Our neighbour had one drumming away on an aluminium TV tower. Communication, and the more resonance an item can produce, the more powerful the message, whatever it is.
Others, like ruffed grouse, beat their wings. Snipe use their wings too, but positioning them in such a way to produce the familiar flight song we hear each spring, as the wind passing through the wing and spread tail feathers create an incredibly loud song that many are surprised to learn, is not vocal. The smaller the bird, the louder the voice it seems, as if trying to make up for the small size by volume. A winter wren or a ruby-crowned kinglet sings with remarkable intensity, as though its lungs were going to spew out of its vibrating beak at any moment. Weighing only one third of an ounce, it sings with 10 times the power of a crowing rooster, per unit weight. Others are not only loud, but persistent. A red-eyed vireo, one of few birds that will sing through the hot, sultry days of summer, can sing more than 20,000 songs a day. Somewhere in there it has to find time to eat. Others impress, not by volume, but by repertoire. Brown thrashers can sing as many as 2,000 distinct songs. Mockingbirds are renowned for imitating other species, and other non-bird sounds. We really aren’t clear why, but assume it has something to do with hierarchy. Compare that to a rare Henslow’s sparrow we once had in a field near our house whose effort at communicating is with a two noted hiccup. And if singing is such a male thing, why is that female cardinals and rose-breasted grosbeaks also sing? Maybe because they like to sing, pure and simple, and evolved the ability to do so.
Every morning when I take by five kilometre walk at daybreak I really don’t give much thought to the reasons for the morning chorus of songs I hear. I am just happy that, like the barbershop quartet at the restaurant, they are there to inundate us with song and become part of the dawn chorus that so many people miss at daybreak. Had we arrived at the restaurant a few minutes earlier, or later, we might have missed this impromptu chorus.  


Lots To Do at Birding Festival PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Apr 24, 2014 at 03:00 AM



                              Thursday, April 24, 2014                                      

I seem to remember that it was a chilly, winter day in 1997 when a handful of us gathered at a building on the outskirts of Picton to banter around the possibility of a spring birding festival. They had been successful elsewhere in the province. Why not here?  The first one that same year was a simple affair, but successful enough to warrant repeating and expanding. Almost 20 years later, that event has evolved into a week long program that now draws members of the binocular brigade from across Ontario, Quebec and parts of the U.S. Every year we try new things. Some are successful beyond belief, while others have been tried, and then abandoned due to low attendance. I remember one volunteer that first year or two offering his expertise and agreeing to hold a photography workshop. When asked how many he had, he replied enthusiastically that he had attracted three people, “Me and myself and I”. Today most workshops are full to capacity.
The Spring Birding Festival still focuses its attention on Prince Edward Point, and for good reason. It is the site of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, the group that now works almost nonstop to organize this event annually. It is also a peninsula that attracts phenomenal numbers of birds in spring as they cross Lake Ontario. The migrants tend to “pile up” along this important stretch of land jutting into Lake Ontario as they recover from the strenuous flight across open water. Once arrived, they begin to exploit the rich habitat for insect larvae before continuing on with their journey.
It has been a long flight for many of these neotropical migrants - birds that spend their winters in the tropics, and migrate to Canada to breed. For some, like the delicate northern parula, a brilliant species of warbler that winters in Central America, it is an important refuelling station as it will continue flying north into the spruce and northern hardwoods of Ontario where it will finally stop to nest. Others like the blackpoll warbler arrive later as their route takes them from their wintering grounds in Brazil to perhaps as far north as the Yukon and Alaska to nest. Many casual observers are not aware, for example, that a bay-breasted warbler seen feasting on insect larvae at the top of a shagbark hickory in the protected woods at Prince Edward Point, had likely dined with bananaquits and motmots in Ecuador only a few days earlier. It will forage its way along until it builds its nest in a few weeks in the Hudson Bay Lowlands somewhere.
Just to get everyone revved up for the Bird Festival that takes place May 10 to the 19th, there are a couple of workshops thrown in that precede the Festival itself. Picton area birder Pamela Stagg will be introducing novices to bird identification on the weekend of April 26-27 in a “Boot Camp for Birders”.  It’s a fun weekend of finding out just how much you really know, then building on that knowledge with an intense day of learning new birds – with a mini-field trip to learn how to use binoculars and a presentation on bird-friendly coffee. Day two will take you to rugged Prince Edward Point for a guided bird walk. Then you’ll have a special tour of bird banding operations at Prince Edward Point, followed by an introduction to birding by ear. I have the pleasure of assisting during one of those days, along with Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory Board member Kathy Felkar and Bander in Charge at the Observatory, David Okines. The weekend concludes with a mini-Birdathon. This boot camp will allow beginners to learn about birds ahead of time, and then come back and really enjoy the wide variety of birds that can be seen during the Festival. The Saturday sessions take place at the Jackson’s Falls B & B at Milford.
The following weekend at Jackson’s Falls B & B, Pamela will be “Birding Beyond the Basics” as she takes interested participants on a day-long adventure into how to identify birds more quickly and how to sort through the large variety of warbler and shorebird species that pass through our area every spring. There will be a mini-field trip to varied local habitats and a fascinating in-depth look at the life of everyone favourite bird, the common loon.
During the Festival itself, Pamela will be doing a workshop on May 17th called “Tricks and Tricksters: Shortcuts to Bird Identification”, and I will be conducting a workshop the previous Saturday on “Those Confusing Sparrows” More information on these workshops and the entire Spring Birding Festival can be found on my website at www.naturestuff.net by clicking on EVENTS  from the Main Menu and scrolling down the page until you see them listed. Convenient links will direct you to the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory website where registration for all the above workshops can be made. Please join us if you can.


Quinte Area Bird Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Apr 23, 2014 at 06:00 AM

Golden-crowned Kinglet. Photo by Garry KirschGolden-crowned Kinglet. Photo by Garry KirschTHE QUINTE AREA BIRD REPORT


with sightings from Prince Edward County and around the Quinte region 



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.  

Chorus Frog. Photo by Joe BartokWednesday, April 23: CHORUS FROGS are singing  (photo by Joe Bartok of Tweed), SPRING PEEPERS are singing, LEOPARD FROGS  are croaking, and I heard an AMERICAN TOAD’S wavering trill last night. Spring is definitely here, and to support that premise, the season’s first WARBLING VIREO turned up at Marshlands Conservation Area along Front Road in Kingston today. Also seen in this prolific natural area were WINTER WREN, HERMIT THRUSH and both WHITE-THROATED and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS. The latter species was also seen today along Sprague Road at Big Island, and two FIELD SPARROWS  were singing heartily in our backyard this morning. One area where several have reported birding in recent weeks is an undeveloped area at the far end of Haig Road in Belleville. Yesterday, GREAT BLUE HERON, RUFFED GROUSE, 2 OSPREYS and 3 NORTHERN FLICKERS were seen there by a Belleville birder. Flooded Stoco Lake today had large numbers of RING-NECKED DUCKS (photo by Ian Barker of Bloomfield) The waterfowl count at Kaiser Crossroad, 15 km east of Lake on the Mountain, was again disrupted by an ATV. This time, it was a farm vehicle, driven slowly and responsibly.  But the birds have experienced ATV “invaders” in their habitat and many took to the air as soon as it appeared. Partial, disrupted counts are indicated by an Ring-necked Duck. Photo by Ian Barkerasterix. CANADA GEESE (178), MALLARDS (110), NORTHERN PINTAILS (22), BLUE-WINGED TEAL (2), GREATER YELLOWLEGS (1)AMERICAN BLACK DUCK (21*), RING-NECKED DUCKS (148* – probably representing most of that species there today), REDHEADS (28*, also probably representing most of the Redheads there), AMERICAN WIGEON (12*), BUFFLEHEADS (5*), LESSER SCAUP (21*), BONAPARTE’S GULLS (75*), LITTLE GULL (1*), GREEN-WINGED TEAL (18*), GADWALL (unknown*). A probable BROAD-WINGED HAWK was seen north of Camden East yesterday, and the UPLAND SANDPIPER of no fixed address reported yesterday was seen along County Road 4 (Ben Gill Road) near the junction of Bethel Road. It is sad that the “Quinte Area” Bird Report has so few sightings coming in this spring from Prince Edward County! Surely there must be more than one or two birders exploring the great habitat it has to offer. The Report has had just under 14,000 hits since January 1st so obviously readers are interested in hearing about what you have seen in your travels and in your backyards. The Report is compiled at 7:00 p.m. every night and your sightings would be much appreciated.

Tuesday, April 22: The tick season is officially here, according to Tweed resident Joe Bartok who found a BLACK-LEGGED TICK  attached to the side of his head behind his ear! Despite the fear of Lyme Disease, there is really nothing much to worry about, provided you do a thorough body check when you come in from the field. Ticks are slow feeders, and even one carrying Lyme won’t infect you if you remove it with 24 hours. Avoid using needle-nosed pliers or tweezers or anything that could cause the tick to break apart while extracting it. And don’t even think of the lighted match, petroleum jelly, alcohol and other myths some people swear by. These methods of tick removal might be successful in getting a tick to release its grip, but they may also significantly increase the risk of disease transmission.The very best tick pullers I have seen are those one can procure from any animal hospital, usually available in two sizes. I seem to be a tick magnet and routinely provide ferry service for two or three every day I am in the field.  Do like I do – have one in your pocket, one in the car and one at home. While spring is progressing nicely in the Quinte region, elsewhere it has been lingering. Frontenac Outfitters broke ice today with their kayaks in Peark’s Lake outside Frontenac Park in preparation for their open house on the weekend of May 2nd. At Algonquin Park, 10 cm of snow fell a week ago. Kaiser Crossroad in Prince Edward County is still seeing some action. Yesterday, there was a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL along with three adult LITTLE GULLS and approximately 200 BONAPARTE’S GULLS. The LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL stood beside the much larger 2nd winter GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL for much of the viewing time for a Kingston area birder. This afternoon it was noted at the wetland that CANADA GEESE (210) were again moving through. RING-NECKED DUCK numbers were also up slightly at 148 birds and more BONAPARTE’S GULLS (100) were in evidence. Other species: AMERICAN WIGEON (28), REDHEADS (26), MALLARDS (38), NORTHERN PINTAILS (8), BUFFLEHEADS (6), AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS (14), GADWALL (8). LESSER SCAUP (21), ), BLUE-WINGED TEAL (1), NORTHERN SHOVELER (1), CASPIAN TERNS (2), and OSPREY (1). At Mountain View, a SANDHILL CRANE  flew over, and another LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was seen at Presqu’ile Park, out from Owen Point. To verify that spring is here, an UPLAND SANDPIPER was seen in an unspecified area of the County, while at Thickson’s Woods at Whitby, an early BLUE-HEADED VIREO was seen. OSPREYS are still making the news. They have returned to the nest platform at the west end of South Bay, there is a pair at the Kaiser Crossroad/C.R. 8 platform, and another two were seen together in a tree near the North Marysburgh Community Centre at Waupoos where the birds typically nest on the ball diamond light standard. An AMERICAN KESTREL was seen along Airport Parkway at Belleville, and a pair at 23 Sprague Road are still in conference over a nest box there. Two PILEATED WOODPECKERS were seen attacking some tree stumps in a Brighton backyard, and another was foraging on the ground east of Lake on the Mountain. A COMMON LOON was on the Bay of Quinte today near Allison Road. 

Monday, April 21: Another fine day of birding across the Quinte region. Five SANDHILL CRANES were seen in flight today heading towards the Outlet from West Lake.  TURKEY VULTURES were seen all across the south shore of The County this morning, from Kaiser Crossroad to Point Petre, in kettles as big as 14 birds. The two KING EIDERS are still present at Prince Edward Point and warblers are beginning to move through: a PINE WARBLER, PALM WARBLER and several YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS were seen, as well as BROWN CREEPERS, a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER and a number of GOLDEN-CROWNED and RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS.  At Kaiser wetlands, shorebirds are starting to trickle in. A GREATER YELLOWLEGS was seen and heard on the wetland; 4 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS were seen overhead. Other species: 52 GREEN-WINGED TEAL. 30 BONAPARTE’S GULLS, 6 AMERICAN BLACK DUCK, 132 RING-NECKED DUCKS. 40 REDHEADS, 10 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 2 WOOD DUCKS, 4 BUFFLEHEADS, 16 LESSER SCAUP, 20 MALLARDS, 4 AMERICAN WIGEON, 90 CANADA GEESE. 8 GADWALL, and one BLUE-WINGED TEAL. At Cressy Lakeside, a HORNED GREBE was present.  Someone who was at Kaiser on Sunday saw the EURASIAN WIGEON, so it’s still around, being elusive. It’s getting hard to see the ducks in the vegetation of the north wetland, and days with heat haze don’t help. At South Bay, PURPLE MARTINS have arrived there, and 2 BELTED KINGFISHERS  and a female PURPLE FINCH were also reported from there. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS  are nesting at West Lake, near Sandbanks. At 23 Sprague Road today, the FIELD SPARROW was again singing his heart out while being almost drowned out by a passing PILEATED WOODPECKER. A YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER  was drumming on a neighbour’s aluminum TV tower. The Hamilton Wetland along County Road 14 is still a bit sparse, although GREATER YELLOWLEGS, CASPIAN TERN and GREEN-WINGED TEAL were seen there during the week.

Sunday, April 20: Sometimes one needs to wander no further than their own backyard to see good birds, especially in the spring when numbers are high and birds are moving. A FIELD SPARROW  was singing heartily in our backyard this evening, and a walk around two fields west of our home on Big Island at daybreak yielded several EASTERN MEADOWLARKS, an EASTERN TOWHEE, three FIELD SPARROWS, one BROWN THRASHER, CHIPPING SPARROWS, a SAVANNAH SPARROW, 2 AMERICAN KESTRELS (interested in one of our nest boxes)  and a MERLIN, the latter likely the same individual that nested in a Red Cedar beside my trail last summer. Spring was also in the air for another observer at Prince Edward Point today where a HORNED GREBE in full breeding plumage was observed. Birds were singing everywhere and among those heard and seen were YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS, NORTHERN FLICKERS, BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, TREE SWALLOWS, DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS and BROWN THRASHERS. A Trenton observer birding the Stinson Block area west of Consecon found ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  was seen at a feeder east of Lake on the Mountain and two AMERICAN CROWS were seen chasing a SHORT-EARED OWL over the Sawguin Creek Marsh by a surveyor with the Marsh Monitoring Program. At Cape Vesey Marsh, SPRING PEEPERS, LEOPARD FROGS and CHORUS FROGS were heard calling. A WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW showed up in a Wellington backyard today, and a GREAT EGRET was spotted along Highway 41 north of Napanee. Birders at Kingston’s Lemoine Point Conservation Area today chalked up 39 species, among them WILSON’S SNIPE, PILEATED WOODPECKER, EASTERN TOWHEE and SWAMP SPARROW.  SWAMP SPARROWS were calling today from the Big Island Marsh. A WOOD DUCK and a 2 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS  were found along the Millennium Trail at Bloomfield yesterday. Welcome weather and sightings to compensate for some of this past week’s cold temperatures at night. At Kaiser Crossroad today, a noisy ATV was heard, but kept its distance, allowing the waterfowl to rest in the sunshine: 73 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 28 REDHEADS, 82 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 12 LESSER SCAUP, 5 BUFFLEHEADS, 5 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 4 MALLARDS, 4 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 10 AMERICAN WIGEON, 4 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 2 CANADA GEESE. LEOPARD FROGS and CHORUS FROGS were heard from the marsh.

Saturday, April 19:  At Kaiser Crossroad today, BONAPARTE’S GULLS  took centre stage today, with over 500 at their favourite spot on the south wetland, along with 1 LITTLE GULL AND 1 CASPIAN TERN. GREEN-WINGED TEAL numbers were also high( 107)with probably many more concealed in the vegetation at the back of the north wetland, where they like to forage. Other numbers: 17 CANADA GEESE, 40 MALLARDS, 18 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 36 AMERICAN WIGEON, 5 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 33 REDHEADS, 8 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 5 BUFFLEHEADS, 98 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 12 LESSER SCAUP AND A PAIR OF NORTHERN HARRIERS. During the warmer part of the afternoon, SPRING PEEPERS  could be heard, replacing the sound of the LEOPARD FROGS  heard last week. Yesterday, in a blustery wind, two birders checked out the calmer waters around Belleville’s Victoria Park at the yacht club and found lots of waterfowl – 60 BUFFLEHEADS, 12 COMMON MERGANSERS, 2 COMMON LOONS and 10 COMMON GOLDENEYE. Today along Sprague Road at Big Island, there was a FIELD SPARROW in full song, accompanied by an EASTERN TOWHEE, also in fine fettle.

Friday, April 18: Once again, birding at Kaiser Crossroad was disrupted this afternoon when two ATVers drove right into the north wetland. One ATV got stuck in the water and the resulting shouting and engine-revving flushed the remaining waterfowl. The two then drove off, spattering a birder with mud. These ATVers are thought to be locals from the same road who were seen last year fuelling a backyard campfire with rubber tires! As a result of this irresponsible behaviour, the following numbers may not represent all the birds present earlier at Kaiser: 2 TUNDRA SWANS, 5 CANADA GEESE, 32 MALLARDS, 2 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 78 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 36 REDHEADS, 6 BUFFLEHEADS, 30 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 16 AMERICAN WIGEON, 14 LESSER SCAUP, 105 BONAPARTE’S GULLS, 1 LITTLE GULL. T  At Presqu'ile Bay today,  rafts of  GREATER SCAUP, COMMON GOLDENEYE, BUFFLEHEAD, and mergansers (some have paired off now) with scaup outnumbering all the other species.  Two COMMON LOONS had a yodelling session while the rain started to fall later this afternoon.  A BELTED KINGFISHER was also observed close to the shoreline diving for fish. Along the marsh boardwalk, a COMMON RAVEN, GREAT EGRET, and a WILSON’S SNIPE could be heard in the Popham Bay area. Yesterday at the H.R. Frink Centre, waterfowl seen included 3 WOOD DUCKS, CANADA GEESE and 3 HOODED MERGANSERS. Today,  a BROAD-WINGED HAWK was seen by another observer flying over the boardwalk. There were six NORTHERN FLICKERS seen at Stoney Point. Bird banding has commenced at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory and the report for this past week can be seen by clicking HERE. Notables in that report include CHIPPING SPARROWS, VESPER SPARROWS, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, and a SNOWY OWL. Birds that failed to be reported from Prince Edward Point this past week and which turned up in another local report, included an immature BARROW'S GOLDENEYE that was seen and photographed on 12th, where all three scoter species were also noted including 2 BLACK SCOTERS. A WHIP-POOR-WILL was flushed from the net lanes on 14th and CLIFF SWALLOWS turned up at the lighthouse today.  Along Sprague Road, a BROWN THRASHER was present all day, the same field where I hope to see BOBOLINKS in two weeks as confirmation that spring is here to stay this time. A NORTHERN HARRIER and four AMERICAN KESTRELS were seen today on the Limestone Plains, north of Camden East. At the west end of the Murray Canal at Presqu’ile Bay, a pair of osprey are building a nest atop the channel marker at the entrance to the Murray Canal on Presqu'ile Bay near Stoney Point.

Thursday, April 17: The minus six degrees overnight and raw temperatures today effectively slammed the door shut on the bird migration, at least for today. Winds that swung around to the south today might bring more promising results in the next few days as temperatures gradually rise. Anyone interested in spring birding in Algonquin Park may want to wait a few days too. A cold winter, deep snow, and a cool spring have resulted in a slow thaw for Algonquin Park. After last year's record flooding, this slow thaw has impacted the opening of campgrounds, back country access points, and the 2,000+ kilometres of canoe routes in Algonquin Park. The Kaiser Crossroad flooded corn fields were virtually empty today after last night’s SSW winds. However, there was a lovely flock of 250 BONAPARTE’S GULLS, accompanied by at least one LITTLE GULL and two CASPIAN TERNS. .A summary of the week’s sightings at Kaiser Crossroad this week can be seen by clicking HERE. Pleasant Bay at Bay Meadows Park off North Beach Road today contained over 50 RING-NECKED DUCKS , a few BUFFLEHEADS and AMERICAN WIGEONS. An  odd looking leucistic AMERICAN ROBIN  seen last summer on Aitkens Road in the east end of Belleville,  is believed to be the same individual that appeared again yesterday in the same location. It either overwintered somewhere locally, or somehow managed to survive the migration south, and then return. Typically albinistic and leucistic  birds with abnormally white feathers do not survive long because they are so much more visible to predators.  While GREATER YELLOWLEGS have trickled into the area this week as solitary birds, seven were seen today on Wolfe Island, indicating some movement with this species today, despite the winter weather. A NORTHERN HARRIER  was seen on Airport Parkway in the east end of Belleville and a very vocal SANDHILL CRANE trumpeted his way over the Carrying Place area today.   At Presqu’ile Provincial Park this week the only swallows that have returned to the Park have been PURPLE MARTINS and TREE and BARN SWALLOWS, but NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS will likely appear within the next day or two and BANK and CLIFF SWALLOWS will not be far behind.  A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD put in two brief appearances early in the week, and the first BROWN THRASHER was seen yesterday.  A report of a YELLOW WARBLER a week ago would be a record early date if adequate details could be provided to the Park office.  However, a PINE WARBLER that made repeated visits to suet feeders on April 13 provided “killer” views.  Migrant sparrows this week have included EASTERN TOWHEE, FOX SPARROW, SWAMP SPARROW, and WHITE-THROATED SPARROW.  A few RUSTY BLACKBIRDS have been seen along Paxton Drive. The complete Presqu’ile Park Bird Report for this week by Fred Helleiner can be seen HERE.

Wednesday, April 16: Birds continue to arrive and do spring-like things, despite the below zero night time temperatures, and barely above zero during the day. A pair of MOURNING DOVES have been showing interest in a location below my office window and I suspect they will be throwing together their sprinkling of sticks shortly. At Presqu’ile Park today, a COMMON GALLINULE sighted  was the first to appear this spring.  It is the first gallinule to be reported this spring. Some 30 CEDAR WAXWINGS turned up in a backyard, eating berries, just north of Essroc Cement, north of Picton today. As the spring forges bravely ahead, female RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS have been showing up in recent days, but as a reminder that winter isn’t about to let go without a struggle just yet, the resident SNOWY OWL was seen again today at Wellington in the same spot where it has been more or less since December. A partially leucistic AMERICAN ROBIN was seen along Aitkens Road in northeast Belleville, believed to be one of two that was in the area last summer. Two TRUMPETER SWANS  joined 6 TUNDRA SWANS  at Kaiser Crossroad  today, providing a rare opportunity to see the big birds in the eastern part of the County. Some migrants are still plentiful: GREEN-WINGED TEAL (110), RING-NECKED DUCKS (180), BONAPARTE’S GULLS (54), REDHEADS (55) and NORTHERN SHOVELERS; numbers of other waterfowl are definitely tapering off: CANADA GEESE (106), MALLARDS (80), AMERICAN WIGEON (20), NORTHERN PINTAILS (10), LESSER SCAUP (14), BUFFLEHEADS (10), AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS (12). HERRING GULLS (10) were also present.  About 30 BONAPARTE’S GULLS  were feeding in a flooded field at the intersection of County Roads 4 and 34 this afternoon near Anderson Farms north of Picton.

Tuesday, April 15: Understandably, not a whole lot came in today, due to the weather. Judging by the weather elsewhere in the province, we got off lucky down here in the banana belt with all wet snow melting on contact. The season’s first shorebird, a GREATER YELLOWLEGS,  appeared at Kaiser Crossroad this morning, looking miserable in the snow. There are still 6 TUNDRA SWANS  on the south wetland. Other sightings: 50 CANADA GEESE, 24 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 110 MALLARDS, 9 WOOD DUCKS, 224 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 96 REDHEADS, 17 AMERICAN WIGEON, 16 BUFFLEHEADS, 14 LESSER SCAUP, 4 NORTHERN PINTAILS and 4 GREEN-WINGED TEAL. Please note that the number may under-represent GREEN-WINGED TEAL, because of poor visibility in snow at the back of the wetlands. The Wellington SNOWY OWL was seen again today, just north of the village. A Belleville observer yesterday heard an EASTERN MEADOWLARK singing at the No Frills store, a rather unlikely place to see one of these meadow birds. To finish off this evening`s report, I thought I would run a post by friend Bruce DiLabio that appeared on yesterday`s Ontario Birds listserv about this past winter`s SNOWY OWLS. His description of this winter`s irruption is very similar to what we experienced in the Quinte area, with some birds remaining in the same spot for almost five months without moving to a new hunting area.   “After an incredible winter with record high numbers of SNOWY OWLS, these Arctic beauties are now returning north. Seven SNOWY OWLS were observed (yesterday) in Ottawa, 4 were observed along the Ottawa River and another 5 were observed south west of Ottawa. All these birds were in areas that didn’t hold any long term wintering birds. Last week I observed 23 SNOWY OWLS in the Ste. Rose-St. Isidore area. Based on winter observations many of these birds were migrants. Overall it was an exciting winter in eastern Ontario for SNOWY OWLS and likely a record number for both the Ottawa-Gatineau district and eastern Ontario. Starting in mid November reports of SNOWY OWLS were reported and by early December it was apparent an irruption was taking place with many owls reported from suitable habitat across eastern Ontario and further south. This movement coincided with the high numbers on the Avalon Peninsular in Newfoundland. Using Christmas Bird Count data and personal observation from Brian Morin, Jacques Bouvier and myself I’ve estimated that there were 140+ in the Ottawa-Gatineau district and over 350+ in eastern Ontario west to Presqu’ile Provincial Park. An amazing winter for SNOWYS. Interestingly there were few birds found dead in an emaciated condition. In the Ottawa area at least 10 individuals were hit by cars and rehabilitated, and another few were found dead as road kill. All SNOWYS appeared to be surviving well for the winter on a variety of  prey including Meadow Voles and other small rodents and water birds. It was a great winter to observe these birds and study behaviour. Many individuals set up winter territories and were present for weeks at the same location. Another interesting observation was that the SNOWY OWL is as nocturnal as any other owl. On many occasions during January and February I observed SNOWY OWLS hunting at night from telephone poles between 5:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight. Over the past 4 decades I never looked for SNOWY OWLS during the night and just considered them a diurnal owl. Between Carp and Kanata Ben (Bruce`s son) and I observed at least 5 individuals hunting and these birds were very alert looking for prey not like the numerous birds we saw during the day that were more docile. All in all an exciting winter for learning! “ 

Monday, April 14: Hard to figure out this spring. Most spring migrants have arrived right on time, some have arrived earlier than usual, but none  has been detained by the later than usual spring. The season’s first CHIPPING SPARROWS  replaced the AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS at a set of feeders east of Lake on the Mountain. However, the latter will hand around until at least the end of this month before they head to their northern nesting grounds. However an early arrival by almost a month yesterday was a SWAINSON’S THRUSH in the silver maple swamp at the H.R. Frink Centre, north of Belleville. The observer cautions visitors to not attempt crossing the swamp on the boardwalk as it is a bit moist. In fact, only in a few places do the hand rails even show, likely a result of flooding conditions along the nearby Moira River this week. Right on time arriving today were two EASTERN TOWHEES at 2800 County Road 1 (Schoharie Road), northwest of Bloomfield. No further BROWN THRASHERS have been reported to accompany the sighting at Wellington yesterday.  YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS  continue to push through and four were observed today along Goodrich Road near Codrington where two BARRED OWLS  were also present. Up to six NORTHERN FLICKERS  were present today along Fish Lake Road. The predicted lows for mid-week will likely be good news for a SNOWY OWL that continues to occupy its favourite haunts along County Road 2 and Swamp College Road north of Wellington where it has been since last December. Intermittent heavy rain this afternoon made it impossible to do a complete count of waterfowl at Kaiser Crossroad today. Birds that could be seen and identified included 6 TUNDRA SWANS, about 50 BONAPARTE’S GULLS, 3 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 6 BLACK DUCKS, a NORTHERN HARRIER,  a TURKEY VULTURE and a lone pair of NORTHERN PINTAILS. REDHEADS and RING-NECKED DUCKS couldn’t be identified with certainty, but there are still substantial numbers of both. MALLARDS are still numerous; smaller numbers of GREEN-WINGED TEAL, AMERICAN WIGEON and LESSER SCAUP were also present. At Prinyer’s Cove, BUFFLEHEADS, COMMON MERGANSERS and HOODED MERGANSERS were seen, as well as a GREAT BLUE HERON  cramming a large fish down its throat. BUFFLEHEADS, RING-NECKED DUCKS and HOODED MERGANSERS were present at Black River. Overhead, there were  6 TURKEY VULTURES. Along the shore of Adolphus Reach near Cressy, there were RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, COMMON GOLDENEYES and HOODED MERGANSERS. An interesting observation came in from Fish Lake where an observer there watched as HONEYBEES at her feeder were seen struggling with carrying away millet seeds. When they attempted to make off with corn bits, the bees dropped in flight under the shear weight of the objects. The reason for the bizarre behaviour? While HONEYBEES derive their protein from pollen, very little is available this early in the year. The bees often mistakenly gather dust from various sources while searching for pollen. The bees do not have the ability to tell the quality of the protein they collect.  It is common  to find honey bees in bird feeders in early spring, collecting dust from the seeds. One Belleville area resident, concerned about his PURPLE MARTINS with the predicted lows tonight through Friday, drove to an electrical supplier to purchase ”pigtail” connectors to power a half dozen light bulbs for his martin house in an effort to maintain above freezing temperatures. The staff member said that there was no longer a call for such a thing (she managed to find some though).  Pigtails becoming obsolete? Say it isn’t so!

Sunday, April 13: Quite honestly, I don’t know where to begin with this evening’s report. I could say the flood gates opened today, but that is likely a term Moira River residents north of Belleville and in the Tweed areas don’t really want to hear today with the river surging past their back decks and seeping into their homes. But, the fine weather today did bring along some migrants and increases in those that arrived a day or two ago.  PURPLE MARTINS  arrived right on cue, despite memories of last winter hardly faded yet. They arrived in twos with the first report coming from Massassauga Road, two more along Black Road at Demorestville, and another two at West Lake near Sandbanks. Now, if these insectivorous birds can just make it past Thursday night’s predicted low of minus 7, they will be home free. An EASTERN TOWHEE showed up in Belleville today and COMMON LOONS were offshore at Massassauga. Too early for warblers, you say? Not really. Three YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS and two PINE WARBLERS were near the occupied OSPREY platform at Massassauga Point Conservation Area, and two BARN SWALLOWS  were seen perched on some utility wires on the drive there. A BROWN THRASHER was in a back yard “thrashing” around in Wellington.  It seemed to be all about OSPREYS today. OSPREYS are back again at the nest platform near Baz Auto on the east side of Belleville, and numerous other sightings came in from already occupied platforms that have already been reported in past updates. Unfortunately, an  OSPREY was killed (electrocuted) earlier this afternoon as it perched with a large fish on top of a hydro pole at Sandy Cove, along Sunrise Drive. This would be directly across the cove from the occupied platform at Massassuaga Point Conservation Area.  A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW is in Wellington, a CASPIAN TERN and 4 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS  were seen in Belleville, PURPLE FINCHES are present in Brighton, and 3 GREATER YELLOWLEGS  were seen in the Kingston area today. New birds at the Woodlands Campground at Sandbanks park today included FOX SPARROW, WINTER WREN and RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET. And as the sun was setting a few  moments ago, the first AMERICAN BITTERN was heard calling from the Big Island Marsh.  Alas, two SNOWY OWLS just won’t leave us alone in our attempt to welcome in spring. One continues to be seen at Prince Edward Point and another was resting on the ice at Belleville. There is no report this evening from Kaiser Crossroad where upwards of 16 species of waterfowl are still present daily, but last night’s rain did clear the remaining ice from Muscote Bay, between Big Island and the mainland along the escarpment at County Road 14.  Waterfowl have now arrived in abundance.  On Friday there were just four COMMON and four HOODED MERGANSERS swimming among the ice floes.  This morning some 5-600 ducks, as well as two MUTE SWANS, were across the bay and towards the marsh; only a score were near the Big Island shore and easy to identify.  Most were LESSER SCAUP, but there were also two male and one female REDHEAD among them.

Saturday, April 12: As the days become warmer (watch out for Thursday night though !), the sun’s penetrating warmth starts to cause the ice in the bays and lakes to surrender. There’s still a lot of ice in Prinyer’s Cove, but in the open area close to the road there were 2 MUTE SWANS, 8 COMMON MERGANSERS, 2 HOODED MERGANSERS, 2 BUFFLEHEADS and 17 RING-NECKED DUCKS. In other areas, remarkable progress has been made in turning the bodies of water from grey to blue. Smiths Bay was mostly frozen earlier this week but today it is wide open and full of ducks. The light was right for one observer to make out lots of REDHEADS, scaups, HOODED MERGANSERS and at least 10 TUNDRA SWANS. The Hamilton Wetland along County Road 14, west of Demorestville, has also surrendered and is wide open now although to date has hosted few species of waterfowl. Birders are reminded that this wetland  is private property, but observations can be made from the roadside fence where a No Trespassing sign has been posted and where I was given permission to remove several of the Red Cedars to improve visibility. There is no need to cross the fence. OSPREYS  continue to claim nest platforms as conditions improve. A pair was checking out the platform at the west end of South Bay today to see how it fared through the winter, and another pair is settling  in at a nest atop a utility pole on a private laneway along East Lake Road.  Excitement continues at Kaiser Crossroad where conditions are still suitable for a plethora of waterfowl, depending on their timing. This afternoon as the EURASIAN WIDGEON re-appeared (at the very back of the north wetland), 11 TUNDRA SWANS touched down and the first of the BLUE-WINGED TEAL (a pair) arrived right on cue. There were a few CANADA GEESE overhead, but none on the wetlands. Mid-season migrants are still abundant, with 56  GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 100 REDHEADS, 175 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 58 AMERICAN WIGEON and 4 NORTHERN SHOVELERS.  Other species: 192 MALLARDS, 1 hybrid MALLARD x AMERICAN BLACK DUCK, 40 BLACK DUCKS, 46 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 10 LESSER SCAUP, 2 BUFFLEHEADS,  1 GADWALL, 1 NORTHERN HARRIER, 4 TREE SWALLOWS, 45 BONAPARTE’S GULLS and 2 HORNED LARKS. And a big find for one party of observers – 2 RUDDY DUCKS, who disappointingly missed the EURASIAN WIGEON. Win a few, lose a few. Meanwhile, birds continue to arrive, and today’s temperatures even inspired a few to “get it on”. EASTERN BLUEBIRDS  were actively building a nest in a nest box, and a pair of EASTERN PHOEBES were constructing their nest under the bridge over Potter Creek along the trail at the Quinte Conservation Area in Quinte West. OSPREYS and TREE SWALLOWS  were also nesting in the area. MERLINS  were seen near the Belleville Hospital last night, and a BARRED OWL was calling along Elmbrook Road today, just north of Picton. A new arrival which totally bypassed the Quinte area on its spring migration, and showed up on French Settlement at Tweed, was a RUSTY BLACKBIRD. At Prince Edward Point today, there were lots of GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS and BROWN CREEPERS, two species that were in good supply today throughout the Quiinte area.  There was a lingering SNOWY OWL hanging around the harbour most of the morning. There were a numerous TURKEY VULTURES, PURPLE FINCHES, an EASTERN MEADOWLARK and a RUFFED GROUSE. YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS are pushing through right now and another was seen today on Luck’s Crossroad near Picton. A BELTED KINGFISHER  was having breakfast at County Road 5 and Fry Road this morning and two NORTHERN SHRIKES were seen at Stirling. And that’s it for today. Thank you to everyone for getting your sightings to me by 7:00 p.m. It’s no big deal if you are later – they will be used the following day.

Friday, April 11: Sightings in this evening’s report seem concentrated to the west today. At Stoney Point this morning, almost directly across from the Presqu’ile Park government wharf, 14 species of waterfowl  were present, among them AMERICAN COOT, HOODED MERGANSERS, GADWALL, NORTHERN PINTAIL and LONG-TAILED DUCKS. Also present were PIED-BILLED GREBE, HORNED GREBE and ONE RED-NECKED GREBE. A visit to the Brighton Constructed Wetland yielded 5 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, MALLARDS, RING-NECKED DUCKS, BUFFLEHEADS and two MUTE SWANS – one dead and one alive. An OSPREY was also present at the west end of the wetland near one of the platforms. On a return visit later in the afternoon. A GREAT EGRET  was present within sight of County Road 64. Another birder checking out Presqu’ile park today noted an EASTERN PHOEBE singing at the park entrance. A LINCOLN’S SPARROW did the honours at the beginning of the marsh boardwalk. Along the boardwalk, it was mostly the usual suspects: BUFFLEHEADS (about 20), 6 MALLARDS, 4 MUTE SWANS and 4 CANADA GEESE. Also present were 2 LESSER SCAUP. A SONG SPARROW was singing near the second viewing platform. Still another observer, actually a contractor with the Enhanced Marsh Monitoring Program, had three impressive flyovers at Dead Creek in Carrying Place – one, a first for this spring – a CASPIAN TERN, one PILEATED WOODPECKER and yet another GREAT EGRET. Moving back east again, this time, to Amherst Island, a birder there found numerous  BUFFLEHEADS off the south shore, especially toward the east point of the island.  A few HOODED MERGANSERS were present as well.  SNOWY OWLS on the island numbered seven, all resting on the ground or on rocks.  One pair was seen loafing together, with another one only feet away. Warm weather and a good SSW wind sent many of the waterfowl at Kaiser Crossroad on their way north today. The north wetland is now largely ice-free, so the remaining ducks and geese seem particularly sparse. The elusive EURASIAN WIGEON  was elusive again today. Eleven TUNDRA SWANS were seen overhead. Other sightings: 4 WOOD DUCKS, 12 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 16 AMERICAN WIGEON, 20 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 76 REDHEADS, 150 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 1 BUFFLEHEAD, 21 LESSER SCAUP, 35 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 164 MALLARDS and 14 CANADA GEESE. The KAISER CROSSROAD WEEKLY SUMMARY has been updated for this week. Be sure to have a look at it. Another birder from Belleville, commented on his day, “Despite the presence of a pyjama-clad Grizzly Adams look-a-like on an ATV”, 4 sparrow species gave good views on the Atkin Rd extension in Northeast Belleville for this observer -   6 SONG, 4 AMERICAN TREE, 3 VESPER and a a SAVANNAH SPARROW. Notables in a flooded cornfield on the same road; 9 NORTHERN PINTAIL, 2 AMERICAN WIGEON, 2 GREEN-WINGED TEAL and pair of BLUE-WINGED TEAL. EASTERN PHOEBES are so commonly heard these days, it seems unnecessary to mention their presence any longer, but one was heard calling along Barcovan Beach Road this afternoon, and two NORTHERN FLICKERS  were present along Sprague Road this afternoon. . So, EASTERN PHOEBES, TREE SWALLOWS, several species of sparrows........ BROWN THRASHERS and PURPLE MARTINS must be next on the list. Don’t put down your binoculars! With spring jumping along in spurts, it wasn’t unusual to hear LEOPARD FROGS today, and CHORUS FROGS  were heard in Picton yesterday. A GARTER SNAKE  was seen at Carrying Place, and a RIVER OTTER was at Stoney Point early this morning.

Thursday, April 10: Two early HOUSE WRENS turned up at Lemoine Point Conservation Area in Kingston, and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  was at Camden East today. In the Dead Creek Marsh, just south of the Murray Canal at Carrying Place, a SANDHILL CRANE was seen along with 4 BELTED KINGFISHERS, 2 TREE SWALLOWS and a pair of NORTHERN HARRIERS. The season’s first LEOPARD FROG should get volunteers with the Marsh Monitoring Program all psyched up for their first amphibian survey, slated to begin next week.  Two EASTERN PHOEBES and 2 WOOD DUCKS were seen at Fish Lake, and a  ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was noted today at Prince Edward Point. A COMMON LOON was reported from Tweed today. In Kingston, an appearance of an EASTERN TOWHEE confirmed that spring is marching right along, but a SNOWY OWL at Wellington cautioned us to hold off on the spring party for just a bit. The SNOWY OWL was the same bird that has been in the County Road 2 area near Swamp College Road since the beginning of winter. There is a pair of OSPREY now on the nest platform along Highway 33 at the Lennox and Addington Generating Station. And at Lake on the Mountain, a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was at a feeder there, and an AMERICAN KESTREL was seen on a hydro wire near Kaiser Crossroad. A noisy irresponsible ATV driver charging down Kaiser Crossroad today sent ducks, geese and swans flying, producing deceptively low counts today. The EURASIAN WIGEON  wasn’t in evidence today, but there were 37 BONAPARTE’S GULLS and, before the ATV, 6 TUNDRA SWANS. Other sightings: 4 CANADA GEESE, 18 MALLARDS, 14 BLACK DUCKS, 5 AMERICAN WIGEON, 44 REDHEADS, 220 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 2 BUFFLEHEADS, 16 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, a pair of NORTHERN HARRIERS and 2 HORNED LARKS. At Presqu’ile Provincial Park, a HERMIT THRUSH was reported this week. Both VESPER and SAVANNAH SPARROW also have been seen this week.  The wintering WHITE-THROATED SPARROW at 40 Bayshore Road was still there on April 5.  Two PURPLE FINCHES on April 9 were not unexpected, but the anonymous report of a COMMON REDPOLL on April 4 cries out for more details. To see Fred Helleiner’s full report on this past week’s bird activity at Presqu’ile, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, April 09: A duck that was glimpsed briefly at Kaiser Crossroad and identified as a probable EURASIAN WIGEON last weekend, re-appeared this afternoon. In bright sunshine, it could be positively identified as a EURASIAN WIGEON. The BONAPARTE’S GULLS were back in full force (33) at Kaiser and there were 2 TUNDRA SWANS on the south wetland. Other sightings at Kaiser today: 800 CANADA GEESE, 172 MALLARDS, 66 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 28 AMERICAN WIGEON, 54 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 166 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 71 REDHEADS, 2 BUFFLEHEADS, 12 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 8 LESSER SCAUP,  and 1 COMMON RAVEN.  Stuff is coming in. On Amherst Island today, 3 SAVANNAH SPARROWS  showed up at the Martin Edwards Reserve, formerly known as the KFN Property. Two SWAMP SPARROWS were found at the Marshlands Conservation Area at Kingston. More locally, EASTERN PHOEBES were seen near Lake on the Mountain and another was present at 2800 County Road 1, northwest of Bloomfield. On Goodrich Road near Codrington,  a BROWN CREEPER  was seen, and a GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET was seen east of Lake on the Mountain. Just north of Camden East two separate groups of  TURKEY VULTURES,  3 in one group and 4 in the other, also a female NORTHERN HARRIER. At Big Island, an OSPREY was seen carrying a WHITE SUCKER that it had pulled from Muscote Bay. A second year BALD EAGLE  flew over the Adolphus Reach area, 2 NORTHERN FLICKERS were seen along North Big Island Road, and a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was seen on Victoria Road in the Ameliasburgh ward. Saved the best until last. Our Shih-tzu dog is always bringing home treats from our walks over the neighbouring field – you know, the usual stuff, the odd dead mouse, a deer pellet or two. But it takes a large dog to bring home the really good stuff. Along North Big Island Road this morning, a resident there stepped out the door of her home at 6:30 a.m. to see her dog standing proudly beside a disembowelled, but otherwise intact, male FISHER, that it had found in its travels. I’ll give you that sloppy kiss now.

Tuesday, April 08: And the migration continues, despite the rain today. And birders were out today too! What a dedicated lot we are! More WILSON’S SNIPE  arriving daily. Two were seen flying in "close formation" over Allisonville at 11:00 this morning. Were they doing their familiar mating flight or were they two males and one was trying to chase the other away -- pure speculation on his part, admits the observer. Also increasing in numbers are AMERICAN KESTRELS as their migration continues. The kestrels in last night’s report east of Belleville increased to four today. Two RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS were noted in the Codrington area, and one observer there said their resident TURKEY VULTURES that usually nest in an old pig stall in an abandoned barn along Goodrich Road, had returned. At Prince Edward Point over the weekend, a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL was heard calling loudly at dusk one evening at the back of the harbour inlet, while out on the open lake a COMMON LOON was heard calling as well. Two BUFFLEHEADS were seen doing their display and chasing a few females around the harbour. Oh, to be young again! Eight male WOOD DUCKS and two females were toward the back of the harbour, and at the mouth of the harbour, a TURKEY VULTURE  was seen eating some fish carrion. CEDAR WAXWINGS  were also in the area as well as 6 female PURPLE FINCHES in the woods.Two YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS were working a tree at the Observatory, and a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK was seen soaring overhead. Several formations of CANADA GEESE flew over with one SNOW GOOSE at the back of one skein of 80 birds. Several AMERICAN WOODCOCK were calling after dark behind the bird observatory.  A large rafter of  WILD TURKEYS was present at Whattam’s Road with two toms displaying. The Welbank’s Road SANDHILL CRANES were there again this evening, this time in a tilled corn field. Once again, they departed in the direction of Salmon Point, vocalizing loudly. On County Road 18, near Sandbanks Park, 100 NORTHERN PINTAILS  were in a flooded field. A mature  BALD EAGLE  was seen flying over County Road 7 near County Road 25. The water at Kaiser Crossroad is higher than it’s been for a few years. Any more rain and the wetland may stretch right over the road. Highlights today were 14 TUNDRA SWANS and a single BONAPARTE’S GULL. Other species: 372 CANADA GEESE, 328 MALLARDS, 40 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 1 hybrid MALLARD x  BLACK DUCK CROSS, 2 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 40 AMERICAN WIGEON, 72 REDHEADS, 180 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 2 BUFFLEHEADS, 58 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 4 LESSER SCAUP, 16 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 4 TREE SWALLOWS. At least one prediction from last night’s report turned up today – numerous GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS along Goodrich Road near Codrington.

Monday, April 07: A day of mixed sightings – some old, and some new. Five new arrivals showed up in the reporting area – a HERMIT THRUSH on Narrow Street in Wellington, a BARN SWALLOW along Wesley Acres Road near Bloomfield, 2 BLUE-WINGED TEAL at Bloomfield and a BELTED KINGFISHER at Presqu’ile Park. The second WILSON’S SNIPE of the season was heard winnowing above 2800 County Road 1 northwest of Bloomfield and an EASTERN PHOEBE was seen just south of 401 along the Moira River at Belleville. TREE SWALLOWS are increasing in numbers as more arrive on mIgration. There were 10 of them at Danforth and Baitley Roads, west of Wellington, and a pair is showing interest in a nest box in Wellington. Forty TREE SWALLOWS  were seen on the Moira River today across from the Quinte Sport Centre. The Welbanks Road SANDHILL CRANES  were seen again late yesterday afternoon as they flew toward Salmon Point. These cranes were seen along the unserviced stretch of Welbanks Road beyond Kelly Road. Last night’s observer warns, “park your car, and walk it – don’t even think of driving, even with a 4 X 4!” AMERICAN KESTRELS today were seen at Sprague Road, Big Island and 2 were present in the Belleville area – one at Elmwood Drive and the other farther east at Mitchel Road. BROWN-HEADED  COWBIRDS have also arrived as numbers of them are starting to show up around bird feeders. OSPREYS  are everywehere right now, and an unreported one was seen yesterday on the Black River near Milford. A SHARP-SHINNED HAWK was seen on 401 westbound near Napanee and a RED-TAILED HAWK was observed on the 401 at the Marysville exit. The skies today were filled with migrating CANADA GEESE and at Big Island various skeins and little groups were passing over on the average of every three minutes. Four SNOW GEESE in a separate group flew over as well. The Wesley Acres flooded agriculturual field near Bloomfield was less active and the pumps were running to drain the field, and the number of RING-NECKED DUCKS  was down to 100 from yesterday’s high of 350. The big news at Kaiser today was the arrival of 33 BONAPARTE’S GULLS. There were 3 TUNDRA SWANS on the south wetland and 1 lone SNOW GOOSE on the flooded field opposite the north wetland. Other species: 400 CANADA GEESE, 54 MALLARDS, 12 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 1 WOOD DUCK, 224 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 74 REDHEADS, 4 BUFFLEHEADS, 22 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 2 GADWALL, 36 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 13 AMERICAN WIGEON, a pair of NORTHERN HARRIERS, two TURKEY VULTURES and two TREE SWALLOWS. As of yesterday, the four KING EIDERS were still at Prince Edward Point.  New arrivals in the Kingston area today included SWAMP SPARROW, FIELD SPARROW and 5 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS. New arrivals at Whitby’s Thickson’s Woods today were WINTER WREN (lots), EASTERN TOWHEES (3), FOX SPARROWS (8), SAVANNAH SPARROWS (4), and GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS (lots). Keep your eyes peeled for these new arrivals in our area tomorrow. The spring migration is on! Can’t stop it now!  

Sunday, April 06: As expected with today's weather, everyone and their dog (we had the dog) was out birding, heading for our favourite pastures. My wife and I (and the dog) spent a hour at the Wesley Acres flooded farm field where the sound of CANADA GEESE passing over was almost continuous – an estimated 3,000 in total plus another 500 along the edges of the pond. Also present, 350+ RING-NECKED DUCKS, 40 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 30 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 20 MALLARDS, 12 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 12 REDHEADS, 11 HOODED MERGANSERS, 6 AMERICAN WIGEON and  2 WOOD DUCKS. Athol Bay, amazingly, was still full of ice, but along the leading edge of it in the Sandbanks area were LONG-TAILED DUCKS, COMMON GOLDENEYE, BUFFLEHEAD, and scaup  Some open water in West Lake at the causeway leading to Sheba’s Island revealed a number of mixed ducks which can also be viewed easily from the end of Island Road where there are a couple vacant lots. The approach to the Glendon Green boat launch across from Log Cabin Point is passable now and from there today were scaup, RING-NECKED DUCKS and a handful of MUTE SWANS were seen. At the famous Kaiser Crossroad flooded corn fields, the south wetlands largely froze over last night, sending waterfowl either to the north pond or into the stubble to rest and forage. TUNDRA SWANS (6)  moved to the open water of the north wetland, but had departed by 11:00 am. Thousands of CANADA GEESE were seen overhead, but just 250 on the ground. Other totals: 80 MALLARDS, 17 AMERICAN WIGEON, 22 REDHEADS, 3 WOOD DUCKS, 80 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 68 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 46 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 16 BLACK DUCKS., 1 hybrid MALLARD x BLACK DUCK cross,  and in the cornfields across the road, 2 HORNED LARKS. Another observer added NORTHERN SHOVELER to the list and upped the list of WOOD DUCKS to 10. Two kayakers paddled Black River finding an excellent variety of ducks and other birds. GREAT BLUE HERONS were clearly migrating through, since over 20 were seen. On the river, there were COMMON GOLDENEYES, COMMON MERGANSERS, HOODED MERGANSERS, WOOD DUCKS, BUFFLEHEADS, MALLARDS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, MUTE SWANS and CANADA GEESE. A pair of TURKEY VULTURES and a pair of RED-TAILED HAWKS  soared overhead. A BELTED KINGFISHER was heard rattling over the cattail marshes. Cressy Lakeside Road had all sorts of diving ducks including a nice pair of HOODED MERGANSERS. In the waters of Prince Edward Bay, LONG-TAILED DUCKS, COMMON MERGANSERS, RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, and BUFFLEHEADS  were tallied. Sightings at Wellington Harbour included 15 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS and 3 CANVASBACKS. Barcovan today had  2 PIED-BILLED GREBES, and one each of WHITE-WINGED SCOTER and COMMON LOON. At Hiller, a lone SNOW GOOSE was seen where 20 TREE SWALLOWS  were also counted and an OSPREY. OSPREYS  were also seen on platforms at the corner of Welbanks Road and Kelly Road near Sandbanks, as well as near the entrance to Parr Island Road off C.R. 18. On Fish Lake Road, a pair of COMMON RAVENS forced an OSPREY off her nest, located on the Telus Tower at Three Dog Winery. Up to 7 BALD EAGLES were seen off Sherman’s Point Road in the Hay Bay area. Reminding us of winter was a SNOWY OWL on Ben Gill Road, likely the same one that was seen near there seven days ago. More convincing that spring has arrived was a pair of SANDHILL CRANES doing their mating dance in a field beside the Sophiasbugh Central School, north of Demorestville. Another SANDHILL CRANE  was seen in flight east of Allisonville. Six KILLDEER  and repeated flyovers of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS were noted at Presqu’ile Park.  At Hanna Park in Trenton, a male MERLIN was doing its best to impress a glassy-eyed female in some conifers near the dog park. And my harbinger of spring arrived early this evening when I stepped out on the sundeck and heard my first WILSON’S SNIPE winnowing its spring nuptials. It gets no better than this!

Saturday, April 05:  Today, except for the wind, conditions were pretty good for birding. Anyone giving Kaiser Crossroad a try today would have been disappointed, compared to the past few days. Thousands of waterfowl departed from Kaiser Crossroad, leaving just hundreds sheltering from wind strong enough to rock a car. Still remaining today: 12 TUNDRA SWANS, 56 CANADA GEESE, 280 MALLARDS, 86 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 26 REDHEADS, 120 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 30 BLACK DUCKS, 4 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 28 AMERICAN WIGEON,  and 14 GREEN-WINGED TEAL. Understandably, only that one person braved the winds today, and the only other report to come in was a PILEATED WOODPECKER along County Road 4 in the area of Anderson Farms, north of Picton.  Outside the County though birders seemed to be out and about and managed to rake in a few sightings today in some of the sheltered areas. At the mouth of the Moira River in Belleville there was a PIED-BILLED GREBE and a nice flock of 35 TREE SWALLOWS cruised the surface of the water for insects on a day when insects were likely quite scarce elsewhere. Along the Kiwanis Bayshore Trail in Belleville, seen were NORTHERN FLICKER, 2 GREEN-WINGED TRAIL 2 GREAT BLUE HERONS, and verifying that spring has indeed arrived – 15 SONG SPARROWS. An AMERICAN KESTREL was reported in Newburgh. In Kingston, at the Invista lagoons, a few of the highlights there today included OSPREY, 3 AMERICAN COOT, 12 GADWALL and 8 AMERICAN WIGEON.  Three days ago, a single BONAPARTE’S GULL, LESSER SCAUP and NORTHERN SHOVELER were present. Observers visiting the Invista lagoons are reminded  that you must be a member of Kingston Field Naturalists (KFN) or obtain permission from the municipality in order to gain access to the lagoons. Travelling east of the city, a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER at Gananoque has been present, and 2 early BRANT were spotted north of there. If you are interested in seeing snow, there is still lots of it at Algonquin Park where it is reported to be “knee deep”. So typical winter birds are still around the Visitor Centre feeder including 15 PURPLE FINCHES and 30 EVENING GROSBEAKS. Two days ago, even a FISHER showed up. NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS have been heard calling in the Park, a SPRUCE GROUSE was seen along the Spruce Bog Boardwalk, of all places, and a BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER  was there too a few days ago. GRAY JAYS and BOREAL CHICKADEES have also been seen in the Park, as well as both WHITE-WINGED and RED CROSSBILLS. And the Mew Lake Campground mascot, a PINE MARTEN, was seen a few days ago. Tomorrow promises to be a sunny day in the Quinte area with moderate winds and a high of 8 degrees. Birders will likely be out for sure, so please get your list for the day to me by 7:00 p.m. for inclusion in tomorrow’s report.

Friday, April 04: In Wellington, a Narrow Street resident hit it big time with her yard list  when she spotted this early BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON  perched in her willow tree in her backyard. While some birds are arriving later this spring due to the long winter, this bird was about three weeks early of it average arrival date. Birders today had to be up and doing before the rains began this afternoon. Those who did so, were rewarded once again with some good waterfowl species at Kaiser Crossroad. It is clear the MALLARD migration is at its height, with about 4,500 of the ducks present today at Kaiser Crossroad. . CANADA GOOSE numbers were down from yesterday’s 3,000 to 300 today. This often happens during the day, when the geese are out foraging in the fields. RING-NECKED DUCKS (32) put in their first appearance this season. Other species seen today: AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS (365) AMERICAN WIGEON (24) NORTHERN PINTAILS (500), WOOD DUCKS (7), NORTHERN SHOVELERS (4), TUNDRA SWANS (12), REDHEADS (8), GREEN-WINGED TEAL (14) and one TREE SWALLOW. Another observer there today added BUFFLEHEADS to the list which emphasizes the point that ducks are coming and going all the time. Across the road from the wetlands, there were SNOW GEESE mostly concealed behind a hill. Twelve were partially visible; it’s quite likely there are many more. Also seen in that area today were NORTHERN FLICKER, and a RED-TAILED HAWK. A female SNOWY OWL was seen on the ice along Cressy Lakeside Road. On the Cressy bayshore side of the peninsula, a backyard there had no fewer than seven SONG SPARROWS yesterday at the feeder along with a lone WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and two BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS. Also yesterday, several GREEN-WINGED TEAL were seen at the end of Welbanks Road on the Lake Ontario shore.  A male WOOD DUCK landed in a tree at Glenora Marina today where water conditions are improving in that area with enough space for a few COMMON GOLDENEYE and COMMON and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. One sign of spring is water appearing at Belleville’s Norris Whitney Bridge. One Belleville resident has made 4 visits this week to the south end of the bridge on the Rossmore side , watching the waterfowl numbers increase as the ice fades away. Nineteen species have been counted this week, but 15 species per visit is about the norm. About 1300 individuals yesterday; majority are a mix of 600 CANADA GEESE, 100 COMMON GOLDENEYE, 75 GREATER SCAUP, 75 RING-NECKED DUCK, 30 MALLARDS, 40 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS and 75 COMMON MERGANSERS and another 400 duck species too far out to identify. Notable singles of AMERICAN WIGEON, WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, AMERICAN BLACK DUCK and PIED-BILLED GREBE. Notable High Counts of 23 BUFFLEHEAD, 14 WOOD DUCKS, 6 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, and 11 HOODED MERGANSERS. By contrast, the Glenwood Cemetery Pond in Picton that contained well over 100 waterfowl of a half dozen species, is strangely silent these days Present today, was a lone MALLARD and a very sad GREAT BLUE HERON.

Thursday, April 03: Another good day for birds in the Quinte area. No new species, but repeats of those seen earlier, just to enforce that spring is indeed here. Waterfowl poured into Kaiser today, with new species for the year and some high numbers for many birds Numbers of MALLARDS are exceptionally high, likely signalling the peak of their migration at 1,000 birds this afternoon. CANADA GEESE seemed in short supply until a vast flock of 3,000+ birds circled the wetlands and landed, many of them in the unploughed stubble across from the two ponds. The first GREEN-WINGED TEAL (40), REDHEADS (6) and GADWALL (2) were seen, as well as a rare hybrid MALLARD x BLACK DUCK. Other waterfowl: 16 TUNDRA SWANS, 120 BLACK DUCKS, 4 WOOD DUCKS, 175 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 28 AMERICAN WIGEON, 4 NORTHERN SHOVELERS and 3 HOODED MERGANSERS. Starting tonight, Prince Edward County birder, Pamela Stagg, will be compiling a summary of waterfowl seen during the past week, .and will be updated every Thursday night. To see her summary for this week, CLICK HERE.  At Big Island today, 40 SNOW GEESE (all blue morph) passed over 23 Sprague Road early this afternoon. GREAT BLUE HERONS continue to be seen in new locations with one sighted at Cape Vessey today and another just north of Camden East. Likewise with OSPREYS, two seen today at Lower Brewers Locks on the Rideau Canal north of Kingston. Kingston also had 2 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, NORTHERN FLICKER, and 6 TREE SWALLOWS along Front Road in the city itself. A pair of SANDHILL CRANES turned up this evening in a wheat field on Welbanks Road and, according to the observer, put on quite a show with their mating dance. At Kaiser Crossroad today, a PEREGRINE FALCON and a COMMON RAVEN were present.  At Presqu’ile Park, single ICELAND and GLAUCOUS GULLS have been in Presqu’ile Bay this week.  SNOWY OWLS are still present, including one in the marsh this morning.  An AMERICAN KESTREL was at the calf pasture on Sunday.  One observer waited patiently at the calf pasture yesterday and was rewarded by sightings of both MERLIN and PEREGRINE FALCON. To see the full Presqu’ile Bird Report by Fred Helleiner, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, April 02: Lordy – where do we begin this evening’s report ! As I was returning home from Picton, I spotted a RING-NECKED DUCK in the creek along Fry Road. Obviously, I missed a lot, and much more was happening elsewhere in Prince Edward County. Famous Kaiser Crossroad had twice as many today – which makes that a total of two – but yesterday, there were 100 at what we refer to as the Bucknell’s Slough along Wesley Acres Road near Bloomfield. This vernal wetland – actually a low area in an agricultural field – needs to be accessed quickly as pumps are started early in the season to drain the field for a corn crop. However, yesterday, there was plenty to keep observers happy including 500 CANADA GEESE coming and going, 40 REDHEADS, 20 MALLARDS, 10 NORTHERN PINTAILS  and a male WOOD DUCK. Famous Kaiser Crossroad and its flooded fields hosted thousands of ducks and geese recorded by three separate observers today, among the high counts,  700 SNOW GEESE (5 blue morph), CANADA GEESE (one estimate was 1600), 15 TUNDRA SWANS, 2 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 40 WOOD DUCKS, 8 AMERICAN WIGEON, 50 AMERICAN .BLACK DUCKS, 500+ MALLARDS, 150 NORTHERN PINTAIL, and 2 HOODED MERGANSERS. Whew ! At Cressy Lakeside where the water has been open for some time, everything was at Kaiser, but left behind were lots of COMMON GOLDENEYE, BUFFLEHEAD and LONG-TAILED DUCKS, and a sprinkling of RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS and RING-NECKED DUCKS (2). The ice is opening up all over the place, thanks to the sunshine and warm weather. There’s a small patch of open water at the head of Prinyer’s Cove, just big enough for 3 BUFFLEHEADS and 1 HOODED MERGANSER. Near Glenora Marina, there are several patches of open water now, with small numbers of COMMON MERGANSERS, COMMON GOLDENEYES, RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, HERRING GULLS, RING-BILLED GULLS and 1 MUTE SWAN. Opening waters at Point Traverse today revealed small numbers of both RED-BREASTED and COMMON MERGANSERS and BUFFLEHEAD. Also present down there was one each of BROWN CREEPER, RED-TAILED HAWK and MERLIN. Other notable sightings today included a NORTHERN SHRIKE at Cressy Lakeside, 2 AMERICAN KESTRELS along Airport Parkway east of Belleville, 2 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS at a feeder east of Lake .on the Mountain, and a BELTED KINGFISHER north of Camden East. Two OSPREYS showed up at their nest on the Telus tower at Three Dog Winery on Fish Lake Road, and another touched down briefly at the West Zwick’s Park platform, while another was at the nest platform at the Belleville Sewage Treatment Plant at the foot of Foster Avenue in Belleville. A PEREGRINE FALCON did a flyover at the Norris Whitney Bridge. It’s happening! The spring migration is on, so get your hummingbird feeders shined up. Their migration is showing a steady advance with recent sightings in Oklahoma and Virginia. And RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRDS are already in Alaska! Do the math – they cover about 40 km/day. And our last sighting today in a backyard along Fry Road – a MINK . Just a reminder that it takes about an hour to sift through the daily sightings, establish a theme, write it, and upload it to the website as well as choosing and positioning the photos. If you can, please have your sightings to me now by 7:00 p.m. If sightings are late, I am happy to include them in the following day’s report.

Tuesday, April 01: Another fine day and things are continuing to move. Of course, TREE SWALLOWS  have been back for a couple of days now, but most are still restricted to areas of open water where they can more easily find insects. Also back, as of today – two OSPREYS. They, too are more apt to be found near open water as was the case today of one seen at the nest platform not far from Sandbanks at the corner of Welbanks Road and Kelly Road. However, a rather optimistic, if not confused, OSPREY soared over Picton Harbour today looking in vain for open water. A bit of a change at Kaiser Crossroad from yesterday when the frozen wetlands then looked more like a barren Arctic landscape. Today, a somewhat different scene. The north wetland had only enough open water for 14 CANADA GEESE. The south wetland didn’t have much more open water, but the waterfowl were streaming in so quickly, the counts had to be revised every five minutes. The final tally: 2 KILLDEER, 4 TUNDRA SWANS, 120 MALLARDS, 10 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 12 WOOD DUCKS, 4 AMERICAN WIGEON, 50 NORTHERN PINTAILS, and 70 CANADA GEESE. The grand finale was .a glittering flock of 350 SNOW GEESE (including one blue morph) which circled the wetlands and seeing very little open water, landed on Lake Ontario ice just east of Kaiser Crossroad. There was also a mature BALD EAGLE,  perched on the ice just beyond the geese. Last week, we moved beyond RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and COMMON GRACKLES and their arrival is but a memory. Now, it seems, we can move beyond TURKEY VULTURES as they are turning up everywhere now, often in sizable numbers. Other sightings that came in today included a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK on C.R. 5 near Fish Lake Road, and AMERICAN KESTRELS on Fry Road and along County Road 7 east of Bongard’s Crossroad. GREAT BLUE HERONS are also moving in with one present now for some time at the Whitney Memorial Dam at Consecon Lake, and others seen in flight and in creeks through the reporting area. The PIED-BILLED GREBE on the Moira River at Belleville was reported again today, and NORTHERN HARRIERS turned up 8 km south of Napanee, Huyck’s Point, Batawa, .Hoard’s Station, and another at Thomasburg. An EASTERN BLUEBIRD was seen at Camden East, a RED-TAILED HAWK was seen at the Marysville exit on 401, and a NORTHERN FLICKER was seen early this morning west of Sprague Road, Big Island. Of course, a BEAVER seen today, is surely another sign of spring.  

Monday, March 31: Today was the day of the goose, and not just CANADA GEESE either, although they were everywhere, but SNOW GEESE – hundreds of them. During one of those infamous “horn trips” that my wife and I took around the North Marysburgh Township this morning, we came across a skein of 14 SNOW GEESE near Kaiser Crossroad, flying separate from many hundreds of CANADA GEESE that were flying about in individual skeins and feeding in cornfields. At Prince Edward Point, we hit the motherload when a skein of 250+ passed over the harbour, led by three blue morph SNOW GEESE. Another observer noted a V of 50 SNOW GEESE headed north over Glenora around 9:00 this morning. About 15 were white morphs and the rest, blue morphs. Prince Edward Bay was open from only about Cape Vesey east to Lake Ontario. At Cressy Lakeside, CANADA GEESE were the stars followed closely by COMMON GOLDENEYES with a few scattered numbers of BUFFLEHEADS, and LONG-TAILED DUCKS. Except for the roads at Prince Edward Point which more closely resembled a greasy quagmire, the rest of the area looked more like the Arctic with ice as far as the eye could see with only one or two very small patches of open water close to shore. Very distant LONG-TAILED DUCKS  could be heard but weren’t even visible through the spotting scope, they were so far out. Kaiser Crossroad definitely has a way to go yet before waterfowl are attracted there. Nothing was moving there this morning except for a few stray leaves of last year’s corn. Two kayakers, anxious to launch the 2014 paddling season, somehow managed to find some open water at East Lake out from Log Cabin Point today. Present there were over 100 MUTE SWANS and GREATER SCAUP, with smaller numbers of REDHEADS, RING-NECKED DUCKS and GREATER SCAUP, and very small numbers of BUFFLEHEADS, COMMON GOLDENEYES and MALLARDS and many hundreds of CANADA GEESE. Lots of ducks on the Outlet River through Sandbanks, but all were dead. There were 8 dead swans and 80 dead ducks, with many more on the beaches beyond the Outlet. Often, the species could not be determined but many were represented: at least one BUFFLEHEAD and COMMON GOLDENEYE, lots of RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS and lots of GREATER SCAUP. Except for a SNOWY OWL seen yesterday along Highway 62 at Oram Road, the signs of spring largely outweighed the signs that want us to remember the winter of discontent. An AMERICAN KESTREL was west of Kaiser Crossroad this morning and a NORTHERN FLICKER  was present at Rutherford-Stevens Lookout above Smith’s Bay. Two GREAT BLUE HERONS were seen at Sandbanks Park (another at Glenwood Cemetery), and a pair of  WOOD DUCKS. A SANDHILL CRANE passed over Pleasant Bay, bugling as they always do. AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES at a Cressy feeder, some of them changing to breeding plumage, numbered 16. The PIED-BILLED GREBE  seen on the weekend on the Moira River at Belleville, was there again today. And HOUSE SPARROWS are nest building at Wellington. All good signs. Not sure if a BOBCAT seen today is a sign of spring, but it was observed east of Northport today. The cat was on the edge of a field close to the road and casually  jogged slowly in the field and then continued parallel with the observer in her car for a short distance to a creek where it stopped to drink. It was very healthy looking and had beautiful pale eyes. It watched the motorist for awhile and then moved on.

Sunday, March 30: With few exceptions, the only birding that took place today appeared to be east and west of the immediate Quinte area. Despite the rising temperatures, one local resident says there is still plenty of ice in the inland lakes. Ice at West Lake today measured a solid two feet. At Napanee’s Springside Park, the WOOD DUCK population has risen from the 2-4 seen this past week, to 12. At Kingston’s Invista lagoons, 10 species of waterfowl were present today, among them 19 GADWALL, 1 REDHEAD 4 AMERICAN COOTS, and the long present RED-NECKED GREBE. However, refusing to let spring arrive in dignity, was a SNOWY OWL at the lagoons. East of Lake on the Mountain today, Project FeederWatch’s final weekend of success was marred by the presence of a RED-TAILED HAWK and yesterday’s juvenile NORTHERN GOSHAWK that took turns patrolling the backyard today, resulting in a dismal finish to the monitoring program. What was believed to be a partial albino CANADA GOOSE (as opposed to a rare SNOW/CANADA hybrid) flew over West Lake today. A long present MUTE SWAN at Glenwood Cemetery’s pond in Picton, apparently incensed over an article that appeared this week in County Weekly News, warning of dire consequences to the resident population of ducks and ornamental geese should it find a mate and claim the pond as its own, vacated the pond in disgrace yesterday. Still present are two or three dozen MALLARDS, a handful of AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS and a single AMERICAN WIGEON, all of which have nomadic tendencies, and spend part of their time on nearby Marsh Creek. At Cressy Lakeside, approximately 100 scaup of undetermined species were present. Barcovan today produced about 2,000 waterfowl comprising 16 species, among them 1200 CANADA GEESE, 120 MUTE SWANS, 6 TRUMPETER SWANS, 4 WOOD DUCKS, an AMERICAN WIGEON, 3 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 4 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 200 REDHEADS, 30 RING-NECKED DUCKS and two AMERICAN COOTS. A nice venue of 12 TURKEY VULTURES was noted today in Picton along Hill Street by Picton Bay. While I was out .snowshoeing early this morning – yes, snowshoeing on March 30th – a NORTHERN HARRIER swooped in behind me and passed only a few feet above my head as it coursed around over the meadows. The presence of snow this morning drove RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS into a bit of a panic with 44 blanketing the ground beneath my feeders, two of which were females. This evening as I write this, the thick blanket of snow overnight is now just a memory with the promise of even warmer weather for the rest of the week. And to celebrate that momentous arrival was the sighting today of a single TREE SWALLOW at Barcovan and eight more flying above the Moira River near Belleville City Hall. 

Saturday, March 29: A few subtle hints that spring is arriving, however slowly. A PIED-BILLED GREBE was spotted in the Moira River today, another was at Kingston Mills and still another was at Prince Edward Point today. Reminding us  that vestiges of winter may still linger was a NORTHERN SHRIKE at Prince Edward Point and another was checking out the landscape today from a shrub in the community of Hillier. A juvenile NORTHERN GOSHAWK made a couple of runs through a backyard near Lake on the Mountain. ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS are still hanging about; eight were seen early in the week at Amherst Island where 8 NORTHERN HARRIERS  were also seen. NORTHERN HARRIERS also present today at Big Island, Belleville, Morven (east of Napanee), Roslin, and Tweed. The movement of EASTERN MEADOWLARKS and KILLDEER seems to have slowed somewhat due to the weather, but the early appearance of an AMERICAN PIPIT earlier this week at Kingston is difficult to explain . As the season continues, WOOD DUCK sightings are picking up with Kingston's Invista a good place to find them, and at least two were still present today at Napanee's Springside Park near the falls. The ice, remaining snow and cooler temperatures almost made us forget that OSPREYS usually arrive just about now, and sure enough, one did at Kingston. While RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS are no longer news in the immediate Quinte area, flocks are still moving north as conditions permit. Several were seen at a feeder today in Roslin for the first time, and 2 GREAT BLUE .HERONS were also seen there flying overhead, optimistically heading north. At Presquile Park, interesting birds present there have been PARASITIC JAEGER, CAROLINA WREN, EASTERN MEADOWLARKS and 2 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS. AMERICAN WOODCOCKS are slowly .getting established and trying to work up the nerve to perform their nuptials for glassy-eyed females on the ground. In addition to the two that have been seen east of Waupoos and near Wellington, one is also present at Presquile Park. A PILEATED WOODPECKER  was seen today on Hessford Street in Napanee. It is not necessary to report any further sightings of TURKEY VULTURES now as they seem to be everywhere, and much the same situation is occurring with DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS with 22 being present in Kingston, and isolated sightings today around Prince Edward County and Barcovan.

Friday, March 28: A storm system moving across the middle of the country is bringing rain. So, any further spring migrants may be held up for a few days until the weather breaks and we get some really warm temperatures sand some clear skies and southerly winds that allow birds to resume their migration. Temperatures are looking more promising in the next few days so we hope this will bring on a surge of migrants normally expected by this time. A SONG SPARROW  finally turned up at our feeder but they have been around elsewhere in the Quinte area for several days, especially at Prince Edward Point.  The severity of winter is still .manifesting itself in a never ending stream of duck carcasses on local shorelines. An incredible 56 bodies were counted along one side of the Outlet River at Sandbanks a few days ago, among them several swans. Three SANDHILL CRANES  were seen and heard today flying over Brighton. In Belleville`s east end, a BARRED OWL was being mobbed by some COMMON CROWS, and a BEAVER was seen cutting short the career of a tree. Three GREAT BLUE HERONS were seen at South Bay in flight, heading for the Lake Ontario shoreline, as that is surely the only open water down that way. AMERICAN KESTRELS were seen today at Big Island as well as in Kingston. The forever faithful RED-NECKED GREBE is still present at the Kingston Invista area (Dupont lagoons). Eleven waterfowl species were present at this popular focal point today, among them 5 AMERICAN COOT, 2 RING-NECKED DUCKS, a single REDHEAD, 12 HOODED MERGANSERS and 10 GADWALL. BALD EAGLES were present again today at the Glenora Ferry crossing, and three were seen at the Lower Brewer`s Lock on the Rideau Canal, just north of Kingston. A LAPLONG LONGSPUR was present on Wolfe Island. If you still have a yen for snow, there is likely some still around at Algonquin Park where recent sightings have included GRAY JAYS along Opeongo Road and at the parking lot of the Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail. Two BOREAL CHICKADEES were along the boardwalk recently too. At the Park`s Visitor Centre feeders, 20 PURPLE FINCHES are regulars as well as up to 30 EVENING GROSBEAKS and a few AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES.

Thursday, March 27: .Martial Arts instructor and photographer Kenzo Dozono of Belleville has been photographed touching wild animals before at the H.R. Frink Centre, north of Belleville. Mainly it has been birds, but today, he used his skills of  extreme patience and approached the animal with “my Karate foot work which is a Ninja walk,not too silent but not disturbing,walk like the Beaver”, Kenzo says, “The excitement was much greater than winning a gold medal in a world championship !My martial art skill must be getting better !!! “ As spring continues to settle in, other birds of the season are turning up. This AMERICAN WOODCOCK. was seen today on County Road 8 as it took its time crossing the road. The observer said the bird walked very deliberately , apparently tapping the pavement with its front foot, as if sounding for worms, remaining quite focused until it reached the opposite side of the road. Although it was minus 15 at Codrington today, an EASTERN PHOEBE was present in a backyard on a sideroad near there. There were six COMMON GRACKLES and a healthy flock of 32 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS at a Brighton feeder this morning. A BALD EAGLE was seen at Milford today, and the usual two or three were present in the Glenora area once again.  Lots of CANADA GEESE at .Wellington Harbour right now. The Kaiser Crossroad frozen  wetlands had hundreds to 1000+ CANADA GEESE flying in skeins overhead and feeding in harvested cornfields in the vicinity. At Cressy Lakeside to Cape Vesey, today, there was shore ice only east of Cape Vesey; from Cape Vesey west and the bay toward Prince Edward Point still iced in as far as the eye could see. In open water immediately offshore, thousands of divers, with patchy predominance of COMMON GOLDENEYE (most common), many displaying; LONG-TAILED DUCKS, scaup, REDHEADS, interspersed with  BUFFLEHEAD, the odd pair of HOODED MERGANSERS, and a single WOOD DUCK male.  Also noted was an AMERICAN KESTREL feeding on an unidentified small bird in a roadside tree, and an adult male NORTHERN HARRIER making a half-hearted sweep over some inshore ducks before soaring off low inland.

Wednesday, March 26: Ice has now melted out of Wellington Harbour and channel, and as far east on West Lake as the 50 km sign on the Bloomfield end of Wellington. HOODED MERGANSERS and a pair of BUFFLEHEADS were seen paired up. Yesterday, there were many hundreds, if not more, CANADA GEESE in flight over the lake, loafing on the ice, and in the water around the edge of the ice, as well as about 20 or so in the harbour area, and hundreds gleaning corn from harvested fields along #33 between Wellington & Bloomfield. Perhaps 30 MUTE SWANS loafing with the geese on the lake, and a few in the harbour at the west end. Scores of RING-BILLED GULLS on the lakeshore and in flight over the lake and harbour. About 20 LESSER SCAUP and about 5 MALLARD  pairs, in the harbour, and flying back and forth to the lake. Also in the harbour one AMERICAN COOT, 1 female COMMON GOLDENEYE, a female RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, this pair of HOODED MERGANSERS and this pair of BUFFLEHEADS. Three GREAT BLUE HERONS flew through the harbour, one landing on the wharf. Two RING-NECKED DUCKS were added to the list today. For one Picton observer, today was a day for BALD EAGLES. At dawn, there were two juvenile eagles flying up from Cressy towards Glenora. The next eagle this person  saw was over Wellesley Island in the St. Lawrence, then two on the ice of the St. Lawrence at Alexandria Bay, finishing off what was probably a dead duck. One was a 2nd year and the other, a 3rd year. At Ivy Lea, there was a variety of ducks along the waterfront. HOODED MERGANSERS seemed to be most numerous – probably in the range .of 12 – 15. About a dozen GREATER SCAUP and smaller numbers of REDHEADS, 4 BUFFLEHEADS and about the same number of RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, as well as uncounted CANADA GEESE. There was also a PILEATED WOODPECKER at Ivy Lea. HOODED MERGANSERS seem to be migrating through now, as they are showing up wherever there’s open water. At the Glenora Ferry, there were about 30 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS in the open water between the ferry docks. Other birds today included a KILLDEER in the pasture field beside the Hamilton Wetlands along C.R. 14, west of Demorestville and a NORTHERN HARRIER  at dusk west of 23 Sprague Road on Big Island. And a MINK was seen today along Wellington Beach. If it is any encouragement, southerly winds allowed migrants that were stuck in the extreme southern US a chance to head north, and some places in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic regions saw their first migrants. NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS made it all the way to New York, while LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSHES were sighted in Missouri and Ohio. In Tennessee, the first  BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER arrived! So despite all the doom and gloom this winter, some of our southern migrants are heading this way.

.Tuesday, March 25: Here they come! Conditions are improving at the Wellington Harbour and the geese and ducks are responding, although the CANADA GEESE  far outnumber the ducks these days at the harbour as the ducks scatter to new areas. Only a handful of MUTE SWANS visible.  About a dozen LESSER SCAUP in the harbour. Three BUFFLEHEAD  diving in the harbour. One HOODED MERGANSER pair flew in an out rapidly. A pair of AMERICAN COOTS touched down on the West Lake side of the dock, then paddled vigorously toward the shallow area west of the restaurant. Sadly, there are still lots of duck carcasses around to remind us of the winter past. Winter past? It was winter again this morning with a good 7 centimetres falling for most of the morning, which quickly melted by late this afternoon. The snow didn’t stop an AMERICAN WOODCOCK, north of Wellington, from wandering around in a wooded area off Swamp College .Road. A bit farther north on County Road 2, a TURKEY VULTURE  was seen flying over Wilson Road. .Another TURKEY VULTURE was seen today flying over the Brighton Constructed Wetland, along County Road 64. A BARRED OWL turned up today in a backyard along North Big Island Road. Nine species of waterfowl at the Kingston Invista lagoons, among them 175 MALLARDS, 280 CANADA GEESE, 10 REDHEADS, and 4 AMERICAN COOTS. Also present, NORTHERN SHRIKE and a SNOWY OWL. Quinte area residents should be on the lookout for a PEREGRINE FALCON  that flew in from Prince Edward County, across the Bay Bridge, and into downtown Belleville at 5 pm today followed later by a DOUBLE-CRESTED  CORMORANT. At Napanee,  RED-TAILED HAWK near the Napanee Wal-Mart and another near Camden East, as well as a KILLDEER.

.Monday, March 24: Now we’re movin’ like a herd of turtles into spring. An EASTERN MEADOWLARK today at 23 Sprague Road, Big Island, and an EASTERN PHOEBE at Prince Edward Point as well as a dozen SONG SPARROWS and two KILLDEER were positive signs of warmer weather in the offing.Two TURKEY VULTURES over Picton seen by two different observers at the same location, and another today over the Moira River in Belleville. A GREAT BLUE HERON seen at Salt Point at Presqu’ile Point, and two more are hanging out at the swamp along Old Milford Road. RED-TAILED HAWKS perched in a backyard east of Lake on the Mountain, and another at Station Street ion Belleville, and the  RED-TAILED HAWK in this photo building a nest near Invista in Kingston. WOOD DUCKS (four in total) are still present in the Napanee River near Springside Park. So many observers were out and about in the same locations, there is a bit of overlap in this evening’s report. From Kaiser Crossroad east along County Road 8 and Cressy Bayside, there are widely dispersed mixed rafts of ducks and geese: BUFFLEHEADS, COMMON GOLDENEYES, GREATER SCAUP, REDHEADS, LONG-TAILED DUCKS AND CANADA GEESE. South of Cressy Bayside only:  RING-NECKED DUCKS, about a dozen HOODED MERGANSERS and a couple RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. A Presqu’ile Park today, 14 species of waterfowl, among them  CANVASBACKS and AMERICAN WIGEON.  On the Moira River today in Belleville 20 CANADA GEESE, 80 MALLARDS, a .COMMON GOLDENEYE and 4 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. Some open water is showing now at the Norris Whitney Bridge at Rossmore where today, 5 CANADA GEESE, 2 MUTE SWANS and 21 COMMON GOLDENEYES claimed the first open water to appear in many a week.  And proclaiming centre stage today at Prince Edward Point were two first year male KING EIDERS out from the harbour. Other sightings today included a NORTHERN SHRIKE past the entrance to the solar farm on the south side of Goodyear Road at Napanee, the 2 resident COMMON RAVENS  at Prince Edward Point and two adult BALD EAGLES at Kingston Mills yesterday and two immature BALD EAGLES  at Presqu’ile Park today. A MERLIN was present at the Milhaven ferry dock.

Sunday, March 23: It is minus 4 as I compile this evening`s report, and there was a dusting of snow on the ground this morning, but spring birds continue to trickle in.  More RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and COMMON .GRACKLES today as might be expected. Finally, the first SONG SPARROWS of the spring season were reported – lots at Prince Edward Point, one at Amherst Island, one at Cressy and one at Lake on the Mountain. There was a KILLDEER flying over the Trenton Walmart, and one was reported three days ago at Amherst Island as well as an AMERICAN WOODCOCK. A lone WHITE-THROATED SPARROW is at a Cressy feeder, but it has been there all winter. Two DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS at Kingston as well as a GREAT BLUE HERON. Two TURKEY VULTURES were seen circling above Cobourg and another one over Pickering by a Prince Edward County birder. West of Bath, a reported LONG-EARED OWL died in action with a mouse in its talons. At Barcovan,  the arrival of NORTHERN PINTAILS, WOOD DUCKS, NORTHERN SHOVELER, GREEN-WINGED TEAL and AMERICAN COOT  are certainly signs of better weather ahead. At Presquìle Park, a PARASITIC JAEGER turned up today harassing gulls near the government dock. A BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD was at a feeder on Victoria Road in Ameliasburgh and a PILEATED WOODPECKER  was seen at Lake on the Mountain. Things are starting to pick up in East Lake at the Outlet River where today a pair of  WOOD DUCKS, a dozen RING-NECKED DUCKS, MALLARDS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, scaup, swans, and a handful (a few thousand) of CANADA GEESE  between Log Cabin Point and the corn fields along the west shore were tallied.  Cobourg Harbour today had a GLAUCOUS GULL, and a reminder that winter in some form is still here – a SNOWY OWL. At Prince Edward Point today, WILD TURKEYS, NORTHERN HARRIER and RED-TAILED HAWK were seen. Prince Edward Bay was still frozen from about the former Ducks Dive Charters, but it opened up about half way between there and the bluff at Point Traverse where an assortment of ducks were present, including the KING EIDERS that first showed up a month ago. 

Saturday, March 22: It is officially spring, although a blizzard of wet snow at 4:00 a.m. this morning begged to disagree. But the sun came out, water started flowing and birds were singing. RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and, to a lesser degree, COMMON GRACKLES  are so plentiful right now, we see no need to give them any further attention. A mixture of winter/spring birds in Newburgh (Napanee Plains) today. One person hiking the Cataraqui Trail between Strathcona and Newburgh (three km) found the season’s first EASTERN MEADOWLARK, as well as COMMON GRACKLES, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, HORNED LARKS (12), KILLDEER and a TURKEY VULTURE, but mixed in there with them as a reminder of winter’s reluctance to depart were a couple SNOW BUNTINGS, NORTHERN SHRIKE, AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS, and PURPLE FINCHES (2). Also thrown into the mix were a BARRED OWL and 4 COMMON RAVENS. A COMMON RAVEN was also seen at Kingston Mills today as well as a PILEATED WOODPECKER. Present in the open waters of the Rideau Canal there were COMMON MERGANSERS and CANADA GEESE. A GREAT BLUE HERON was in the Haig Road area of Belleville yesterday, and RED-TAILED HAWKS were seen today at Shannonville and near Deseronto.  In the Napanee River near Springside Park, the male WOOD DUCK is still present. Two good sightings at the C.R. 18 bridge over the Outlet River beside Sandbanks were two pairs of HOODED MERGANSERS and a newly arrived GREAT BLUE HERON. Athol Bay at Sandbanks yesterday hosted GREATER and LESSER SCAUP, LONG-TAILED DUCKS, BUFFLEHEADS, COMMON GOLDENEYES and one lone male RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, overshadowed by a single MUTE SWAN. At Wellington Harbour, conditions continue to improve and present now are uncountable numbers of CANADA GEESE revelling in the new found spring weather, as well as hundreds of GREATER and LESSER SCAUP, COMMON GOLDENEYS, about 100 MUTE SWANS, and about a dozen each of REDHEADS and RING-NECKED DUCKS and a half dozen MALLARDS. The open water around the Norris Whitney Dam at Consecon along Highway 33 has four species – CANADA GEESE, LESSER SCAUP, COMMON GOLDENEYES and BUFFLEHEADS. At  Presqu’ile’s government dock yesterday,  a possible hybrid BUFFLEHEAD was present, but a hybridized with what species is unclear as hybridization of BUFFLEHEADS with other duck species is rare due to their small size. There were also hundreds of GREATER SCAUP and REDHEADS, COMMON GOLDENEYES and LESSER SCAUP, and smaller numbers of MUTE SWANS, LONG-TAILED DUCKS and BUFFLEHEADS, and a male RING-NECKED DUCK. Probably about a dozen CANVASBACKS. Oh, and almost forgot – CANADA GEESE! So, spring is here and getting stronger with each day. An example of that is the arrival of 1,000 TUNDRA  SWANS west of London. Hope they scooted through the wind turbines okay en route. It’s spring – SNOWDROPS  were peeking through the surface at Trenton just before dark this evening.And a BLACK BEAR was seen wandering around the Quinte Conservation Area a few days ago on the west side of Belleville. 

Friday, March 21: Despite the gorgeous weather today, no sightings came in from anywhere.

Thursday, March 20: It’s spring! Say it isn’t so! I am not sure that I was finished with winter yet. To celebrate the arrival of spring, a KILLDEER was seen today on Fry Road not far from County Road 5, and another KILLDEER was spotted today west of Wellington. More RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and COMMON GRACKLES at  a South Bay feeder this morning. Over 60 of the former and 5 of the latter. Another 50 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS were seen today at a wetland at Stanley Park in east Belleville.   Another GREAT BLUE HERON turned up today near the east end of Fish Lake, near Demorestville. It’s happening. Warblers are just around the corner. Five AMERICAN COOTS at the Kingston Invista lagoons – that’s a good sign. Dabbling ducks are slowly arriving at Presqu’ile Park, and 5 PURPLE FINCHES at Sydenham – possible migration there. All good signs. However, we can’t overlook the harsh winter and its effect on some species of waterfowl. And the waterfowl won’t let us forget either. In an e-mail this morning, one Toronto area birder said, there has been a rather substantial mortality in diving ducks at the west end of Lake Ontario. Hundreds of dead waterfowl, mainly red-breasted mergansers and scaup, were observed along the Toronto waterfront yesterday. Others were widely reported from Toronto to Niagara. The Toronto ducks he examined were pretty much skin and bones....starvation seems to have been the cause. On a happier note, a new book, "The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human " by Noah Strycker   was released today! You can read all about it on Amazon, or find it in your favourite bookstore. It’s an entertaining and profound look at the lives of birds, illuminating their surprising world—and deep connection with humanity. And finally this evening, the Presqu’ile Provincial Park weekly bird report by Fred Helleiner has been uploaded, and you can read it HERE.

Wednesday, March 19: Ice and snow be damned! We’re migrating anyway! At least that is what two species seem to be saying as RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS arrived today in droves. Between 40 –50 were present in our yard at Big Island when I went out to top up the bird feeders at dusk. Twenty were seen at Belleville’s Bayshore Trail and smaller numbers were reported at numerous other feeders in the region, including Codrington, north of Brighton. Also arriving today were  COMMON GRACKLES  with 4 seen in Belleville, 9 in Brighton and singles elsewhere. A Belleville resident commented, “When the first Red-winged Blackbird is heard in spring, it is the sweetest sound.  The next 9 months it is but a wretched note upon the ear.” To which I can also add the grackle.  Remember the hunched over GREAT BLUE HERON whose photo graced this report only a day before it finally succumbed to the frigid temperatures? Too bad it didn’t survive as it would have been more encouraged by other GREAT BLUE HERONS showing up in the past two days – one at the Norris Whitney Dam at Consecon, one at Barcovan and one in flight over Belleville’s Bayshore Trail area. Another was seen at 6:00 p.m. this evening flying over Haig Road.  And there was a BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD in Brighton today. Also present along the Bayshore Trail in Belleville today, 50 AMERICAN ROBINS, 20 AMERICAN CROWS, a RED-TAILED HAWK and a MERLIN.  So, there you go. It’s happening, albeit slowly, the spring migration. But, there are still some signs of winter about. There were six SNOWY OWLS at Amherst Island, and another at the end of one of the CFB Trenton runways a few days ago. Two NORTHERN SHRIKES were seen at Amherst Island today. At Glenwood Cemetery, things are looking up as some of the ducks have dispersed as the spring season advances. There were only about 40 MALLARDS there yesterday, and both the RED-BREASTED MERGANSER and the AMERICAN WIGEON were nowhere about, although a dozen AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS are still hanging in there. The MERLIN was calling again from one of the conifers not far from the pond. SONG SPARROWS can’t be far behind !

Tuesday, March 18: Are BARRED OWLS on the move now? Two reports of BARRED OWLS came in today – one at Prince Edward Point perched on a hydro wire close to the former Ducks Dive Charters. Another was seen  soaking up some late afternoon rays in Boyd Park in Belleville.  Boyd Park is located in Deerfield subdivision just north of the 401, between Cloverleaf and Maitland Drive.  Other stuff is moving too apparently. The season’s first COMMON GRACKLE was spotted in the Picton area. Numerous reports of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS coming in so they seem to be establishing themselves at feeders, but no large aggregations of them yet in local wetlands. WOOD DUCKS must also be arriving as another four were seen at Lower Brewer’s Lock on the Rideau Canal, north of Kingston. At South Bay, BLUE JAY numbers are increasing which suggests that some early migrants are moving in to join those that over-wintered down There.   But there, the arrival of spring and birds seemed to end. Once again, an optimistic birder drove to Kaiser Crossroad; however, no swans, no geese, no ducks, no nothing, except ice. The presence of ice does attract certain birds though.  Several BALD EAGLES  were noted today at the Glenora Ferry Channel. Two observers spent a couple of hours at the Glenora Ferry and saw three juvenile and two adult BALD EAGLES on the ice. They also went up to the Lake on the Mountain parking lot and the closed North Marysburgh Central School  further down the road and watched as three juveniles interacted in the air.  Another two observers today saw 2 adults and 3 immatures together in a tree at Glenora, but never  more than two on the ice at a time. Elsewhere in the general reporting area,  22 TRUMPETER SWANS were present at Bedford Mills in the Westport area. A BROWN CREEPER and RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH were noted today at Kingston's Lemoine Point Conservation Area beside Norma Rogers Airport. At Amherst Island, present have been 5 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, 2 NORTHERN HARRIERS, a RING-NECKED PHEASANT and a couple dozen SNOW BUNTINGS.

Monday, March 17:  Spring birds are arriving in spurts as though unsure of their welcome. Can’t blame them as it was minus 17 degrees this morning before light. However, it would appear that WOOD DUCKS are starting to move into the area, albeit slowly. A WOOD DUCK was found in the Napanee River at Napanee today. Another two were seen today at Wellington Harbour where they were joined by at least another 8 species of waterfowl including 75 MUTE SWANS, 100 CANADA GEESE, GREATER and  LESSER SCAUP and a few others. But don’t get too revved up just yet about speeding on down to the Kaiser Crossroad flooded cornfields. The ice in the fields looks as solid as the ice in the Bay of Quinte when I passed over the Norris Whitney Bridge into Belleville today. However, despite the frigid temperatures, some traditionally early arrivals are forging bravely ahead, and appearing anyway. RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS showed up today in Brighton, one along the west end of Victoria Road in Ameliasburgh, and six were at feeders along Sprague Road on Big Island. So far, no COMMON GRACKLES  though, although they have appeared elsewhere in the province. A SANDHILL CRANE flew over Ameliasburgh three days ago, and HORNED LARKS these days are, well – everywhere. As you drive along, anything in the distance that flushes from the roadside are apt to be HORNED LARKS. Twenty-five AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 12 REDHEADS, 2 CANVASBACKS and  6 RING-NECKED DUCKS were among the waterfowl species today at Kingston’s Invista lagoons. Oh, yes – and of course, the resident RED-NECKED GREBE put in its usual appearance there too.  Two adult and one juvenile BALD EAGLES  at the Glenora Ferry crossing, and a second year BALD EAGLE on farther up Adolphus Reach. PILEATED WOODPECKER near Lake on the Mountain, two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS at a feeder along Victoria Road in Ameliasburgh where there are also two male PURPLE FINCHES and one happy female. To see how others are handling this long winter, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, March 16: It is rather dubious if five species of frogs will be calling in collective happiness this week as they were two years ago on this date at Frontenac Provincial Park as we panted and puffed along a 13 km trail in shorts and T-shirts. Cold temperatures continue to have a firm grip on Quinte area waters and this is translating into difficult viewing conditions for birders. This was certainly true at Presqu’ile Park during this weekend’s Waterfowl Festival as observers strained to see ducks out in the ice encrusted waters from viewing stations . One birder today referred to it as the “Everything But Waterfowl Viewing Weekend” as he explored other areas of the park and came up with a RUFFED GROUSE. However, there were a few star attractions including a female RUDDY DUCK and a SNOWY OWL. The supporting cast included hundreds of GREATER SCAUP, MUTE SWANS and  COMMON GOLDENEYES, with  smaller numbers of BUFFLEHEADS, REDHEADS, LONG-TAILED DUCKS, COMMON MERGANSERS and CANADA GEESE.  Four WOOD DUCKS, 2 RING-NECKED DUCKS and  a single CANVASBACK were also pulled in with the spotting scopes. A NORTHERN SHRIKE, first reported almost two months ago on electrical wires along the roadside and railroad tracks, on West Moira Road at Avonlough Road, Belleville, has re-appeared this past week. In January, it was seen on 3 consecutive days.  It's back in the same place, seen this past Thursday, Friday, and again this morning at 10:30 a.m. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  was present early this morning near the west end of Ridge Road, near Bloomfield. A clearer picture of how many WILD TURKEYS are actually present along Caughey Road on Big Island became evident at 7:30 a.m. this morning when the usual 42 were present on the same knoll in the same field. Farther along the same road, another 12 were present in another field, and 24 were scouring the ground beneath a bird feeder at the only residence along that road. Quite the sight. A PILEATED WOODPECKER, 1 WHITE WINGED SCOTER, and a BALD EAGLE were among some of the birds tallied at Kingston Mills on the Rideau Canal today. One birder on his way to Salem on the 401 this afternoon saw a van along the shoulder and a photographer with an enormous lens standing at the back of the van and focusing on something. As the driver got closer he could see it was a RED-TAILED HAWK sitting in a tree a bit higher than eye level and only about 30 ft. away! Considering the lens and the distance away, we can only assume the photographer was getting a close-up.......of its eye!

Saturday, March 15: Is it possible? A few spring birds today? Lots and lots of HORNED LARKS being seen everywhere, mainly along the roadsides. A GREAT BLUE HERON was at the Marshlands Conservation Area today along Front Road in Kingston. A BROWN CREEPER appeared at Cressy on the bay side, along with a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW  at a feeder there. The latter has been there all winter, but still a nice sign of better days ahead. More promising was the appearance of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS at almost every feeder that reported in today, obviously no doubt as to whether or not they were spring migrants.  And at Sandbanks, 36 TUNDRA SWANS flew over, heading for Wellington. These, too, may be wintering individuals from somewhere nearby, and not spring migrants, but still an encouraging sight. Elsewhere, winter is not giving up. Kaiser Crossroad still looks lonely with both wetlands frozen solid. However, 23 hopeful CANADA GEESE were seen standing on the iced over fields, patiently waiting for the water to appear. On Lake Ontario at the southern end of Kaiser, what a change in a week. It’s gone from completely iced over as far as the eye can see to completely open, except of a shelf of ice along the shore. From there, east along County Road 8 and Cressy Lakeside, there were rafts of mixed ducks, 50 – 200 strong, mostly COMMON GOLDENEYES, LONG-TAILED DUCKS and GREATER SCAUP, with smaller numbers of LESSER SCAUP, BUFFLEHEADS, COMMON MERGANSERS and about 100 CANADA GEESE. Sadly, there was just one single RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, a species hard-hit by this winter’s conditions. Also, hard hit were the swans in the Outlet River where several were found dead today. Two big surprises: along Cressy Lakeside; there was a pair of HOODED MERGANSERS and a male WHITE-WINGED SCOTER , a species plentiful in the County but rare at Cressy. At Wellington Harbour, REDHEADS were reported among the growing numbers of waterfowl there. Highlights at Presqu’ile Park’s Waterfowl Viewing Weekend today were a non-breeding plumaged HORNED GREBE and female RUDDY DUCK scoped from Government Dock amongst hundreds of other waterfowl. The waterfowl festival continues tomorrow.  Highlights at Barcoven were a single GADWALL, a RING-NECKED DUCK, 5 TRUMPETER SWANS and 2 AMERICAN COOTS  amongst hundreds of other waterfowl. Highlights from the Invista lagoons at Kingston today included COOPER’S HAWK, AMERICAN KESTREL, 2 CANVASBACKS, 7 AMERICAN COOTS, 150 MALLARDS, a HOODED MERGANSER and 30 GADWALL. Of course, the dependable RED-NECKED GREBE was there again as it is almost every day.  Lemoine Point Conservation Area nearby produced a NORTHERN SHRIKE and PILEATED WOODPECKER, and at Lower Brewer’s Mill Lock on the Rideau Canal, a BALD EAGLE was present today.

Friday, March 14: It doesn’t take long once the weather warms for the water to soften a bit and provide some open areas for waterfowl to gather. Wellington Harbour and the Moira River in Belleville, were both reported harbouring a nice collection of waterfowl. One spot to try according to a West Lake resident is a creek locally known as Kleinsteuber Creek along County Road 12, not far beyond Ridge Road, where a good number of AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS have been all winter. A new spot discovered today was the Napanee River at Strathcona where 20 CANADA GEESE, 16 MALLARDS, 2 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS and one MUTE SWAN were present. This BUFFLEHEAD, doing its best to take care of an itchy neck was there also, and this PILEATED WOODPECKER made an unexpected arrival to be photographed as well. The Kiwanis Bayshore Trail in Belleville  also had some open water where 50 MALLARDS were counted, and a BROWN CREEPER was seen nearby. And from Mark Read’s OntarioBirds listserv report, we learn that ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS  continue to be seen regularly on Amherst Island. At Kingston’s Invista lagoons, the dependable RED-NECKED GREBE is still present as well as the NORTHERN SHRIKE and BELTED KINGFISHER.  Today, an AMERICAN COOT and 200 REDHEADS. PEREGRINE FALCON, MERLIN and AMERICAN KESTREL are all still present in the downtown area of Kingston. Four GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS at the Milhaven ferry dock, a BALD EAGLE at the Lennox Generating Plant, and a SNOWY  OWL near Bath.  A very noisy MERLIN is still present as well at Picton’s Glenwood Cemetery. The immature male and female KING EIDER can still be found at Prince Edward Point, but viewing conditions are now less than ideal with water channels opening and closing daily. The 40+ WILD TURKEYS were still present today on the exposed knoll in a large field along Caughey Road at Big Island. I think they must sleep there, too!

Thursday, March 13: No reports of birds in the immediate Quinte area came in today, so we will head east and see what showed up in the Kingston area. Some of the interesting finds on Amherst Island today included a BALD EAGLE, 3 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, 2 BARRED OWLS, 60 BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES, and 3 RED-TAILED HAWKS. No harbingers of spring in that bunch, except for a lone HORNED LARK. Good winter bird viewing opportunities continue in Algonquin Provincial Park as we head north now,  and some amelioration of temperatures is making birding much more pleasant. According to retired Algonquin Park naturalist, Ron Tozer, PURPLE FINCHES in small numbers continue to be regular at the Visitor Centre feeders. A few RED CROSSBILLS have been reported along Highway 60 and Opeongo Road, and WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS have been seen along both Opeongo Road and the Spruce Bog Boardwalk. Up to 35 EVENING GROSBEAKS have been present at the Visitor Centre feeders. So, if you want to get some of those boreal finches on your year’s list, this might be your last chance. Of course, there are also GRAY JAYS  to be found, and BOREAL CHICKADEES, all species which we seldom, if ever, get to see down here in the Quinte area. And the SPRUCE GROUSE along – where else – but the Spruce Bog Boardwalk. And heading a bit west of the Quinte area, at Presqu’ile Provincial Park, it’s only another day now until the annual Waterfowl Festival. To read what the prospects might be and other birds seen at the Park this past week, have a gander at Fred Helleiner’s Presqu’ile Park Bird Report HERE .

Wednesday, March 12: Not surprisingly, no one was out birding today, unless it was before 9:30 a.m. when the snow and wind started. Which is exactly what I was doing at the far west end of Big Island at 7:30 a.m. when a COMMON RAVEN flew over the west end of South Big Island Road. Caughey Road had the same two rafters of WILD TURKEYS as seen Saturday, except one group of about 20 had found the feeder of the only resident along that road and were all having a good time filling their bellies. Once the horizontal snow started, the rest of the day was a write-off. However, a few sightings from past days did come in, among them this SNOWY OWL at Cressy Lakeside Road  that was busily consuming a female scaup. No other open water anywhere along the North Marysburgh peninsula, except for the Glenora Ferry channel, so winter continues. An owling trip by one party late last night along Arden Road, from Highway 7 to Tamworth resulted in four BARRED OWLS being heard with one actually being sighted, and a GREAT HORNED OWL. Perhaps the 35 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and 12 COMMON GRACKLES  seen at Prince Edward Point early this morning, and several RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS singing and posturing north of Kingston today will see tomorrow arrive with fresh hope.

Tuesday, March 11: Sort of a mix of both winter and signs of spring, as we wait and see what tomorrow brings with the impending snow storm. Pretty good odds that we will get something with a 90% probability of precipitation! I think it was in 2011 when I accompanied a couple of friends on this very date as we hiked the 13 km Tetsmine Trail at Frontenac Park in shorts and T-shirts, while listening to five different species of frogs singing in collective happiness. One volunteer with the Marsh Monitoring Program at Pleasant Bay says her survey stations still have over six feet of snow. At Cobourg Harbour today, conditions and the number of birds have both improved with 24 MUTE SWANS being present, with some new arrivals of CANADA GEESE, 20 REDHEADS and 20 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. Mixed in too were AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, MALLARDS, LONG-TAILED DUCKS, LESSER SCAUP and COMMON MERGANSERS. Also present, a THAYER’S GULL and a GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL mixed in with the RING-BILLED and HERRING GULLS. In a slightly more congested area, Picton’s Glenwood Cemetery Pond had its usual complement of 60+ MALLARDS, 12  AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS and one each of RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, MUTE SWAN and AMERICAN WIGEON.  In Belleville, a SNOWY OWL was present today, and has been for two weeks, near the Wal-Mart store in Belleville. Now, for a positive look on spring, 5 TURKEY VULTURES  were spotted today near Cherry Valley. A very vocal MERLIN was present at Glenwood Cemetery in Picton, calling from one of the pines where this species usually nests every year. There was a BELTED KINGFISHER seen on Wooler Road, and 20 CEDAR WAXWINGS and  RING-NECKED PHEASANT were present on Goodrich Road, south of Codrington. GREAT HORNED OWLS were heard calling before sunrise east of Lake on the Mountain, and again along Sprague Road at Big Island. Despite tomorrow’s forecast, spring is a comin’. Constant streams of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, COMMON GRACKLES and AMERICAN ROBINS  were observed today in southwestern Ontario,  and moving this way!

Monday, March 10: A LONG-TAILED DUCK early this afternoon at the end of Kaiser Crossroad was not in the water in Lake Ontario; it was in the middle of County Road 8 ! It managed to take off okay without needing a liquid runway like most diving ducks require, although it was not in good shape. Just one of the many victims of this winter’s unforgiving conditions as ducks continue to wash into shore dead. There were numerous expired ducks on the ice today at the Lennox Generating Plant near Bath, but this RED-BREASTED MERGANSER was one of many found in the Glenora Ferry Channel that seemed to be doing okay, although this species has been hard hit by the brutal winter too. Also present in the channel were a few LESSER SCAUP. Back at the Lennox Generating Plant, other waterfowl species present today were 8 COMMON GOLDENEYES,  12 CANADA GEESE, 12 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, 5 COMMON MERGANSERS and  14 GREATER SCAUP. At Kingston’s Invista warm water pond, the dependable RED-NECKED GREBE was still present and a couple of REDHEADS, GADWALL, a few RING-NECKED DUCKS and AMERICAN COOTS,  as well as the resident SNOWY OWL. Two RUFFED GROUSE  were flushed at Prince Edward Point yesterday and a rafter of 30-40 WILD TURKEYS were counted north of Milford. A dozen WILD TURKEYS were present in a back yard near Glenora Road, near Chuckery Hill Road. BALD EAGLES seem to be where you find them yet with an adult present at Bath, and another adult and a 2-3 year old juvenile at Adolphustown today. A GREAT HORNED OWL was calling again before light somewhere along Sprague Road at Big Island, near Demorestville. While HORNED LARKS and a plethora of AMERICAN ROBINS are daring to proclaim better weather in the offing, an EASTERN PHOEBE turned up today west of Toronto. Stupid bird – it’s still winter as this GROUNDHOG found out in Prince Edward County today when it peeked its head out to see how things were progressing. Hopefully in a week or two, we can start wandering away from so many waterfowl sightings, and begin reporting bluebirds, killdeers, tree swallows, red-winged blackbirds and all those other good things that suggest spring.

Sunday, March 09: The approaching spring continues to tease birders with changing ice conditions and sometimes, absolute lack of birds. A HORNED LARK along County Road 2 near Wellington offered some hope of better birding days ahead. Elsewhere, some birders went home today on an otherwise perfect day, weather-wise, with few ticks on their checklist.  Ice conditions change in response to the whims of the wind and continue to frustrate members of the binocular brigade. Today, the ice had all but completely sealed Presqu'le Bay – not good news with the Presqu'le Waterfowl Weekend coming up this Saturday and Sunday. Conditions were better at Wellington Harbour where seen by others, were a single male REDHEAD, 80 MUTE SWANS and COMMON GOLDENEYES. The Glenora Ferry channel had COMMON GOLDENEYES and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. Also present here, and more or less expected most days, were BALD EAGLES. One birder counted six – one adult and five juveniles. One Picton area birder travelled to Kaiser Crossroad today, because that`s what birders are programmed to do when March arrives,  expecting to find waterfowl in the flooded corn fields. But, alas – only ice and deep snow and nary a goose or duck anywhere. However, 50 SNOW BUNTINGS were present and four HORNED LARKS and a distant COMMON RAVEN. Other noteworthy sightings included a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK consuming prey in a Belleville backyard, and a MERLIN with hopes of doing the same in a backyard near Lake on the Mountain.  A SNOWY OWL was seen along Gilead Road today, near Bloomfield and another was seen at Wellington Harbour.  

Saturday, March 08: An adult BALD EAGLE was spotted on Shannonville Road, just south of Blessington Road, two days ago late in the afternoon.  Meanwhile, a new member of the Kingston Field Naturalists, Bonnie Bailey of Camden East, got these photos of two CANADA GEESE in flight  and a LONG-TAILED DUCK in the local area. At the Lennox Generating Plant, she found 5 MUTE SWANS, 50 CANADA GEESE and 40 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. At Glenora Ferry, a few scaup and lots RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS along with a juvenile BALD EAGLE. There was a lone adult BALD EAGLE at Point Traverse, and in the Outlet River, she found two TRUMPETER SWANS among the 30 or so MUTE SWANS. At the Norris Whitney Dam at Consecon Lake, present have been  26 LESSER SCAUP, 2 female COMMON GOLDENEYES, 4 CANADA GEESE and 6 GREATER SCAUP. There was virtually no open water at the Presqu’ile government dock yesterday – the hundreds of REDHEADS one observer saw last week have disappeared. In the immediate area of the lighthouse (but not including ducks further out), there were 18 GREATER SCAUP, 10 BUFFLEHEADS, 18 COMMON GOLDENEYES, 1 RING-NECKED DUCK, 4 LONG-TAILED DUCKS and 60 LESSER SCAUP. Last evening,  a mature BALD EAGLE was seen near Lake on the Mountain. Four dead ducks were seen frozen in the ice at Wellington Harbour  and four dead ducks around the lighthouse at Presqu'ile, so there are still a few casualties of the severe winter happening. Last week there was a MUTE SWAN at Wellington Harbour with a length of fishing line wrapped around it beak and a fishing lure attached. The bird wasn’t seen for a few days and it was assumed that the swan had shaken free of the foreign material, but it, or possibly another in the same fix was spotted yesterday. Keep a lookout for this bird as there are volunteers available who might be able to assist. On a positive note, the COMMON GOLDENEYES near Presqu'ile's lighthouse have started displaying. Spring must be on the way. There was a COOPER’S HAWK in a backyard at Napanee doing some birding of its own. LONG-TAILED DUCKS and scaup were present in the Wellington Harbour today. On Big Island, 34 WILD TURKEYS were counted along the south end of Caughey Road, feeding on a knoll in a field that had become bare, and at the north end of the same road, another dozen were present wandering around aimlessly in deep snow. 

Friday, March 07: MALLARDS, scaup, COMMON GOLDENEYES, MUTE SWANS, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, BUFFLEHEADS and REDHEADS were all seen today on the Moira River and in Wellington today. Nothing else came in today from the local area, except for a MERLIN in Belleville, so I will borrow some sightings from Mark Read’s report from the Kingston area that he posts regularly on the OntarioBirds listserv. At Invista today in Kingston,  RED-NECKED GREBE, present since February 18th is still present as of today. A male CANVASBACK reported early in the week was a one-day occurrence. RING-NECKED DUCKS and a few REDHEAD are now the norm and at least one NORTHERN SHRIKE is usually easy to locate. A Napanee birder spent some time at the lagoons at Invista and added MALLARDS, 3 GADWALLS, 3 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 3 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, and GREATER and LESSER SCAUP. Also present were a RED-TAILED HAWK and a SNOWY OWL. Also in Kingston, PEREGRINE FALCON, MERLIN and AMERICAN KESTREL were all seen in the city. Moving on to Amherst Island, a minimum of 5 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS   were seen last weekend - the high count this winter. The resident Owl Woods RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER is still being seen near the feeders. North of the city, PURPLE FINCHES and a SONG SPARROW remain regular at a feeder near Elginburg. A BELTED KINGFISHER was seen at Kingston Mills on Sunday and another at Upper Brewers Locks on Tuesday. As the temperatures begin to climb, some of the popular viewing areas for ducks, like Wellington Harbour, are opening up, and waterfowl are looking happier. However, there is a bit of winter left yet and we suppose that it will continue, until it decides that it is finished. To see what spring has to offer, please CLICK HERE.

Thursday, March 06: It was minus 26 degrees this morning at 4:30 a.m., but gradually, conditions are gradually improving  at many of the waterfowl watering holes, although a few are turning up in strange places. A MUTE SWAN on the Black River in Milford seemed to be having a few problems as it sat on the ice all day, and a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER was all alone at a very unlikely spot – a small spring fed pond at the corner of County Roads 5 and 34 near Anderson Farms. This is the same microscopic opening that an ill-fated GREAT BLUE HERON spent a few of his last days a month ago before turning up dead elsewhere. The male RED-BREASTED MERGANSER at the Glenwood Cemetery pond was present again today, also an unlikely spot for this large fish-eating diving duck. The AMERICAN WIGEON was also present there today as well. Five eagles this morning – an adult, a 3rd-year bird and two 2nd-year birds – headed up from Cressy towards Glenora and an independent-minded juvenile was seen flying across the Reach towards Adolphustown. A SNOWY OWL was seen sitting in an oak tree two km west of Wellington and another was present today between Joyceville and 401 at Kingston. Also at Kingston, a NORTHERN SHRIKE along Highway 15 between Gore Road and 401. Yesterday, a MERLIN and a RED-TAILED HAWK showed up at Prince Edward Point, as well as a NORTHERN HARRIER and a GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL. There was a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER along C.R. 7 near Bongard Crossroad in the Cressy area. A BARRED OWL was seen today along the Corridor Trail at Frontenac Provincial Park. Twenty REDHEADS were among the duck species at Kingston Mills today, and among the 10 species of waterfowl at Lower Brewers Mills on the Rideau Canal were 140 COMMON GOLDENEYE, HOODED MERGANSERS and a GADWALL. At Presqu’ile Park, the only two RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER sightings in the past week were along Bayshore Road near Langton Street.  A species that is notoriously susceptible to die-off during severe winters is not one that would be expected here this winter.  Yet surprisingly a CAROLINA WREN showed up on March 1 at a feeder at 40 Bayshore Road and has remained there off and on since then.  Has that bird somehow survived undetected at Presqu’ile all winter, or was it blown in on the south winds of the weekend?  Either scenario seems unlikely.  Along with that bird is a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, and the over-wintering SONG SPARROW at 186 Bayshore Road continues to patronize the bird feeders there. To see this week’s full Presqu’ile Park Bird Report by Fred Helleiner, CLICK HERE .

Wednesday, March 05: An immature BALD EAGLE was one of three eagles seen from Glenora Ferry this afternoon. Always a promising spot to find eagles. A nice spread (also toupee or convocation)  of BALD EAGLES  was seen today, comprising no fewer than 8 birds, flying along Adolphus Reach from Cressy toward Glenora. The Wellington SNOWY OWL was seen in his usual area north of  the village today, but instead of perching on a hydro pole, he balanced nicely on a high spindly branch of a tree.  Many flocks of HORNED LARKS along Gilead, Conley and Belleville Roads and along North Big Island Road today. The channel and surrounding waters continue to open up at Barcovan. Numbers of waterfowl are building with all the usual suspects present. Today there were two RED-NECKED GREBES still in winter plumage. Even Consecon Lake at the Norris Whitney Dam along Highway 33 is beginning to open up a bit from its frozen state a few weeks ago. There were about a dozen scaup (mixed) and 4 MUTE SWANS there. At Kleinstuber Creek along County Road 12 (West Lake Road), the conditions there have allowed dozens of AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS to be present there. While they are doing okay this winter, there are still casualties being reported. A duck of undetermined identity stopped traffic for awhile in downtown Picton, until someone ventured out into traffic and moved it. What species and the outcome is not known. The only other birds of interest was a COOPER`S HAWK in a backyard at Brighton and AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES turning up in increasing numbers at many bird feeders across the region. And the female and immature male KING EIDERS (2) were present again today at Prince Edward Point. 

Tuesday, March 04: Except for a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER at Prinyer’s Cove, no bird sightings came in today, although there was a nice selection of waterfowl at the Glenwood Cemetery Pond in Picton today, including the usual plethora of MALLARDS, a dozen AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 1 MUTE SWAN, the ever present single AMERICAN WIGEON, and a male RED-BREASTED MERGANSER.  There is no need to drive to Algonquin Park this winter to find snow since we have so much here. As here, there have been few signs of spring at Algonquin and winter continues unabated. The Visitor Centre is open weekends, and regular at the bird feeders there have been a number of PURPLE FINCHES, a few AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, and about 45 EVENING GROSBEAKS. A few RED CROSSBILLS have been noted at various locations along Highway 60 and Opeongo Road, where GRAY JAYS have also been seen. BOREAL CHICKADEES have been seen at  the Wolf Howl Pond/West Rose Lake area on Mizzy LakeTrail and the black spruce section along Opeongo Road continue to produce. A SPRUCE GROUSE was observed feeding in a spruce at campsite #1 in Mew Lake Campground  about a week ago. Although infrequently seen in this campground, SPRUCE GROUSE inhabit nearby spruce stands bordering the Madawaska River.  Sunday afternoon , just south of Stirling, an observer came across a BALD EAGLE dining on a carcass with 2 COMMON RAVENS harassing it. As soon as a crowd started to gather the eagle immediately dragged the remains about 100 yards away.  Twelve species of waterfowl were present today in the Invista area (Dupont lagoons). Among the more notable species and numbers were 175 MALLARDS, 2 GADWALL, 45 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 10 REDHEADS, a CANVASBACK, 25 COMMON GOLDENEYE, and 2 AMERICAN COOTS. Three HOODED MERGANSERS and 63 GREATER SCAUP were at Kingston Mills.

Monday, March 03: The immature male and female KING EIDERS that were found at Prince Edward Point on Friday, have been joined by two more. The number of eiders has now increased to four with the arrival of those two females. The four eiders can be seen just northwest of the Bird Observatory. A TURKEY VULTURE  was also in the area. Although conditions in the lake continue to improve, dead waterfowl are still being found. Two dead RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS were seen today in the Outlet River off County Road 18 at Sandbanks Park. At Wellington Harbour, conditions continue to improve there too. Among the waterfowl at Wellington, up to 50 MUTE SWANS have been present, one with a length of monofilament fishing line wrapped around its beak, trailing a fishing lure.  When it’s –20 degrees like it was first thing this morning, it must be difficult to get psyched up about nesting, but an EASTERN SCREECH-OWL  seems to be entertaining thoughts along that line as one was seen today at Demorestville peering out of a nest box which had been installed for a BARRED OWL that had been in the area a year ago. The  SNOWY OWL continues to be seen off and on at Wellington. HORNED LARKS are so regularly encountered now along area roadsides it seems unnecessary to report any further sightings of those. And toward the close of day today, one Lake on the Mountain resident was amazed to see eight BALD EAGLES flap their way past her house along the Adolphus Reach, travelling from the direction of Glenora and heading east toward Cressy, comprising a mix of both adult and immature birds. There was one mild tussle between a mature eagle and a juvenile, but otherwise they seemed to be single-minded about flying to their destination. About 30 SNOW BUNTINGS appeared at  Kaiser Crossroad today, but it may be a few days yet before any waterfowl appear. There is a lot of ice on the fields at Kaiser and no doubt the ponds will be very high – but not any day soon. The snow banks are still higher than a car and there’s a lot of melting that will have to happen before the ponds open up.

Sunday, March 02: This evening, we start in Kingston, and work our way west into Prince Edward County. At Lemoine Point early this morning, a PILEATED WOODPECKER  was seen, but the star of the show was a NORTHERN SHRIKE hunting a MEADOW VOLE. The shrike made numerous attacks, the vole rearing up trying to defend itself, but in the end the vole lost the fight - quite the sight.  There were also 9 WHITE-TAILED DEER along the walking trails. In Napanee, a resident there reported large numbers of AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS, a phenomenon that was also strangely apparent this morning at other bird feeders across the region. Between 40 and 50 were counted at a large feed area at 23 Sprague Road at daybreak. At County Road 28 near Fenwood Gardens, the EASTERN TOWHEE and WHITE-THROATED SPARROW were present again at a feeder there. A PILEATED WOODPECKER showed up at Luck’s Crossroad near Picton. At long last, conditions seem to be improving for County waterfowl. At Wellington, the harbour is opening up. There’s at least 4 times more open water than there was two weeks ago. Two weeks ago, on February 14th, there were 64 MUTE SWANS. 3 COMMON GOLDENEYES, 6 BUFFLEHEADS, 16 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS AND 106 GREATER and LESSER SCAUP. Today there were 64 MUTE SWANS (one, sadly, with a fishing lure dangling from its beak), 15 COMMON GOLDENEYES, 2 BUFFLEHEADS, 3 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, 170 LESSER SCAUP, 70 GREATER SCAUP, 10 scaup too distant to be distinguished, 8 MALLARDS, 1 AMERICAN BLACK DUCK AND 80 REDHEADS. As we have mentioned several times in past reports,  RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS seem to be starving in greater numbers than other ducks. There were two dead RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS in the harbour and an unidentifiable corpse further out on the ice that was attracting the attention of two AMERICAN CROWS and one COYOTE. On a more hopeful note, there was a lot of rivalry going on between the LESSER SCAUP as they jostled for possession of molluscs that each had just brought to the surface. Clearly, REDHEADS are arriving in great numbers (as they are at Presqu’ile) and are concentrating wherever there is open water. Reports from New York state indicate that many scaup overwintered on the Finger Lakes, since they were unable to find open water in this area. The increase in numbers of both species suggests that they are now returning to Lake Ontario. At the Glenora ferry dock, there was a similar radical change in the composition of the ducks exploiting this narrow channel of open water. On February 14th, there were 8 COMMON GOLDENEYES, 8 GREATER SCAUP, 16 LESSER SCAUP and 4 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. Today, there was a single female COMMON GOLDENEYE, a single male GREATER SCAUP and 14 LESSER SCAUP close to the ferry dock. Spread out in the open water of the ferry route were over 70 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, while an immature BALD EAGLE cruised overhead, looking for dead ducks. The concentration of RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS was a surprise and suggests that this species, which is in trouble elsewhere in the County, is finding good fishing here. As the ice opens up in many other areas of the County, notably at Prince Edward Point, the other species may have found more productive feeding grounds elsewhere.

Saturday, March 01: Cold and relentless it is this winter as waterfowl continue to starve, literally falling from the sky onto parking lots, driveways and streets. One observer today found a lone scaup duck on the ice very close to shore at Sandbanks, with no open water in sight. As the duck was approached, it flew about 30 metres and crashed. Other birds, like a TURKEY VULTURE seen north of the Wallbridge-Loyalist Road/401 intersection in Quinte West,seem to be faring quite well, perhaps even thriving on the carcasses of those ducks that have died.  Early this morning one bird feeder along County Road 28 near Fenwood Gardens hosted 6 CEDAR WAXWINGS, 2 AMERICAN ROBINS, 1 WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, and AMERICAN CROW and an EASTERN TOWHEE .  Despite the weather, Kaiser Crossroad, 15 km east of Lake on the Mountain, is gearing up for the annual arrival of birders at its wetlands, albeit keeping with a winter theme.  A check there today revealed 100 SNOW BUNTINGS foraging for grit around the pig farm. Also present were 6 WILD TURKEYS. A BARRED OWL was at Lemoine Point Conservation Area at Collins Bay yesterday, and 2 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS were found today at the Marshlands Conservation Area along Front Road in Kingston.

Friday, February 28: We start off this evening’s report with a couple of raptors – one seen on Sunday, and the other seen today. A NORTHERN GOSHAWK showed up along the Bayshore Trail near the foot of Foster Avenue in Belleville. A bit smaller, but no less impressive, was an EASTERN SCREECH-OWL  that surprised one person gathering wood from his shed today along County Road 1, not far from Bloomfield. More COMMON RAVENS  in Napanee today. It is getting to the point now where ravens in the Bay of Quinte region aren't even newsworthy, they are becoming so commonly seen. Yesterday, a SURF SCOTER  was seen at Sandbanks Provincial Park, but that sighting was easily surpassed by a pair of KING EIDERS at Prince Edward Point, observed close to the shoreline just north of the harbour. The male was a juvenile (first winter). Also present were hundreds of GREATER SCAUP, COMMON GOLDENEYES, LONG-TAILED DUCKS and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, along with smaller numbers of COMMON MERGANSERS, BUFFLEHEADS and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS. Another observer later in the day found an adult BALD EAGLE. The HARRIS’S SPARROW continues to be found along County Road 18 near Cherry Valley, but today was located a bit further south along the same road at a neighbour’s home with an active feeder. At Amherst Island, a NORTHERN HARRIER  continues to be seen on the island as do a couple of ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS and a NORTHERN FLICKER. Seen occasionally is a SHORT-EARED OWL. In Kingston, at Invista, a SNOWY OWL is still seen at the edge of the lagoon as are up to 2 NORTHERN SHRIKES. Kingston’s resident PEREGRINE FALCONS  are still being seen downtown, and along Front Road, 15 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS were observed at the Marshlands Conservation Area, one of the males actually singing its spring song. Can it be....? RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS are having it rough this year with several having turned up on driveways and in the middle of the road in Prince Edward County, while in Kingston, at Portsmouth Harbour, a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER there was being consumed by a SNOWY OWL. 

Thursday, February 27: Despite no let up in the wintry weather, waterfowl continue to make use of whatever open water they can find. At Wellington Harbour, at least 30 other REDHEADS areFriday present along with 100 mixed scaup, 20 COMMON GOLDENEYES, a half dozen MALLARDS, a female RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, 8 CANADA GEESE and 15 MUTE SWANS in the open water of the harbour proper and in the channel. Other flocks of geese, swans and ducks are scattered in two or three areas of open water a bit further east in West Lake. In Belleville, waterfowl there were a bit more protected from the elements today with 10 CANADA GEESE, 30 MALLARDS, 3 COMMON GOLDENEYE, 2 COMMON MERGANSERS and a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER seeking shelter in the Moira River along the Parrot Riverside Trail behind the stores along Front Street, near the trail’s north portion. Hawks are still having a good time at local bird feeders. A COOPER’S HAWK at West Lake hit the jackpot when it captured an unsuspecting GREY SQUIRREL (black morph) and made off with it. A NORTHERN HARRIER is seen almost daily along South Big Island Road and a COOPER’S HAWK is a regular every other day at 23 Sprague Road, averaging a MOURNING DOVE each time, while the MOURNING DOVE flock of 40 seemingly increases! Along Luck’s Crossroad, near Picton, MOURNING DOVES are also in good supply with 26 present today and an impressive 30 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES. A lone WILD TURKEY was among three that sauntered through the backyard at the same address at a brisk pace like they were late for an appointment. At Presqu’ile Park, RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS, present all winter, have been seen at least twice.  A COMMON RAVEN was at the calf pasture.  AMERICAN ROBINS and CEDAR WAXWINGS have also been present all winter and both have been seen this week.  A SONG SPARROW and a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW have both survived the winter at least until this week.  On three different days, a HOUSE SPARROW, never common at Presqu’ile, has been seen at 83 Bayshore Road. To see Fred Helleiner’s complete Presqu’ile Park Bird Report for this week, CLICK HERE .    

Wednesday, February 26: Wellington Harbour is once again showing signs of better days ahead for waterfowl as it was open a bit today. However, waterfowl in what would appear to be a starving state, continue to experience problems due to the harsh weather. One duck was seen being carried away by a SNOWY OWL today in Wellington.  In Picton, a male RED-BREASTED MERGANSER was found sitting on an icy driveway where the homeowner was able to throw a towel over it and take it to the Glenwood Cemetery pond, the only open water to be found anywhere nearby. One wonders if the female COMMON MERGANSER that was there yesterday had also been released there as the shrinking pond in downtown Picton seems like an unusual spot to find either of the two merganser species. One West Lake resident found a male RED-BREASTED MERGANSER  sitting in the middle of County Road 12 near the Tambo gas bar. The bird was skin and feathers and could only shuffle, and it was taken to the finder’s home where it was introduced to their bathtub. “He has eaten all my ice fishing minnows with great skill!” The bird will be released in the nearby Outlet River once its strength returns. Faring a little better is a rafter of 30+ WILD TURKEYS along Big Island’s Caughey Road where they were present today, and have been seen off and on since mid December. Also present there today, but closer to North Big Island Road were 14 HORNED LARKS and a few more have been seen along Victoria Road. Spring is just around the corner! A wintering WHITE-THROATED SPARROW  continues to be a regular at a feeder along County Road 7 at Cressy. It looks like the winter will continue as it has with nothing in the way of boreal finches showing up this winter at feeders. Nomadic AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES show up in varying numbers according to the whims of the bird, with highs of 25 reported from some feeders and only two or three at others. There were about a dozen at a Brighton feeder today. No SONG SPARROWS yet, although they should soon start to appear once the first RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS show up. And if this weather continues, that will be a few days yet! On another note, it’s hard to get psyched up about frogs with two feet of snow on the ground, but I would like to remind everyone that I will be holding my annual Community Wildlife Monitoring workshop (Marsh Monitoring Program and FrogWatch Ontario) Monday  evening at Quinte Conservation, commencing at 7:00 p.m.  This valuable program provides insight into the health of our Bay of Quinte watershed and volunteers are always needed to survey wetlands. As well as the Bay of Quinte proper, I cover a wide area from Kingston and Wolfe Island, west to Cobourg and north to Highway 7, so if anyone is interested in taking part in these areas, certainly come out to the program Monday evening. Chocolate cookies are always a given at my workshops! For more information on the workshop, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, February 25: These TRUMPETER SWANS are more or less permanent fixtures at Barcovan at the Weller’s Bay Channel area which is beginning to improve in as much as available water is concerned. There were over 100 MUTE SWANS there today, along with four adult TRUMPETER SWANS, one of them a juvenile. Another observer later in the day counted eight TRUMPETER SWANS. Also present there today were a few REDHEADS, scaup, CANADA GEESE, and AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS.  Wellington Harbour is open with a good mix of COMMON GOLDENEYE, MALLARDS and a few CANADA GEESE and scaup.  Further out there was a good concentration of ducks along the ice edge. At the Glenwood Cemetery pond in Picton, a new arrival there today was a female COMMON MERGANSER which joined the 60+ MALLARDS, dozen or so AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS and a single AMERICAN WIGEON. At Wellington today, a SNOWY OWL flew down the length of one resident’s back yard (which backs onto the Wellington Harbour), settling at the top of a tall maple tree on the eastern side of the channel until a pair of COMMON RAVENS harassed it. One raven perched underneath the owl, the other swooped overhead repeated   until the owl took off toward Lake Ontario with both ravens following. RED-TAILED HAWKS  were seen today along May Road (2), and one along nearby Fry Road. Fifteen HORNED LARKS  were encountered along May Road, a positive sign that other early spring migrants may not be far behind. Although an EASTERN TOWHEE reported recently at a feeder at Mountain View has disappeared, it, or another appeared a short distance away at a feeder along County Road 28 near Fenwood Gardens, joined by a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW. Also present has been DARK-EYED JUNCO (Oregon form) that has been around since mid-January. Another of the Oregon race was present today at a feeder along Fry Road. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was at a feeder this morning in the Barry Heights area of Trenton. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was seen this afternoon north of Barcovan. In Kingston, a single RED-NECKED GREBE continues at the Invista lagoons, and up to five AMERICAN COOTS have been present also.

Monday, February 24: The season’s first KILLDEER turned up in the Millhaven area yesterday – certainly not a very wise arrival, considering the amount of snow and ice still around, and the typical March weather that is yet to come. And another bonus yesterday, the HARRIS’S SPARROW that showed up near Cherry Valley last December, is still around. Do I dare mention another SNOWY OWL sighting? One was seen at 7:00 a.m. near CFB Trenton. It was watched for five minutes as it hung around on the ground from a distance of about five metres from someone’s home. An adult BALD EAGLE  was seen again today at the Glenora Ferry crossing, a good spot to check out if you are looking for these large raptors. Despite the amount of ice in the lakes, the waterfowl migration seems to be proceeding anyway. The number of REDHEADS  (20) and CANVASBACKS (4) seen 10 days ago from the government dock at Presqu’ile Park rose today to 300 and 12 respectively. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was present at the western end of Gardenville Road near Carrying Place today, and another was present this morning at Crofton along Highway 62. Judging from recent reports, it would seem that PURPLE FINCHES are enjoying some sort of movement as small numbers are starting to show up at several feeders across the region, the most recent sighting from Belleville today of two males. Also present there at the feeder, one WHITE-THROATED SPARROW. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS  at feeders along Fry Road, Caughey Road (Big Island), Waupoos and Wellington). A TURKEY VULTURE was seen at Cherry Valley. Singing along Babylon Road were some 100 AMERICAN ROBINS and a very optimistic WINTER WREN. A YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER and 3 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS  were also encountered. Observer Tyler Hoar added that COMMON RAVENS  were all over the place and he recalled the days not so long ago when one sighted south of the Canadian Shield would have been noteworthy. Now, they are nesting in Prince Edward County.

Sunday, February 23: Sort of a mixed bag in this evening’s report. Starting with yesterday, CEDAR WAXWINGS and RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES were two of several species seen at Presqu’ile Park. RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES (2) were also tallied today at Kingston’s Lemoine Point Conservation Area, where BROWN CREEPER, NORTHERN SHRIKE and RED-TAILED HAWK were also observed. Among the waterfowl and other species seen at Invista (Dupont Lagoons) were 20 GADWALL, 2 AMERICAN COOT and a SNOWY OWL. Also in Kingston, a GLAUCOUS GULL turned up today at the Wolfe Island ferry dock. Near Codrington today, this RING-NECKED PHEASANT was gorging itself under a backyard feeder for about 30 minutes. A possible LONG-EARED OWL was heard in Napanee a day or two ago, and on Big Island, a GREAT HORNED OWL was calling before light this morning. From Prince Edward County, only two reports came in today. The Glenora Ferry channel had a nice assortment of ducks including scaup, mergansers and COMMON GOLDENEYE, all of them accustomed to the regular passes of the ferry in the narrow channel, simply moving to each side of the channel with each passing. At Sandbanks Provincial Park, where there is some waterfowl action in the Outlet River bridge, off County Road 18, present today were COMMON MERGANSERS, RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, COMMON GOLDENEYES, GREATER SCAUP, MUTE SWANS, and even a female BUFFLEHEAD. A female NORTHERN HARRIER was seen on Highway 62 at Matthie Road, near Bloomfield. Still some good stuff at Algonquin Park for anyone interested in doing some birding back there. Up to 45 PURPLE FINCHES have been seen at the Visitor Centre feeders, and up to 60 EVENING GROSBEAKS. The Visitor Centre is open only on weekends. Tomorrow evening's Quinte Area Bird Report will not be posted until the following morning.

Saturday, February 22: “Birding at this time of year is an act of desperation,” commented one birder today, and he is quite right. There are no dependable areas as they can change daily, with the weather. Mainly, birds are where you happen to find them.  BALD EAGLES -  two adults and two immatures, were seen on the ice at Shenendoah Road, east of Northport. They circled around an ice fisherman before landing on the ice.  There was a MERLIN at Wellington yesterday and two TURKEY VULTURES circling above Picton’s Glenwood Cemetery, of all places. The ornamental pond at Glenwood continues to harbour varying amounts of waterfowl, depending on the amount of  water that hasn’t frozen overnight. Today, there were about 40 MALLARDS, a handful of AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, a MUTE SWAN and, of course, the two resident ASIAN GEESE. Some refer to them as Asian, others claim they are Japanese Geese and others have identified them as Chinese Geese, all of which are very similar. Personally, after listening to them, they seem to have a distinct Mandarin accent. At East Lake, there is a CAROLINA WREN that wanders back and forth along County Road 18 beside the Sandbanks Park boundary and a VIRGINIA OPOSSUM that has been seen in the same area all winter, was seen again two days ago at a feeder. A BELTED KINGFISHER  was spotted today along Bedford Road, north of Sydenham. At Big Island, there is a flock of AMERICAN ROBINS, numbering fully 80-100 that can be seen most days at the west end of South Big Island Road. At Goodrich Road near Codrington today, two male PURPLE FINCHES showed up as well as a RING-NECKED PHEASANT in the same area, near a creek. A BLUE JAY there, according to the resident, is doing a super job imitating hawks and even an evening grosbeak. At the Quinte Conservation Area in Quinte West, a NORTHERN FLICKER was seen. And at Presqu'ile Park today, a few highlights included a GLAUCOUS GULL, COMMON RAVEN, 700 REDHEADS and 500 GREATER SCAUP.

Friday, February 21: An adult BALD EAGLE was seen today  in the Plainfield area, north of Belleville, and has been hanging around now for about a week. Another adult BALD EAGLE was seen late this afternoon heading east over Sprague Road at Big Island. With the temperatures warming up, conditions are looking better at some of the traditionally popular waterfowl viewing areas. At Wellington Harbour today, there was lots of waterfowl including MUTE SWANS, COMMON GOLDENEYE, scaup, BUFFLEHEAD and LONG-TAILED DUCKS. There was an AMERICAN KESTREL on Belleville Street in Wellington, a block from the Highway 33/Main Street intersection. Further on, two large flocks of SNOW BUNTINGS along the same road, in the Swamp College Road area, where the resident SNOWY OWL was once again seen today. Promise of more spring like conditions came with the sighting of a half dozen HORNED LARKS in the Allison Road area of Big Island where 3 WILD TURKEYS  were also seen. In the Odessa area, an EASTERN TOWHEE has been present for a few days. In the Napanee area, 14 HORNED LARKS showed up as well as 25 WILD TURKEYS  and a RED-TAILED HAWK. A RED-NECKED GREBE  was found yesterday at Invista (Dupont lagoons) in Kingston. SNOWY OWLS are becoming harder to locate on Amherst Island, according to Mark Read who submits a regular report to the Ontario Birds listserv, though at least two are regular are on the ice on the way over. A NORTHERN HARRIER on 19th is the first for a while and a couple of ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS continue. Good numbers of RED-TAILED HAWK are spread across the island and a NORTHERN FLICKER has been seen on a couple of occasions. As elsewhere, AMERICAN ROBINS seem to be on the move and are being seen in higher numbers - 92 were encountered on 19th. Roving flocks of SNOW BUNTINGS can be found in several areas and the odd HORNED LARK can likewise be found.

Thursday, February 20: There is a fellow at Cobourg who feeds waterfowl as they congregate at Cobourg Harbour. Many will argue that we are interfering with Nature. Others will disagree. It depends on your point of view and no answer will be correct. Should we not interfere with the natural processes of survival of the fittest in one of the worst winters in recent years, or do we lend them a helping hand? Whatever the answer, the practice does connect us with Nature, and very few will argue that there is anything wrong with that in today’s troubled society. An update on the Barcovan situation. Two very weak swans were taken to the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee, but died. At least 15 swans had died, in total. It is not known if the two or more resident TRUMPETER SWANS  were among the casualties. The Centre emphasizes that everything is under control, but crowds need to be kept to a minimum to avoid stressing the birds during their recovery. Two BALD EAGLES were seen today along Adolphus Reach in Prince Edward County, and a dozen WILD TURKEYS were found in a field across from the Diamond J Ranch riding stables along Glenora Road, and two more were seen along County Road 7 near Lake on the Mountain. A good sign of spring was the sighting of HORNED LARKS at Benway and Closson Roads in Hillier. The RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER that was at 102 Bayshore Road at Presqu’ile Park today might be the same individual that has been visiting 186 Bayshore Road rather irregularly.  A COMMON RAVEN was calling near Jobes’ woods.  The time is right for the first HORNED LARKS to appear, and there is a bit of bare ground at Owen Point on which they might settle after crossing the lake.  Two AMERICAN ROBINS and a dozen CEDAR WAXWINGS were seen today.  The over-wintering SONG SPARROW at 186 Bayshore Road continues to be seen. For the full Presqu’ile Bird Report by Fred Helleiner, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, February 19: Belleville resident Kenzo Dozonovisitedt Presqui'le Park, just as the sun was rising over Lake Ontario a couple days ago. The mercury in the thermometer hovered at –27 degrees ! “Cold is beautiful,” he exclaimed. “The winter scenery was just magnificent with sunrise light.” He probably wasn’t thrilled though with today’s temperatures which rose considerably, stimulating a flock of more than 30 AMERICAN ROBINS along Sprague Road to burst into spring song. More in keeping with the winter scene was the dependable SNOWY OWL which is still present along County Road 2, north of Wellington. This winter continues to result in considerable mortality among birds. No further word on what’s going on with the swans  at Barcovan – primarily MUTE SWANS with at least two TRUMPETER SWANS, and the high mortality that is occurring there (20 reported dead), presumably from starvation, although one other macabre explanation also has been offered. An unidentified swan that was found off Peat’s Point 10 days ago, was found in the same spot again today, dead. Having better luck obtaining food was a vey happy COOPER’S HAWK, chasing down ROCK DOVES at the Belleville Home Depot store. Bird feeders across the region are still doing well, despite the abundance and persistence of Accipter hawks this winter. Even  few RED-TAILED HAWKS and NORTHERN HARRIERS have joined the fracas at feeding stations. The regular birds expected at this time of the year continue to be, well – regular, but lacking, of course, are the winter finches from the boreal forests, like the redpolls, crossbills, etc., due to an abundant food source there holding these boreal specialities on home turf.  A feeder at Big Island seems to hold the record this winter for the most AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS, at 40+ some days, although 25+ is more the norm. Two COMMON RAVENS  were seen today at Napanee, one being harassed by 3 AMERICAN CROWS. Other than 6 TRUMPETER SWANS, a PILEATED WOODPECKER and a BALD EAGLE  at Chaffey’s Lock on the Rideau Canal, that’s it for today. Tomorrow's report will not appear until early the following morning. 

Tuesday, February 18: Lots of snow, lots of wind, a few birds, and even a bat, of all things. A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK seen at Salmon Point yesterday has been confirmed, and, in Belleville, a juvenile BALD EAGLE soared over a house in the east end Belleville at 4 pm today, coming from the West and disappearing  in the east.  Early this afternoon, a NORTHERN HARRIER flew over Black Road near Demorestville, and a RED-TAILED HAWK was observed flying over Sprague Road at Big Island two hours later. A wintering BROWN CREEPER  was photographed today at Brighton. Yesterday morning, a Belleville birder  hiked a section of the Grand Trunk Trail just south of Mudcat Lane in Foxboro.  Amid the cacophony of 40 AMERICAN ROBINS, 35 CEDAR WAXWINGS,  50 EUROPEAN STARLINGS and 25 PURPLE FINCHES were a continuing YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER and a beautiful FOX SPARROW.  The NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD and 6 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS can still be found in Corbyville with a bit of searching. Pamela Stagg of Picton, participating this past weekend in the Great Backyard Bird Count, sends this report of her birding adventure in the Prince Edward County and Presqu’ile Park area: “This year was different. There was hardly any open water and the waterfowl numbers plunged drastically. Last year saw 12,000 REDHEADS and this year, just 20. It was like that across the board. Swans were concentrated in high numbers at Wellington Harbour. Some birds just weren’t there, or were there in very small numbers. No SNOW BUNTINGS, even in their favourite places at Kaiser and Cressy Lakeside. Hardly any AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES or cardinals NORTHERN CARDINALS and 1 WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH. COMMON RAVEN numbers continue to increase, with five at Prince Edward Point and smaller numbers scattered around the wilder parts of the county. Can’t remember seeing this many PILEATED WOODPECKERS--  4 in all. BALD EAGLE numbers were nice, with 5 in all. Three NORTHERN SHRIKES and a NORTHERN HARRIER.”

Monday, February 17: You likely would`t know it to see the swans at Barcovan in Wellers Bay, but they are in trouble.  However, the extreme weather this  winter has resulted in many of these swans succumbing to starvation. Anywhere from a dozen to 20 have died and while most of the swans there are MUTE SWANS , there are at least two TRUMPETER SWANS and perhaps some TUNDRA SWANS  as well. According to Sue Meech of the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee, the swans are dying from lack of food, due to the persistent cold weather restricting their feeding area. The Centre has received a high number of starving waterfowl at their facility this winter. The birds are being fed whole dried corn and if anyone is interested in lending a helping hand, whole corn can be obtained quite reasonably from any farm feed store. Normally, we advocate leaving Nature alone, but this winter which just won`t let up has been a challenge to even the hardiest birds. Access to Barcovan is from County Road 64, between Carrying Place and Brighton. An adult BALD EAGLE was seen at daybreak this morning at Presquìle Park and a NORTHERN SHRIKE  turned up in a backyard at Brighton today. In Belleville,  a birder photographer decided to take a look along the river this morning. He started over at the Lion's Club Park on Station Street below the Pedestrian Bridge. At the foot of the rapids there were three female COMMON MERGANSERS, one male COMMON MERGANSER, a male RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, and several COMMON GOLDENEYES. Later, he went over to the parking lot across from the Empire Theatre, and walked upstream to the little backwash behind Westburne Electric. There was a male HOODED MERGANSER with two females, a female RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, and four male COMMON GOLDENEYE courting one female. His next stop was over to the J.B. Corke Footbridge where he found hundreds of MALLARDS, and a few AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS. In Prince Edward County, two other birders found lots of waterfowl activity at the Outlet Bridge off County Road 18 where they found RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, MUTE SWAN, COMMON GOLDENEYE. A BARRED OWL was in Odessa yesterday, and today at Kingston Mills, 50 COMMON GOLDENEYE, 3 HOODED MERGANSERS and 2 GREATER SCAUP were tallied in the open water around the locks. And, if you don`t mind driving a bit, there are four (3 males & 1 female) HARLEQUIN DUCKS at Whitby Harbour. A bit closer to home, 14 PURPLE FINCHES – something of a rarity at feeders anymore – turned up in the Glenburnie area. Several RED-TAILED HAWKS and a PILEATED WOODPECKER were present in the Sandbanks area today, two RED-TAILED HAWKS were seen in a tree together at Allisonville, where there was also a PILEATED WOODPECKER.  BALD EAGLES were seen at Lake on the Mountain (an adult) and at Prince Edward Point (2 immatures).

Sunday, February 16: Hawks and owls in some areas have been having a rough time finding enough food to sustain them. Accipter hawks, in particular, like the SHARP-SHINNED HAWK and  COOPER'S HAWK, seem to be showing up more frequently this winter in backyards. But, we have to wonder what super hawk captured a BUFFLEHEAD  leaving only the head on West Lake? Photographer Eric Caley came upon the gruesome find on West Lake. It appeared to be freshly killed and was in an area that didn’t have open water for some distance, although there is some open water now at Wellington Harbour. There are lots of swans, mergansers, and BUFFLEHEADS (although perhaps now minus one!) Whatever the story, it seems that it is not only the hunter who is having a difficult time, but the hunted as well. Despite it being February, three TURKEY VULTURES were seen yesterday and today – one at the junction of County Road 1 (Schoharie Rd) and McFaul Road at Allisonville, and two today at Woodrous Corners (County Road 10 & 11) between Cherry Valley and Picton. A RED-TAILED HAWK was seen along County Road 10, south of Sandy Hook Road, and the resident SNOWY OWL was seen again yesterday in its usual spot along Oliver Sideroad, east of Deseronto. A NORTHERN SHRIKE  was reported from Bath. At Prince Edward Point today, lots of AMERICAN ROBINS. One estimate earlier this winter estimated their numbers to be in the neighbourhood of 600. With no dearth of either red cedars or buckthorns, there is likely a bountiful crop of fruit from these trees down there to sustain a large population this winter. If planning on visiting Prince Edward Point, it is recommended that you take along a pair of snowshoes if planning to wander off the road onto some of the trails. In the Kingston area, a PILEATED WOODPECKER  was spotted at Inverary, a BALD EAGLE at Lower Brewers Locks on the Rideau Canal, where there was also an AMERICAN COOT. Kingston Field Naturalists member Sharon David who has hosted an EASTERN SCREECH-OWL on Howe Island this winter,  had this to say about some inappropriate behaviour at the site: “In checking the Screech Owl location on my road today, there was a good trail on the property where the Screech Owl tree is.  This is at least the 2nd time that people have trespassed on that property - one being that someone walked up to the tree to knock to get the Screech to show about a week ago. This is unacceptable and although I know the majority of birders abide by the birding code of ethics there are some that do not.” She added that she posted the location so that people could enjoy an easy viewing opportunity, and that it isn’t necessary  to go off the road to get a great photo.

Saturday, February 15: A shy HERMIT THRUSH  was seen on the Hi-Lo Trail at the H.R. Frink Centre, 9 km north of Belleville.  The feeders at the Centre are very active there with common species: AMERICAN ROBINS, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES, CEDAR WAXWINGS, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, DARK-EYED JUNCOS and 2 PURPLE FINCHES. Two BALD EAGLES  did flyovers. One PILEATED WOODPECKER and a  RED-TAILED HAWK at  Three Dog Winery on Fish Lake Road and 50 AMERICAN ROBINS on Gorsline Road were also reported today.  On Amherst Island, present today were 6 RED-TAILED HAWKS, a single ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, 2 SNOWY OWLS, 2 NORTHERN FLICKERS, 12 SNOW BUNTINGS and a fourth year BALD EAGLE. Prince Edward Point seems to have picked up a bit from a day or two ago. Seen from the Bird Observatory today were WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, LONG-TAILED DUCKS, GREATER and LESSER SCAUP, COMMON GOLDENEYE and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. An adult BALD EAGLE was seen in the distance at Timber Island, lots of CEDAR WAXWINGS, and AMERICAN ROBINS beyond count were also encountered. There were 25 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS along County Road 10 south of Picton near Ridge Road, and a pair of COMMON GRACKLES  turned up along County Road 13 at South Bay. At Wellington, the faithful SNOWY OWL is still present along County Road 2, north of the village, and today, had successfully caught a merganser from the lake and had taken it to “its field” to be consumed. The RED-TAILED HAWK at West Lake that had clung to a window screen, was back again today, the feeder birds so accustomed to its presence now, that a BLUE JAY actually landed on its back by mistake, thinking it was part of the tree. Birds are still exhibiting odd behaviour elsewhere too, and turning up in odd places. Today a female RED-BREASTED MERGANSER was found by itself, stomach deep in snow in a backyard on Concession Road 3 at Hay Bay, not far west of the Old Hay Bay Church. And even odder, is a female WILD TURKEY along West Lake Road that continues to wander around the Isaiah Tubbs Resort area as well as the West Lake Terrace (West Lake Nursing Home), roosting on railings, loitering in parking lots and peeking through windows and doors. Ironically enough, the bird was first spotted on Thanksgiving! Behaving more normally today  were several hundred MALLARDS, plus a handful of CANADA GEESE, a few AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, and three male and one female COMMON GOLDENEYE in the Moira River, at the J.B. Corke foot bridge in Belleville. There was also a RED-TAILED HAWK perched (where it often does) in a tree adjacent to the parking area that's across from the Empire Theatre. And, to finish off this evening’s report, one Aiken’s Road resident, between Trenton and Belleville,  has 8 WHITE-TAILED DEER that wander in from a local deer yard to munch on commercial deer pellets. 

Friday, February 14: Happy Valentine`s Day! This seems to be a winter of strange behaviour in birds, attributed likely, in part, to a  relentless and severe winter with lots of snow and ice, and probably a few problems with finding food. Anyway, this RED-TAILED HAWK along West Lake Road near the intersection of C.R. 18, in the Sandbanks area, in pursuit of nothing in particular, was observed flying toward the window of the owner’s house and clinging onto the screen. According to residents Eric & Cathy Caley of West Lake, the hawk roosted for the night in the pines beside their house. They noted that all the regular feeder birds continued eating even though the hawk was only 10 feet away!   In other raptor news, a SNOWY OWL was seen perched atop a utility pole along Highway 37 near Tweed, and three BALD EAGLES  were seen at in trees at Stoco. Waterfowl – at least, finding them – is still an issue in the Quinte area due to lots of ice. Only the rivers offer anything of interest. The Napanee River is still open near the falls at Springside Park with lots of MALLARDS and CANADA GEESE. Two dozen AMERICAN ROBINS were seen near Massassauga Point Conservation Area today. Doubtless many were missed as there have been over 300 in this area in past weeks. At South Bay, two RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS were poking around a feeder there along County Road 13. Outside the general reporting area, a female PURPLE FINCH was at a feeder in Glenburnie, and a COMMON REDPOLL – rare this winter in eastern Ontario – was at Kingston Mills yesterday. On Amherst Island SNOWY OWLS continue,  as well as a couple of 'northern' RED-TAILED HAWKS. A LAPLAND LONGSPUR has been seen and RING-NECKED PHEASANTS are becoming easier to find on the island. The resident TUFTED TITMOUSE, EASTERN SCREECH-OWL and RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS continue to be seen on Howe Island, according to Mark Read who contributes his sightings to the Ontario Birds listserv. Kingston’s Invista lagoon still has good numbers of waterfowl although the diversity in species is reduced. The SNOWY OWL and NORTHERN SHRIKE are still around in that area. Kingston’s resident PEREGRINE FALCONS continue to be seen here and there downtown.  Back in Prince Edward County,  there were two WILD TURKEYS vacuuming up seed under a feeder today on Glenora Road near the horse ranch.

Thursday, February 13: Other than a PILEATED WOODPECKER in a backyard east of Lake on the Mountain, a pair of AMERICAN CROWS mobbing a pair of  COMMON RAVENS over the Metro grocery store parking lot in Picton yesterday, 8 WILD TURKEYS along C.R. 12 at Sandbanks, and an AMERICAN KESTREL along C.R. 11 near Sandbanks, there appears to be no other bird news from the Prince Edward County area for this evening's report. Even the dependable SNOWY OWL along Oliver Road east of Deseronto, failed to appear today. So, we will go to Howe Island, where today, EASTERN SCREECH OWL, PILEATED WOODPECKER and two RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS  were the high;lights today, along with a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and the resident TUFTED TITMOUSE seen yesterday. Of particular interest, and which continues to amaze me, is a report from biologist Tyler Hoar who, with two other birders, travelled to the massive Timmins 9 burn (largest in NE Ontario since 1960) a few days ago to look primarily  for AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKERS. In five hours of surveying over two days covering about 500 hectares around Cache Lake Road and Highway 144 the trio found seven AMERICAN THREE TOED WOODPECKERS, and 29 BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKERS. The latter was the default bird in  the massive burn. Tyler estimated there were probably hundreds to a few thousand woodpeckers currently in the 70 km long and over 39,000 hectare size burn. Speaking of AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKERS, this afternoon  at Presqu’ile Provincial Park, an unconfirmed but fairly convincing report was received of a male and female AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER at 14 Bayshore Road.  They were in an apple tree close to, but not on, two suet feeders.  The birds could not be located subsequently.  The only WINTER WREN sighting since the ice storm in late December was on February 10 at the entrance to Jobes’ Woods.  A few AMERICAN ROBINS have been seen.  The SONG SPARROW at 186 Bayshore continues to visit daily.  To see Fred Helleiner`s full report of this past week`s birds at Presquìle Park, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, February 12: Prince Edward Point can be cold and forbidding on these wintry days, but the location is difficult to surpass for beauty and tranquility at this season of the year. “It's a nice quiet place to snowshoe at this time of the year...absolutely no one around.” AMERICAN ROBINS were present in the area, but that was just about it, compared to May when this same area will be alive with birds and watchers of birds. One photographer was wishing he had his camera with him today on his way to work when he came across an adult BALD EAGLE perched on a large bur oak tree along County Road 17, about two km east of Milford, just at sunrise. The large bird had attracted the attention of 15 COMMON CROWS. Sandbanks Park has several species of ducks on the Outlet River providing beautiful photographic opportunities from MALLARDS, COMMON GOLDENEYE, BUFFLEHEAD, LONG-TAILED DUCKS, GREATER SCAUP and MUTE SWANS. Fresh RIVER OTTER  tracks are seen there daily, but so far, no luck sighting the animal. Near Mountain View, there are two EASTERN TOWHEES. Yesterday, 3 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS  were seen on Bethesda Road near Elmbrook, and fresh hope that spring may be on its way with the sighting of 12 HORNED LARKS between Elmbrook and Picton. Also yesterday, a BALD EAGLE near the Adolphustown side of Glenora Ferry. At Brighton, a COOPER’S HAWK continues to do a little birding in a backyard where 2 NORTHERN CARDINALS, 9 HOUSE SPARROWS, and 14 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES  are regulars at the feeder. A single COMMON RAVEN was along Sprague Road at Big Island again this morning. And in closing, our congratulations to Presqu’ile Park birder and interpreter David Bree of Ameliasburgh for earning the Shan Walshe Award for Excellence in Interpretation. The Shan Walshe Award for Excellence in Interpretation was established to recognize the warm and lasting contribution of Shan Walshe, a park interpreter who spent his career at Quetico Provincial Park. Shan exemplified, through his talents and actions, a personal love of nature and a commitment to natural heritage appreciation.

Tuesday, February 11: A SNOWY OWL was seen just at dusk this evening by on South Side of #64 east of Brighton just west of Boes Road. This species continues to dominate the winter scene everywhere. Fifteen were found on Wolfe Island a few days ago, and there were 11 on Amherst Island, 5 of which were out on the ice along the south shore. Brighton`s RED-SHOULDERED HAWK is still present and was found today on the east side of Ontario Street just north of  Raglan Street. Cold nights have reduced the amount of open water at Glenwood Cemetery`s pond in Picton, but squeezed in there today were 60 MALLARDS, 4 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS and, a new arrival this week, a MUTE SWAN. An interesting issue brought to my attention this evening regarding a feeder  that seems to have a design flaw. The Gazebo Copper Top feeder, manufactured by Wood Stream Canada of Brampton, so far, has captured two MOURNING DOVES. The birds were released unharmed, but the observer is wondering if anyone else has this style of feeder, and if they have had problems.  One observer today, sitting in a lawn chair, observed five species of warblers (yellow rumped, palm, yellow throated, black & white and parula), catbird, cardinals, blue gray gnatcatcher, and two quick visits from a glorious painted bunting....oh, sorry – that report came in from neighbours who are currently in Florida! Those warblers will come soon enough, and this winter will be but a memory.

Monday, February 10: Attesting to the severity of this winter are numerous e-mails that have been received this week regarding the number of hawk species at bird feeding stations, in both frequency and of species that are normally not a problem most years. A NORTHERN HARRIER was perched above the feeders in a backyard on Fry Road. Another NORTHERN HARRIER  was seen today in a yard along Highway 62, near Jericho Road. COOPER’S HAWKS today were seen along Narrow Street in Wellington, and another was seen on Jasper Avenue in Picton, and a RED-TAILED HAWK flew over a motorist’s car on Wallbridge Road in Quinte West near the 401, carrying a ROCK PIGEON in its talons. One birder in Belleville saw a RED-TAILED HAWK slowly flapping its way across the Moira River in Belleville toward the Christ Church Anglican on Coleman Street.There was a co-ordinated attack on the pigeons from both sides of the Church roof by two RED-TAILED HAWKS, one from the east and another from the west. The ROCK PIGEONS  escaped and the 2 RED-TAILED HAWKS sat on opposite ends of the roof for a half hour waiting for the pigeons to return to their roost. Lots of hawk action as poor hunting success for available small mammals forces them to seek out birds as possible prey. Of course, for the Accipiter clan (Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned) whose main diet is birds anyway, the abundance of bird feeders automatically draws this family, but NORTHERN HARRIERS and RED-TAILED HAWKS are usually seen less frequently around bird feeders. Another winter related phenomenon that seems to be taking place is a high number of waterfowl, most which are weakened and thin with lost waterproofing, arriving at the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee. Operator Sue Meech, says the arrivals are mostly HORNED GREBES, but also LONG-TAILED DUCKS, swans,  BUFFLEHEADS and mergansers, and they are being found in odd places, like farm fields and schoolyards. And the trend this winter has been showing up too with other rehabilitators from Toronto to Cornwall. In other news, a GREAT GRAY OWL has been present north of Brighton, but the exact location is not being revealed at the request of the landowner due to the publicity surrounding the bird at Brooklyn earlier this winter, but the sighting has been confirmed. A NORTHERN FLICKER east of Lake on the Mountain and a SONG SPARROW in Wellington rounds out the list of species reported today.

Sunday, February 09: A few reports that came in last night after I posted the day’s sightings a little earlier than usual, involved the sighting of a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER and NORTHERN FLICKER, as well a BALD EAGLE  and 4 PURPLE FINCHES along the old railway line from Harmony Road to Highway 62, north of Belleville. The NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD continues to appear at Corbyville, but the EASTERN BLUEBIRDS at this same location seen eight days ago seem to have disappeared. In Belleville in the Moira River today, seen were 200 MALLARDS and 10 pairs of COMMON GOLDENEYE. At Peat’s Point today near Massassauga Point, two snowshoers out for a stroll on the ice encountered an immature swan (species identity not made) cuddled with its head under its wing in the middle of all the snow. The couple approached as close as 40 feet and it started to lift its head and hiss. The outcome is not known at this time, but there may be an update later. Two Kingston birders birding Prince Edward Point and the Cressy area today had the following  birds to report. First,  from Prince Edward Point: AMERICAN ROBIN  (200 minimum), CEDAR WAXWING (100), MUTE SWAN (1), BALD EAGLE (3),  WHITE-WINGED SCOTER (2 males), GREATER SCAUP (25), LONG-TAILED DUCK (4), RED-BREASTED MERGANSER (5), HERRING GULL (1), SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (1), DOWNY WOODPECKER (1). In the Cressy area, including Rock Crossroad and Kaiser Crossroad, a NORTHERN SHRIKE  was seen along with 1 BALD EAGLE, 150 AMERICAN ROBINS, 50 CEDAR WAXWINGS, 5 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS, 75 COMMON GOLDENEYE, 250 GREATER SCAUP, 30 BUFFLEHEADS, 20 LONG-TAILED DUCKS, 1 RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, 6 COMMON MERGANSERS and a HAIRY WOODPECKER. The two COMMON RAVENS continue to be heard and seen periodically along Sprague Road at Big Island.

Saturday, February 08: It’s snowing again! Bird feeders across the reporting region continue to bustle. A couple interesting stories came in by e-mail today, one involving a FISHER that visits a West Lake backyard where it has been preying of cats. One resident, near Sandbanks, got this photo of the FISHER tracks on his sundeck. Another story, this time, from Kingston involved regular visits from two COYOTES that have been observed eating any bird feed that the home owner spreads out on the ground. Come nightfall, the COYOTES feast on the bird feed on the ground, even getting down on their knees and gorging on the sunflower seed that has been thrown under the branches of a tree. It is during winters like this when it pays to flick on the outside lights to see what’s taking place. Most feeders have COTTONTAIL RABBITS, one feeder has a VIRGINIA OPOSSUM, and feeders in the past at Tweed and Trenton have had FLYING SQUIRRELS at night. So, it pays to keep an eye on the nocturnal clientele as well. COOPER’S HAWKS are taking care of a high population of MOURNING DOVES this winter, with one individual in Wellington returning for seconds today. In Napanee, 20 HOUSE FINCHES are regulars at a feeder on East Street. In Belleville, the Moira River at Station Street contained COMMON MERGANSERS, MALLARDS, and COMMON GOLDENEYE. The Oliver Sideroad SNOWY OWL is still present east of Deseronto. Today it was sitting in a field across from Civic Address #650. SNOWY OWLS continue on Amherst Island, as well as a couple of ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK. A COMMON GRACKLE was seen on 2nd but has not been seen since. RING-NECKED PHEASANT, RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER and NORTHERN FLICKER were all reported last weekend from Owl Woods. In Kingston, according to Mark Read’s OntarioBirds listserv report, The Invista Lagoon continues to hold waterfowl in good numbers but diversity this week has been reduced. Up to 3 SNOWY OWLS have also been seen there and the NORTHERN SHRIKE continues. Lemoine Point also has NORTHERN SHRIKE, as well as AMERICAN KESTREL and a pair of RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, the latter rather scarce this year. The city's resident PEREGRINE FALCONS have become regular at their traditional haunt and can often be seen controlling the feral pigeon population. Both SONG SPARROW and WHITE-THROATED SPARROW continue at a private feeder on King Street West.

Friday, February 07: An adult BALD EAGLE was seen today circling above the beer store in Trenton. At Barrie Heights, north of Telephone Road at Trenton, a RED-TAILED HAWK is a regular on one property where it has been watching the feeders with great interest that have been swarming with birds these days, including 25 GREY SQUIRRELS and 2 RED SQUIRRELS; hence, this evening’s feature photo. Not sure about the weather north of the “County Line”, but it has been zero visibility with heavy, blowing snow since noon which might explain why few reports came in, on top of which our e-mail has been down since 4:00 p.m., although my gmail account and Internet access have been fine. Obviously, it goes without saying that business at bird feeders today, at least, down our way, has been brisk. It bears repeating that during these stormy days, which seem to be daily, it is important to stock those feeders with high quality food. And we’re definitely not talking budget feed that can be obtained from big box stores under the guise of bird feed which contains such an absurd mixture of ingredients that a serious evaluation of the contents is almost farcical. These attractively packaged feeds are all but useless, but the copious amount of wheat and oats they contain are great for attracting house sparrows and pigeons! . Big box stores are interested only in moving product so no care is given to the ingredients. We need to buy our bird feed from reputable suppliers like farm feed stores and bird specialty stores that are in business to provide a quality product and who value customer input as to the correct ingredients. Locally, there is Picton Farm Supply, County Farm Centre, Thrasher Feeds in Belleville and bird specialty stores like The Birdhouse in Wooler and A Place To Perch (closed for the season but will reopen in the spring at a new location). There are other good places too, to buy bird feed – at least a couple in Napanee. Of course, for readers of this daily blog, it’s like preaching to the converted as only those who don't take their bird feeding hobby seriously will ever think they are getting a deal by budget feed shopping. Since this daily bird report is followed by birders from well beyond the Quinte area, I would welcome your input as to your favourite retailers in your area. Always good to have a list of them on hand.

Thursday, February 06: The only bird reported from Prince Edward County today was an adult BALD EAGLE on the ice along the Glenora Ferry crossing. Another BALD EAGLE- in fact, two – were seen today along Crookston Road, west of Tweed. One Belleville resident donned his snowshoes this morning and trekked out to Gull Island at Presqu’ile Provincial Park and was rewarded with a SNOWY OWL that was waiting for him, perched on a duck blind. At Presqu’ile Park today, The male RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER at 186 Bayshore Road has not been seen for three days.  Two NORTHERN SHRIKES were seen in the Park, one on Gull Island and the other near the beach 2 access road.  AMERICAN ROBINS and CEDAR WAXWINGS continue to hang around in the general vicinity of the calf pasture.  Today was only the second time this year that the SONG SPARROW at 186 Bayshore Road has not been seen.  The WHITE-THROATED SPARROW continues to appear at 85 and 90 Bayshore Road. To see the full Presqu’ile Park Bird Report for this past week by Presqu’ile Park resident, Fred Helleiner, CLICK HERE.

 Wednesday, February 05: Have I included a photo of a SNOWY OWL on this web page before?   : – ) All kidding aside, this has been a fantastic winter so far for the species, the heaviest irruption in eastern Ontario in 40 years. One was seen yesterday at West Huntington along Highway 62, just north of Sills Road.  The owl has been seen in the area of Donnandale Farms for the last three weeks. Other than two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS Not the best day to be out birding for sure, although several observers mentioned how busy their bird feeders were today during the storm. And busy with hawks, too. A Brighton feeder had both a COOPER’S HAWK and a RED-TAILED HAWK today, and a COOPER’S HAWK did a few unsuccessful passes at 23 Sprague Road, Big Island.

Tuesday, February 04: In this evening’s report, we go to Barcovan where 4 TRUMPETER SWANS were seen mingling with a hundred or so MUTE SWANS. Barcovan can be every bit as good and, often better, than Wellington Harbour for attracting waterfowl. The sand bar is an extension of the Bald Head Peninsula that runs for six kilometres from the Stinson Block west of Consecon. The south four kilometres of the sand spit is the Wellers Bay National Wildlife Area and has been in the news in recent years due to the possible presence of unexploded ordnance dating back to when the peninsula was used as a bombing range. The sand spit separates Wellers Bay from Lake Ontario.  Access to Barcovan is via County Road 64 which runs between Carrying Place and Brighton. Good spot to bird at this season of the year.  A COOPER’S HAWK and a RED-TAILED HAWK were about the only species seen during a Brighton resident’s FeederWatch today as the hawks were doing a little birdwatching of their own, and keeping the nervous clientele  on high alert. An immature BALD EAGLE was seen today at Cape Vesey, east of Waupoos, tearing apart a duck carcass while two COMMON RAVENS waited patiently below for any meagre scraps. At Sandbanks Park (Outlet sector) a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was seen a few days ago. AMERICAN ROBINS at Peat’s Point near Massassauga Point and 16 WILD TURKEYS feeding in a harvested corn field along the short north/south stretch of the road of Bethel Road near Demorestville were other notable sightings. High numbers of AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES  continue to visit a Luck’s Crossroad feeding station near Picton where a brazen SHARP-SHINNED HAWK posed outside a living room window.

Monday, February 03: It’s mostly about raptors his evening, starting with this MERLIN that turned up on County Road 1 in Prince Edward County. And I had to throw in an AMERICAN ROBIN just to remind readers that it is only one of hundreds of robins in the Quinte area this winter. The Brighton RED-SHOULDERED HAWK on Ontario Street was seen again today where it has been for almost a month. SNOWY OWLS  today  at Presqu’ile Park, Sandbanks Park at the Fosterholm vegetable stand at the four-way stop, one along Swamp College Road, and the dependable individual on Deseronto’s Oliver Sideroad had some more interested viewers today. A GREAT HORNED OWL was calling at Big Island this morning around 4:30 a.m., and a BARRED OWL was seen today in the Point Traverse Woods. The only owl that did not cooperate today was the GREAT GRAY OWL at Wellington, despite searches by at least three birders. Moving along now to hawks, two RED-TAILED HAWKS were seen along Highway 49, just north of Picton and several were noted along 401 in the Napanee/Deseronto area. East of Lake on the Mountain, a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK there has become fixated on juncos and reducing their numbers by one a day. And a juvenile BALD EAGLE was seen at Prince Edward Point.  Now, down to NORTHERN SHRIKES with an individual being seen today at Moscow, north of Yarker. With slightly warmer weather having an impact and softening up the water a bit in local bays and lakes, a few sightings of waterfowl are being made. Lots of open water at Wellington where MUTE SWANS, COMMON GOLDENEYES, scaup, and female BUFFLEHEADS were tallied today. Only a few MUTE SWANS and a lone COMMON MERGANSER at Prince Edward Point. And at the bird feeders, 45 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES are regulars at a Luck’s Crossroad feeder, southeast of Picton. Fifteen WILD TUIRKEYS were seen just west of Marysville. The VIRGINIA OPOSSUM reported at East Lake three weeks ago, is still around, and was seen again today.

Sunday, February 02: Well, in case you were wondering, the Cherry Valley HARRIS’S SPARROW is still alive and well, despite freezing rain, snow squalls and high winds this past month or so. First seen December 22nd by the property owner who lives in New Jersey, and came to the summer home to spend Christmas, the bird initially showed up when she threw some seed on the ground to see what might be around. It was the first to take the bait. Much to her delight yesterday, the HARRIS’S SPARROW again turned up at the feeder, looking as chipper as ever. The property owner suspects it has been eating at other feeders in the area, as it went right for the suspended feeder, rather than spending all its feeding time on the ground  the way it did during the two weeks she hosted it over the holidays. So, not only has it survived, it has learned a new trick too!   She cautions though that there is not much point looking for it this time as there is way too much snow to make spotting it easy from the road, plus her contractor is actively  working at the house and there will be a lot of activity and noise during daylight hours for the next while.   Highlights in Corbyville today were a BALD EAGLE, AMERICAN KESTREL, 8 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS and a continuing NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD. The Oliver Sideroad SNOWY OWL was present again today east of Deseronto. The owl was hunkered down in the field to the east, 75 metres away. After some wing stretches and an evil eye in the direction of several AMERICAN CROWS that circled and flew away, the bird flew directly toward the observer and to its perch. Good views and photos CAN be had with patience, and the observer adds with tongue in cheek – “no bait required”. The bird is fairly lightly marked with brownish barring and is apparently fairly consistent if you want to see one up close. A “flock” of five PILEATED WOODPECKERS was seen at Sandbanks Park a few days ago by a cross country skier.

Saturday, February 01: According to the observer, this SONG SPARROW was “walking in a polar vortex wonderland”. It certainly seems to be strutting around with some purpose anyway. The SONG SPARROW and the MALLARDS were found together at the foot of Foster Avenue, at the bayshore in Belleville. Also seemingly out of place for the weather we have been having were two EASTERN BLUEBIRDS  today at the corner of County Road 5 and Fry Road, north of Picton. Three were in the same spot yesterday. At Point Petre, 150 AMERICAN ROBINS were seen dotting the radar field, and another 100 were seen on County Road 17 about a kilometre from Black River. For other birds, this winter has not been kind. The EASTERN SCREECH-OWL seen two days ago on Swamp College Road, north of Wellington, was found dead and in an emaciated condition. Faring a little better is the GREAT GRAY OWL, seen yesterday at its usual station at the Fields on West Lake event Centre east of Wellington, and the SNOWY OWL on Oliver Side Road that was seen again today. The lighter SNOWY OWL of those that have been present in the Wellington area, was present again on Swamp College Road where a RED-TAILED HAWK was also seen. The latter species was also seen today at Presqu’ile Park in the Owen Point and Gull Pond area. Also seen there was a NORTHERN SHRIKE, and a COYOTE  was seen hunting out on the ice on Popham Bay. Yesterday, a BARRED OWL was seen at Owen Point. A couple of SNOWY OWLS continue on Amherst and a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was seen there a few days ago.  NORTHERN SHRIKE, SNOW BUNTING and AMERICAN KESTREL are regularly encountered on the island but deep drifting snow has prevented access to the owl woods this week. LONG-TAILED DUCK, COMMON GOLDENEYE and RED-BREASTED MERGANSER can be found in a small area of open water on the southeast shore. While the weather would seem to dictate otherwise, what might be the first “spring” migrants may have arrived with the sighting of four HORNED LARKS yesterday at Ameliasburgh.

Last Updated ( Apr 23, 2014 at 09:37 PM )
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