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Quinte Field Naturalists PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Jan 25, 2015 at 06:00 AM
Q.F.N. logoThe Quinte Field Naturalists Association, an affiliate of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists is non-profit organization sponsoring nature education, conservation and research. It was founded in 1949 and incorporated in 1990, and encompasses the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward. The Quinte Field Naturalists Association is legally entitled to hold real estate and accept bequests

Outing with Dr. Irwin Brodo. Photo by John Wilson In 1949, a small group of birdwatchers got together and decided that the Belleville area needed a naturalists club. Unlike today, there were very few nature clubs in Ontario, and those that did exist, were all located in major cities of the province. The keen interest of the fe members remained, and the newly formed "Brown Thrasher Club" made it through those early years to become the group that it is today, and the name was eventually changed to the present Quinte Field Naturalists.

Today, the group is made up of naturalists interested in a wide variety of natural history subjects, from birds and insects to plants, and even astronomy.

* for information on our next meeting, and to read the monthly newsletter,  please scroll down further on this page *

Quinte Field Naturalists Executive 

  • President: George Thomson   613-478-3205
  • Past President: Wendy Turner 613-966-1518
  • Vice-President: Phil Martin 613-395-3246
  • Corresponding Secretary: Elizabeth Churcher  613-478-3205
  • Recording Secretary: Bernadette Hymus
  • Treasurer: Douglas Newfield  613-477-3066
  • Environmental Officer & Publicity: Denice Wilkins  613-478-5070
  • Outings & Newsletter: John Blaney  613-962-9337
  • Membership & Mailing: Marge Fisher  613-968-3277
  • Newsletter: John Blaney  613-962-9337
  • Social Convener: Sharron Blaney  613-962-9337



  • maintain a web page on the NatureStuff website
  • publish a newsletter, The Quinte Naturalist
  • provide financial support to worthwhile programs
  • participate in volunteer programs and events like the Marsh Monitoring Program, Loggerhead Shrike Monitoring, and the Baillie Birdathon 
  • attend regular regional Ontario Nature meetings
  • hold seven meetings a year with guest speakers on current topics of interest
  • organize outings to local sites to observe nature
  • conduct the annual Christmas Bird Count
  • Dec. 27/14 Christmas Bird Count Results CLICK HERE


Single:  $25.00, $40 a couple    

Contact the Q.F.N. treasurer Doug Newfield at:
161 Thrasher Road, R.R. # 1, Plainfield, Ontario  K0K 2V0 
Telephone:  613-477-3066     E-mail:

Memberships begin in January of each year

A QFN Membership offers:

Hike with Dr. Irwin Brodo. Photo by John Wilson- Monthly Meetings (Sept. - Apr. ) with stimulating speakers, challenging nature quizzes, friendly conversation and refreshments.

- Colourful, Informative Newsletter ( Sept. - Apr. ) outlining events and featuring articles on the flora and fauna of Hastings and Prince Edward Counties and local environmental concerns. * Now online! * (see below)

- Periodic Field Trips with an experienced leader to observe and learn more about birds, wildflowers and other natural wonders. Destinations are mostly local but may be as far afield as Algonquin Provincial Park. Night-time owling is an adventure not to be missed.

- An Opportunity to Spend Time with Others who share an appreciation for all aspects of the natural world and a love of the outdoors regardless of the season.


Meetings are held on the fourth Monday of every month from September through April in the Sills Auditorium at the Bridge Street United Church in Belleville

Our Next Meeting ! !

Pamela StaggSpeaker: Pamela Stagg

Topic: "A Walk on the Wet Side"

Date: Monday, January 26, 2015

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Location: Sills Auditorium, Bridge Street United Church, Belleville

The benefits and inhabitants of wetlands will be explored on a virtual hike with Pamela Stagg, Naturalist and radio host of The County, Naturally. 
Looking ahead to upcoming Meetings

Feb. 23: Ewa Bednarczuk Natural Wonders of the Trent River Valley
Mar. 23: Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre, Saving our Living Dinosaurs
Apr. 27: Terry Sprague, (annual Supper meeting) Reflections on a Career in "Nature Stuff"


    For upcoming outings, Contact John Blaney at 613-962-9337 or e-mail  


To view, click the link below

2015 Newsletter

January, 2015 Newsletter

2014 Newsletters

January, 2014 Newsletter

February, 2014 Newsletter

March, 2014 Newsletter

April 2014 Newsletter

September 2014 Newsletter

October 2014 Newsletter

November 2014 Newsletter

January, 2013 Newsletter

February, 2013 Newsletter

March, 2013 Newsletter

April, 2013 Newsletter

September, 2013 Newsletter

October, 2013 Newsletter

November, 2013 Newsletter

2012 Newsletters

January, 2012 Newsletter

February, 2012 Newsletter

March, 2012 Newsletter

September, 2012 Newsletter

September, 2012 Newsletter (addendum)

October, 2012 Newsletter

November, 2012 Newsletter





After a career working in an urban world of business, Cliff and his wife, Heather, retired to 113 hectares along the Moira River near Roslin. As they discovered the beauty and diversity of their new home, they evolved from simply owners of property to stewards of the land, from casual interest in their new surroundings to concern for the conservation of the land. Hear the inspiring story of their transformation and take a photographic journey with Cliff as he shares his enthusiasm for their land – from old growth forest to wetlands and alvar habitats. He will also regale us with their adventures discovering the life and habits of their beaver neighbours.

.Cliff Maclean Cliff Maclean












Cliff Maclean is thanked by QFN president George Thomson


 Denice WilkinsDenice Wilkins




















QFN Environmental Office Denice Wilkins promotes the ICU project (Incubation Care Unit) for turtle hatchlings, to protect them from predators like foxes and raccoons. The ICUs have proven very popular.

(all above photos by Terry Sprague)


Last Updated ( Jan 25, 2015 at 03:58 PM )
Quinte Area Bird Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Jan 24, 2015 at 06:00 AM

Northern Cardinal. Photo by Cathy Caley Northern Cardinal. Photo by Cathy CaleyTHE QUINTE AREA BIRD REPORT


with sightings from the Bay of Quinte region, and beyond



Please e-mail your sightings directly to   Terry Sprague

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

Common Redpolls. Photo by Keith GregoireSaturday, January 24: It was all about numbers today. This flock of COMMON REDPOLLS (photo by Keith Gregoire of Belleville) represents only a fraction of the flock that passed in front of his camera on Gull Island at Presqu’ile Park today. He estimated the flock to contain fully 250 birds! So, get ready – the Redpolls are coming to a feeder near you. If you are lucky, your Redpolls that you may have now in twos and threes, may explode to double digit numbers. Also in numbers today were MUTE SWANS at Barcovan at Wellers Bay. Some 200 were estimated to be loafing there in the photo below taken by Keith Gregoire. Also present were 40 CANADA GEESE, 3 TRUMPETER SWANS, 8 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 20 LONG-TAILED DUCKS, 2 COMMON GOLDENEYE, and an immature BALD EAGLE. At Presqu’ile Park, a few more numbers – 100 LONG-TAILED DUCKS, 20 BUFFLEHEAD, 80 COMMON GOLDENEYE, a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER and 3 MUTE SWANS. From 12 to 15 SNOW GEESE flew over the Oak Hills, south of Stirling, yesterday. Also present in the area, both GREAT HORNED and BARRED OWLS. Along Hamilton Road today, off Wallbridge/Loyalist Road, a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK and a RED-TAILLED HAWK were seen, and 3 adult BALD EAGLES flew over the village of Bath today. Along County Road 14, near the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville, three female PURPLE FINCHES and an AMERICAN ROBIN  were seen. A female HOUSE SPARROW  Mute Swans & Canada Geese. Photo by Keith Gregoireshowed up at a feeder along Sprague Road, the first of that species to be seen at this address since 2002 when 12 appeared for a few days at the feeders. On Big Island, the HOUSE SPARROW  seems to be a 'Species of Concern’. Who would have thunk? At a Napanee feeder, 18 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES and 4 COMMON REDPOLLS were at a feeder there, and the immature RUSTY BLACKBIRD returned for an encore at our own feeder on Big Island. On Victoria Road in Ameliasburgh where the ravens and eagles roam, there was a nice variety of raptors there again at the usual spot where it is suspected that a carcass of some sort may be present in the area. Only five COMMON RAVENS were in the area and a single BALD EAGLE  this time. Later, more eagles appeared and the total number was eight with one adult bird in amongst them. The eagles leave the area about noon after presumably feeding at the food source. Also in the area, a male NORTHERN HARRIER was soon followed by a light morph ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK being harassed by a COMMON RAVEN. Two RED-TAILED HAWKS sat in a tree nearby watching the action.

Friday, January 23: Wanna see a HOARY REDPOLL, or two? Two have been present all week at the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre feeder along with from 5 to 11 COMMON REDPOLLS. Make it a day field trip and seek out the GRAY JAY there, and others that have been present at the Spruce Bog Boardwalk and along Opeongo Road. While there, don’t forget to look for the BOREAL CHICKADEE. Two or three have been present near the suet feeder along the Spruce Bog Boardwalk and one was found a while back along Opeongo Road near Cameron Lake Road. Closer to home, the Wooler YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER is still coming regularly to the feeder at The Birdhouse store, and was there again today. Among the regulars at the Goodrich-Loomis Conservation Area feeders and nearby trails, north of Brighton, were RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, and 40 DARK-EYED JUNCOS, PILEATED WOODPECKER and a COMMON RAVEN. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW  was also seen there. In the Fox Pond, on the east side of County Road 40 (Wooler Road) beside Telephone Road, there was a small area of open water containing about 100 CANADA GEESE, and later in the day, 35 MALLARDS and 2 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS. In Prince Edward County, at least 3 TURKEY VULTURES continue to huddle close together in a grove of conifers along Rogers Street. Today, the three vultures were sipping water from a backyard pond. Occasionally seen flying over Fry Road, it would appear that these vultures are going to remain for the rest of the winter, provided the food supply holds out. Given today’s automobile traffic, roadkills won’t be hard to find. Today, a HORNED GREBE fell from the sky at Demorestville, and was taken to the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre to be examined. Given how the little tyke snapped at my finger, he was a long way from death yet. And hopping on down to Kingston, RED-TAILED HAWK and a PILEATED WOODPECKER  were checked off at the Lemoine Point Conservation Area beside Norman Rogers Airport today.  And  not far from there, 14 COMMON REDPOLLS  at a feeder on Lakeland Point Drive. AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS are flocking at many feeders while at others, they tend to be all but absent. 

Thursday, January 22: What do you call a flock of BALD EAGLES? Especially when there are 11 of them? The BALD EAGLES today  were all immatures, and were spotted in the same location where BALD EAGLES  and COMMON RAVENS have been spotted in the past. The observer related that upon arriving  he noted nine COMMON RAVENS  lazily soaring on a thermal. Driving onto the property, there were another six Ravens and two BALD EAGLES in a field. As the eagles flew off, others seemed to materialize and they flew about and started to soar. Soon there were eleven BALD EAGLES, all subadult. There is definitely a food source in the area but this is not accessible. After about ten minutes all the birds had dispersed. This sighting represents one of the larger gatherings of eagles inland in Prince Edward County. In Wellington, a GRAY CATBIRD was sighted in one backyard, certainly an impressive sighting at this time of the year. At Belleville, east of Haig Road, a GREAT HORNED OWL was heard calling. It’s that time of the year when these early birds start preparing for nesting. At Amherst Island today, some interesting raptor sightings involving 2 SNOWY OWLS, 12 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS and 6 RED-TAILED HAWKS.  In the Belleville area, at least 3 RED-TAILED HAWKS were reported, according to a text received this evening, and 30 WILD TURKEY were counted in a field east of the city. Near Wilton, a FLYING SQUIRREL has become a nocturnal visitor to his bird feeder. Me – I just have COTTONTAIL RABBITS at night. The weekly Presqu'ile Park Bird Report by Fred Helleiner for this week has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website and can be viewed by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, January 21: When you’re driving around these days, it pays to keep your eyes peeled for birds in unlikely places. A RUFFED GROUSE was found near the 4-way Stop sign at Sandbanks along County Road 12. Also spied in the same general area were 6 WILD TURKEYS – all Toms, all with long beards. Also a RED-TAILED HAWK there too. Another observer today spotted a TURKEY VULTURE  cruising over Fry Road, likely one of the group of 10 that had been overnighting in a conifer grove behind 12 Rogers Street in Picton. Two RED-TAILED HAWKS  were seen by one motorist along 401 between Napanee and Belleville. Also at Sandbanks Park today, another two birders checked out the area around the old Lakeshore Lodge site, finding a number of NORTHERN CARDINALS, WHITE BREASTED NUTHATCHES and a couple of AMERICAN ROBINS. There were about 15 LONG-TAILED DUCKS out at West Point and a PILEATED WOODPECKER flew by as well. Another PILEATED WOODPECKER  was seen near the Sandbanks Dunes Day Use area. The 10 or so COMMON RAVENS that hang around the barns on Victoria Road in Ameliasburgh  were there again today and they socialized and were observed playing in the updrafts created by the barns. Today two BALD EAGLES were in the area - an adult and a subadult. At many feeders in that area, it was noted that COMMON REDPOLLS now outnumber AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES and PINE SISKINS are now scarce. The redpolls are coming! According to Jean Iron and Ron Pittaway (Ron does the annual Finch Forecast), Redpoll numbers are increasing as winter advances. Late winter is often the best time to see the largest numbers of Redpolls and this year is fitting that pattern. Also, they say,  we are entering the bottleneck period when diminishing natural seed supplies are at their lowest. Watch for Redpolls to increase at feeders. HOARY REDPOLLS (subspecies exilipes) are being seen regularly in flocks of COMMON REDPOLLS. "Greater" COMMON REDPOLLS (rostrata) have been seen west of Sudbury, which is the large more northern subspecies. On Big Island, flocks of HORNED LARKS, numbering around 25 each, were seen today along Allison Road, as were 3 COMMON RAVENS and a MERLIN. At the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee today, an injured MERLIN from Kingston was admitted, along with an emaciated MUTE SWAN with “bad breath” (usually meaning infection). At Amherst Island today, seen were SNOWY OWLS, AMERICAN KESTRELS and RED-TAILED HAWKS. And in Belleville, the Moira River yielded COMMON GOLDENEYE (13) in two different locations, and 20 HOUSE SPARROWS were noted at Staples along Bell Blvd.  - getting to be a “species of concern” in some areas. A RED-TAILED HAWK was seen on Station Street. Other waterfowl species seen on the Moira River in Belleville were CANADA GOOSE (9), AMERICAN BLACK DUCK (3), MALLARD (156), BUFFLEHEAD (2), RED-BREASTED MERGANSER (1). And completing our bird report for today is Lemoine Point Conservation Area in Kingston which produced a BARRED OWL and a SNOWY OWL. If you want to learn more about the various species and sub-species of Redpolls that you should be on the watch out for when the predicted swarms arrive, Ron Pittaway and Jean Iron have prepared an absolutely excellent photo article on Redpolls which can be seen by CLICKING HERE.

Tuesday, January 20: Except for the resident SNOWY OWL seen at North Beach again today, no one seemed to be out birding today in Prince Edward County, or anywhere in the general Quinte area. A bit sad because we have had some really great weather and walking conditions. A SNOWY OWL was seen today on Amherst Island. Haven’t heard anything for several days about the SNOWY OWL that had been a regular in the Wellington area. Has anyone seen it lately? Another SNOWY OWL was seen today at the Taylor Kidd Industrial Park near Bath. The observer said there were lots of RED-TAILED HAWKS and ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS along Taylor Kidd Blvd. A BALD EAGLE  was seen at Glen Ross and several RED-TAILED HAWKS were noted on Bronk Road off Thrasher Road in the Plainfield and Blessington area today. Open water is a little hard to come by in some areas, but one birder passing through the Ivy Lea Bridge area today said there was lots of open water on the St. Lawrence with plenty of COMMON GOLDENEYE taking advantage of the conditions. At Napanee’s Springside Park, the Napanee River near the falls contained 8 CANADA GEESE and 6 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS today. Few PINE SISKINS have been reported at any feeders in the Quinte area lately, but at Kingston, 9 were seen at the Kingston-Beechgrove complex near Portsmouth. One area that I have enjoyed birding at in past years has been Thickson’s Woods at Whitby. Recently available has been The Birds of Thickson’s Woods by Phil Holder and Margaret Bain which documents the 313 species seen there, with full colour photographs of each species, including their status, and the specific dates of the rarities seen. Information about this book is on my website, by CLICKING HERE.

Monday, January 19: Mostly about raptors this evening as only a few reports came in today. A SHARP-SHINNED HAWK was photographed today at West Lake enjoying lunch with Blue Jay À La Carte as the main dish. On Victoria Road today, a male NORTHERN HARRIER, a 2nd year BALD EAGLE and two RED-TAILED HAWKS. In the Kingston area, 2 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS and a WINTER WREN at the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area. And I am afraid that’s it on an extremely poor day for bird reports.

Sunday, January 18: A PILEATED WOODPECKER  was at the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area today. The immature RUSTY BLACKBIRD spent the entire day at our feeder on Sprague Road, Big Island, and brought a friend along – a male BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD. At Wellington, a BROWN THRASHER was seen yesterday at a feeder. COMMON REDPOLLS  continue to make us optimistic that numbers will increase. The high numbers seen earlier at Algonquin Park’s Visitor Centre feeders have decreased considerably which might mean they are making their way to the Quinte region. Eight COMMON REDPOLLS  were at a feeder east of Bloomfield near Mallory Road. It seems like a good location as up to 30 DARK-EYED JUNCOS, 20 BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES and 15 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES have been among the clientele there. At Cressy Lakeside Road, there have been about 50 CANADA GEESE and about 100 swans, assumed to be MUTES although TUNDRA SWANS had been there earlier in the season. A lone immature BALD EAGLE was patrolling well offshore. No reports came in from Wellington to determine if any open water appeared with today’s warm temperatures although it is doubtful as the channel, West Lake and Lake Ontario have been entirely iced up. However, up to 20 LONG-TAILED DUCKS have been visible from the lighthouse at the end of the west jetty. Yesterday, at Glen Ross, north of Frankford, a BALD EAGLE  winged its way over the heads of two observers. Friend and naturalist Mike Runtz will be giving a lecture on the Beaver in Ivanhoe a week from Thursday, so if you are free that evening, you should plan to attend as Mike is a humorous and dynamic speaker. More details by CLICKING HERE.

Saturday, January 17: Must be some weather coming as bird feeders were hives of activity today. At our feeders, AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS, DARK-EYED JUNCOS and MOURNING DOVES came in unprecedented numbers, which in turn, attracted the attention of a  COOPER’S HAWK. The best bird though was toward the end of the day when, at 4:00 p.m., a RUSTY BLACKBIRD  appeared and remained until darkness fell. The activity was much the same at a Wellington feeder where high numbers of MOURNING DOVES and DARK-EYED JUNCOS were reported, along with a PINE SISKIN, RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER and a possible CHIPPING SPARROW. Things were a bit slower at Prince Edward Point today where the only birds of note ended up being a single WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, BALD EAGLE and 25 CEDAR WAXWINGS. At Presqu’ile Park, 80 to 100 COMMON REDPOLLS were seen, and a BALD EAGLE. At the Bird Sightings Board feeder, the PINE WARBLER was present again as well as a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH. Yesterday at Presqu’ile Park, a HERMIT THRUSH was seen by the viewing station at the lighthouse. Along the Newcastle Trail, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES fed from open hands and RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS were heard. West of Stirling, observers there found 30 SNOW BUNTINGS foraging in a field with some sheep. Just a reminder  that The Friends of Presqu’ile Park are sponsoring the annual Soup Hike again on Feb 14th this year.  They offer a walk and then come back for a slide talk and a bowl of soup in the maintenance building  (ambience lacking but company good).  This costs $5/person and $8/family and books up quickly. This includes entry to the park.  If you are interested call 613-475-1688 x2 and leave a message to book a spot.  Volunteer Tone Careless will get back to you with details.

Friday, January 16: Some interesting sightings today, starting with an EASTERN SCREECH-OWL at Milford. Also seen in the same area today by two birder/photographers, Kassandra Robinson and Jeff Moore, in addition to the Screech Owl, was an adult BALD EAGLE and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER. The latter species – a female – has been visiting a feeder at South Bay for the past week or so. A pair of RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS  have been among the guests at a feeder along County Road 10, about four kilometres south of Picton. While at a residence today, east of Lake on the Mountain, at least two BALD EAGLES, one an adult bird absolutely radiant in the bright sunshine, drifted by over the Adolphus Reach, a popular run for eagles as they make their way to the open water of the Glenora Ferry channel.  Two BALD EAGLES  were seen in the Thrasher Road and Bronk Road area  east of the H.R. Frink Centre (north of Belleville). Another BALD EAGLE  was seen today at the Wolfe Island ferry ramp in Kingston. And more BALD EAGLES – this time four in a single tree at Presqu’ile Park. Also seen there was a LONG-EARED OWL, said to be along the path leading back to Paxton Drive. Another BALD EAGLE  was seen flying overhead and there was a BARRED OWL off Paxton Drive. The wintering PINE WARBLER was seen again today at the Sightings Board feeder, and a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW  also showed up. Back in Prince Edward County, at South Bay, a male and female RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD showed up at a feeder there along County Road 13, and a male is a now and then visitor to a feeder along Sprague Road at Big Island. Also on Big Island, but along Allison Road, 3 COMMON RAVENS are seen regularly, along with a MERLIN.  Today near the Goodrich-Loomis Conservation Area, north of Brighton, 2 EVENING GROSBEAKS  were seen and heard along Goodrich Road and a FOX SPARROW  has been at a feeder at the conservation area. Leslie Abram of the Codrington area who is a frequent contributor to this Bird Report, sent a number of photos along with an interesting story and, with the material, I was able to create a web page for her on my website. Her page could easily be titled “Pebbled Pellets” You can view it by CLICKING HERE. Good reading.

Thursday, January 15: The YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER is still a regular at a feeder at The Birdhouse store in Wooler, as is a PINE WARBLER at the Bird Sightings Board at Presqu’ile Park. Very hardy birds to survive the frigid weather we just had. At a feeder west of Wellington, a COOPER’S HAWK was seen, but of particular interest was the arrival of 12 COMMON REDPOLLS which is further support to the notion that these popular finches may be finally arriving en masse after most feeder operators seeing them up until now in only small handfuls. At Presqu’ile Park this week, COMMON REDPOLLS seemed to be the most common passerine seen, with 100 being noted off Owen Point. And in Belleville, what started out as two COMMON REDPOLLS at a feeder there on the weekend, it became obvious that they contacted a few friends as 60 bombarded the feeders there today! A COMMON RAVEN swooped low this morning over Highway 62 at Mountain View, coming to rest on the fence along the highway. In Kingston, noteworthy sightings at the Marshlands Conservation Area included WINTER WREN, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK and PILEATED WOODPECKER. North of Camden East, over 80 SNOW BUNTINGS  today. There was a flock of 30 flying west over the fields near Lewisville Drive, immediately west of Wellington seen by two other observers. On County Road 2 between Swamp College Road and Wilson Road a loose flock of about 60 HORNED LARKS  were seen by the two birders in the fields on both sides of the road with some coming onto the roadside and even the middle of the road. Along Huyck’s Point Road, there was a flock of 30 SNOW BUNTINGS flying west over the fields near Lewisville Drive, immediately west of Wellington near noon. Four HORNED LARKS were seen feeding along the side of Huyck's Point Road, and a mature male NORTHERN HARRIER was followed for several kilometres as he glided from fields on one side of the road to the other. More HORNED LARKS, three this time,  along the edge of Pleasant Bay Road and 30 more SNOW BUNTINGS and 20 DARK-EYED JUNCOES  feeding near  the end of Bakker Rd.  Anyone visiting Presqu’ile Park since November has probably noticed that the main road is now paved.  There have also been speed bumps put in.  They are marked with signs but will not be painted until spring so as always please drive cautiously in the park. Also, the Friends of Presqu’ile received a major grant for invasive species removal and have hired some of our seasonal staff to continue the removal of the Scots and Red Pine in the panne habitats.  Cut trees are being stock-piled in the beach parking lots and trails for chipping so if you are in walking it may be a bit more difficult to move around – these should be cleared by the end of the month. Speaking of Presqu’ile Park, Fred Helleiner’s Weekly Bird Report has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website and can be viewed by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, January 14: BARRED OWLS are still showing up here and there around the Quinte region. But it is luck of the draw if we see one. They’re sort of here today and gone tomorrow. A BARRED OWL  was spotted near the Bay of Quinte between Belleville and Trenton two days ago. Near Lake on the Mountain, a GREAT HORNED OWL was back again in the same backyard where it was first seen a week ago. Also in the raptor category, a Fish Lake resident this morning watched as a MERLIN cleared out the bird feeders this morning. It narrowly missed catching a DARK-EYED  JUNCO, staying around to see if the one hiding in a thorny bush would fly away, both of them less than an arm’s length away from each other but the junco stayed put for some time knowing it was safe among the thorns and the thicket. The junco eventually did fly away and again narrowly missed getting caught as the MERLIN chased it across the yard.  It was quite a performance apparently! At Presqu’ile Park, a SNOWY OWL was seen at Owen Point, where there was also a juvenile BALD EAGLE, a NORTHERN HARRIER and a RED-TAILED HAWK. Also seen there was a flock of 100 COMMON REDPOLLS. Now if those same redpolls would just break up their numbers a bit and start appearing at some feeding stations. Having said that, 40 actually did, appearing at a feeder in Belleville today, one of which could have been a HOARY REDPOLL, judging from the beak. Two signs of spring, although don’t get too excited just yet. A GREAT BLUE HERON was seen crossing over Highway 2 at Wooler Road, settling down in an unharvested corn field northeast of the intersection. Another sign of spring was the appearance of 20 HORNED LARKS at Gilead Road and Morgan Road, just west of Highway 62, near Bloomfield. Could they be migrants this early? Usually, HORNED LARKS don’t make their “spring” appearance until mid-February, but a few always do remain here in the winter. It just seems like a high number for one location. The Victoria Road COMMON RAVENS at Ameliasburgh were present again, but only 10 this time. A flock of 30 SNOW BUNTINGS took off from County Road 5 this morning, north of Picton, in what is locally known as Yerexville. And EVENING GROSBEAKS – fully 18-20 of them – continue to visit a feeder regularly south of Codrington. It has been many years since this species has appeared in appreciable numbers at any feeder.....and stayed.

Tuesday, January 13: Brisk this morning, but birders were out and about. A Napanee area birder found five raptors today on a birding trip to Kingston. Driving on Loyalist Parkway, he saw a  BALD EAGLE in a tree west of Bath and on the east side there was a RED-TAILED HAWK. He had hoped to see a SNOWY OWL, and he did at the Norman Rogers Airport at Kingston. Then in the south parking lot at Lemoine Point Conservation Area, there was an AMERICAN KESTREL trying to keep warm. Not content with his checklist so far, he found a BARRED OWL getting some sun. Also seen were all the usual suspects of winter, along with WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, NORTHERN CARDINAL and CEDAR WAXWING.  While on the topic of raptors, a BALD EAGLE  was seen at Wellington. A birder east of Lake on the Mountain was about to fill her suet feeder this morning when a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER flew up to it. Finding nothing, he fluttered down to the ground where he  happily fed on seeds with the other birds. Two COMMON REDPOLLS are daily visitors to the Niger seed feeder.   BALD EAGLES – one adult and one immature - flying along the shore scouting for fish along the open water were also seen as was a PILEATED WOODPECKER.  Although way up in Markham, it is amazing that a CAPE MAY WARBLER that has been present there for some weeks, managed to make it through the sub-zero temperatures last night. Hosts have thoughtfully constructed a heated shelter for it, and the bird arrived on schedule at 7:30 a.m. this morning for his offering of cut grapes, suet and crushed peanuts! Anyone who has not yet ventured to Algonquin Park to sample the birding there, will be pleased to learn that things are improving. A SPRUCE GROUSE was seen – where else – but along the Spruce Bog Boardwalk, as well as a BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER. GRAY JAYS have been seen here too, as well as at the Visitor Centre, Opeongo Road, and along the Highland Backpacking Trail. The Spruce Bog Boardwalk is also a location where  a BOREAL CHICKADEE has been seen, around the suet feeder. Other species that have been noted at Algonquin this past week have been up to 12 COMMON REDPOLLS and a female HOARY REDPOLL at the Visitor Centre feeders. Two WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS were reported at the Spruce Bog Boardwalk early last week.  

Monday, January 12: Snow flurries throughout the day once again brought – well – a ‘flurry’ of birds to many feeders. Six COMMON REDPOLLS made their debut this morning at a feeder in Napanee. In Wellington, a NORTHERN HARRIER passed through one backyard, while at another feeder in the village, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, 5 HAIRY WOODPECKERS, a half dozen PINE SISKINS and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER were highlights there. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was also at a feeder north of Wellington along County Road 2, just north of Wilson Road on the weekend, where at least 4 NORTHERN CARDINALS, a COMMON REDPOLL, a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and around 20 DARK-EYED JUNCOS also made headlines. East of Lake on the Mountain, both a PILEATED WOODPECKER and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER appeared on a single tree. While not at a feeder, Roger’s Street in Picton had 10 TURKEY VULTURES roosting in the same grove of conifers before they took off for their morning rounds. At Presqu’ile Park, a birder there found 3 BARRED OWLS. At her feeder south of Codrington, a nice sized flock of EVENING GROSBEAKS  are still regulars. Finishing off the roster with some sad news, an injured GREAT BLUE HERON from Kingston that had been brought to the Sandy Pines Wildlife centre has died.  During this past weekend’s mid-winter waterfowl count, one surveyor covering the shoreline from Trenton to Point Petre, commented, “You can't count what's not there and what is there you can't see. The freeze-thaw-freeze cycle of the past few weeks has locked up every west-facing shore. There's about 100 metres or more of solid ice, then a 5 metre tall wall of ice, another 200 or 300 metres of solid ice and finally a couple of hundred metres of lumps of slushy ice. Where you can see beyond all this there's usually not a duck to be seen. Glendon Green boat lunch - frozen, Wellington harbour frozen solid including the passage to the lake. Along the south shore where you can see, there are almost no ducks. There were three places with significant number of waterfowl - Trent River (250 CANADA GEESE), Consecon Creek (275 CANADA GEESE), Kleinsteubers', C.R. 12 (400 MALLARDS). Totals for the count were: CANADA GEESE, 477; AMERICAN BLACK DUCK, 7; MALLARD, 450; COMMON GOLDENEYE, 10; RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, 12; LONG-TAILED DUCKS, 13; BUFFLEHEAD, 1; and unidentified ducks, 15. However, much better luck was had with land birds. Huyck’s Point Road supplied some of the sightings including 3 adult BALD EAGLES, and 100 SNOW BUNTINGS. There were 11 HORNED LARKS on Pleasant Bay Road, an unidentified Accipter species on Huyck’s Point Road, and 3 RED-TAILED HAWKS tallied along the entire route.

Sunday, January 11:  Up at the west end of the County, along Victoria Road, a NORTHERN FLICKER arrived at a feeder there yesterday, and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER has been an infrequent visitor. A RED-TAILED HAWK was seen today along County Road 12 and another was observed along County Road 8 at Rock Crossroad where a BALD EAGLE and 2 COMMON RAVENS were also observed. At Invista (Dupont lagoons) at Kingston, 10 species of waterfowl were present, among them 4 AMERICAN COOT, 4 HOODED MERGANSERS and 35 GADWALL. At the nearby Marshlands Conservation Area, present were a SONG SPARROW and an AMERICAN ROBIN. Anyone looking for waterfowl at Wellington Harbour these days will be somewhat disappointed as everything, at least today, was frozen solid – harbour, canal, beach, everything. One birder visiting Odessa’s Violet Dump (Bin there, Dump that!) commented that there is nothing like spending a couple hours outside the dump gate with a security camera pointed at you ! The sign there says - We like your smile ! All in all, the birder found too many gulls to count (HERRING and RING-BILLED), 28 COMMON CROWS, 18 GREATER BLACK-BACKED GULLS, several EUROPEAN STARLINGS and a RED-TAILED HAWK.  At Morven east of Napanee there were 3 HORNED LARKS (8 were there yesterday).   In Bath, nothing out of the ordinary - 15 or so GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS along with HERRING GULLS, RING-BILLED GULLS, COMMON GOLDENEYE, 1 REDHEAD, CANADA GEESE and MALLARDS.

Saturday, January 10: Lots of good stuff today, despite the snow squalls off the lake, including a  WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW at Camden East, and  a COMMON REDPOLL, one of two, which delighted one resident on the east side of Belleville. A SNOWY OWL continues to be a regular at Wellington, as does one at Pleasant Bay. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER is at a feeder along County Road 10, south of Picton. At a Big Island feeder today, 2 COMMON CROWS dropped in to check out the fare being offered. One spied a discarded piece of cheese frozen to a crust of bread, danced around it a few times, and giving it a couple test jabs to make certain that the strange object wouldn't retaliate. Satisfied that it was harmless, it grabbed the item and made off with it, never to be seen again. At the same feeder on Sprague Road, 24 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS and a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW  were among the seemingly hundreds of birds who responded to the occasional snow squalls. Two intrepid birders made the journey to Prince Edward Point which can be a forbidding destination in weather like this, encountering heavy snow squalls once they reached South Bay. An adult BALD EAGLE was resting in a tree at the bend toward the harbour and took flight as soon as the duo slowed down to take a picture, then a GREAT BLUE HERON rose from the waterside with ice frozen on its feet and headed out toward the lighthouse. There were EUROPEAN STARLINGS clustered in a bush looking rather bedraggled and 2 WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES along the road to the lighthouse. About 100 LONG TAILED DUCKS, 20 GREATER SCAUP and a number of COMMON GOLDENEYE were visible in the icy waves. In the area near the former Ducks Dive Charters, an AMERICAN ROBIN and 45 CEDAR WAXWINGS  were seen in some sumacs. Two very cold looking MUTE SWANS were dodging icy masses along the edge of the lake. Another cold looking AMERICAN ROBIN along Babylon Road. Another GREAT BLUE HERON turned up, this time at the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee as a patient, this one from Kingston. Her legs were literally frozen solid, very ill looking and scrawny but not a juvenile.  At Big Island, up to a half dozen or so COMMON RAVENS  continue to be seen on the eastern half of the island, and two managed to make it up as far as Allison Road today. In the Moira River today at Belleville, seen were the usual CANADA GEESE and MALLARDS, along with a pair of COMMON MERGANSERS and a single male COMMON GOLDENEYE.

Friday, January 09: More snow last night and continuing snow squalls and winds in much of Prince Edward County, at least, this morning. It seems whenever these conditions prevail, the tempo of bird activity at feeders increases. One photo submitted by Luck’s Crossroad resident Patricia Stuckey, of one such flurry in her backyard during the snow depicted NORTHERN CARDINAL, DARK-EYED JUNCO, HOUSE FINCH, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE and a female PURPLE FINCH. The winter weather seems to have had little affect on the wintering TURKEY VULTURES along Roger’s Street, in Picton. Seven were counted roosting in the dense growth of conifers this morning, and others could be seen hiding, so the exact number is still uncertain. Most unusual to have this many TURKEY VULTURES in one central location this late in the season. One has to wonder what these scavengers are feeding on when everything is frozen solid. At a feeder along County Road 12 at West Lake, near Sandbanks Park, eight NORTHERN CARDINALS  were taking turns at feeders there – five males and three females. Also showing up was a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW. Both WHITE-BREASTED and RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES are also regulars at these feeders. It pays to live near Sandbanks. For those who make it a point to bird at Presqu’ile Park during the winter months, the park is officially open all year  and a valid pass is required to be displayed in your vehicle for entry.  Park staff has been ticketing this winter so please buy a pass when you come in from the pay and display machine if you don’t have an annual pass.  Speaking of season passes, the summer (valid April 1st to Nov 30th , 2015) and annual (valid April 1st 2015 to March 31st 2016) are in the office and can be purchased during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) at the office.  Though NOTE during the winter, the office can be closed at any time if staff are working in the park or away for meetings so if you are coming just to buy a pass be sure to give them a call and make sure someone will be there. After April 1st, these passes will be going up about $10.00 so you might want to get in here before then – the majority of passes are sold in March.

Thursday, January 08: High winds, frigid temperatures and snow squalls kept birders at bay today, but a few hardy souls poked their heads out their doors. And, of course, the weather made little difference to those birds who had the weather the weather, whether they liked it or not. T East of Lake on the Mountain, a GREAT HORNED OWL landed in an elm tree and perched there, looking quite magical in the moonlight, especially when a meteor from the Quadrantid showers appeared behind it.  At Trenton, a COOPER’S HAWK came by to check out the prospects of a meal at a backyard feeder, then returned, appropriately enough, at noon, and helped himself to a EUROPEAN STARLING for lunch. North of there, at Richardson Point, between Frankford and Stirling, seven BALD EAGLES – 6 adults and one juvenile – landed on the ice, one of them bringing in a carcass to feast on. At Wooler, a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER is still coming to the feeder at THE BIRDHOUSE store and today it was gorging furiously on suet, so it is expected to be around for some time. Likewise with a PINE WARBLER that continues to be seen daily at the bird sightings board feeder in Presqu’ile Park. Park Naturalist David Bree says that SNOWY OWLS are present again in the park, having first showed up on Nov 9th.  They mostly hang around Beach 3 to Gull and High Bluff islands and eat ducks they catch or scavenge.  If the wind is blowing it can be cold out on the point but the water level is low enough it is was possible to walk to Gull Island with just rubber boots (insulated ones recommended!).  As always though the conditions can change out there quickly and it may have gotten too slippery to walk out there with this freeze-up.  Be cautious if you go! Fred Helleiner’s Weekly Bird Report for Presqu’ile Park has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website and can be viewed by CLICKING HERE .

Wednesday, January 07: Is there another storm on the horizon? Many feeder operators today reported a feeding frenzy at their feeding station. We had 26 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS in the early evening, and AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS  were also reported at a feeder in Napanee where there was also a male BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD. At West Lake, seven NORTHERN CARDINALS – four males and three females – arrived at one time, while previous to today, there had been only one pair.   A COOPER’S HAWK was in a Brighton backyard today, and its cousin, the smaller SHARP-SHINNED HAWK continues to visit a backyard at Cressy although there has been no sign of success on the part of the hawk. At Lake on the Mountain, a parade of BALD EAGLES flew up Adolphus Reach – one fourth year bird, one adult, and two other juveniles. On Victoria Road in Ameliasburgh Ward, at a large acreage with feed barns, there were 16 COMMON RAVENS gathered there by mid-afternoon. They flew around, communicated and foraged a bit in the harvested corn and soybean fields, then took off two by two in all directions. The observer asks, “Is this the equivalent of guys getting together for a coffee at Tim Hortons?” Nearby, a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, seen yesterday, was still present. At a feeder just east of Lake on the Mountain, a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER dropped in for a bit of suet. Although sapsuckers have been present at this address in the past, this is only the third time since 2012 that this species has shown up there in the winter. Not a bad day, considering the cold temperatures and, of course, the depth of snow over much of the Prince Edward County area which hindered efforts to get out and bird.

Tuesday, January 06: It’s hard to imagine as I sit here at my desk on Big Island on the shore of the Bay of Quinte with only a dusting of snow on the ground, barely enough to show a footprint, that a different scene unfolded today in Picton, and even as close as 5 kilometres from where I live. That was the scene in Picton where some 25 centimetres of snow fell today. Needless to say, bird activity was at a high ebb during the storm, and a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK was observed surveying the scene on Low Street in Picton. Nearby, on Luck’s Crossroad, feeders there had 5 NORTHERN CARDINALS, 3 HOUSE FINCHES, 3 COMMON REDPOLLS, 2 DOWNY and 3 HAIRY WOODPECKERS, DARK-EYED JUNCOS, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES and a single female PURPLE FINCH. The heavy snow accumulation has not deterred the Roger’s Street (Picton) TURKEY VULTURES. Several were roosting first thing this morning in a thicket of conifers beyond the backyard, but a number could not be assigned to them as they were so hidden in the dense growth. When I arrived at 9:00 a.m., they had all departed to commence their rounds. In the Carrying Place area, bird numbers had increased as though sensing the impending storm. There were several flocks of 20 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES with some PINE SISKINS  mixed in. One group of 25 HOUSE FINCHES was high compared to population counts elsewhere in recent years. A nice surprise was a hatch year WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW. In Wooler, the YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER  was easy to see at the feeders at THE BIRDHOUSE store.

Monday, January 05: An unspecified number of TURKEY VULTURES are still present every morning in a coniferous growth behind 12 Rogers Street in Picton. In the past, they have been seen circling above some open fields along Fry Road, just north of there. A few COMMON REDPOLLS  are coming to a feeder south of Codrington, but the real treat according to the operator of the feeding station, were EVENING GROSBEAKS which have become regulars, from 15 to 20 individuals. Joining the grosbeaks have been up to 40 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES. Results are now in from the 13th annual Belleville Christmas Bird Count. Although the 13th annual “official” count, the Belleville count under the auspices of the Quinte Field Naturalists has been conducted in one fashion or another since the late 1960s. It has only been in recent years that a concerted effort has been made to better organize it and make the effort for meaningful in terms of coverage, accuracy and results. Compiler John Blaney (of Cape May Warbler fame) say this was probably the best Christmas Bird Count out of the 13 that the group has done. Counters found a total of 9,490 birds of 63 species on count day, December 27th, and one more species during count week (NORTHERN PINTAIL) . The previous high was in 2003 when counters found 54 species on count day and 2 more during count week. The total number of birds is second only to the 12,843 birds found in 2011, another year with considerable open water. To see the results, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, January 04: Remember the “Sedgwick Five”? This has been the name given by birders in the Oakville area for a group of five warblers that first appeared in early December, at Oakville, and are still around. Of course, any warbler at this time of the year is remarkable given that these insectivorous birds, out of necessity, need to migrate south where insects may be found. However, in Oakville, there were originally an amazing six species of warblers (WILSON’S, NORTHERN PARULA, TENNESSEE, ORANGE-CROWNED, NASHVILLE, and YELLOW-RUMPED) at Sedgewick Park. Turns out Sedgewick has a dirty secret. It’s home to a sewage treatment plant. The water is warm from decomposition and is aerated as part of the process. And where there’s warm open water, there will be insects to sustain any wintering warblers. As of New Year’s Day, at least five of these warblers species were still present. While not quite as remarkable as the Sedgewick Five, we are getting our share of warbler species in our area. First to appear was a CAPE MAY WARBLER, first seen November 22nd at a Belleville feeder that managed to hang in there until December 31st, but hasn’t been seen since. Yesterday, a PINE WARBLER was photographed at a feeder beside the Bird Sightings Board at Presqu’ile Park and, today, a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER was photographed by Connie Crowe of The Birdhouse in Wooler. The bird has been around for awhile, but she was only able to get a photo of it today. We can probably blame some of this activity on the relatively mild temperatures and open winter we have had so far.  Getting away from warblers for a moment, the Amherst Island Christmas Bird Count was held on Friday and a few of the highlights noted by one observer were HERMIT THRUSH, many ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, HORNED GREBE, 10 SHORT-EARED OWLS, a BARROW’S GOLDENEYE, COMMON LOON, MARSH WREN, EASTERN TOWHEE, SWAMP SPARROW, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, 4 SNOW GEESE, 1 CACKLING GOOSE and a GLAUCOUS GULL. Three GLAUCOUS GULLS  were also seen in Bath. At Wellington Harbour today, 2 BALD EAGLES  were present at the harbour. At the Tuftsville Wetlands near Stirling, a female RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD was seen and as many as seven COMMON RAVENS have been noted flying over the area. Eleven species of ducks and an ICELAND GULL were among the birds seen today near Portsmouth Harbour in Kingston.

Saturday, January 03: Wisely, birders today did their birding in the morning, before the winds came up and snow started to fall. It proved to be a good decision. A first year female PINE WARBLER was photographed at a feeder near the Bird Sightings Board at Presqu'ile Park this morning. Fall female PINE WARBLERS tend to be very drab, and almost always lack any yellow. The whitish eye-arcs are usually shown by the females. Also note the dark cheeks. Unfortunately, another warbler, the Belleville CAPE MAY WARBLER has not shown up at a Dunnett Blvd feeder since December 31st. During the very blustery weather no birds except EUROPEAN STARLINGS  were able to land on the feeders, and perhaps its inability to eat may have done him in. The AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS  were still along Conley Road, east of Wellington this morning where at least 50 were counted. At Consecon Lake, there are still a few patches of open water where today, 91 MUTE SWANS were seen, along with 8 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 50 COMMON MERGANSERS, 120 CANADA GEESE and 30 MALLARDS. What may have been a PEREGRINE FALCON was seen in the Wellington area, chasing a duck, but the Peregrine’s reputation of being fast on the wing resulted in the bird disappearing from sight before it could be positively identified. Beside Mitchel Road, just south of the 401 and east of Belleville, a BARRED OWL was seen at 9:30 a.m. this morning. Ducks were also having a hard time on Adolphus Reach where 2 BALD EAGLES  were making a few sorties after them. At a feeder east of Lake on the Mountain, a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  is now a regular there, along with 2 COMMON REDPOLLS. Also dropping by twice this week has been a PILEATED WOODPECKER. In Belleville, a COOPER’S HAWK was seen on Airport Parkway where a good sized flock of MOURNING DOVES was also present – 57 in total. Kingston birding today was a little slow, and a  GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET at the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area was the only species of note in that area.

Friday, January 02: Driving lake effect snow recently didn’t deter two wodpeckers – a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER and a HAIRY WOODPECKER – from seeking lunch in a  Wellington backyard. Better weather today and a layer of snow on the ground did serve to bring out the AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS, rather scarce at both feeders and in the rural areas until today. A couple dozen were seen along Conley Road east of Wellington. A NORTHERN HARRIER was seen along the same road chasing ROCK PIGEONS, and along Fry Road today, the resident RED-TAILED HAWK was present again. In the Carrying Place area, one birder noted Corvids (crows, jay, etc.) showings signs of flocking with 25 BLUE JAYS gathered at a feeder, and a nearby field had 14 COMMON RAVENS. Showing some promise of earlier predictions, a nice flock of 14 COMMON REDPOLLS were at a feeder today along Luck’s Crossroad near Picton. In a marsh thicket east of Stirling, a NORTHERN SHRIKE with a sparrow in its beak was seen. On Amherst Island today, a MERLIN was seen, and yesterday at Bath, an ICELAND GULL and a couple of GLAUCOUS GULLS were noted by one observer. Across from Glenora Marina today, a resident there noted the tracks of a BEAVER  as it left the Bay of Quinte at the marina, crossed the highway safely by utilizing a convenient culvert, checked out a willow, then an aspen, enjoyed a stroll along the roadside ditch to a wetland, decided it liked neither, and returned to the bay via the same culvert.

Thursday, January 01: Happy New Year! At least one of the SNOWY OWLS that appeared last month in Prince Edward County, has died. One of them, photographed in Wellington December 21st, was found on the ground today, whereupon it was rushed to the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee. Sue Meech at the Centre said the bird had to be euthanized as there was a fracture at the wrist of the wing and the wing tip was starting to decompose. It is believed the bird may have been weakened from the southward migration here and had not not been able to find sufficient food to build up its strength, and then was hit on the road. A SNOWY OWL was present today at Kingston’s Norman Rogers Airport. Despite the wind and snow squalls today in Kingston, much heavier there than in the Bay of Quinte region, birders were out. Four GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS and a BROWN CREEPER put in an appearance at the Marshlands Conservation Area. Nearby, at Invista (Dupont Lagoons), seven waterfowl species were present, among them 6 TUNDRA SWANS, 1 HOODED MERGANSER, 2 RING-NECKED DUCKS and 6 AMERICAN COOTS. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and five PINE SISKINS were seen at Lakeland Point Drive, and a PILEATED WOODPECKER and RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH were found at the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area, north of the city. Back in Prince Edward County, a RED-TAILED HAWK was seen along County Road 2 north of Wilson Road yesterday, and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER and 2 SONG SPARROWS were found at South Bay today. Two COMMON REDPOLLS were at a feeder north of Wellington today. Best bird of the day was a HERMIT THRUSH that has been coming to a Charles Street backyard in Belleville for the past week. Last week, before his backyard pond froze over, it would sit on a floating log and then skim the water in a couple of circuits, with its beak. He was present again today after the freeze-up, sipping water where the bubbler keeps a hole open all winter. Elsewhere in Belleville, the CAPE MAY WARBLER that has been coming to a Dunnett Blvd feeder since November 22nd, failed to put in its daily appearance, although the wind may have caused the bird to arrive unnoticed. At Presqu’ile Park, AMERICAN ROBINS (close to a dozen), WHITE-THROATED and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, COMMON GRACKLES (seven or eight) have been a few of the notable sightings made there in the last few days. To see the complete report from Presqu’ile Park by Fred Helleiner, covering the past seven days, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, December 31: Once again, it’s all about raptors this evening, starting with a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK that once again disguised itself as a lawn ornament in a Cressy area backyard. Down at South Bay, there were two SNOWY OWLS along Babylon Road, and another seen on the osprey nest at the national defense radar installation at Point Petre. Another SNOWY OWL was seen on Lighthouse Lane today at Presqu'ile Park.  In the Milford area, a BARRED OWL  was seen along County Road 17, perched at the edge of a field, and a few days ago, a GREAT HORNED OWL was seen at Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area on the outskirts of Picton. Two BALD EAGLES  were in the Prince Edward Point area today – one at Prince Edward Point proper, and the other at Ostrander Point. Another BALD EAGLE, an adult, was seen on the ice at Peat’s Point, south of Belleville.  And a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK was seen outside of Milford. Its larger cousin, a COOPER’S HAWK, made an unsuccessful sweep through a Wellington backyard. At the feeders, COMMON REDPOLLS continue to trickle in with 5 appearing today at a Brighton feeder, and a single bird showing up today at a Cressy feeder. Across the road from the former Ducks Dive Charters, 10 to 12 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS  were seen today, and a flock of 50 to 75 SNOW BUNTINGS were seen along County Road 18 near the Cherry Beach Cottage Resort. Duck-wise, Prince Edward Poiint was quiet today with just four LONG-TAILED DUCKS visible, and far off shore, a big raft of waterfowl, probably scaup. Two days ago, there were hundreds of CANADA GEESE and MALLARDS at Cobourg Harbour. One lone RUDDY DUCK was observed diving with a few BUFFLEHEADS, COMMON GOLDENEYES and LONG-TAILED DUCKS. Only 2 MUTE SWANS  were observed there, but at Presqu'ile Park, over 200 hundred MUTE SWANS were estimated to be present in the bay along Bayshore Drive. An interesting observation in Presqu'ile Bay was a tight, swirling ball of REDHEADS. The males were all gathered in the centre and the females were mostly outside. There was a smaller group of LONG-TAILED DUCKS similarly clustered in a tight-knit group. Anyone know what this behaviour is all about? The observer said there were some duck hunters nearby. Would this be some kind of defensive behaviour?

Tuesday, December 30: And the Christmas week of feasting continues with area hawks and other birds of prey. Along Highway 401 today between Napanee and Belleville, one motorist spotted three RED-TAILED HAWKS, one of them at Deseronto Road and 401, and another at the Shannonville Road exit.  Three SNOWY OWLS  today – one at the Quinte's Isle Campark along Salmon Point Road, and two at Presqu’ile Park – one on Gull Island and the other in the Day Use picnic area. At the north end of Ostrander Point Road off Babylon Road, there was a NORTHERN SHRIKE  seen today. At the corner of Whattam’s Road and County Road 13, 6 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS turned up, and two BALD EAGLES  were seen in flight along County Road 13/Long Point Road towards Prince Edward Point. At the feeders, things are still a bit slow until that promised snow arrives over the next several days. A COMMON REDPOLL was at 23 Sprague Road on Big Island today, and three were at a feeder east of Lake on the Mountain where a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  continues to be a guest. Near Codrington, 15 EVENING GROSBEAKS are occasional feeder guests there.

Monday, December 29: Given the high number of occurrences of PILEATED WOODPECKERS this past month, one has to wonder if this species is not experiencing some sort of population explosion. A male PILEATED WOODPECKER was seen at the Sandbanks Park hardwood lot along County Road 12 near the 4-way Stop. He was working on a dead fallen tree that had dinner in it. The bird put on a good show for about 10 minutes as two observers got as near as 30 feet from it. They really are a spectacular bird to watch at work and quite vocal at times. During the Belleville Christmas Bird Count on Saturday, my party and I watched as three PILEATED WOODPECKERS worked on a tree, two of them eventually flying over to a roadside hydro pole to investigate the hydro line hum coming from within. Not only is this species becoming more commonly seen, but is becoming adapted to backyards in the winter where they will often seek out any suet cakes. Certainly a spectacular bird to have on one’s backyard bird list. Usually regarded as a woodpecker of the deep forests – and a pair does require at least 100 acres comprising primarily forest in which to claim as their territory – more and more they are being seen along roadsides and in backyards. My files contain two cases where a PILEATED WOODPECKER has been seen at ground level working on backyard stumps – in one case, the stump of a Black Locust, and in the other, the stump of a Norway Maple. One amusing incident – well, amusing to me anyhow – was a young PILEATED WOODPECKER in Picton trying out his excavating skills on the newly re-shingled steeple roof of the Macaulay Museum. After chiselling out a three-inch diameter hole in the roof, he successfully entered and discovered to his horror how cavernous the cavity really was and that it would not be a suitable nest site the following year. It was last seen hightailing over to the Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area to try his skills elsewhere.

Sunday, December 28: Still a few birds of prey around as they continue to enjoy the festive season this week. Today, a BARRED OWL was seen at Presqu’ile Park, near the lighthouse. An adult BALD EAGLE and a first year bird were seen flying up Adolphus Reach this morning. Two NORTHERN HARRIERS were seen yesterday at Mountain View and a COOPER’S HAWK did a quick flythrough, but emerged empty taloned in a backyard along Sprague Road, Big Island this afternoon. Yesterday an adult BALD EAGLE  touched down on the shore of Muscote Bay off Big Island, and also yesterday, a PEREGRINE FALCON was spotted on the top of the new courthouse in Belleville. So, lots of things going on with hawks yesterday and today. A few other bits and pieces of sightings are still trickling in from yesterday’s Belleville,Christmas Bird Count. New to the Count this year were WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, LESSER SCAUP and GREAT BLUE HERON, species that have never appeared due to the absence of significant amounts of open water most years. Also new this year was the CAPE MAY WARBLER that thoughtfully dropped in to a Dunnett Blvd feeder in Belleville on Count Day. The CAPE MAY WARBLER, a first year male,  has been a regular at the Belleville feeder since November 22nd, when it was first seen.  Added as “Count Week” species (seen three days before and/or after Count Day, but not on Count Day) was NORTHERN PINTAIL (Peat’s Point). Other interesting finds on the Belleville CBC were DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT and three ICELAND GULLS, all seen on the Bay of Quinte. Three species of owls turned up also – BARRED, GREAT HORNED and SNOWY. Others included SWAMP SPARROW, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and NORTHERN FLICKER. In total, 63 species.

Saturday, December 27: A SNOWY OWL was photographed today at Sandbanks Provincial Park. Another SNOWY OWL was seen today at 4:15 p.m. along Long Point Road at Prince Edward Point. Other raptors seen today included an immature BALD EAGLE along Massassauga Road, a MERLIN at Mountain View, RED-TAILED HAWKS at Swamp College Road and Jackson’s Falls Road, another immature BALD EAGLE  at Morrison’s Point, and a NORTHERN SHRIKE along Huff’s Island Road. PILEATED WOODPECKERS were seen today at Sandbanks Park (2), and three were seen together at one spot along Huff’s Island Road in a swampy area just west of Huff’s Island proper. Two were on a single willow tree which later flew to a roadside hydro pole, and a third one flew over the same area, but continued on its way. It was a good day for GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS with six being seen today at Sandbanks. With most bodies of water completely open, waterfowl species were the order of the day with most waterfowl widely scattered. There were 4 TUNDRA SWANS in the marsh at Muscote Bay off Big Island this morning, and a lone Bufflehead in the Bay of Quinte at the end of Allison’s Road. At Sandbanks and Wellington Harbour, 113 MALLARDS  were counted by two observers out for the day, and 46 were seen at various locations in the Huff’s Island, Massassauga Point and Zwick’s Park area. Twenty-one GREATER SCAUP were seen at the Norris Whitney Bridge by Zwick’s Park as were 30 COMMON GOLDENEYE and 50 COMMON MERGANSERS. At Sandbanks and Wellington Harbour, 307 LONG-TAILED DUCKS  were counted there. Today was also the Belleville Christmas Bird Count, but more details of the results will be given in another report. My own party came across a few good sightings along the way including 2 BROWN CREEPERS at Rossmore, 3 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS at Massassauga Point Conservation Area, 2 COMMON RAVENS at Huff’s Island, and 20 AMERICAN ROBINS feasting in a wooded section along the causeway leading to Huff’s Island from Highway 62. Birds reported from feeders today along Loyalist Parkway, west of Wellington included a nice mixture involving 2 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, 3 PINE SISKINS, 1 COMMON REDPOLL and 12 HOUSE FINCHES. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER has been coming to a feeder at Fry Road, and a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW is at a big Island feeder.

Friday, December 26: A CAPE MAY WARBLER  seems to be a regular every day at a Dunnett Blvd feeder in Belleville. It appeared once again today, and showed the pugnacious nature of his species this afternoon when he took possession of a small platform feeder stocked with sunflower chips and drove off any chickadees bold enough to try to share it. The condition of West Lake at Wellington is quite a bit different from what it was last year at this time. The lake is completely open and yesterday the lake near Wellington was covered in MUTE SWANS, CANADA GEESE and MALLARDS. Also at least 2 TUNDRA SWANS, 2 HOODED MERGANSERS, 1 NORTHERN PINTAIL, 1 COMMON MERGANSER, 3 Scaup, and 4 LONG-TAILED DUCKS. A week ago, the Christmas Bird Count at Cobourg and Port Hope was held with 77 species tallied, a few highlights being one each of THAYER’S GULL, SHORT-EARED OWL, HERMIT THRUSH, NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD, AMERICAN PIPIT and 2 SAVANNAH SPARROWS. Certainly reflective of the unseasonably warm weather we have been enjoying. Other than COMMON REDPOLLS (518), winter finches were scarce -  PINE GROSBEAK (1),  PURPLE FINCH (4), PINE SISKIN (60), EVENING GROSBEAK (1). No SNOWY OWLS  reported from Prince Edward County in recent days, although I am sure they are still around since the two were seen on the Prince Edward Point CBC, at Cressy Lakeside Road and Ostrander Point on the 20th. One has been seen in the area of the Norman Rogers Airport in Kingston during the past week, and the  Kingston PEREGRINE FALCON continues to be seen downtown.

Thursday, December 25: No bird report today and any other sightings made today will be held over until tomorrow evening's report. A very merry Christmas to all readers of this blog. I am trying to keep something on it daily as it is obviously being followed. I think we will reach 47,000 hits by December 31st, which is more than double last year. Thank you so much for your sightings and photos, and for keeping this space vibrant. Fred Helleiner's Presqu'ile Park Weekly Report has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website, and can be viewed by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, December 24: No sightings from the Bay of Quinte region today, except for an adult BALD EAGLE  that flew over Sprague Road at Big Island at 4:00 p.m. A MERLIN at Wellington  was also seen today seeking out its Christmas dinner early. In Kingston, a birder there visited three locations. Lemoine Point Conservation Area produced the usual amount of winter birds that can always be found in this exceptional conservation area including 37 BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES. The Invista Area (Dupont lagoons) yielded 8 species of waterfowl today, among them 21 AMERICAN WIGEON, 8 AMERICAN COOT, 25 GADWALL, 2 TUNDRA SWANS, 45 REDHEADS, 106 MALLARDS, 3 HOODED MERGANSERS, and 350 GREATER SCAUP. Also seen there, a BELTED KINGFISHER. At the Marshlands Conservation Area, some good sightings there including a SONG SPARROW, 2 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS and a BROWN CREEPER. Surprisingly, only 2 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS  were seen. What has happened to our tree sparrows? In the 1960s and 1970s, I recall being on Christmas Bird Counts where we would routinely find this species in flocks numbering over 100. Perhaps this is just another example of declining numbers in species that will continue in decades to come.

Tuesday, December 23: It could simply be the open winter we have enjoyed so far, or it could be a growing trend with this species. TURKEY VULTURES – not just one or two which sometimes turn up every winter, but an incredible 17 were counted perched in the trees behind a Rogers Street residence in Picton at daybreak. At least 12 of those were busy spiralling around along Fry Road, just north of Picton and their roosting site around noon. What would be interesting to find out though is why TURKEY VULTURES have had a fixation with this part of town for several years. Every spring and fall, they will be found either roosting in the conifers and other trees on Rogers Street or circling around above that section of town. The attraction? Do we dare suggest the Whattam Funeral Home? Are they picking up a sense of death here, so faint as to be unintelligible to human olfactory receptors? Or is it something else that keeps bringing them back? We could deduce that the dense conifers behind one address where they are often spotted perching may be responsible, but that doesn’t account for their persistence in continually circling around above this area which contains nothing more exciting than the LCBO, a real estate office, a corner store and housing units.  The first record of a TURKEY VULTURE in winter was January 12th, 1977 when one was found floundering in deep snow near Milford. Another was seen in February of 1990 at Prince Edward Point, and another the following year in very early December. Then, a space of seven years before an individual was seen again, in winter. It wasn’t until 2003, when TURKEY VULTURES began to be seen regularly in Prince Edward County during winter, with 13 being tallied on the Christmas Bird Count that December. Gradually, their numbers in winter have been increasing and part of the attraction could be the abundance of road kills upon which they feed with gusto. I think we should rustle up some students and have them do a study on this!

Monday, December 22: A few sightings around the area today. A photographer at Presqu’ile Park today found 3 BARRED OWLS and an adult BALD EAGLE. Along Airport Parkway east of Belleville, A COOPER’S HAWK and a RED-TAILED HAWK were seen, and in Prince Edward County, a NORTHERN HARRIER was spotted at Wilson Road, north of Wellington. East of Lake on the Mountain, a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  was seen at a feeder there. The complete results have now been tabulated for the Prince Edward Point Christmas Bird Count, and compiler Pamela Stagg says that 74 species were tallied this year, compared to 63 last year, and an overall average of 68.4. Total birds seen this year was 14,176, compared to last year’s 12,574. Average for the 39 year old count is 36,517 birds. Waterfowl: There were no SNOW GEESE  seen this year.  TUNDRA SWANS, low last year (4) bounced back to 86, about double the average(46). REDHEADS (230) were nicely above average (53) while BUFFLEHEADS were below (72 vs. 281), as were LONG-TAILED DUCKS (3,733 vs. 22,872) and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS (62 vs. 1,059). COMMON MERGANSERS were below average ( 79 vs. 863) and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS above (244  vs. 100). Raptor numbers were unexceptional; gull numbers were low across the board. A count-week AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER was this year’s star, seen at Lake on the Mountain. COMMON RAVENS were close to the all-time high of 20 and substantially above average (14 vs.   1). BLUE JAYS, AMERICAN CROWS and BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES were seen in numbers that show that populations are recovering from west Nile virus. No kinglets were reported and AMERICAN ROBIN numbers were low (30 vs. an average of 54). Ten EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were triple the average of 3 per count.  Another bird that was low was the EUROPEAN STARLING (323 vs. an average of 691).  SNOW BUNTINGS were absent from the count this year. The compiler says that these are just figures for one year and don’t represent long-term trends. – although, in the case of the starling, we can hope.

Sunday, December 21: A PILEATED WOODPECKER at Cressy pecked for over an hour and a half until dusk this afternoon on a black willow tree and was not deterred in the least by the photographer’s presence. And the Christmas Bird Counts continue. A few highlights from the Napanee CBC today included 2 RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS, 1 SWAMP SPARROW, 1 PILEATED WOODPECKER, 2 BALD EAGLES (1 adult & 1 juvenile), 4 RUFFED GROUSE, 81 COMMON REDPOLLS, 27 HOUSE FINCHES and an EASTERN TOWHEE. A few more high;lights from yesterday’s Prince Edward Point CBC included a SURF SCOTER, 4 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS, a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, 1 BLACK SCOTER, 2 BROWN CREEPERS, 25 AMERICAN ROBINS (somewhat rare this winter), 2 NORTHERN SHRIKES, an EASTERN BLUEBIRD and 52 CEDAR WAXWINGS – all seen right at Prince Edward Point or along the Long Point Peninsula. Five RED-TAILED HAWKS were tallied at Milford as was a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, and 11 HOODED MERGANSERS at Black River. Moving away from the Christmas bird counts for a moment, the Moira River today in Belleville contained three species of ducks – 1 COMMON MERGANSER, 1 AMERICAN BLACK DUCK and 90 MALLARDS. A MERLIN was also seen. At the bird feeders today, present along Loyalist Parkway west of Wellington were 3 PURPLE FINCHES, 6 HOUSE FINCHES, 1 SONG SPARROW, a COMMON REDPOLL and a half dozen PINE SISKINS. Nice to see a few siskins still present as the bulk of their numbers appear to have moved out of the area. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW  was at a feeder on Sprague Road, Big Island again today.  East of Lake on the Mountain, 3 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS  were at a feeder there. Near Sandbanks, a MERLIN was seen near Rankin Road and an immature BALD EAGLE was seen feeding on the ice at East Lake near Parr Island.  An update on the TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE that appeared sporadically from November 16th near Sandbanks is that the bird appears to have moved on now as it hasn’t been seen since late November.

Saturday, December 20: Prince Edward Point Christmas Bird Count today, and one of the highlights was an  AMERICAN COOT at Waupoos Marina. Also present there were 230 REDHEADS. Over a dozen BALD EAGLES were tallied, and the one in the accompanying photo was found at Little Bluff Conservation Area. The 12-kilometre census circle is centred on Waupoos Island to avoid taking in a large expanse of water that couldn’t possibly be covered, but neatly includes its namesake, Prince Edward Point proper. The report from that area has not arrived yet at time of writing, but some highlights from other sections covered include Area 4 (Black River and Morrison’s Point area and north to the Milford dump) with 9 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS being found along Jackson’s Falls Road. Also seen in that section, 36 TUNDRA SWANS, 186 COMMON GOLDENEYE, PILEATED WOODPECKER and a PURPLE FINCH. Area 3 (North Marysburgh) produced 40 TUNDRA SWANS, 10 GADWALL, 2 RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS, 1 NORTHERN PINTAIL and 3 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS. A pure white SNOWY OWL was found perched on a fence along Cressy Lakeside Road and a BARRED OWL was spotted deep in the woods along County Road 25. Owls fared pretty well as 2 EASTERN-SCREECH OWLS were found in Area 2, in the Glenora area, and 15 EVENING GROSBEAKS and another BARRED OWL were found along Old Milford Road. Three PILEATED WOODPECKERS, 2 NORTHERN SHRIKES and 3 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS  were also added to the list in Area 2. The WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS and EVENING GROSBEAKS were at a feeder along Old Milford Road where 6 PINE SISKINS  were also present.   In Area 1, in the Adolphustown part of the circle, highlights there included 3 COMMON LOONS, 132 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, and 52 COMMON GOLDENEYE. The BALD EAGLES  were seen in every section of the Count circle. But BALD EAGLE sightings didn’t end there within the count circle. At Fish Lake today 2 BALD EAGLES were munching away on something on the ice of Fish Lake. Two BALD EAGLES were also seen south of Roslin at the junction of Highway 62 and Leslie Road. A WINTER WREN was present at one home today along Fish Lake Road.. On Big Island, early this morning just at daybreak, 7 COMMON RAVENS flew over Sprague Road noisily, and 10 COMMON REDPOLLS were also seen in flight. In Belleville, the CAPE MAY WARBLER was once again present. Conspicuous by their absence this year were AMERICAN ROBINS and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS due to a poor fruit and seed crop; however, these two species have a chance to show up yet once the results from Area 1 at Prince Edward Point come in. Weather-wise, it was a perfect day for birding, compared to last winter’s weather – no wind, –3 degree temperatures, and clear skies. For some parties though, it was a struggle to get decent totals for some species, although overall, the count fared pretty well. Really – I can’t think of a better way to spend my 70th birthday!

Friday, December 19: Yesterday, at Wellington Harbour there, 20 HERRING GULLS, 30 LONG-TAILED DUCKS and about a dozen MALLARDS were present, but newly arrived at the harbour was a BELTED KINGFISHER. No update on the AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER east of Lake on the Mountain that was spotted yesterday. This woodpecker species is rare this far south, and this is only the seven sighting in Prince Edward County since 1965. The last sighting was on May 2nd, 2007 at Sandbanks Park, and could very well have been the same individual that was present in the same location only five months earlier. Woodpeckers have four toes with 3 at the front and 1 behind. The 3-toed woodpecker, however, has 3 toes, with 2 toes at the front and 1 behind.  To feeders, to feeders, the redpolls are coming! Perhaps a corruption on my part of Paul Revere’s midnight ride of 1775, but not without a few similarities. Bird feeder operators who have experienced COMMON REDPOLLS at their feeders know that the species often appears in armies, and while they may not have yet arrived like Paul Revere, there are a few around as they continue to trickle into the Bay of Quinte region. Two showed up at a feeder today near Lake on the Mountain, aiming straight for the Niger seed as though they already knew the routine. Down along the South Shore Important Bird Area, two birders filed reports of what they had seen. Along Army Reserve Road and Duetta Road, birds seen were  2 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS and a WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, and it was here where 7 more COMMON REDPOLLS  turned up. An immature BALD EAGLE was seen at Point Petre, and 5 RUFFED GROUSE  exploded out of a large brush pile about half way along Army Reserve Road. Another birder birding the same areas found another group of COMMON REDPOLLS, this time, 20 in total. Also present along Whattam’s Road was a lone AMERICAN ROBIN and a RUFFED GROUSE. Down at the lake were lots of BUFFLEHEADS. At the end of Whattam's Road was an immature BALD EAGLE, another RUFFED GROUSE and along the shore a flock of mostly AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS with a few MALLARDS.  One SNOW BUNTING on the road at Whattam's and County Road 13. What was believed to be a skein of 65 SNOW GEESE flew over at one point. However the observer wasn’t 100% sure as the lighting was bad and the birds were high up. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW  was at a feeder north of Wellington.

Thursday, December 18: It was a woodpecker day in the Lake on the Mountain area today as six species of woodpecker made themselves known to observers – 2 RED-BELLIED, 2 NORTHERN FLICKERS, one PILEATED, one THREE-TOED WOODPECKER and, of course, HAIRY and DOWNY. Another RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER turned up today on Cressy Lakeside Road. In amongst the plethora of MALLARDS, BUFFLEHEAD and CANADA GEESE at Prinyer’s Cove, were 6 HOODED MERGANSERS, 1 NORTHERN PINTAIL and three DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS. The ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and FIELD SPARROW mentioned in yesterday’s report, did not show up for us today, but they were more than made up for by a calling SANDHILL CRANE in flight over the Rose Cemetery across from the Rose House Museum. Four TUNDRA SWANS were also seen in flight here, and 15 more were loafing on a shoal in Prince Edward Bay at the end of Kaiser Crossroad. Here, too, were 2 MUTE SWANS, 2 MALLARDS and a single HERRING GULL. Also seen by another observer were two sub-adult BALD EAGLES and three WILD TURKEYS. In Belleville, the CAPE MAY WARBLER continues to hold its own at a feeder on Dunnet Blvd. It was first seen November 22nd. At Presqu’ile Park, a GLAUCOUS GULL has been in Presqu'ile Bay for some time and was most recently seen on December 14.  A GREAT HORNED OWL was in "the fingers" on Sunday.  Of the five SNOWY OWLS seen on the Christmas Bird Count, three were still present this afternoon, one on the beach and one each on Gull and High Bluff Islands.  BARRED OWLS have been seen on at least three of the past seven days. To see the full Presqu’ile Park Bird Report for this week, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, December 17: Another dismal day, and not much birding as a result. However, yesterday one birder did notice a SNOWY OWL perched on one of the light standards on the Belleville to Prince Edward County Norris Whitney Bridge. Also seen was a flock of 50 SNOW BUNTINGS which flew across the water at the same location. The open water at the bridge contained a few COMMON GOLDENEYES and one COMMON MERGANSER. Last Saturday, another observer saw a GREAT BLUE HERON in the pond along County Road 34 just north of Picton, the identical spot where a GREAT BLUE HERON did not fare so well during last year’s severe winter. And along County Road 8, between Waupoos Estates Winery and Bongard Crossroad, one Kingston observer found an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and a FIELD SPARROW along a row of houses containing feeders and some good habitat. Now, if we can just persuade them to stay for Saturday’s Prince Edward Point Christmas Bird Count. Three COMMON REDPOLLS were at a feeder today near the west end of Victoria Road in Ameliasburgh, and a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  were guests at a feeder along Fry Road, north of Picton. Belleville’s CAPE MAY WARBLER continues to be a regular at a Dunnet Blvd feeder, but his condition is reported to be weakening somewhat, but soldiers on despite a large female COOPER’S HAWK that comes by occasionally.

Tuesday, December 16: Understandably, only the foolhardy did much birding today, so I will repeat a message that was sent out from David Bree today who was the compiler for Sunday’s Presqu’ile Christmas Bird Count: Presqu'ile's 50th Count was held on Sunday, Dec 14th with 29 participants.  Weather was cloudy but mild, with temperatures above zero and all but the smallest still water ponds were open.  The northern part of the circle had about 3 inches of snow cover but the half near Lake Ontario was snow free.  Participants were able to cover a lot of ground, and they needed to as birds were widespread and hard to find.  It felt like a low to average count and the 13,557 birds counted was slightly down from the 20-year average of 16,000, mostly due to lower waterfowl numbers.  But the 79 (+ 5 Count Week) species found was higher than the 20 year average of 75 species and as always after the tally some surprises and interesting trends were noted. Common birds found in all 11 count areas included CANADA GOOSE, RED-TAILED HAWK, MOURNING DOVE, DOWNY WOODPECKER, BLUE JAY, AMERICAN CROW, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, AMERICAN TREE SPARROW and DARK-EYED JUNCO, while ROCK DOVE, PILEATED WOODPECKER, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH, NORTHERN CARDINAL, and AMERICAN GOLDFINCH were found in 10 of 11 areas.   These common birds were responsible for a couple of new record highs (old record and year in brackets). DARK-EYED JUNCO - 709 (649 - 2013); WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH  - 125 (105 - 1999); PILEATED WOODPECKER - 20 (14 - 2010) - Is this increase a result of Emerald Ash Borer that has recently been detected within the circle? Other birds having record high counts were: GLAUCOUS GULL - 8 (7- 2008);  NORTHERN RAVEN - 11 (7 - 2009) - this count aided by a deer carcass that attracted half the birds counted?; SNOWY OWL - 11 (10 - 2013) - the second year in a row a big irruption is occurring,  while the 5 WINTER WRENS ties the record high from several other years. A new bird for the count was a count week TURKEY VULTURE (1), while the LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (1) was the first for us on count day - the only other record was a count week bird in 1998. Other unusual birds for us: LAPLAND LONGSPUR (1 count week ) - 3rd record in last 20 years; FOX SPARROW (1) - 3rd record in last 20 years; HERMIT THRUSH (1) - 3rd record in last 20 years; RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (2) - 3rd record in last 20 years WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (1) - 4th record in last 20 years. Other birds represented on the count by a single individual included LESSER SCAUP, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, MERLIN, PURPLE SANDPIPER, EASTERN SCREECH-OWL, GREAT HORNED OWL, BELTED KINGFISHER , NORTHERN FLICKER, CAROLINA WREN, and PURPLE FINCH.  Other notably low counts were EUROPEAN STARLINGS (328), the lowest since 1976 (is anyone disappointed?), WILD TURKEYS (5), lowest since 2000 and COMMON REDPOLL (26), in the years they show up they have only once had a count under 60. Many thanks to all the participants, especially those that contributed food to the post-count tally and to Maureen Riggs who organizes the whole thing. David Bree (compiler)

Monday, December 15: Nothing spectacular for today's bird report – just a nice scattering of interesting bird species during a period which many birders are calling ‘slow’. Milder weather plays a major role when the birding tempo slows like this, and it will likely remain slow until the first marked snowfall arrives. Until then, we take what we can get. PURPLE FINCHES  continue to show up as individual birds here and there around the Quinte area and at feeders. In the community of Moscow, north of Yarker, a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER has been visiting a feeder there where a VARIED THRUSH was a guest during the winter of 2010-2011. Also at this feeder today, there was a single RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (six last week) and a BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD. Another RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER showed up at a feeder in Corbyville today. Something we didn’t expect to see this winter are BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS – yet, 20 were found yesterday with about 80 CEDAR WAXWINGS beside the Prince Edward Point Harbour. At the entrance to the national wildlife area, a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was seen, and down by the harbour six PURPLE FINCHES, a single HERMIT THRUSH,  and 20 AMERICAN ROBINS. The PEREGRINE FALCON that was seen along Long Point Road near Babylon Road a week ago Saturday was seen again yesterday as well as an AMERICAN KESTREL on Royal Road. Two COMMON REDPOLLS were present along Long Point Road, a GREAT HORNED OWL was in the Point Traverse Woods and a SONG SPARROW  was found at Point Petre. An immature BALD EAGLE  was seen along Long Point Road, and three more BALD EAGLES were noted flying around Swetman Island (False Ducks). This morning at 7:30 a.m. two adult and one immature BALD EAGLES were standing on the leading edge of the ice in Adolphus Reach at Cressy, waiting for a meal to appear, and by 8:00 a.m., two more immatures had appeared. Something interesting noted at the Gardenville Creek yesterday at Wellers Bay were two BEAVERS, ONE MUSKRAT and a MINK all of them almost within view at the same time.

Sunday, December 14: The 50th annual Presqu’ile Park Christmas Bird Count took place today, and there were some good sightings made by all parties involved. An adult BALD EAGLE and five COMMON RAVENS were spotted in the Ameliasburgh area which is within the census circle centering on Presqu’ile Point. Fourteen COMMON RAVENS had been seen earlier in the same area suggesting a carcass somewhere that is being feasted on. Eight COMMON REDPOLLS, a species that hasn’t really bombarded the area yet as predicted, were seen at one feeder along County Road 39 in the Stinson Block. There was an EASTERN SCREECH-OWL calling before daybreak on Edward Drive.  It took a high-powered spotting scope to bring it in, but at the end of Novetny Court, off Blakely Road at Wellers Bay, a SNOWY OWL  was spotted perched atop a poplar tree on the Bald Head Peninsula. A BROWN CREEPER  was also seen along this road. A female PURPLE FINCH was feeding on tree buds along Salem Road at Consecon, and two TRUMPETER SWANS were seen in the bay at Barcovan. A GOLDEN EAGLE obligingly flew over a birder’s house in Brighton two days ago, and a PINE GROSBEAK was at a feeder along Victoria Road on Friday. In Lake Ontario at the base of the Wellers Bay National Wildlife Area, 3 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS  were seen. A respectable total of 10 WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES in the section we covered in the Stinson Block area, west of Consecon was high for us in this small area.  In the whole count area  during the day a nice total of 19 PILEATED WOODPECKERS added spice to the day. A RED-TAILED HAWK was seen along County Road 19 in Ameliasburgh. And the CAPE MAY WARBLER  is still coming to a feeder in Belleville.

Saturday, December 13: While there doesn’t seem to be any indication that we will have an irruption of BARRED OWLS like we had a couple winters ago when they were popping up all over the place, even in backyards, the odd individual is showing up this winter. A BARRED OWL was seen at Presqu’ile Park on Thursday, and another was seen today at Lemoine Point Conservation Area at Kingston. SNOWY OWLS appear to have undergone a disappearing act as the high numbers that were on West Lake just a few days ago, have all but disappeared. One was spotted today at Presqu’ile Park at Lookout #3 on the ground by the shoreline on the Owen Point Trail, and landed on a sign at the southern tip of Beach 3 and Owen Point Trail. Another raptor seen today, worthy of mention, was a juvenile NORTHERN GOSHAWK that swooped into a backyard at Cressy. Smaller in size, but no less impressive, was an AMERICAN KESTREL on Bethel Road today. And at least a handful of TURKEY VULTURES seem to be in no hurry to migrate south just yet as three were seen at the end of Bethel Road. Waterfowl noted today on the Moira River across from City Hall included 60 MALLARDS, 2 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS and a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, accompanied by a single RING-BILLED GULL. Near Codrington this morning, a nice group of 15 EVENING GROSBEAKS were filling up at a backyard feeder. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW  and a NORTHERN CARDINAL turned up at a Big Island feeder this afternoon and at a Luck’s Crossroad feeder, a “flock” of five NORTHERN CARDINALS showed up together at a feeder. Eight HORNED LARKS  were found on Baitley Road, just north of Wellington near Swamp College Road. And at Wellington Harbour, what is believed to have been a young BARROW’S GOLDENEYE as seen today.

Friday, December 12: A CAROLINA WREN  has been visiting a feeder in the Glen Miller area this past week. And the determined CAPE MAY WARBLER in Belleville is still making brief snatch and grab visits to a Dunnet Blvd. feeder. How much longer is hard to say as a female COOPER’S HAWK has returned after a short absence. A first year YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER appeared on a hickory tree today east of Lake on the Mountain.  The plethora of SNOWY OWLS that occurred in Wellington a few days ago, appear to have moved on to other locations. According to a frequent birder to this area, Michael Runtz who is a Carleton University biology instructor, the reason for the irruption of SNOWY OWLS may have less to do with the boom and bust cycles of lemmings, their staple diet, and more to do with them simply having had a good breeding year. “They had a bumper year of reproduction in the Arctic, and when owls are well fed in their nesting territories, they produce more eggs and more young survive when they hatch." Probably, like the Barred Owls that flooded the Quinte area one winter, the adult birds hold on to their breeding territory, and the birds hatched this summer are crowded out and seek feeding grounds elsewhere.  Weather, says Michael Runtz, may also play a role in birds moving out. All we can do is speculate why this is happening again this winter, like last winter. Perhaps we should not worry about the reasons this is happening, but just sit back and enjoy the free show.

Thursday, December 11: This AMERICAN COOT was among three, along one of several AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS that were present yesterday along the Kiwanis Bayshore Trail, at Belleville. Some scattered reports today including LONG-TAILED DUCKS at Barcovan and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER still at a feeder east of Lake on the Mountain. One weekend resident at South Bay saw a good variety of raptors on the weekend. Included were two TURKEY VULTURES flying over the west end of Picton, a NORTHERN SHRIKE near Little Bluff Conservation Area and an immature SHARP-SHINNED HAWK at Sandbanks Park. A PEREGRINE FALCON was a big surprise as he perched in a tree at the corner of Babylon Road and Long Point Road. TUNDRA SWANS  were present in South Bay. A motorist today travelling 401 had a skein of 200 CANADA GEESE flying parallel to him in the Marysville area. Among them was what appeared to be a white morph SNOW GOOSE. An injured TURKEY VULTURE that was found on May Road near Picton today, was taken to the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee. The Presqu'ile Park Weekly Bird Report has been uploaded and may be viewed by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, December 10: “I’m not real .. I’m a garden ornament.  Common down. Lots to eat!” At least, that’s what a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK seemed to be saying as it waited atop of an iron feeder pole for a meal in the Cressy area. Weather conditions today did not lend itself to much birding, although a few things were about. A COMMON RAVEN was croaking away along Sprague Road this morning and at Zwick’s Park at Belleville today, the juvenile GLAUCOUS GULL was back. Also present, 300 CANADA GEESE and 200 COMMON MERGANSERS. Just east of there along the Bayshore Trail, there were 3 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS.  In Kingston, waterfowl numbers appear to be building at the Dupont Lagoons where 10 species were present today, among them 200 REDHEADS, 26 TUNDRA SWANS, 2 GADWALL and an AMERICAN COOT. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW is coming to a feeder east of Bayridge Drive. Those contemplating a birding trip to Algonquin Park will be disappointed to learn that patronage at the popular Visitor Centre feeder is still a little sparse with only a couple PINE GROSBEAKS a week ago, along with an EVENING GROSBEAK. Elsewhere in the Park, a SPRUCE GROUSE was reported roosting in a tree along the Beaver Pond Trail and one, appropriately enough, along the Spruce Bog Boardwalk. Other than a few GRAY JAYS at their usual stations, not a whole lot to justify  the long to the Park just yet. At local feeders, PURPLE FINCHES (2) are coming to a Brighton feeder, and 2 at a feeder along Luck’s Crossroad near Picton. As the winter snows approach us, albeit slowly, MOURNING DOVE numbers are increasing at most feeders. A Brighton feeder had 23 today and our own feeder came close with 21. Interesting that the same Brighton feeder had a dozen HOUSE SPARROWS, somewhat a Species of Concern at our own feeder with the last single bird dropping in for one day some three years ago. How bird populations change over the years.

Tuesday, December 09: Amongst all the SNOWY OWLS that seem to have proliferated in Prince Edward County this past week – at least a dozen – bespeaking ominously about approaching snow, at least one species is still displaying a devil may care attitude. A GREAT BLUE HERON nonchalantly flapped its way over Point Petre yesterday. Less worried, but certainly more suggestive of warmer months, was at least one – perhaps two – CAROLINA WRENS on Glen Miller Road today. More indicative of winter was a NORTHERN SHRIKE today along Loyalist Parkway, roughly between Danforth Road and Cold Creek Road in the Hillier area. As BALD EAGLES continue to increase their winter population in the area, one was spotted today flying by a house along Keegan Parkway in Belleville, in the Bayshore Trail area. Another one, an immature, was seen yesterday along Army Reserve Road along the County’s South Shore, surrounded by 4 COMMON RAVENS. Nearby was a flock of 25 CEDAR WAXWINGS and a PURPLE FINCH and PINE SISKIN. Wellington Beach had MALLARDS, LONG-TAILED DUCKS, RING-BILLED and HERRING GULLS.  In the channel were CANADA GEESE, BUFFLEHEADS, a HOODED MERGANSER, 2 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS and a COMMON GOLDENEYE.  West Lake was full (1000+) of CANADA GEESE and MUTE SWANS, and a few TUNDRA SWANS. At bird feeders, PINE SISKINS in most areas seem to have vanished like the breeze as we thought they might. At a feeder along Luck’s Crossroad, the expected clients are present, along with a PURPLE FINCH. Fifty years ago, PURPLE FINCHES would not have rated a mention in a report such as this one as they were far more common than they are today, especially during March when they would be migrating north. Between 60 and 70 were a common sight during March at most local bird feeders.

Monday, December 08: It is getting to the point now where it has almost become impossible to determine just how many SNOWY OWLS there are at both Presqu’ile Park and in Prince Edward County. One Toronto observer counted no fewer than 18 SNOWY OWLS yesterday, with 8 of those being found at Presqu’ile Park (11 had been reported earlier). A SNOWY OWL was seen at Wellington today, where yesterday, five were in view at one time on West Lake, in the harbour area. Two were found along County Road 2 north of Wellington where one persisted for most of last winter, Sunday’s owl being found perched on the top of a silo. One was on the ice on West Lake near Isaiah Tubbs, and another two were found on the ice at East Lake. Toronto observer, Tyler Hoar, had a pretty fair day yesterday, coming up with 8 LITTLE GULLS, 22 BONAPARTE’S GULLS, 13 RUDDY DUCKS, a COMMON LOON and a PIED-BILLED GREBE on East lake at Sandbanks Provincial Park. A tardy TURKEY VULTURE was at the Outlet River, likely the same bird that was seen there yesterday. The immature female HARLEQUIN DUCK, first seen Friday, was still at West Point yesterday, and at Point Petre, 2 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS  were found. From Pleasant Bay to East Lake 150 TUNDRA SWANS were counted. At Lake on the Mountain, a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER is visiting a feeder there which, in turn, has attracted the attention of both a COOPER’S HAWK and a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK. And, where have all the PINE SISKINS gone?

Sunday, December 07: The SNOWY OWLS – they are a comin’ . In fact, they’re here. In addition to two and possibly three separate birds in the Wellers Bay and Carrying Place area, three were in view at one time at Wellington today. We know that more than one SNOWY OWL is being involved ion these various sightings. What we don’t know is how many RED PHALAROPES we have. We shouldn’t have any as it is getting rather late for these rare high Arctic breeding shorebirds to be even around yet, although the Kingston area does have a couple of late December sightings. One was seen Friday at North Beach on the west corner of the County, and today, the same bird, or a totally different individual was seen at Sandbanks Provincial Park, in Athol Bay, directly across from the entrance to the Woodlands Campground, twirling around in typical phalarope fashion,  in the water beside mats of algae washed up on shore. After 15 minutes or so, the bird moved along the beach, heading toward the mouth of the Outlet River. One was seen at Sandbanks in mid-November. Is this the same bird, just working the entire southwest shoreline back and forth? Wellington today didn’t have much in the way of variety, but that was more than made up for by numbers. Present were 500 CANADA GEESE, 40 TUNDRA SWANS and as many MUTE SWANS. The headwaters of the Outlet River in East Lake were iced in today,  but identified at a distance were at least 8 TUNDRA SWANS and 20 or so other unidentified swans. And – another SNOWY OWL, looking optimistically albeit unrealistically at the swans. At West Point (Sandbanks), 3 AMERICAN ROBINS were found, a species that seems to be in short supply so far this season. Near the Lakeshore Lodge picnic area, 125 LONG-TAILED DUCKS were involved in noisy conversation. Three RED-TAILED HAWKS  were seen today – one on Highway 62 near Schoharie Road, one in Bloomfield and another on County Road 18 past Cherry Valley. The TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE on County Road 18 near Sandbanks has not been seen in 10 days, but the CAPE MAY WARBLER  continues to make daily appearances at a Belleville feeder, this morning starting its day with a dip in the heated bird bath. At a feeder on Elmbrook Road, two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS showed up today, and a single COMMON REDPOLL was at a feeder on Sprague Road at daybreak. At a feeder on Kelly Road in the Sandbanks area, a FIELD SPARROW was noted today. There was a female AMERICAN KESTREL on the wires on County Road 18 between Welbanks and Salmon Point Roads. And at Sandbanks Park, a TURKEY VULTURE was tIptoeing up on a GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL eating a fish but it never got close enough to steal a bite.

Saturday, December 06: An amazing day today to start off the weekend, starting with the return of the CAPE MAY WARBLER at the Belleville feeder, and a continuing appearance of a CHIPPING SPARROW  at a Black Road feeder, west of Demorestville. About a dozen TUNDRA SWANS flew over Wellington Harbour yesterday where there was also GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL. Yesterday, a RED PHALAROPE was found along the lakeshore at the end of North Beach Road, swimming in the surf close to shore. A RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET was at Little Bluff Conservation Area yesterday, and today, a BALD EAGLE  soared over the popular conservation area. Four EASTERN BLUEBIRDS  were found on Jackson’s Falls Road near Milford today. SNOWY OWLS in Prince Edward County have increased beyond the initial one that has been hanging around Weller’s Bay; another was found yesterday at 12 o’Clock Point in Carrying Place, sitting on the ice, near where there was also a NORTHERN SHRIKE. An immature female HARLEQUIN DUCK was observed yesterday on the west side of West Point at Sandbanks Provincial Park. Today, there was a RED-TAILED HAWK by the Belleville sewage treatment plant and a GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL sitting on the ice in the middle of the Bay of Quinte. This afternoon at the mouth of the Moira there were 200 CANADA GEESE, 75 COMMON MERGANSERS, 3 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, 10 COMMON GOLDENEYE, 7 MUTE SWANS, 25 LESSER SCAUPS, 35 HERRING GULLS, 25 RING-BILLED GULLS, 1 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL and 4 mallards. Moving to the east, a Napanee birder working Amherst Island today found a nice assortment of raptors including 3 SNOWY OWLS, 3 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, 1 NORTHERN HARRIER and an AMERICAN KESTREL. At Bath in the harbour behind the water plant, he found a GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL and a SNOW GOOSE. Other good sightings to come to my attention today were a PILEATED WOODPECKER at Napanee’s Springside Park, NORTHERN PINTAIL at Wellington Beach and a BARRED OWL at Lemoine Point Conservation Area in Kingston.

Friday, December 05:  A SNOWY OWL was seen today perched on top of a utility pole near the corner of Smokes Point and Gardenville Roads, near Carrying Place. Chances are it could be the same SNOWY OWL that has been present in the Pleasant Bay and North Beach Park areas, as it is only 10 kilometres as the owl flies. Feeder birds today included a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH at a Belleville feeder, and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER and a PURPLE FINCH at a feeder along County Road 2 north of Wellington, just north of Wilson Road. The Dunnet Blvd (Belleville) CAPE MAY WARBLER may have succumbed to the below freezing temperatures, or simply moved on. For two days it spent most of its time at the backyard feeder, maybe in desperation. Despite an orange half, mealworms and a fruit and nut suet cake, which other feeder guests loved, it never graduated beyond peanuts and sunflower seed chips. Of course, any warbler at this time of the year is remarkable given that these insectivorous birds, out of necessity, need to migrate south where insects may be found. However, in Oakville, there are currently an amazing six species of warblers (WILSON’S, NORTHERN PARULA, TENNESSEE, ORANGE-CROWNED, NASHVILLE, and YELLOW-RUMPED) at Sedgewick Park. Turns out Sedgewick has a smelly secret. It’s home to a sewage treatment plant. The water is warm from decomposition and is aerated as part of the process. And where there’s warm open water, there will be insects to sustain any wintering warblers. In Kingston, a GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET is still hanging out in the Marshlands Conservation Area. Closer to home, 21 WILD TURKEYS were found on Philburn Road just north of 401 between Sydney Street and Wallbridge-Loyalist Road, at Belleville. There has been a flock in that general area for a decade or more.

Thursday, December 04: Nothing much, bird-wise, in Prince Edward County today, but lots of Kingston area sightings. In Wellington, a COOPER’S HAWK swept through one backyard today. The SNOWY OWL, seen yesterday at Pleasant Bay, seems to be establishing a feeding territory as it was seen again, this time, along North Beach, and was seen later today checking out a corn field.  Two NORTHERN HARRIERS at Big Island which are almost a fixture most days, a RED-TAILED HAWK along Sprague Road, and two AMERICAN KESTRELS on Hubb’s Road in Ameliasburgh. One observer did a massive sweep today of some prime birding spots in the Kingston area, coming up with a SNOW GOOSE at Finkle’s Shore Park along Loyalist Parkway, a SONG SPARROW along South Shore Road at Hay Bay and a COOPER’S HAWK at Bath’s Heritage Point. In Kingston proper, the birder made a wise decision to check out the Beechgrove complex off King Street, coming up with a half dozen waterfowl species, among them 30 COMMON GOLDENEYE,  45 MALLARDS, 25 GADWALL and numerous TUNDRA SWANS. Also present were 2 BROWN CREEPERS and a BELTED KINGFISHER. The best find though was up Wellington Street, just north of the La Salle Causeway where an ICELAND GULL was seen. Fred Helleiner's Presqu'ile Park Weekly Bird Report has now been uploaded to the NatureStuff website and can be viewed by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, December 03: Not the best day for birding today, especially in the morning. When the weather cleared this afternoon though, one Pleasant Bay area residententering a laneway was surprised to see a SNOWY OWL perched on a fence post. This is the fourth sighting already in Prince Edward County as we prepare for what many have predicted will be a repeat of last winter’s irruption. PINE SISKINS continue to dominate the scene at most bird feeders right now, giving rise to the hope that at least a few will remain with us this winter. However, only one was at a Brighton feeder today, compared to much higher numbers, as high as 30-50 at other feeders, in the Bay of Quinte region. Also in exceptionally good numbers right now are AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES. The wintering CHIPPING SPARROW is still making regular visits to a Black Road feeder west of Demorestville near Doxsee Road. And we still wait for something other than the sprinkling of COMMON REDPOLLS that we have been hearing about here and there across the province. The general forecast for finches this winter has been summarized as a "mixed bag" of finch movements, according to Ron Pittaway who spends considerable time checking out available seed and cone crops, and how they might translate into winter movements of birds each winter. For example, he said some species such as PURPLE FINCH will go south while WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS will likely stay in the boreal forest in widely separated areas where spruces are laden with cones. COMMON REDPOLLS should move into southern Canada and the northern states because birch seed crops are thin to average across the north.  So, there is still hope.

Tuesday, December 02: It was an impressive addition to the Project FeederWatch tabulation of feeder birds for a Belleville resident, whose CAPE MAY WARBLER faithfully put in its appearance today. Usually using only a snatch and fly technique when visiting daily, today the bitter east wind must have caused it to rethink its decision to hang around this late. The bird doesn't seem to realize that he is a CAPE MAY WARBLER. First he doesn't fly south and then he insists that he prefers to eat sunflower seed chips and peanuts despite the suet and meal worms available. A pretty good Feederwatch day for a small city yard as the host had 12 species, including the warbler. Another good feeder today was along County Road 2, north of Wellington, just north of Wilson’s Road where in addition to a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, a nice flock of 41 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES bellied up to the bar. A Fry Road feeder today wasn’t as lucky as a NORTHERN SHRIKE spent much of the day there. At our own feeder on Sprague Road, Big Island, a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK did several flybys as I was topping up the feeders this evening. Further west, along South Big Island Road, two NORTHERN HARRIERS, male and female, spent the better part of the day coursing to and fro over the meadows, as did one on Black Road today. At West Lake, near Sandbanks, a RED-TAILED HAWK appeared there, along with RUFFED GROUSE and PILEATED WOODPECKER. A birder at Lemoine Point Conservation Area in Kingston stopped momentarily to cinch up his scarf and was startled to see a BARRED OWL resting on a branch only 10 feet away. At Cataraqui Bay, the same observer saw lots of CANADA GEESE, MALLARDS, BUFFLEHEADS, RING-BILLED and HERRING GULLS  as well as a TUNDRA and a TRUMPETER SWAN.

Monday, December 01: A leucistic AMERICAN GOLDFINCH at a Newburgh feeder this morning started off the sightings for December 1st as birders commenced their Winter Bird List for this season. The TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE near Sandbanks was last seen on Saturday, but doubtless it is still around somewhere. It’s just a case of waiting for it. It is not known if the Belleville CAPE MAY WARBLER turned up today. A small flock of EVENING GROSBEAKS have been coming to a feeder off Talbot Street in Picton in the last couple of days. Yesterday, three TUNDRA SWANS – two adults and one immature – were walking briefly on the ice at Muscote Bay at Big Island, then departed in search of softer water. Three GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS – 2 adults and an immature – were present today on the Napanee River at Napanee. Along 401 near Shannonville, 5 RUFFED GROUSE  showed themselves. At Wellington and West Lake, MUTE SWANS are beginning to increase. There were 23 today, and also present there and along Wellington Beach were 11 BUFFLEHEAD, a COMMON GOLDENEYE, 27 LONG-TAILED DUCKS, 9 HERRING GULLS and a GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL as well as 33 CEDAR WAXWINGS. Birding was active in Kingston too today as the Winter Bird List gets in full swing. A BALD EAGLE  was at Doug Fluhrer Park off the LaSalle Parkway, a COMMON LOON was seen further along the lakeshore at the Beechgrove Complex where 2  GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS were also discovered. And where are those 30-50 SANDHILL CRANES at Demorestville and Big Island when you want them? Two birders travelling a rural road today were surprised to see four different pairs of orange-vested deer hunters standing in the fields, less than  a quarter mile apart. “No wonder they shoot each other!” they commented.

Sunday, November 30: Well, tomorrow’s the big day – for birders, that is. December 1st marks the official opening day of the Winter Bird List. From this date until February 28th, birders in an active mood will endeavour to identify as many species as they can during the three lean months of the year. In our area, 100 species is not a big deal. There are that many, and more, in the general Bay of Quinte region if you know where to go, and can take advantage of those first few days of December before the first measurable snowfall, and before the tardy ones leave for good. First on the list will be an effort to add the CAPE MAY WARBLER  that has been coming to a Dunnett Blvd feeder in Belleville almost daily. Will it return though, given what happened today? The owner returned home to find the feeder which the warbler prefers, broken from its cable, likely the result of a squirrel or cat. "Will the warbler adapt so that he can be included on the December 1 winter list?” the homeowner asks. “The suspense may keep me awake tonight.” Almost guaranteed will be a GREAT BLUE HERON as there seems to be several hanging around yet, including one that was seen three days ago at the Big Swamp along Highway 62 north of Bloomfield. At least one of the over 30 SANDHILL CRANES that are still wandering around should appear, but a little more difficult to find might be the TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE near Sandbanks which comes and goes like a restless breeze. TURKEY VULTURES will also be a certainty as four were seen a few days ago along Highway 62, and RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES and SONG SPARROWS  have been regulars in Carrying Place, and just north of there, a BELTED KINGFISHER has been seen at Tremur Lake on Wooler Road. A late WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW  was also at Carrying Place. Along Demorestville’s Black Road an injured CHIPPING SPARROW has now graduated to a feeder and is apt to stick around the area for the winter now. At Napanee, the same PILEATED WOODPECKER that was seen on Monday, was back in the same yard again. Prince Edward Point will certainly yield its offering of waterfowl, and present there yesterday to be counted likely tomorrow were HORNED GREBE (2), BUFFLEHEADS, LONG-TAILED DUCKS, WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS,and both species of mergansers. PINE SISKINS  are everywhere right now so they will be easily added to the list as will SNOWY OWLS as we prepare for what looks like a repeat of last year’s high numbers. One was seen in Wellington yesterday and there are close to a dozen at Presqu’ile Park according to one report. An adult BALD EAGLE was seen north of Picton at Lyon’s Road, past the cement plant. And, if it’s still around, the EURASIAN WIGEON at Kingston will make a nice addition to the winter list too. Good luck in your efforts!

Saturday, November 29: Occasionally, I have been taken to task for not reporting rare birds on the Ontario Birds listserv. The most recent comments resulted from not publicizing the precise Civic Address  of the TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE in Prince Edward County this past week. This was at the request of the property owner and we both agreed the address could be released privately on an individual basis to anyone wanting to see the bird. This we did. As a result, there was 100% compliance and we thank those who respected the property owner’s privacy and observed from the road. Below is a good reason why I continue to be cautious when reporting the locations of rare birds, especially if it is on private property. At Ajax, a CATTLE EGRET was present for several days, and fellow birder, Geoff Carpentier, worked hard with the management at both the Vandermeer Nursery and the Carruther’s Creek Golf Course to ensure access for birders so they might see the bird, and both graciously agreed to cooperate. Management made it clear though that access was permitted only at certain points. This was clearly advertised and described at least twice through the OntBirds listserv where birders would have learned of the bird’s location. There were issues of liability, property rights and potential damage to the greens. As usual, the vast majority complied, but you likely know where this story is going. In an announcement to OntBirds today, Geoff Carpentier posted a message from the management of the Carruther’s Creek Golf and Country Club. It reads as follows:  Unfortunately due to a few individuals of your group not adhering to the conditions George Arevalo stated in allowing access to Carruther's Creek Golf and Country Club we must no longer adhere to the previous arrangement  allowing you on the grounds of our facility. We are no longer able to allow anyone who is not a direct customer of Carruther's Creek Golf and Country Club on the property. Thank you for your cooperation Perhaps this explains succinctly why I will continue to follow my own adopted policies regarding the sighting of any rare birds locally.  Our system has proven itself in the Bay of Quinte region. We will continue our policy of releasing sensitive information privately, and not publicly.

Friday, November 28: Some summer birds. Some winter birds. A CHIPPING SPARROW  with a slightly injured wing, although it can still fly okay, has been coming to a feeder at the west end of Black Road, near Demorestville, for several days, and was present again today. Also returning for an encore today at a Belleville feeder was the first year male CAPE MAY WARBLER. The big news at Kingston’s Doug Fluher Park (the Inner Harbour) was the sighting of a male EURASIAN WIGEON in with 250 AMERICAN WIGEONS. It spent much of its time sleeping, so finding it among all those wigeons may be a challenge for anyone wanting to try for it.  Among the 14 species of waterfowl seen there today were 30 NORTHERN SHOVELERS,  a RED-NECKED GREBE, and two RUDDY DUCKS. Also down that way, but over on Wolfe Island, a ‘90% likely’ ROSS’S GOOSE was seen just east of Marysville, Wolfe Island at 4:20 p.m.  this evening (just off the winter ferry road). The Kingston area, where the only birding took place today, produced a few other good birds including PEREGRINE FALCON in the downtown area and NORTHERN FLICKER. At 100 Foot Park, off Highway 15, across from Belle Island, good birds there included WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and PILEATED WOODPECKER. At Green Bay Park, off the LaSalle Causeway, 400 REDHEAD  were counted. Although seen almost a week ago, the sighting of 30 COMMON REDPOLLS on Amherst Island are perhaps a sign of things to come. So far, only scattered sightings of this boreal species have been noted in the Prince Edward County area, involving only a handful of birds, although a couple dozen were present at Presqu’ile Park this week. Predictions are that we will have an irruption of this species this winter as birch seed crops are variably poor to average in the boreal forest and this may force numbers of them down into our area. With up to a dozen SNOWY OWLS present this week at Presqu’ile Park, the prospects are looking good for another bountiful year for this species, the third in a row. A SNOWY OWL, seen late this morning on Sprague Road, was shouted to me from the roadside by a hiker walking by. Text messages, e-mails, phone calls, and now, shouts from the roadside by passersby – this Bird Report is starting to get attention!

Thursday, November 27: I am no longer filled with chagrin! A total of 22 PINE SISKINS  finally appeared at my Big Island feeder this afternoon. At Cressy, 40 siskins appeared at a feeder there, so PINE SISKINS seem to be moving around. Whether or not they remain through the winter remains to be seen. Watch for them at a feeder near you. In Wellington, between 40 and 50 PINE SISKINS are visiting a feeder  there, along with a COOPER’S HAWK and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER. Also on the move, with no apparent thoughts of moving on to more hospitable climes, are the SANDHILL CRANES. Thirty were seen flying southwest over Muscote Bay at the west end of Big Island at 10:00 a.m. this morning, with about 15 splitting off and following the south shore of the bay toward the Big Island causeway. This seems to be the November for WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS. Another has turned up with DARK-EYED JUNCOS  at a feeder along Airport Parkway, on the east side of Belleville today. And a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW showed up today at Cressy with juncos and siskins. There may be as many as a dozen SNOWY OWLS  at Presqu'ile Park right now. To see Fred Helleiner's Weekly Bird Report from Presqu'ile, and learn more, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, November 26: Well, I am filled with chagrin! Everyone, but me, seems to have PINE SISKINS, and lots of them. I had two call out as they sped by one day, but that’s it. Today, 40 were counted at a feeder at Cressy, while in Brighton, 50 are visiting feeders there. West of Tweed, a lingering VIRGINIA RAILwas seen in a marsh. Three NORTHERN CARDINALS were reported today at a feeder southeast of Picton, and a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW showed up at a feeder today along Elmbrook Road, north of Picton. On Fry Road, a RUFFED GROUSE and a PILEATED WOODPECKER were guests at a feeder. Shows what you can attract to a feeder if you naturalize your backyard. Another PILEATED WOODPECKER  flew across County Road 64 near the Barcovan Golf Course early this afternoon. Waterfowl are beginning to gather in the Kingston Area. Among the 11 species of waterfowl present on Cataraqui Bay today were 250 GREATER SCAUP, 40 HOODED MERGANSERS, 50 AMERICAN WIGEON and a GADWALL. A COMMON LOON was seen on Elevator Bay and 5 NORTHERN PINTAILS  were checked off at the Marshlands Conservation Area. An AMERICAN COOT  was seen yesterday at Wolfe Island.

Tuesday, November 25: Rather slim pickings today in the Quinte area, but the appearance of a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW  at a feeder east of Lake on the Mountain was on interest. Once again, TURKEY VULTURES, this time 9 of them, were circling over Talbot Street at the west end of Picton. It would be interesting to know what attracts small kettles of these birds to this location for much of the year. Surely we are being facetious to suggest that it is the presence of the Whattam Funeral Home just one street away! Some 25 WILD TURKEYS have been present along County Road 11 at East Lake for several days, but the biggest surprise today was the realization that the large flock of SANDHILL CRANES was still around despite December being only a few days away. At least 40 were seen today in flight today in the area of Allison Road at Big Island. DARK-EYED JUNCOS  continue to dominate the scene at many feeders these days. One feeder operator at Lake on the Mountain had 30 this morning. Meanwhile at our own feeder, there is a BLUE JAY with some sort of neurological disorder which causes its head to sway from side to side and at crazy angles as it is eating. Other than that, it flies normally and eats well. In life one plays the hand they are dealt, I guess. Two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS seen today at Lemoine Point Conservation Area in Kingston, and a RED-TAILED HAWK near Camden East rounds out today’s report.

Monday, November 24: Well, no sign of any SANDHILL CRANES in the last two days, but the TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE came back today for an encore at about 12:30 p.m. along County Road 18 not far from Sandbanks Provincial Park. Once again, the bird was very cooperative during the time it was present, happily munching on red cedar berries. It is interesting to note that another TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE has been present for two days at Baillieboro, south of Peterborough. A really nice addition to any home owner’s yard list. Another impressive backyard arrival was a PILEATED WOODPECKER which landed in a tree at the north end of East Street in Napanee. A female SURF SCOTER was lounging about today in the protection of Wellington Harbour. West of there along Highway 33 near Huyck’s Point Road, 18 PINE SISKINS, 4 PURPLE FINCHES and a  NORTHERN HARRIER were seen. Three TURKEY VULTURES - likely the same three that have had some sort of morbid interest in the Whattam Funeral Home all week – were seen over Picton, and two more were spotted on County Road 10 near the junction of County Road 22 just down the road from the Prince Edward Flying Club. A late RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET was seen at Point Petre. Also an adult male COOPER’S HAWK on Point Petre Road near the turnoff to Lighthall Road, in a tree at the edge of a field with 270 AMERICAN CROWS. Some of the crows were in the same tree but not interested/bothered at all. They did scatter when the hawk took flight but no mobbing ensued – quite different to the mobbing usually seen with Red-tailed Hawk or Great Horned Owl, for example. And in Belleville, a first year male CAPE MAY WARBLER on Dunnett Blvd., continues to be seen occasionally visiting a feeder there for some sort of sustenance. The bird first appeared Saturday. And that’s it for today as the high winds carry us through the night. Best to get some guy wires on your bird feeders!

Sunday, November 23: First seen on November 16th, exactly one week ago to the day, in identical temperature and weather, the TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE  returned today to its crop of red cedar berries along County Road 18 near Sandbanks Provincial Park. The bird was easy to see from the roadside. If anyone wishes to try for the bird tomorrow (could be windy), I will be happy to give out the civic address privately as the property owner does not wish to make the address public. Surprisingly, few birders were out today despite the balmy weather. Other than a RED-TAILED HAWK seen along Telephone Road at Tremur Lake west of Trenton, and a NORTHERN FLICKER at Kingston’s Lemoine Point Conservation Area, bird reports are a bit sparse this evening, for a weekend. During a Kingston Field Naturalists outing at Marshlands Conservation area at Kingston, observers there did have a long list of birds but notably 2 COMMON REDPOLL and a RED-TAILED HAWK.  The group moved on the harbour by Invista - where they found REDHEADS, GREATER SCAUP, 68 TUNDRA SWANS, GADWALL, RING-NECKED DUCK, AMERICAN BLACK DUCK and all three merganser species. Then at the inner harbour they had RUDDY DUCKS, MUTE SWANS and AMERICAN WIGEONS along with all the regular birds. One observer with the group, continued on and found a BARRED OWL at Lemoine Point Conservation Area. In Smith's Bay in Prince Edward County, an amazing amount of ice formed by Friday but much of it disappeared with today’s temperatures. Counted were 200 MALLARDS, 150 CANADA GEESE, and 20 AMERICAN WIGEONS. A murmuration of 200 EUROPEAN STARLINGS also showed up in the same area.

Saturday, November 22: Yup! – the SANDHILL CRANES are still here! Forty-one of them flew over our house this morning, heading west. So, they appear to be hanging out still in the Big Island and Demorestville areas. Something a bit unusual today was a GRAY JAY that appeared in a Codrington area backyard, but hasn’t been seen again. Even more unusual was a first year male CAPE MAY WARBLER that was found by Belleville resident Sharron Blaney coming to her feeder near the west side of Belleville. Not able to find insect food at this season of the year, the warbler was feasting on sunflower chips.  A RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH showed up at an East Lake area feeder. A NORTHERN HARRIER  still on Big Island today, and another today on Airport Road at Belleville. COMMON REDPOLLS  continue to taunt us in this area with their now and again appearances, and failing to irrupt as we had hoped. One was seen today on Desmond Road in the Varty Lake area.  At Marshlands Conservation Area in Kingston, a few of the highlights there today included GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, NORTHERN HARRIER, 2 TUNDRA SWANS and a GREAT BLUE HERON.

Friday, November 21: Lemoine Point Conservation Area at Kingston, beside Norman Roger’s Airport, seemed to be the place to go today if you were seeking BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES. Fully 45 were counted there by one observer today. PINE SISKINS  continue to appear at feeding stations in trickles and torrents. A single bird today at Belleville’s Airport Parkway, but 80+ at a feeder in Wellington yesterday, and some new arrivals at a feeder east of Lake on the Mountain today. The two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS  at East Lake were at a Marisett Road feeder again today.  A rather chilly looking GREAT BLUE HERON was seen this morning in Demorestville Creek along County Road 5. Equally reluctant to take a hint from plummeting temperatures were the SANDHILL CRANES, heard again today somewhere along Black Road, west of Demorestville. They were not seen, so numbers are not known. Seen there though was a COOPER’S HAWK, and nearby at the corner of Black and Doxsee Roads was a murder of 40 AMERICAN CROWS.  This afternoon, an EASTERN MEADOWLARK popped up along Bronk Road, just north of the power line, north of Belleville. Other interesting sightings to come to my attention were 2 RED-NECKED GREBES in Portsmouth Harbour at Kingston, and 2 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS in the Camden East area, all seen yesterday. Those hoping to get a few finch species on their lists at Algonquin Park, had best wait just a bit as 68 cm of snow have fallen there in the past three days and Highway 60 was closed yesterday due to high winds. Anyway, things are still a little sparse there with only 13 PINE SISKINS and a single AMERICAN GOLDFINCH rounding out the feeder visitation so far at the Visitor Centre. Birding should improve once things get back to normal.

Thursday, November 20: Incredible! All but two of the original flock of SANDHILL CRANES that roamed the countryside at Big Island and Demorestville areas, are still around. A total of 49 swirled around above Elmbrook Road today, showing no sign of wanting to migrate to warmer climes anytime soon. Also on Elmbrook Road, just north of Picton,  a few PURPLE FINCHES at a feeder today, and one PINE SISKIN. However, it would appear that the majority of PINE SISKINS have gravitated to a Wellington feeder where at least 80 showed up today. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  showed up at another feeder in Wellington, in a different part of town, and two  - one adult and 1 juvenile – are at a feeder on Marisett Road at East Lake where 2 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS  joined the clientele there today. Good numbers of DARK-EYED JUNCOS are being reported from area feeders so perhaps the unsettled weather is holding them back from moving on, which a lot of them seem to do in late November. Always nice to have their contrasting grey and white forms accenting the winter scene at feeders. A feeder operator at Norwood today reported large numbers of juncos at his feeders. One cottager at Smith’s Bay summarized the weather down there by saying, “It is very unpleasant down there. Too much ice and blowing snow.” That, however, didn’t deter the birds. At least 60 HOODED MERGANSERS,  a few RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, 8 REDHEADS, 12 AMERICAN WIGEONS, 40 MALLARDS, and 55 TUNDRA SWANS were counted. The hordes of CANADA GEESE must have retreated to the protection of yet unharvested corn fields, for they surely were not present on the wind swept waters of Smith’s Bay. Two RED-TAILED HAWKS  were seen on Airport Parkway east of Belleville, and a MERLIN and a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK were both in the Camden East area today.  Also at Belleville, a GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL was seen flying over North Front Street.  At Presqu’ile Park today, a NORTHERN HARRIER and a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK were highlights there today, in a week that has produced 5 shorebird species, an AMERICAN COOT, a SNOWY OWL, AMERICAN PIPITS and a WINTER WREN. Fred Helleiner’s weekly report summarizing the week’s sightings is on the NatureStuff website now and can be accessed by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, November 19: One would think with today’s snow squalls off Lake Ontario (likely from Buffalo !), there would not have been much attention paid to birds. However, a few were taking note. One South Bay resident happened to look out his window and witnessed an immature BALD EAGLE on the ice off his property. It had what appeared to be a duck in its talons. When the resident went outside to get a better shot, the eagle took off, but returned 10 minutes later, joined by a second eagle, this time an adult bird. During the peak of the snow squalls at about 10:00 a.m., two TURKEY VULTURES seemed unaffected by the swirling snow as they circled low above Talbot Street in Picton. At Tremur Lake west of Trenton, the CANADA GEESE – along with the leucistic individual reported earlier) were still present today, along with a small group of all three species of mergansers. In the Carrying Place and Barcovan areas, several GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS and a BROWN CREEPER were seen. Feeders had all the usual suspects, but some nice finds were 5 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, and one each of  WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW and WHITE-THROATED SPARROW. An AMERICAN ROBIN was in a backyard today in Brighton and one is a daily visitor to a heated bird bath at Big Island. During the height of the storm this morning, a flock of 20 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES  descended on an East Lake sun deck and fed voraciously on seed scattered there. Yesterday, a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER were at a Lake on the Mountain feeder. Today 27 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  were at feeders along Black Road near Demorestville.  Four BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS  dropped in at a feeder on Luck’s Crossroad near Picton. At Smith’s Bay, high winds broke up much of the ice that had formed over the last few days, resulting in good numbers of waterfowl being seen, among them 100 TUNDRA SWANS in two separate groups. There were 400 ducks and geese present, among them MALLARDS, HOODED and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, LESSER SCAUP, REDHEADS, RING-NECKED DUCKS, AMERICAN WIGEONS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, and a lone NORTHERN PINTAIL. Fifty TUNDRA SWANS  were seeking shelter from the wind and snow today at Sheba’s Island, off West Lake Road. Likewise finding some shelter were 2 HOODED MERGANSERS at Belleville’s Victoria Park. And just east of Stirling today, a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK hovered almost stationary over an open field while facing a stiff west wind. I think we can assume, and hope, that the lingering GREAT EGRET that had been seen west of Demorestville, has departed for warmer climes. However, at least a few of the 51 SANDHILL CRANES that were in the Big Island and Demorestville areas for several days may still be around. Two did manage to spend the winter one year in the Hillier area.

Tuesday, November 18: Mostly feeder birds today, and who could blame them as they searched frantically for food and shelter in hurricane-strength winds and snow squalls today. A RUSTY BLACKBIRD appeared at a bird feeder on Fry Road as well as a FOX SPARROW. Both birds seen from the comfort of the owners’ home, while I spent two hours traipsing along the Rideau Trail in the Marshlands Conservation Area in Kingston as far north as Polson Park in snow squalls and high winds and saw nothing except for some very brave volunteers with the Rideau Trail Association making trail repairs! So, feeders was where it was at today. At South Bay, this held true with 6 PINE SISKINS, 9 COMMON GRACKLES, 3 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and numerous DARK-EYED JUNCOS visiting a ground feeder there. In Wellington, 2 dozen PINE SISKINS and a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW. No update on the TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE along County Road 18 near Sandbanks, so if it is indeed still in the area as some suspect, it is certainly playing hard to get. The CATTLE EGRET wasn’t seen today either at Whitby, and if you were a CATTLE EGRET – or any kind of egret – would you stick around on a day like today? But one bird of that ilk that did decide to wait out the winds today, was a GREAT BLUE HERON along Belleville’s Bayshore Trail as it stood nonchalantly up to its ankles in water.

Monday, November 17: The mystery bird from yesterday? It was a TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE, the fifth only to be seen in Prince Edward County in the last 10 years. The bird was seen munching on red cedar berries along the south shore of East Lake near Sandbanks Provincial Park yesterday, but unfortunately, wasn’t found today. It allowed for a close approach; hence, this great photo taken by the observer who found the bird on his property. Although the bird seems to have disappeared, at least, for today, anyone wishing to try for it can drop me an e-mail and I will provide the Civic Address #. The owner has requested that his address not be publicized. I will provide any updates as they come in as the bird may end up staying in the general area all winter. On the other side of East Lake, a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH and two COMMON GRACKLES have been regulars at a feeder there. The RED PHALAROPE  was seen again today on the Outlet Beach at Sandbanks. Incredibly, despite the weather and the lateness of the season, a total of six shorebird species were seen today. In addition to the phalarope, the SPOTTED SANDPIPER  was still present at Charwell Point off Army Reserve Road, and it was joined today by a single DUNLIN. Ten SANDERLINGS  were still at Point Petre, and at Wilton Creek near Napanee, 3 WILSON’S SNIPES  were found as well as two WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS. What an interesting November, although there were no reports of SANDHILL CRANES today, although doubtless, a few are probably still in the area. It’s a matter of following them around and locating them. Two CACKLING GEESE were seen today at Finkle’s Shore Park, near Amherstview this morning, and two very distant ducks believed to be CANVASBACKS were spotted on the north shore of Hay Bay. The GLAUCOUS GULL, seen yesterday along the Kiwanis Bayshore Trail, did not put in an appearance today. Early this morning, a GREAT HORNED OWL was calling from somewhere along County Road 15, directly across the marsh from Big Island. Those who have experienced problems remaining connected to my new bird feeder cam, the problem appears to be with my ISP and an uncertain connection at certain times of the day. If the connection is dropped for more than a few seconds, the video streaming will stop, requiring me to jump start it again. Please be patient and just keep trying at different times of the day. The bird feeder cam will be off for most of tomorrow while I make some changes to the feeder setup. 

Sunday, November 16: Certainly not the best of days by times, but that didn’t stop birders from getting out today. However, dyed in the wool birders know the best times to look for birds, so weather is never an issue if there are birds to be found. And, there were some really good sightings. A RED PHALAROPE   was seen earlier today along the Outlet Beach at Sandbanks Park. There were still 2 SANDERLINGS at Point Petre, down from the 11 seen by the same observer three days ago, and the 87 seen on the 12th. Charwell Point along the County’s South Shore, just on the east side of Gull Bar, produced a GREATER YELLOWLEGS and a lingering SPOTTED SANDPIPER. Despite the nice snowfall this morning, and likely more to come this evening, SANDHILL CRANES  are still trumpeting away on Big Island. There were a dozen in a corn field along the island’s Allison Road. After they left, a SNOWY OWL took its place later in the day in almost the same spot as the cranes had been seen! At Smith’s Bay this morning in a combination of fog and snow, the visibility was sufficient for an observer down there to count 150 CANADA GEESE, 50 MALLARDS, 13 AMERICAN WIGEONS, 7 BUFFLEHEADS, 10 HOODED MERGANSERS, 17 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, 26 MUTE SWANS and a nice surprise with the appearance of two TRUMPETER SWANS. Yesterday, there were an estimated 100 TUNDRA SWANS in with  500 MALLARDS, 300 CANADA GEESE and a mixture of RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, BUFFLEHEADS and both HOODED and COMMON MERGANSERS. Among them was a very opportunistic RING-BILLED GULL who was very adept at mugging the mergansers, repeatedly snatching fish as quickly as the mergansers brought them to the surface. Another nice bird today was a juvenile GLAUCOUS GULL, seen along the Kiwanis Bayshore Trail in Belleville, just east of the playground area. West of the Bay of Quinte area, the ornery CATTLE EGRET was present again today at Whitby. Yesterday, at Cobourg Harbour, one Belleville observer found 2 SNOW GEESE – one white morph and a blue morph. AMERICAN WIGEON were also among the geese, along with BUFFLEHEADS and LONG-TAILED DUCKS. At Cranberry Marsh, he found NORTHERN PINTAILS and HOODED MERGANSERS. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Bird Report as there is a really special bird to report, but I need to verify a few things with the observer first and if the bird is apt to stick around for birders to see. Sleep well tonight!

Saturday, November 15: Okay – it’s November 15th. The ground was frozen this morning and there is still some snow on the ground from Thursday's lake affect snow. Why are there some 50 SANDHILL CRANES still cavorting about in the Demorestville area? Several days ago there were over 50 on Big Island, and SANDHILL CRANES were having some sort of convention at the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville. Others, possibly the missing 20, were heard calling today on Big Island but could not be found. Other lingering migrants, obviously flirting with Mother Nature, was a HERMIT THRUSH at Prince Edward Point yesterday, a GREATER YELLOWLEGS at Kingston’s Dupont Lagoons, and 3 DUNLIN at Amherst Island. Not to be outdone were 11 SANDERLINGS yesterday at Point Petre and 3 TURKEY VULTURES  west of Wellington. And, of course, the CATTLE EGRET is still being seen in Whitby. More in keeping with the season is the SNOWY OWL at Amherst Island and 7 SNOW BUNTINGS at Point Traverse yesterday. Some of Ron Pittaway’s winter finch predictions are starting to materialize as 2 COMMON REDPOLLS turned up today at a feeder on Black Road, west of Demorestville. One had been seen earlier this month west of Wellington. Meanwhile, PINE SISKINS  continue to seemingly dominate the bird feeder scene right now. Twelve arrived at a feeder at Cressy yesterday, and today several flew over 23 Sprague Road, but kept right on going, despite the presence of more than 20 feeders in operation right now and the chance to get on camera with the Nature Stuff Live Bird Feeder cam. AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES are also numerous at many feeders with only a half dozen at our feeder, but 10 at a South Bay feeder and similar numbers at other feeders in the region. A male PURPLE FINCH stood out today as it mingled with a half dozen HOUSE FINCHES  today at a Big Island feeder.

Friday, November 14: With yesterday’s light snowfall and frigid temperatures early this morning, the winter bird feeding season  seems to be gearing up. Certainly there was lots of action at my feeders all day. The technical difficulties with the bird feeder cam seem to be resolved and we should be back on line once again tomorrow morning. A NORTHERN CARDINAL was in a Luck’s Crossroad backyard near Picton this morning where AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH, both HAIRY and DOWNY WOODPECKERS, and numerous BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES are also regular guests. AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES  seem to be on the upswing right now with varying numbers coming to most feeders these days. Highest number so far has been 22 at a Black Road feeder. PINE SISKINS have been no slouches either with at least two dozen visiting a feeder in Wellington. The WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL that first showed up last Sunday seems to have moved on, although a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER and a female PURPLE FINCH have remained regulars. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER is also a regular at an Elmbrook feeder where a BARRED OWL has also been present. Two FOX SPARROWS were at a Carrying Place feeder today. At Belle Park off Montreal Street in Kingston today, highlights there were 2 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 18 GREEN-WINGED TEAL and a BROWN CREEPER. And for those still interested in the Whitby CATTLE EGRET, it was seen again today. Don’t give up because it is November – there is lots of good stuff around.

Thursday, November 13: Despite windy conditions this morning and snow squalls this afternoon, birders were out today. Even yesterday wasn’t all that great, weather-wise. One birder (Tyler Hoar) at Point Petre yesterday experienced 50 km/h winds, gusting to to 75 km/h onshore with waves consistently ranging from six to 10 feet, with some 12-foot waves crashing in. Feeding on the wave-washed limestone steps along the south shore of the point, he found 87 SANDERLINGS, 4 DUNLIN and our first fall sighting of a PURPLE SANDPIPER. Been expecting those latecomers. A big treat was a female HARLEQUIN DUCK and late OSPREY moving west. He also hit pay dirt at Sandbanks Provincial Park where he found, not one, but three, RED PHALAROPES, foraging nearshore with LITTLE GULLS and 4 BONAPARTE’S GULLS along Outlet Beach. Other LITTLE GULLS  were found at EAST LAKE (10), and a single at the West Lake Dunes Day Use Area. TURKEY VULTURES  are still around with 2 at Bloomfield being seen, 1 at West Lake and 6 along the Outlet Beach. Time for them to move out since last winter’s cold temperatures and this year’s cool summer has really suppressed the botulism type E deaths this year, and subsequently, fewer carcasses for lingering vultures to feed on this fall. The Roadkill Cafe is all they have right now!  Today, at Prince Edward Point, counted were 13 CEDAR WAXWINGS, 8 AMERICAN ROBINS, 1 MERLIN, 1 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, a  RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, a banded HAIRY WOODPECKER, 1 RUFFED GROUSE, 6 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, a WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH, 4 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, 16 MALLARDS, 4 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS, 1 RED-TAILED HAWK and a single TURKEY VULTURE. At the Black River Cheese Factory bridge, an adult BALD EAGLE  was seen, and 80 TUNDRA SWANS  were calling from South Bay. For those interested in travelling to Whitby, the lingering  CATTLE EGRET is still at its usual location. At Wellington Harbour today, 20 NORTHERN PINTAILS  were present seeking shelter from the high seas on Lake Ontario. Also present were 19 BUFFLEHEAD, 22 MUTE SWANS, and 21 BONAPARTE’S GULLS.

Wednesday, November 12: Not much birding today due to the cooling trend this afternoon and high winds. At the Martin Edwards Reserve on Amherst Island yesterday, highlights there included 2 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, 7 DUNLIN, a  COMMON LOON, HORNED GREBE, SNOW BUNTINGS and a SNOWY OWL. Some nice sightings in the Prince Edward County area that filtered in today included a late PHILADELPHIA VIREO at Point Petre on Monday, and a equally late NASHVILLE WARBLER near the Prince Edward Point lighthouse the following day.  Amazingly, two MONARCH BUTTERFLIES  were out and about. A CATTLE EGRET that turned up a week ago in Whitby was still around today, but no further reports of a lingering GREAT EGRET that has been roosting all by its lonesome at the Hamilton Wetland near Demorestville. At Wellington, bellying up to the bar on Narrow Street on the western outskirts of the village was A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  as well as the single female WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL and a few PINE SISKINS. In Brighton, a feeder there is also hosting some PINE SISKINS – 10 of them – as well as an AMERICAN ROBIN, 10 DARK-EYED JUNCOS and 9 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS among the clientele of 14 species there. In the space I have left, I will put in a plug for a Birdfeeding Seminar I will be conducting at Quinte Conservation as part of their Information Nights series, on Tuesday, November 25th, from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. We will be touching on what birds to expect at your feeders this winter, dispelling popular myths, the best places to purchase your bird feed and a chance to share your stories. There will also be a Power Point presentation which I have titled, “The Sunflower Cult”.  I may even bring along some Timbits and/or cookies – chocolate, of course. No charge for the evening, so join us if you can. 

Tuesday, November 11: About a dozen or so PINE SISKINS have settled in at a feeder on Narrow Street in Wellington. The WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL made an appearance too as did a marauding band of 60 or so CEDAR WAXWINGS gobbling up juniper berries as they went.  A bit slow though in the County with only a few reports coming in today, one being a lingering FOX SPARROW in the Ameliasburgh area. It`s not too late yet, of course, for FOX SPARROWS, as the odd one is even seen in winter, but usually by this date, most have cleared out. Considered really ornery though is a lone GREAT EGRET that continues to fly solo dutifully every  night to the Hamilton Wetland west of Demorestville, where it roosts in solitude where up to 80 had roosted only six weeks earlier. Other birds, normally in great abundance at this wetland, have also dwindled in numbers. Last evening, there were barely a dozen ducks, a RED-TAILED HAWK and a single NORTHERN HARRIER present where seemingly thousands of waterfowl are present during the early fall months. Two PILEATED WOODPECKERS, seen at close range, a COMMON RAVEN, and a light morph ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK were the only highlights today in the Stinson Block area of Consecon. At Tremur Lake along Wooler Road, west of Trenton, present today were large numbers of CANADA GEESE, 60 HOODED MERGANSERS, 12 LESSER SCAUP and the resident family of three TRUMPETER SWANS. And just to remind us that winter is on its way, a SNOWY OWL was seen today at the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area north of Brockville, to add to the three that turned up earlier this month at Amherst Island and Presquìle Park.

Monday, November 10: Not much change from yesterday actually. About a dozen PINE SISKINS and the female WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL are still coming to a feeder on Narrow Street in Wellington. At least two SANDHILL CRANES  were calling this morning from somewhere on Big island, west of Sprague Road. Six TURKEY VULTURES  were circling above the Whattam Funeral Home in Picton this morning. What was that all about? A RED-TAILED HAWK was along C.R. 4 (Talbot Street) north of Picton late this afternoon. Not too many birders pay much attention to cormorants, assuming all of them to be DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS. One birder on Wolfe Island did yesterday, and found an uncommon GREAT CORMORANT at the Big Sandy Bay Conservation Area. Interest is growing in the new NatureStuff Live Bird Feeder cam and business most days is brisk with two HAIRY WOODPECKERS, 1 DOWNY WOODPECKER, 15 BLUE JAYS, a half dozen AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, 2 WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES.........and, of course, the EASTERN CHIPMUNK. If I am home, the bird cam is on by 7:00 a.m. and is turned off at 4:00 p.m. Please report any issues to me as I am still trying to navigate through all the settings and controls and fine tune everything. The camera itself actually looks down at the feeder from above. Signing in for the first time is easy, requiring only your e-mail address. CLICK HERE.

Sunday, November 09: At first, Sydney Smith of Wellington thought she just had a larger than usual PINE SISKIN, until she realized that she had a WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL at her feeder, feeding with the PINE SISKINS. Despite a RED CROSSBILL also being seen at Prince Edward Point several days ago, birders probably shouldn’t get too excited about a possible invasion of crossbills like we had back in the winter of 2008-2009 when flocks of 50 to 150 were commonly encountered feasting on the cones of White Spruce. According to Ron Pittaway who predicts the comings and goings of boreal finches, he says WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS move east and west like a pendulum across North America searching for bumper cone crops. In the Northeast they should winter in numbers around James Bay and east across north/central Quebec into the Gaspe Peninsula where spruce crops are heavy. They are currently abundant in boreal areas of Quebec such as Charlevoix and Chibougamau, but are unlikely to irrupt south in numbers because the excellent spruce cone crops in Quebec, northwestern Canada and Alaska should keep this crossbill within the boreal forest. However, we may be treated to isolated numbers this winter as we are seeing right now. To add to the promise of more wintry days ahead, three SNOWY OWLS  were seen today – one in Oshawa, and two at Presqu’ile Park. One was almost pure white, while another on Sebastopol Island, out from Owen Point,  was quite heavily barred. Others that should soon be thinking of moving on, seem to be challenging the coming winter weather, such as the 5 SANDERLINGS, 5 DUNLINS, and two WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS that were present there today. Two GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS also put in a presence. A PILEATED WOODPECKER was at the Calf Pasture Point area where a BELTED KINGFISHER was present a day earlier. Seven PINE SISKINS  were at a feeder at Presqu’ile Point.  In Tremur Lake west of Trenton, there was a gaggle of 100 CANADA GEESE, along with 40 HOODED MERGANSERS, 40 MALLARDS and a lone AMERICAN BLACK DUCK. At Carrying Place, at 12 O’clock Point, a TUNDRA SWAN was seen, as well as a PIED-BILLED GREBE, a REDHEAD, a few RING-NECKED DUCKS, GADWALLS and AMERICAN WIGEONS. This is the first weekend for Project FeederWatch and feeders were booming as though in expectation of the winter surveys. An EVENING GROSBEAK turned up today at a Bloomfield feeder as did a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, and the usual guests expected at this time of the year. Over a dozen RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS continue to patronize a feeder on Big Island, as does a lively group of some 15 BLUE JAYS, numbers this feeder doesn’t usually see until the first marked snowfall. 

Saturday, November 08: Despite the drizzle this afternoon, birding wasn’t half bad, if you managed to get out this morning. It paid off for one birder who found an AMERICAN AVOCET on Amherst Island. The bird was found in the pond on the Martin Edwards Reserve at the east end of Amherst Island. Please note that you must be a member of Kingston Field Naturalists (KFN) or be accompanied by a member to access the Martin Edwards Reserve. At Prince Edward Point today, a BROWN THRASHER  was spotted along Long Point Road just west of the former Ducks Dive Charters. Fifty COMMON GOLDENEYE  were seen along the same road in Prince Edward Bay, and six BUFFLEHEAD  were seen in Lake Ontario out from the Prince Edward Point lighthouse. A birder at Prince Edward Point had a COOPER’S HAWK land on a branch directly above his head. Also seen were 6 RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS. At Point Petre, 35 COMMOIN GOLDENEYE, 12 BUFFLEHEAD and a dozen or so LONG-TAILED DUCKS flying by. Two COMMON LOONS  were at Glenora Ferry early this morning. Numbers of waterfowl and species change every day on  Tremur Lake on Wooler Road, west of Trenton (Telephone Road). Today there were still 20 HOODED MERGANSERS but also one WOOD DUCK, two BUFFLEHEADS and three TRUMPETER SWANS (two adults and one young). There was also one leucistic CANADA GOOSE which had all the field marks of that species except for an all white head and neck. The access road on the south side of the road had a very close and low MERLIN. It seemed to be okay but maybe was hiding from a flock of BLUE JAYS. Birding in the Ameliasburgh area was a bit slow given the wind and damp weather. A few species of interest were singles of FOX SPARROW, CHIPPING SPARROW, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER and GREAT BLUE HERON.  The elusive SANDHILL CRANES at Big Island (original count of 51), continue to be elusive. Numerous cranes were heard trumpeting in the distance – at least a dozen - but despite a speedy response in the direction of the calls, they gave me the slip. There are just so many interior soybean and corn fields where they may have been hiding out to escape the wind.

Friday, November 07: Certainly no lack of NORTHERN HARRIERS these days. Both a male and female have been present in the Camden East area for some time.  Two are present daily at Big Island, and another was seen today along County Road 5 near Demorestville. It’s a nice mix of still present migrants, augmented by a few arrivals, typical of the winter season approaching. Two of these, AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS and DARK-EYED JUNCOS  were common roadside birds in the Ameliasburgh area today. But lingering migrants were also present as though challenging the rigours of the cooler days now upon us – lots of WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS,  a single WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, a few GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, one RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET and a single HERMIT THRUSH to add spice to the mix. Eight TURKEY VULTURES were seen near Bloomfield, obviously in no particular hurry to migrate with lots to eat at the Roadkill Cafe. Two SANDHILL CRANES  were spotted at their customary location along County Road 5 just north of Bethel Road. No sign of the 50+ SANDHILL CRANES on Big Island though that created a mild furor among local birders for a couple days. Reluctant to leave has been at least one GREAT EGRET that was seen today in the Bloomfield Marsh along Wesley Acres Road. It surely must be a loner as all others we expect have long since departed. If you are into waterfowl watching, Kingston is certainly the place to go as many locations are are lined up for you in close proximity to each other. At one of these,  the Marshlands Conservation Area beside the Cataraqui Golf and Country Club, 10 species were present today, among them 7 AMERICAN COOTS, 20 AMERICAN WIGEONS, 4 WOOD DUCKS, and TWO NORTHERN SHOVELERS. Beside Lake Ontario Park at Cataraqui Bay, 400 GREATER SCAUP and 60 REDHEADS were high counts there among the 6 waterfowl species present. And just west of there at Sand Bay, a lone BRANT  and a COMMON LOON were seen. But there are numerous locations in the Bay of Quinte region too, to see waterfowl at this time of the year, namely Presqu’ile Park. Waterfowl is gathering at Wellington Harbour as they are elsewhere too. On Muscote Bay at Big Island, there have been several thousand ducks present, among them LESSER SCAUP, AMERICAN WIGEON, RING-NECKED DUCKS and REDHEADS.    

Thursday, November 06: Regular guests at a Swamp College Road feeder near Wellington include a handful of PURPLE FINCHES, COMMON GRACKLE, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, NORTHERN CARDINALS and RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS.  One can presume that the fine weather has contributed, in part, to the scattered reports of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS  coming to area feeders. The dozen or so coming daily to our feeder could very well be regarded as a “plethora”. Doubtless, once that first snowfall arrives, all of us will be back to feeder guests, more typical of the season. Big Island residents and other area birders are still in quest of the 51+ SANDHILL CRANES that favoured one of the many soybean fields on the island. Several of us were out today, and while two were seen in flight and also heard trumpeting, the original “siege” (that’s what they’re called as a group or, how about a “construction” of cranes! ) seem to have departed. Their calls are unmistakable,  suggesting a French-style "r" rolled in the throat, and can be heard from a long distance. In the Trenton area - at Tremur Lake on Wooler Road, the ducks from yesterday were still there but the east side also had 4 drake GREEN-WINGED TEAL and a lone first year GREAT BLUE HERON. There were a few interesting sightings in the Ameliasburgh area. Flocks of note were 40 SNOW BUNTINGS, 70 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS and 100 CEDAR WAXWINGS along County Road 39, west of Consecon, commonly known as the Stinson Block. There were singles of COOPER’S HAWK, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, FOX SPARROW and RUSTY BLACKBIRD. For the first time  there were no kinglets, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS or TURKEY VULTURES. The observer’s curiosity though almost got the best of him.  A three foot NORTHERN WATER SNAKE  seemed to be irritated by the observer’s curiosity. “To get a better look” he said, “ I got quite close and it struck out at me!”  A few other sightings around the Quinte area included a RED-TAILED HAWK on Allison Road at Big Island, two dozen PINE SISKINS at a Wellington feeder, and a PILEATED WOODPECKER at Miller Road/Mowbray Road (south of Picton). Another 23 SNOW BUNTINGS seen today in the Gananoque area makes us wonder if snow is just around the corner. The Presqu’ile Park Weekly Bird Report by Fred Helleiner has just been uploaded to the NatureStuff website. You can read it by CLICKING HERE. Barred Owl, Blue-headed Vireo, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush....all kinds of good stuff.

Wednesday, November 05: For anyone visiting Prince Edward Point, in particular, the Point Traverse Woods, the trails were all mowed today. Except for the noise we were making, the woods were relatively quiet today except for a DOWNY WOODPECKER, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET and DARK-EYED JUNCOS. Quite a difference from mid-May! Also seen en route were CEDAR  WAXWINGS and a lone SANDHILL CRANE standing along Long Point Road. Birders on Big Island (and there were several) who were hoping for a glimpse of the 51 SANDHILL CRANES that had been leisurely pasturing in a harvested field of soybeans, were disappointed today as there was no longer any sign of them. I even went so far as to investigate every soybean field at the western end of the island with no success. One birder didn’t go home empty handed though. A lone BRANT was found loafing on a gravel bar in Robinson Cove along the north shore of the island.  A NORTHERN HARRIER spent all afternoon coursing to and fro over the meadows west of 23 Sprague Road today, and another juvenile and adult have been present all week south of Picton near the corner of Miller Road and Mowbray Road. Also at that address, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW and  RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER. The annual gathering of HOODED MERGANSERS has begun on Tremur Lake (west end of Trenton at the corner Wooler Rd and Telephone Rd). There were 55 birds there this afternoon with the large majority males. They are close to the road and easy to see and photograph. Also present were some AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS and MALLARDS  and about a dozen LESSER SCAUP. At Kingston’s Lemoine Point Conservation Area, a few interesting birds tallied there today included a NORTHERN FLICKER, and 4 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS. Signs of weather to come were reflected in the sighting of 100 SNOW BUNTINGS at Bell Park, where a hundred AMERICAN COOTS,  a BELTED KINGFISHER, 100 GADWALL, a  GREAT BLUE HERON, 7 RUDDY DUCKS, 400 REDHEADS, and 15 NORTHERN SHOVELERS  were also added to a birder’s list today.  Other sightings of interest have included WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS in a Fry Road backyard, a NORTHERN SHRIKE at Prince Edward Point three days ago, and 12 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS at a Big Island feeder.

Tuesday, November 04:  SANDHILL CRANES were back again on South Big Island Road, just west of Allison Road. I did a count today and came up with 48, pasturing leisurely at the bottom of a large harvested soybean field, just a field west of Civic Address #693. Quite the sight, and by far the largest assemblage ever recorded in Prince Edward County and environs. Another birder an hour later did some further investigating, and located a separate tiny group nearby, bringing the grand total to 51 birds! They seemed quite unconcerned about the wind that was ruffling their feathers. In contrast, a GREAT BLUE HERON I found just downstream from the Lott Dam in Belleville, looked positively miserable late this afternoon. Birding was poor here and all I could find were about a dozen RING-BILLED GULLS and two MALLARDS. Birding was better for another birder at Zwick’s Park near the Norris Whitney Bridge with 50 RING-BILLED GULLS, 6 BUFFLEHEAD, 30 MALLARDS, and 150 CANADA GEESE. An AMERICAN BLACK DUCK was along the Kiwanis Bayshore Trail. The first three COMMON REDPOLLS were seen somewhere in Prince Edward County, but the exact location is not known. Predictions are that we may get a few redpolls this winter at feeding stations, and this sighting is a good omen for sure.A single GREAT EGRET was seen in flight, heading toward the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville - really late for this species.

Monday, November 03: A FOX SPARROW was seen today feasting away in a corn field near Wellington. Another FOX SPARROW was seen feeding under a bird feeder near Lake on the Mountain, and yet another was spotted along Station Road at Hillier. Other birds seen in the Hillier/Millennium Trail area  were 2 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS, and 5 GREEN-WINGED TEAL at Slab Creek. An EASTERN PHOEBE  was found on Arthur Road at the Stinson Block south of Consecon and 50 CEDAR WAXWINGS were found along C.R. 39 at the Stinson Block, all feeding voraciously on red cedar berries. The season for GREAT EGRETS may very well be over on Indian Island in the Bay of Quinte near Trenton, as none was seen this evening, but at least one is still hanging in there at the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville. It showed up this evening at 4:25 p.m. Also showing up were the resident two SANDHILL CRANES, but they paled in comparison to an amazing flock of 30 that settled into a field along South Big Island Road at Allison Road at about 4:00 p.m. This represents the highest number in a single group ever to be seen in Prince Edward County and was likely a migrating group that decided to stop during migration for a bite to eat. South of Napanee today, 3 KILLDEER were still around. Quite obviously, the birds at 23 Sprague Road on Big Island, enjoy being on camera as most other feeders on the property have been abandoned in favour of the new feed tray at the Live Bird Cam. Posing for videos today were fully 12 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and close to 20 BLUE JAYS and an EASTERN CHIPMUNK that just keeps on stuffing his cheeks. At Carrying Place today, a dead VIRGINIA OPOSSUM was found along the edge of Highway 33.

Sunday, November 02: On Smith’s Bay today, a single AMERICAN WIGEON was among several species of waterfowl present, including a hundred or more CANADA GEESE, 8 HOODED MERGANSERS, 2 COMMON MERGANSERS, 2 WOOD DUCKS, 20 MALLARDS, 6 BUFFLEHEADS, 3 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, four PIED-BILLED GREBES, and 80 distant swans. Although the latter were probably MUTE SWANS, it is time for TUNDRA SWANS to be passing through, and Smith’s Bay and neighbouring South Bay are two bodies of water where this species frequently hangs out, until freeze-up. A late OSPREY was also present, along with three RIVER OTTERS. Wellington Harbour is also showing some promise, and present there today were 28 MUTE SWANS, 80 MALLARDS, 2 COMMON MERGANSERS, 2 LESSER SCAUP, 9 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 30 BUFFLEHEADS, and 13 AMERICAN WIGEONS. Three species of gulls were on hand too – RING-BILLED, HERRING and BONAPARTE'S, and one lone DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT. A PIED-BILLED GREBE  was seen there by another observer. Of particular interest today was a very late CLIFF SWALLOW at 786 Kelly Road, west of the intersection of King Road. While November “cliff swallows” usually translate into CAVE SWALLOWS that make their way into Ontario at this time of year, this was definitely a late CLIFF SWALLOW according to observer Tyler Hoar. CLIFF SWALLOWS are rarely seen after mid-September. Another good sighting today was a CATTLE EGRET, something rarely seen in these parts any more since they stopped nesting at Presqu’ile Park in the 1960s. This bird was present for much of the day along Highway 2, east of Napanee in the area of Civic Addresses 6839 and 7037 between Morven and Storms Corners. Predictably, it was in a field with cattle. Between Brighton and Salem today, a nice flight of raptors which included 10 GOLDEN EAGLES (mostly juveniles), 5 BALD EAGLES (all immatures), 3 RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS, 22 RED-TAILED HAWKS, 10 TURKEY VULTURES (in one kettle), and a handful of Accipiters – SHARP-SHINNED and COOPER’S. Back in Prince Edward County, at least three GOLDEN EAGLES, clearly identifiable by a photo that was submitted, were seen riding the thermals above West  Lake. Elsewhere in the County, a nice sprinkling of sightings here and there involving a BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD on Conley Road at the Wellington Mushroom Plant, a MERLIN on nearby Gilead Road, a RUFFED GROUSE at the Demorestville Conservation Area, RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER on Fry Road, a NORTHERN HARRIER on Doxsee Road, and a WHITE-CROWNED and a FOX SPARROW on Norton Road. A MERLIN got its picture took on a live bird cam at 23 Sprague Road as it divebombed a half dozen BLUE JAYS happily feeding on the feed tray in front of the camera. The BLUE JAYS scattered and then regrouped to give chase, and the MERLIN left for more hospitable abodes. On a three kilometre hike around a neighbouring farm today west of Sprague Road, seen were 2 EASTERN MEADOWLARKS, a SONG SPARROW, PILEATED  WOODPECKER, three HAIRY WOODPECKERS, several AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS and scattered flocks of DARK-EYED JUNCOS. The owner of the property maintains several kilometres of mowed trails around the entire 106 acres. How lucky can a neighbouring birder get?

Saturday, November 01: As might be expected, there was no owl banding last night due to the weather. The total number of NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS banded since September ended at 603. Also banded were 19 BARRED OWLS, 2 EASTERN SCREECH-OWLS and one LONG-EARED OWL. Although the fall banding season is now over, the trails, both at the Bird Observatory and in the Point Traverse Woods, remain open to the birding public. We expect to give the Point Traverse Trails their final mowing sometime next week, weather permitting. Incidentally, after over 10 years of maintaining these trails with volunteers, this will be my final season, so we are still looking for someone to keep the dog strangling vine and prickly ash mowed once a year so birders may continue to enjoy these trails. Speaking of Prince Edward Point, some interesting bird sightings over the past week have come to my attention, including a BOHEMIAN WAXWING near the lighthouse on October 30th, also a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER and an equally tardy BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER. Five BLACK SCOTERS were also noteworthy. Today, two SANDHILL CRANES were spotted in a field along County Road 5, between Fry Road and Bethel Road. Three EASTERN MEADOWLARKS  flew out of a hay field west of 23 Sprague Road late this evening, and a NORTHERN HARRIER  was seen flying low over the Mountain View air field earlier in the day. A NORTHERN HARRIER has also become a regular at Camden East, where a RED-TAILED HAWK has also been present. Today, a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  appeared at a Black Road feeder near Demorestville. Eight PINE SISKINS were at a feeder in Napanee today and a “large flock” dropped in to a feeder in Wellington. A RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD was at the same feeder, and at least a dozen are at a Big Island feeder. It’s shaping up to be an interesting winter, bird-wise, at feeding stations. Today at the Little Creek Conservation Area, a Belleville birder found a few good sightings including 3 HOODED MERGANSERS and a RED-TAILED HAWK. And despite the late date, there were still two GREAT EGRETS  this evening at the Indian Island egret roost in the Bay of Quinte, east of Carrying Place.

Last Updated ( Jan 24, 2015 at 08:55 PM )
Community Wildlife Monitoring Program Workshop PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Jan 22, 2015 at 07:09 AM


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Presqu'ile Provincial Park Bird Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Jan 22, 2015 at 06:00 AM

Presqu'ile Provincial Park Bird Report


Presqu'ile Provincial Park

courtesy of Fred Helleiner


 Jan. 16 - Jan. 22

As in most of southern Ontario, winter conditions persist at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, and the preponderance of bird sightings reflects that.
Swans have been the flavour of the week.  Hundreds of MUTE SWANS have been in Presqu'ile Bay all week, even when it is frozen over. The high count was a record 586 individuals on January 18.  In addition, the two adult and two immature TRUMPETER SWANS mentioned in last week's report were also there on that day and two TUNDRA SWANS, the first of the season, were there yesterday.  The hoped for influx of REDHEADS in the wake of last weekend's short-lived mild spell failed to materialize, but a female CANVASBACK on January 18 and a male RING-NECKED DUCK on January 19 were welcome Red-shouldered Hawk. Photo by Susan Shipmansubstitutes. RUFFED GROUSE are year-round residents of the Park, but are seldom seen, an exception occurring on January 20.  A few interesting raptors have been around, most notably BALD EAGLES.  They were hanging around the ice of Presqu'ile Bay from January 16 -19, with four seen at once on January 18.  They are not likely far away, even now; in fact, one flew past just after this was written.  A NORTHERN HARRIER and two different COOPER'S HAWKS were also seen, an adult of the latter that sat and monitored a bird feeder for almost an hour and a juvenile that flew in from across the bay.  Just outside the Park, a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK (photo of last year's sighting by Susan Shipman of Wellington) has been seen repeatedly at the south end of Ontario Street, probably the same bird that frequented that area last winter.  A few RED-TAILED HAWKS round out that group. Three RING-BILLED GULLS, the first of the season, were seen on January 18.  Not to be outdone by the hawks, a few owls have also been seen this week: a lone remaining SNOWY OWL yesterday, a BARRED OWL on January 19, and the prize bird of the week, a LONG-EARED OWL, discovered by crows, that was seen several times on January 16 but has not been found since then.
A PILEATED WOODPECKER was again seen this week.  NORTHERN SHRIKES were seen in widely separated parts of the Park.  A HERMIT THRUSH near the lighthouse on January 16 was nowhere near the one seen two days earlier.  A flock of 25 AMERICAN ROBINS has been taking advantage of the unusual presence (in January) of an extensive lawn.  CEDAR WAXWINGS have been absent all winter but two flocks appeared this week not far from Presqu'ile, so these wanderers may soon show up.  A flock of 10-15 SNOW BUNTINGS was on Gull Island last Saturday.  The PINE WARBLER present for the past weeks continues to be a regular visitor at the bird sightings board feeder, where a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was also seen on January 16 and 17.  Another WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW continue to patronize the feeders at 83 and 85 Bayshore Road. COMMON REDPOLLS are being seen daily, the largest group, variously estimated at 80-110 birds, frequenting Gull Island.
To reach Presqu'ile Provincial Park, follow the signs from Brighton. Locations within the Park are shown on a map at the back of a tabloid that is available at the Park gate. Visitors to Gull “Island” can walk across the gap from Owen Point without special footwear. Ice conditions may make for slippery walking. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.

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


Last Updated ( Jan 22, 2015 at 08:02 PM )
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