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Rise and Fall of the Purple Finch PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Oct 23, 2014 at 03:00 AM
 

   THE RISE AND FALL OF THE PURPLE FINCH 

                              Thursday, October 23, 2014                                      

It was just a few kilometres from where we live when I saw my first purple finches. I was barely in my twenties, and was a relative newcomer to the ranks of the birding fraternity. Pretty much any species was a fresh entry on my life list! It was March and the birds were coming to a series of small hanging feeders that dangled in front of the living room windows.
 
This was also my first introduction to misnomers. These birds, at least the males, were not purple, but looked more like they had been dipped in raspberry juice, then left out in the sun to dry. Their also host didn’t know too much about why they were there, except to consume vast quantities of sunflower seed, and wasn’t sure where they came from each spring, or where they were going, after they disappeared in April. The colourful sparrow-like birds simply arrived every March, without fanfare, and without revealing many secrets.
 
When the birds first arrived at my own feeders, they numbered only two - a male and a female, and I was overjoyed to know that I was now going to experience my very own purple finches, albeit only two. By the end of the week, there were close to 75 purple finches that descended on my feeding station every morning, all of them vying for space at my small self-feeders, arguing amongst themselves with excitable notes that sounded more like creaky door hinges. In the afternoon, they retired to the backyard, in a grove of poplars, where they produced an ongoing musical warble that was as natural as the rippling of a mountain brook.
 
We haven’t seen purple finches in such numbers for several decades. They are declining and bird feeder operators want to know why. The principal cause of the decline may be the absence of large outbreaks of spruce budworm. Some think the decline was caused, at least in part, to the appearance of the very similar house finch which exploded in numbers shortly after its arrival to eastern Lake Ontario in the 1970s. At feeders, the new arrivals were competitors. In aggressive interactions, the house finch nearly always won. Purple finches, in their traditional spring arrival at their customary bird feeders didn’t stand much of a chance.
 
The house finch made its Ontario debut in 1972, interestingly at Prince Edward Point, and within 10 years were among the most common species at bird feeders all along the Lake Ontario and Erie shorelines. House finches, natives of western North America, were introduced to the eastern states around 1940, when caged birds were illegally released in New York.
 
Purple finches were always more common in these parts during spring and fall migrations, than they were as a nesting species. They prefer coniferous growths, so are therefore more commonly encountered as a nesting species in the boreal forests, and only occasionally may be found nesting here, and are almost entirely absent from the extensively cultivated areas of southwestern Ontario. House finches on the other hand are quite at home nesting in a hanging flower pot, or in an ornamental wreath hanging on a door, which is where I found my first nest, in Bloomfield, in 1990. So, as a species that really isn’t into a set migration pattern like most species, preferring instead to move about from feeder to feeder in loose winter flocks, and has nesting habits not unlike those of the house sparrow, it already has the upper hand when purple finches arrive. Purple finches are treated as interlopers in a territory already claimed by more resident house finches. Purple finches are short distance migrants, wintering not far south of their breeding range. They don’t seem to be into the long drawn out migrations of insectivorous warblers, for example, that winter in northern South America.
 
So where does that leave the hapless purple finch that some of us remember appearing in such flocks at our bird feeders in past years? Is the bird doomed to extinction, or perhaps local extirpation? Probably not, but we will likely never enjoy the large numbers of past years when 50 or more at feeders every spring was the norm.
 
Although similar, purple finches and house finches are not that difficult to tell apart. Male house finches are a rosy pink colour and very smooth, while male purple finches are larger and more robust. The females are easier to tell apart. The female house finch is grey and softly textured, lightly striped on the breast, with no noticeable facial markings. Female purple finches have coarser features, are more heavily striped and have a noticeable broad, white stripe behind each eye.
 
Like most finch species, the purple finch tends to be cyclic, erupting in somewhat larger numbers across portions of their winter range, which is probably attributed to successes and failures in conifer seed crops. Last winter many purple finches stayed in the boreal forest because of bumper seed crops there. This fall most of them should migrate south of Ontario because many coniferous and deciduous tree seed crops are poor in central and northeastern Ontario. When purple finches leave Ontario in October and November, they return in mid-April to mid-May to breed. At feeders Purples prefer sunflower seeds.
 
Quinte Area Bird Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Oct 22, 2014 at 06:00 AM

Purple Finch. Photo by Derek DafoePurple Finch. Photo by Derek DafoeTHE QUINTE AREA BIRD REPORT


 

with sightings from the Bay of Quinte region, and beyond

 

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Please e-mail your sightings to   Terry Sprague


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


Barred and Northern Saw-whet Owls. Photo by PEPtBOWednesday, October 22: Rain last night prevented any NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS being banded, so the total for the fall season remains at 245 owls to date. If you have never seen a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL before, and may wonder just how tiny they really are, this photo supplied by the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory shows the difference in size between it and the larger BARRED OWL. The BARRED OWL, by the way, regards its smaller counterpart as “feathered Timbits”. In real life, they could never be this close together without one eating the other!  Early this morning a flock of 20 SANDHILL CRANES flew over the East Hill district of Belleville, on the Bay of Quinte, in a V-formation, heading northwest. One has to wonder if some of these are the same cranes that are seen occasionally at the Hamilton Wetland along County Road 14 in Prince Edward County, off Highway 62. Incidentally, last night`s final count of GREAT EGRETS at the Hamilton Wetland between 5:29 p.m. and 6:16 p.m., ended at 14 birds.  BALD EAGLE numbers seem to be building as winter approaches. Two were seen this morning flying over Adolphus Reach below Lake on the Mountain. At least one of the birds was an adult, and another was seen again this evening as the observer and I talked on the phone. Five WILD TURKEYS  were observed this morning along Tank Farm Road near Cannifton, north of Belleville. Also in Belleville, along the Kiwanis Bayshore Trail, seven species of waterfowl were encountered, among them 125 CANADA GEESE, 180 LESSER SCAUP, 2 COMMON GOLDENEYE and COMMON MERGANSER. Of particular interest was a late NASHVILLE WARBLER. This species has been seen in October before by banders at Prince Edward Point, but seldom later than this date. WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, SONG SPARROW, CEDAR WAXWING, and both kinglet species were also tallied along the trail. PINE SISKINS  continue to taunt us with their sporadic appearance this week with individuals being seen at Prince Edward Point, and others at a feeder on Fry Road, north of Picton. Ten waterfowl species were present in yesterday’s rain at the Marshlands Conservation Area in Kingston, among them 300 GADWALL, 2 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 8 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 60 NORTHERN PINTAILS and a single PIED-BILLED GREBE. In Cataraqui Bay, 700 GREATER SCAUP and five REDHEADS  were present.

Tuesday, October 21: Likely only the foolhardy would choose to attempt any birding today. Except for a small flock of PINE SISKINS  that showed up at The Birdhouse Nature Store in Wooler, almost all reports comprise those that came in today from observations made yesterday. A GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL  continues to be seen perched atop one of the light standards at the Norris Whitney Bridge at Belleville/Rossmore. Not surprisingly, no NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS were banded last night at Prince Edward Point, due to the steady rain. However, some interesting birds were seen by one observer down that way earlier in the day. Certainly, there were duck species seen to remind us that winter is a comin’, among them 50 GREATER SCAUP, 2 BUFFLEHEAD, 100 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, 4 SURF SCOTERS, and the best harbinger of winter of all – 50 LONG-TAILED DUCKS. Six PINE SISKINS were seen there to add to the numerous other reports of this species that have trickled in during the past several days. The question is, will they favour us with their presence this winter, or will they just keep moving further south? Another sign of more wintry days was a total of 60 DARK-EYED JUNCOS at Prince Edward Point, and the 2 RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES were also suggestive of winter. However, 30 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS tallied continue to defy winter’s approach as they turn their attention now from an insect diet to one of spiders and perhaps a crop of red cedar berries. Two COMMON LOONS, and 8 HORNED GREBES were also good sightings down that way yesterday. The 30 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS and 20 WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS suggest that their migration hasn’t slowed down appreciably, while the sighting of a LINCOLN’S SPARROW  was also interesting as it is well past their average fall departure date. Also the FIELD SPARROW which has persisted in the Prince Edward Point Area and is getting close to its average fall departure date. Despite the cold, rainy and windy conditions this evening, two stalwart birders at the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville, monitored GREAT EGRETS coming into roost until darkness fell. During their watch, an impressive 14 SANDHILL CRANES arrived. As of 6:20 p.m., only 11 GREAT EGRETS had been counted. Final total will be given in tomorrow evening’s report. 

Monday, October 20: Last night at Prince Edward Point, 87 NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS  were banded, the highest number yet, bringing the cumulative total for this fall to 245. Prospects don’t look as promising tonight, if it continues to rain. A few days ago, a Gambel’s race of the WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW was banded, the fourth one ever caught in the fall. The others were in 2004 and one last year. The Gambel’s race is western in distribution and is one of five subspecies of WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW. Still lots of TURKEY VULTURES on the move. In Wellington today, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, 1 BROWN CREEPER and three PURPLE FINCHES, as the latter species continues to migrate through our area, were noted in one backyard. Still lots of TURKEY VULTURES on the move. Not much birding today, unless you did so before 10:00 a.m. However, yesterday, there were some great sightings on Amherst Island during an Ontario Field Ornithologists field trip. A SNOWY OWL turned up, but it was not an early arrival from the Arctic; this one has been present all summer, obviously a non breeding bird. A blue morph SNOW GOOSE flew over the Martin Edwards Reserve at the east end of the island, and a NORTHERN GOSHAWK was also seen. A breeding plumaged HORNED GREBE took many by surprise, as did two LAPLAND LONGSPURS and 5 SNOW BUNTINGS. Despite November being only a few days away, three warbler species were encountered – PALM and PINE WARBLERS, and an AMERICAN REDSTART. A CACKLING GOOSE  was at the Amherstview Sewage Lagoons. Nine LINCOLN’S SPARROWS and a FOX SPARROW were at Prince Edward Point, as was a WHITE-WINGED SCOTER. Leslie Abram of the Codrington area who often submits sightings to this Bird Report, will be having her very first photography exhibition at The Studio Above the Grind, 45 Front Street in Trenton on November 7th, from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. A portion of all proceeds from her exhibition, “SEARCHING FOR OWLS” will go to “Fixed for Life”. Come on out, bring a friends, and spend some time with the owls!

Sunday, October 19: Three of us today did a 19-km hike at Frontenac Provincial Park, involving both the Tetsmine Lake Loop and Hemlock Lake Loop trails, more for the exercise than anything else, finding 2 HERMIT THRUSHES, PILEATED WOODPECKER, HAIRY WOODPECKERS, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, and kinglets. A few flakes of snow on the six-hour hike reminded us that winter is in the offing, but not as much as a lone SNOW BUNTING that was seen today at Point Petre. SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, MALLARDS and TURKEY VULTURES  were also seen. Two separate birders, walking the Kiwanis Bayshore Trail in Belleville, yesterday and today, came up with some good species. Today, from the start of the trail to the end of the paved trail at Herchimer Avenue, seen were NORTHERN CARDINAL, GREAT BLUE HERON, KILLDEER, DOWNY WOODPECKER, two BONAPARTE’S GULLS,  one  GREATER YELLOWLEGS, lots of MALLARDS and AMERICAN ROBINS. Yesterday, another birder chalked up 17 species along the same trail, among them, 120 CANADA GEESE, 2 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 50 LESSER SCAUP, a LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 3 BONAPARTE’S GULLS, a GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL and 2 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS. At Prince Edward Point, only one NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL was banded last night. Today at Prince Edward Point, an AMERICAN PIPIT was found, as well as two WINTER WRENS, 6 BLUE-HEADED VIREOS, 1 CACKLING GOOSE, 4 COOPER’S HAWKS, a HERMIT THRUSH, 20 PINE SISKINS, 2 RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, and two NORTHERN FLICKERS. A hawk migration taking place overhead produced 2 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, 3 NORTHERN HARRIERS, 50 SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS, 3 RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS, 70 TURKEY VULTURES and 22 RED-TAILED HAWKS.    Eighteen AMERICAN WIGEON were present in Wellington Harbour yesterday. A PIED-BILLED GREBE, GREAT BLUE HERON, BELTED KINGFISHER, 4 COMMON MERGANSERS, 14 MALLARDS, 150 CANADA GEESE,  42 MUTE SWANS and a BEAVER, were all seen at Smith's Bay today. The Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory will be holding its Fall Fund Raising Dinner and Silent Auction at the Waring House Banquet Hall this coming Saturday evening. Colin Jones will be speaking on “The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Ontario”. Colin is co-author of a book by the same name, published about six years ago. The dinner and auction is a fun event that serves to raise funds for the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, a volunteer facility that receives no government funding. Join us if you can. You can reserve your ticket by CLICKING HERE.

Saturday, October 18: A few birds were around today at Sandbanks Provincial Park, for the Circle of Friends Conference at Isaiah Tubbs Resort when Friends groups from all over Ontario assembled to share ideas. During the afternoon, several tours took place. I led a driving tour around the Park, focusing on the history of the Park, but mostly, my mind was on birds! In between discussions on Lakeshore Lodge and the history of the park itself, there were YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS flitting around the conference parking lot, and DARK-EYED JUNCOS everywhere. A PILEATED WOODPECKER  was heard in the Dunes Beach Day Use Area, and a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER  was seen in the Outlet Campground. At the Lakeshore Lodge site at West Point, a MERLIN flew over. MALLARDS and lots of CANADA GEESE lined almost the whole of Outlet Beach. RUSTY BLACKBIRDS are turning up here and there. A sneezing fit by a birder today at the H.R. Frink Centre, north of Belleville, startled a GREAT HORNED OWL. By the seventh or eighth sneeze the owl couldn't stand it any longer and flew out of its hiding place and landed a safe and quiet distance away. Yesterday, a MERLIN was harassing migrating COMMON GRACKLES  at Lake on the Mountain. This morning, the bird (or its friend) was perched above feeders east of Lake on the Mountain and didn't budge when the feeder operator came out to fill the feeders. It only flew off when a squirrel climbed the tree toward the bird. Banding of NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS continues at Prince Edward Point, and last night only 7 were banded, bringing this fall’s total to 157 to date. In the Consecon area, a birder has been going out every day or so, and has been sensing the gradual changes in the birding as the season progresses. Some birds, he finds, are definitely flocking up even more with several very large groups of EUROPEAN STARLINGS and AMERICAN ROBINS all pigging out on berries. There were also 70 birds in a murder of COMMON CROWS! Raptors included singles of AMERICAN KESTREL, MERLIN, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, RED-TAILED HAWK, NORTHERN HARRIER and, of course, several TURKEY VULTURES. One bird that got him excited was a possible SNOW BUNTING in with a group of sparrows. But, alas – the white throat, sides, rump and wings and tail were however from a leucistic CHIPPING SPARROW! Other notable migrants were 2 WINTER WRENS and singles of HERMIT THRUSH, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER and a somewhat late PALM WARBLER. Apparently, the cooler weather has not deterred a pair of NORTHERN CARDINALS  from nesting late. A male NORTHERN CARDINAL today was at a Bloomfield feeder with 2 small, wing rattling chicks. The pair had two broods in a honeysuckle hedge and, apparently, decided to go for a third brood.

Friday, October 17:  Better luck at Prince Edward Point last night with 19 NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS being captured and banded, along with 2 BARRED OWLS.   Although the weather was unstable today, banders and volunteers bagged a lot of birds this morning.  Mostly RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS and GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS. Other species were: BROWN CREEPER, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, WHITE THROATED SPARROW, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, HERMIT THRUSH, FIELD SPARROW, BLUE-HEADED VIREO, PURPLE FINCH, HOUSE FINCH, and DARK-EYED JUNCO. At Presquìle Park today, birders there had a good day, tallying 48 species, despite the occasional shower and fog.  The HUDSONIAN GODWIT was present again at Owen Point. There were little pockets of birds including PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, DARK-EYED JUNCOS, a male BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER, lots of both kinglet species, and 2 BROWN CREEPERS,. At the boat launch, 16 AMERICAN COOTS, and WILSON`S SNIPE  were added to the day`s list. Back in Prince Edward County, a GREAT EGRET continues to be present in the Sawguin Creek at the corner of Highway 62 and County Road 28. In the Consecon area, there were still some good flocks here and there with good numbers of birds. Six sparrow species were present – WHITE-CROWNED, WHITE-THROATED, CHIPPING, SONG, SWAMP and FIELD. Also of interest were 4 EASTERN PHOEBES, 5 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS, 2 NASHVILLE WARBLERS, 1 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER and a WINTER WREN. Last night was the opening reception for the Napanee Photo Club's annual photography exhibition,  and photographer Gilles Bisson of Belleville who contributes regularly to the NatureStuff website, won two first place ribbons.  The Prince Edward Point Lighthouse photo was taken last February, and won in the colour pictorial category. The Osprey, was taken in June of this year, and won in the nature category. Our congratulations to Gilles for these awards!

Thursday, October 16: This is no way to run a Bird Observatory! Once again, for the third night in a row, no NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS were seen or banded last night at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. However, the forecast for tonight is looking a bit better.   A few birds seen yesterday at Sandbanks Park included BONAPARTE’S GULL, AMERICAN BLACK DUCK and 26 TURKEY VULTURES in the Outlet Beach section. West of Demorestville, a flock of CEDAR WAXWINGS gathered in trees across the road from a residence today, a species we haven’t heard much about this past month, plus a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET and a dozen AMERICAN ROBINS drinking and bathing in mud puddle. In the Bay of Quinte on the north shore of Big Island, 2 GREATER SCAUP appeared, right on time for this species that generally starts showing up in local bays and lakes around mid-October, or so. COMMON LOONS, both adult and juvenile birds, also turned up, and a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL was both seen and heard calling its endless succession of notes. The previous night, a BARRED OWL was heard calling. Anyone birding Presqu’ile Park is reminded that duck hunting has priority (for reasons unclear to most of us) on Monday’s, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and birders are not welcome in those areas on those days. However, if you can sneak a peak around the Owen Point area, apparently a HUDSONIAN GODWIT is present and is believed to be a different individual from the one seen in September. Other good finds this past week at the Park have been CACKLING GOOSE, an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, a record late YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER, and an equally late 2 CASPIAN TERNS. The Presqu’ile Park Weekly Bird Report by Fred Helleiner, has been updated for the week of October 10th to the 16th. To read the report, CLICK HERE. From Indian Island near Carrying Place, this evening there were 22 GREAT EGRETS on the island and new for this year they are back on the north side. There are still about 60 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS there too. A local birder e-mailed today from a boat at sea with the following message and accompanying photo of what could be a NUBIAN NIGHTJAR:  “from Celebrity Silhouette, sailing from Haifa, Israel to Naples.  This little bird has been sitting on the verandah of our cabin for 2 days...he boarded in Haifa.  He opens his eyes when we touch him but hasn't moved a muscle.  Tried to get him to drink but he isn't interested?  We thought he would die, but he seems fine.  Is this normal...like hibernation or torpor?   Not sure what to do once we get to Naples...... perhaps sneak him off the ship.  The new people in this cabin may not want him and we are worried about him.”

Wednesday, October 15: For the second night in a row, no NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS were banded last night at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. Activity at the Hamilton Wetland west of Demorestville was a bit more enthusiastic with a total of 33 GREAT EGRETS coming in to roost. That number is down from previous nights, but that is to be expected since the season for this species is drawing to a close. Last year, the last egrets at the same wetland were seen on October 23rd. Two CASPIAN TERNS continue to hang out at the Wellington Harbour, getting on in the season for this species with few previous October sightings on record. At County Road 8 and 25, just south of Lake on the Mountain, Hydro One today installed a new OSPREY platform atop a hydro pole there, replacing an earlier structure. In the Consecon area, 40 PINE SISKINS arrived, making us wonder, as we do every year, will they stay, or remain  only long enough to empty our feeders, then just keep on migrating to points farther south. Two HERMIT THRUSHES  were also seen as well as 5 EASTERN PHOEBES, and a single RUSTY BLACKBIRD. Warblers were still around in that area with three species being seen – 5 YELLOW-RUMPED, 2 NASHVILLE and an ORANGE-CROWNED. Nice treat in the Goodrich-Loomis Conservation Area today north of Brighton, with the sighting of a  female BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER. Keep your binoculars poised!

Tuesday, October 14: No NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS were caught or banded last night at Prince Edward Point. The total of owls banded since September stands at 131. Banding continues until the end of the month. The weather plays a role, of course, and dictates how strong the movement will be on any given night. In 2007, the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory held the record for the highest number of saw-whets banded anywhere that fall in North America, an astounding 1,518 saw-whets – almost twice as many as banded in a normal fall. With the fall migration, there is always some collateral damage.  Along the Kiwanis Bayshore Trail in Belleville today, birds of note seen were 2 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 8 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS and 3 RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS. Yesterday, a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER and a NORTHERN HARRIER  were present along the west end of Black Road near Demorestville. As birders gear up for the bird feeding season ahead, there is an indication that a few EVENING GROSBEAKS may move south in response to a poor tree crop farther north. That prediction may very well come true as four EVENING GROSBEAKS  appeared at a feeder in Camden East this morning. Those who failed to get a chance to see the HUDSONIAN GODWIT at Presqu’ile Park, may still have a chance as it appeared again today at Owen Point. Normally present on Gull Island, its new location eliminates the need to wade through water to see it. However, birders should be reminded that duck hunting is allowed in that area on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and Owen Point and Gull Island are both closed on those days. The fine weather today, and expected to continue into tomorrow, may be responsible for some of the lingering shorebirds found today, including 21 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, 10 DUNLIN, 3 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, 1 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 4 SEMIPLALMATED PLOVERS and 4 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS. Also present there were RING-BILLED, HERRING, GREAT BLACK-BACKED and BONAPARTE’S GULLS. The GREAT EGRET activity at the Hamilton Wetland west of Demorestville, continues, although signs are that it is starting to wind down. As of 6:30 p.m. this evening and the arrival of nightfall, 21 egrets had been counted so far. Final totals in tomorrow’s report. One area we don’t hear much from is Deport Lakes Conservation Area, just a short distance northwest of Verona. Seen today were PILEATED WOODPECKER, RED-SHOULDERED HAWK, 3 WINTER WRENS, 16 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, a COOPER’S HAWK, 25 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, and a HERMIT THRUSH. Some really good birding out there right now. Don’t let it slip by unnoticed!

Monday, October 13: A good day of birding with a fair bit of activity along the South Shore Important Bird Area from Prince Edward Point almost to Point Petre. At Prince Edward Point, NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS are still moving, but not in huge numbers. Only 11 were banded last night. On this, the final day of Migration Matters at Prince Edward Point, some new arrivals that weren't there for others leading hikes the previous two days. Present today were BONAPARTE`S GULLS along with at least two LITTLE GULLS. WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, a good number of RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS (also present on Saturday) and one LONG-TAILED DUCK.  It was a bit quiet in the woods, compared to Saturday - a few HERMIT THRUSHES, DARK-EYED JUNCOS, PURPLE FINCHES, flocks of AMERICAN ROBINS, both GOLDEN-CROWNED and RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, and Sparrows (SONG, WHITE-CROWNED and WHITE-THROATED). Also seen by other observers were  COMMON LOONS, SCARLET TANAGER, a banded MALLARD,  and HOUSE WREN. Further up the shoreline, along Lighthall Road around mid-day today south of Army Reserve and along the berm,  things were a bit quiet with the wind and weather moving in but there were 4 GREATER YELLOWLEGS in the flooded road below the berm along with a PECTORAL SANDPIPER. Small flocks of WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, DARK-EYED JUNCOS,  MERLIN, a pair of BELTED KINGFISHERS in the marsh, as well as COMMON YELLOWTHROAT and RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS. In the Kingston area this weekend, ducks are making an appearance and tallied were GADWALL, NORTHERN PINTAIL, NORTHERN SHOVELER, AMERICAN WIGEON and BUFFLEHEAD. Moving over to the west side of Prince Edward County, the Stinson Block Road from Consecon produced a group of 32 roosting TURKEY VULTURES in a row of trees. The calm conditions were not conducive to flight yet. Road edges again held many WHITE-CROWNED and WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, but also good numbers of CHIPPING SPARROWS and DARK-EYED JUNCOS. Kinglets were still common with about equal numbers of each species. Other expected migrants included 5 HERMIT THRUSHES, 2 BLUE-HEADED VIREOS, 8 EASTERN PHOEBES, 8 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS, 2 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, and singles of EASTERN TOWHEE, NASHVILLE WARBLER, PURPLE FINCH and YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER. And certainly worth reporting being seen at Westport, north of Kingston, was a WHITE-EYED VIREO in a hedgerow on the west side of Wolfe Lake Rd (locally called Golf Course Rd, leads to Evergreen Golf Course) , just past a real estate sign for Brad Wing.   It was in company with RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS and other migrants. If interested in trying for this bird, from Westport,  take Bedford Rd to Salem crossroads, turn right on Wolfe Lake Rd.

Sunday, October 12: Birds are still on the move with DARK-EYED JUNCOS, both species of kinglets, WHITE-THROATED and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS predominating the scene right now.  Morning walks at Prince Edward Point continue tomorrow, leaving the Observatory at 9:00 a.m. as the special Migration Matters Thanksgiving Weekend draws to a close. Our thanks to all of you who came out and supported this event. Bird banding continues down there until the end of the month. Banding of NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS is in full swing now at night, and last night 33 were banded, down a bit from the previous night. On Big Island today, a GOLDEN EAGLE was found perched in a tree just east of Allison Road along the north shore of the island. GOLDEN EAGLES seem to pass through our area in varying numbers (most of them though along the south shore of the county) starting in mid-October. Also present just west of Allison Road, a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON  a few days earlier. At the Kingston Marshlands today, seen were RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, NORTHERN SHOVELER, 3 NORTHERN PINTAILS and 18 GADWALL. Lemoine Point Conservation Area produced the season’s first BUFFLEHEAD – two of them. WINTER WREN and RUSTY BLACKBIRD were also seen, as was a PIED-BILLED GREBE, the latter species also present at Pleasant Bay’s Bay Meadows Trailer Park off North Beach Road. Late yesterday afternoon at the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville, 6 GREATER and 6 LESSER YELLOWLEGS were still present. With PINE SISKINS turning up at feeders here and there right now, we have to wonder if they will stick around, or will they just keep moving through until we are left with next to none for the winter. PINE SISKINS were observed in numbers this summer around southern James Bay and in southern Yukon. Predictions are they will move east and west this fall searching for areas with excellent spruce cone crops. Siskins should winter in Alaska and north-central Quebec where spruce crops are excellent. However, those that fail to find adequate cone crops will probably wander south where they will frequent niger seed bird feeders . Siskins are often detected by their wheezy clee-ip call, which is the best way to identify them in flight.This Bird Report congratulates photographer Daniel LaFrance of Wellington for earning first Honourable Mention for his photo above, titled “Forked Tongue” in the Little Life category in the Canadian Geographic’s Canadian Photography Wildlife of the Year Contest. Daniel LaFrance’s photos are often featured on the NatureStuff website.

Saturday, October 11: RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS outnumbered GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS  the Stinson Block area west of Consecon today. However, at Prince Edward Point this morning, it was just the opposite. GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS were everywhere, with only a scattering of RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS during a guided walk from the Observatory to the lighthouse. A PIED-BILLED GREBE gave us a good show of his diving abilities in the harbour. The guided bird walk was just part of the the Migration Matters activities at the Bird Observatory, which continue into Monday, with displays, banding demonstrations, and a guided walk starting at 9:00 a.m. and continuing until about 11:00 a.m. This morning, BROWN CREEPERS  were everywhere, as were DARK-EYED JUNCOS, seemingly in the hundreds. Also in large numbers were both WHITE-THROATED and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS. Most of the activity was taking place along the roadway on the far side of the harbour where we also came across both SWAINSON’S and HERMIT THRUSHES, EASTERN TOWHEE, BLUE-HEADED VIREO, YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, at least 3 HAIRY WOODPECKERS, and several EASTERN PHOEBES. At the lighthouse, a MERLIN flew by and between Swetman Island and Timber Island, a BALD EAGLE was spotted. Much the same activity was happening at the Stinson Block where BROWN CREEPERS, EASTERN PHOEBES, 5 HERMIT THRUSHES, and WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES were found. Also seen were 2 HOUSE WRENS, 3 NASHVILLE WARBLERS, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, MAGNOLIA WARBLER and WILSON’S WARBLER.  At Kingston’s Lemoine Point,. a BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER and a BLUE-HEADED VIREO were among the more notable finds there, while at Amherst Island, a SAVANNAH SPARROW and two WINTER WRENS were some nice finds. Last night at Prince Edward Point, 53 NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS  were banded. These are among the first saw-whets to be banded since October 1st as weather conditions have not been favourable, and when conditions were favourable, there was a full moon, and saw-whets prefer not to migrate when there is a full moon. At West Lake, a MERLIN and an immature BALD EAGLE  were seen.

Friday, October 10: An excellent day for birding today. WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS and WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS were present at Prince Edward Point this morning, along with FOX SPARROW. Both HERMIT THRUSHES (passing through right now in good numbers) and SWAINSON’S THRUSHES  were banded today. However, only one warbler species – YELLOW-RUMPED – to signify the close of the warbler migration. BLUE-HEADED VIREOS, an autumn specialty that will hang around for another two weeks, was also seen, along with both RUBY-CROWNED and GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS were also present, as were YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, DARK-EYED JUNCOS, AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, PINE SISKINS, PURPLE FINCHES and RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES. As in past days, BLUE JAYS were everywhere, still in migration. Hawk movement was good with 10 raptor species noted – TURKEY VULTURES, BALD EAGLE, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, COOPER’S HAWK, NORTHERN GOSHAWK, RED-SHOULDERED HAWK, BROAD-WINGED HAWK, RED-TAILED HAWK, MERLIN – even a PEREGRINE FALCON, to round out the list.  Similar excitement north of Brighton, where an observer at the Goodrich-Loomis Conservation Area, also found HERMIT THRUSHES – in fact, 20 of them – and 15 PINE SISKINS providing some hope that we may have a few hang around this winter. RUBY-CROWNED and GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, BLUE-HEADED VIREO, PILEATED WOODPECKER, RUFFED GROUSE (3), EASTERN PHOEBE (4), and many WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS and a few WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS. Flying over Sunrise Crescent at Massassauga Point today was a BALD EAGLE, heading toward Muscote Bay. PURPLE FINCHES are at feeders near Codrington, and in Wellington, and WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS there too. NORTHERN HARRIERS today at Big Island, Black Road, Huff’s Island and Rosehall (west of Wellington)  

Thursday, October 09: We’ll start with yesterday’s sightings that didn’t make yesterday’s report, and get them out of the way. Birds seen at Massassauga Point Conservation Area, despite the high winds, included a BLUE-HEADED VIREO, PURPLE FINCH, 3 RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, 10 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, 15 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, and 5 BONAPARTE’S GULLS. Also yesterday, a MERLIN, seen along County Road 12 near Sandbanks, was performing some expert aerial manoeuvres as it pursued ROCK DOVES in the wind. A large flock of PINE SISKINS also arrived there in some cedar trees, but didn’t hang around long due to the wind off the lake. Today, an EASTERN SCREECH-OWL was heard calling from the Big Swamp along County Road 1. Indian Island in the Bay of Quinte east of Carrying Place seems to be gaining in popularity with birds, although its latest arrival was viewed with some question. About 90 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS are now using the island as a temporary roost. Over a thousand cormorants have been noted by several observers flying from east to west from Massassauga Point all the way to Carrying Place. This evening, 19 GREAT EGRETS were counted returning to their roost on the island.  Numerous NORTHERN FLICKERS are still passing through, it would seem, as several reports of them came in today and yesterday. Despite the cooler temperatures and increasing signs of late autumn, warblers are still around, it seems. ORANGE-CROWNED, NASHVILLE, BLACK-THROATED GREEN, BLACK-THROATED BLUE and, of course, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER have all been seen and banded this past week by volunteers at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. Warblers are still to be found at Presqu’ilke Park too, and among them have been YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, but also including ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS on at least two dates, NORTHERN PARULA on three dates, a late MAGNOLIA WARBLER on October 4, and three BAY-BREASTED WARBLERS and a PINE WARBLER on October 5. The Presqu’ile Park weekly bird report by Fred Helleiner has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website, and can be found by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, October 08: Despite the gusty winds today, birders were out challenging themselves with the identities of balls of fluff catapulting past their field of vision. During a guided hike today at Kingston’s Lemoine Point Conservation Area, we had to lean sideways to the wind just to remain upright. Incredibly, birds were about – lots of them. One major assemblage of sparrows contained a nice variety comprising WHITE-CROWNED, WHITE-THROATED, CHIPPING and numerous SONG SPARROWS, some of the latter even happily singing. With them, DARK-EYED JUNCOS. BLUE JAYS were plentiful as their migration continues. Also present BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES looking for handouts, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, EASTERN PHOEBE, GRAY CATBIRD and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS. Near the marsh, close to Collin’s Bay Marina, a flotilla of about a dozen MALLARDS buffeted by high waves and wind,  fought valiantly to keep from crashing onto the shoreline, some of them actually bouncing off some small boulders. Nearby on a stone spit, several juvenile  DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS leaned into the wind, as did we.  A migration of PURPLE FINCHES must be underway as another report of them came in today with at least 10 present in a Codrington area backyard. Two SANDHILL CRANES  were spotted today in a field south of County Road 5, near Demorestville – perhaps the same two that are seen almost daily as evening approaches at the Hamilton Wetland, west of the village. Not much happening at Smith’s Bay, except for 28 swans, likely MUTE although TUNDRA SWANS should be arriving any day now. A RUFFED GROUSE crashed into a picture window at Smith’s Bay and, incredibly, survived, and later walked off disgusted into the bushes. In the Ameliasburgh area, a birder went out at noon for a few hours, but winds made birding a challenge. A few late migrants were still around including a male and female BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER and singles of NORTHERN PARULA, NASHVILLE WARBLER, SWAINSON’S THRUSH, GRAY CATBIRD, and EASTERN PHOEBE. In Sawguin Creek at the corner of County Road 28 and Highway 62 near Fenwood Gardens, a GREAT EGRET was present today, and a MERLIN was seen along the west end of Black Road. And in Cobourg, a male EURASIAN WIGEON was spotted in with a flock of a dozen AMERICAN WIGEON in the southwest corner of Cobourg Harbour.

Tuesday, October 07: A very slow day today with no reports coming in, other than what we learned had been seen at Prince Edward Point during a bus tour down there in which I was involved. The highlight down there today was a PEREGRINE FALCON. Other birds present at the Point today were six warbler species: PALM, BLACK-THROATED BLUE and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS as well as OVENBIRD, AMERICAN REDSTART and NORTHERN PARULA. Seventy-four GREAT EGRETS were counted last evening at the Hamilton Wetland near Demorestville by two volunteers who went “egreting” (that’s our new birding term for today). The first bird in flight appeared at 5:15 p.m., and the last straggler touched down in the near darkness at 6:47 p.m. In other news, I have the pleasure on October 15th of doing a presentation, “Surviving the Big Freeze”, for the Tweed Historical Society at 7:00 p.m. at the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Hall. Join us, if you can.

Monday, October 06: Still a few birds around, but it has been tough going for some. The RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD at West Lake near Sandbanks, did not make a visit today, so we can assume, correctly we would hope, that it has moved on to warmer climes. A BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER was in the Woodlands Campground yesterday. It is becoming late to see this species still here, although there are isolated records for Prince Edward County with October 22nd being the latest date for this species. More in keeping with this week’s temperatures were a male and female PURPLE FINCH today at a feeder at South Bay. Better temperatures today though, and less wind and more sun brought out lots of midges and lots of birds in the Stinson Block area, west of Consecon. More noteworthy species included OSPREY, GRAY CATBIRD, HOUSE WREN, BLUE-HEADED VIREO, EASTERN PHOEBE and three warbler species: YELLOW-RUMPED and singles of MAGNOLIA and BLACK-THROATED GREEN.  At the Kiwanis Bayshore Trail in Belleville today, noteworthy birds seen there included 2 GREAT EGRETS, a GREAT BLUE HERON, BELTED KINGFISHER, YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW. Lingering warblers were seen here too – NASHVILLE WARBLER and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER. The latter species however, is the ornery member of the warbler family, and often lingers well into November before migrating, with some even wintering in suitable areas where food abounds. EASTERN PHOEBE, NORTHERN HARRIER, and HOUSE FINCHES  were noted on Black Road west of Demorestville.  PURPLE FINCHES and DARK-EYED JUNCOS at a Fry Road backyard. A flock of 26 EASTERN MEADOWLARKS in a field west of 23 Sprague Road on Big Island.  GREAT EGRETS are being monitored tonight at the Hamilton Wetland, near Demorestville, and a summary of those numbers will likely appear in tomorrow’s Bird Report.

Sunday, October 05: On my final day in the Castleton area, I spent the morning leading a hike through a small section of the 5,500-acre Northumberland County Forest, north of Cobourg. Glorious sunshine with only a few clouds toward the latter part of the hike prevailed, but unfortunately, did not translate into many bird species. Heard and seen were WHITE-BREASTED and RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, BLUE JAYS, AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, and a small group of COMMON GRACKLES that passed by in front of us part way along. An amazing spot, and not once during our three hour hike did we ever emerge from the forest! Today's excitement at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory was a MARSH WREN that was caught in one of the nets, and subsequently banded - a species rarely encountered in the woody habitat. It was the third record in recent years, the others being 2002 and 2008.  One birder today at Presqu'ile Park, dodged the occasional cloudburst of rain and hail, but failed to locate the long staying WHIMBREL, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER and HUDSONIAN GODWIT that had been hanging out on Gull Island. However, Goodrich Road, south of Codrington, proved to be more fruitful for the same observer, with 2 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS, 5 PINE SISKINS, 3 RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, 4 EASTERN PHOEBES, WHITE-THROATED and SONG SPARROWS, and several flocks of BLUE JAYS. Not a bad day at all for birding in between the showers.

Saturday, October 04: An optimistic RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD  continues to visit a backyard at West Lake, near Sandbanks Park. Yesterday, at Sandbanks, a MAGNOLIA WARBLER  was seen. Elsewhere, an EASTERN PHOEBE was seen yesterday hanging out in an old barn at the end of Welbanks Road to get out of the wind. At least a dozen AMERICAN KESTRELS were counted between Welbanks Road and County Road 24. Ten WILD TURKEYS were seen on Schoolhouse Road. The young birds were still only half the size of the adults. At Consecon, a birder there dodged today's showers and came up with good numbers of RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS with a few GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS.   Four species of warblers were found - YELLOW-RUMPED, two ORANGE-CROWNED and singles of NASHVILLE and BLACK-THROATED BLUE.

Friday, October 03: Birds present today at the Castleton Hills RV Park, north of Colborne, included TURKEY VULTURE, COMMON RAVEN, BLUE JAY, SWAINSON'S THRUSH, DARK-EYED JUNCO and PILEATED WOODPECKER. At Red Cloud Cemetery, north of Castleton, off Dawson Road, the prairie fields there hosted several EASTERN MEADOWLARKS, and a single HORNED LARK was heard. 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 ride in the night like Paul Revere, they do favour the twilight hours. And they may appear this coming winter at local feeders. Ron Pittaway of Minden who has done a winter finch forecast for several years, predicts that a moderate to good flight south will occur this fall and winter because birch seed crops are variably poor to average in the boreal forest. At bird feeders COMMON REDPOLLS prefer nyger seeds in silo feeders. Watch for "Greater" common redpolls (subspecies rostrata) from Baffin Island and Greenland in flocks of "Southern" COMMON REDPOLLS (nominate subspecies flammea). Greaters are larger, browner, longer tailed, and bigger billed in direct comparison with "Southerns".

Thursday, October 02: Campsite 669 at Sandbanks Provincial Park continues to report sightings. Today, there was a BAY-BREASTED WARBLER by the campsite.  An EASTERN SCREECH-OWL at 7:30 am and 11:30 am was right beside campsite. An EASTERN TOWHEE was also seen along the trail to the beach. Along County Rad 28, in the Fenwood Gardens area, south of Belleville, a SWAINSON'S THRUSH collided with a window, not surprising considering the numbers passing through right now.  Following is a review of the birding opportunities at Algonquin Provincial Park, provided by retired Park Naturalist Ron Tozer.  In the Old Airfield area, HORNED LARKS, AMERICAN PIPITS and LAPLONG LONGSPURS have been observed this past week. SPRUCE GROUSE have been seen  near Wolf Howl Pond; at Spruce Bog Boardwalk (e.g., at the register box); and along the Old Railway Bike Trail near Head Creek Marsh. Some males were displaying to disinterested females. BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKERS were reported at several sites: along the railway bed west of Wolf Howl Pond; Cache Lake parking lot; and Visitor Centre parking lot. GRAY JAYS have been seeking food from people along the old railway at Wolf Howl Pond and West Rose Lake; at Spruce Bog Boardwalk; along Opeongo Road; and at the Logging Museum. BOREAL CHICKADEES have been detected near Wolf Howl Pond, near the Old Airfield, and along Opeongo Road. As winter approaches and we give some thought as to what boreal finches may be around this winter, a few PURPLE FNCHES are being observed regularly along Highway 60. Four WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS  were reported on Mizzy Lake Trail several days ago, and small numbers of PINE SISKINS have been seen. Only three EVENING GROSBEAKS have been seen so far at the Park,  one along Track and Tower Trail, and two on Mizzy Lake Trail.

Wednesday, October 01: The only thing exciting today was a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER at 23 Sprague Road Big Island, and an AMERICAN KESTREL along Fry Road near C.R. 4. Nothing has come in from the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory in several days, although word is, that a few NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS  are beginning to trickle in, with a few being banded. A RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD continues to feed from Canna Lilies at West Lake. At the Kingston Marshlands Conservation Area, birds seen today were BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, AMERICAN REDSTART, GREAT HORNED OWL, GRAY CATBIRD, WINTER WREN, RED-EYED VIREO and BLUE-HEADED VIREO. At Sandbanks Park, in and around the Woodlands Campground, there have been singles of BALD EAGLE, WHIP-POOR-WILL, OVENBIRD, WINTER WREN, with other species appearing in small numbers. A pair of EASTERN SCREECH-OWLS sometimes decide to call at midday by one of the campsites. COMMON RAVENS and PILEATED WOODPECKERS are around a few times every day. TURKEY VULTURES, dozens of BLUE JAYS (hundreds if they are moving through and not just milling around), hundreds of CANADA GEESE and RING-BILLED GULLS dominate. With the change in the weather this weekend,  more species are to be expected.

Tuesday, September 30: A few birders yesterday apparently visited the H.R. Frink Centre to try for the 3 NELSON’S SPARROWS The best spot for this skulking species was at a bench, about 25 meters from the start of the boardwalk. This species was formerly known as the Sharp-tailed Sparrow. In the Ameliasburgh area, one birder there  explored a field where non-birders fear to tread  – indeed, even be repelled by the notion. It was an open manured field where the birder was rewarded by the sight of 35 AMERICAN PIPITS. The hedgerows had 6 different Sparrows. There were good numbers of SAVANNAH and Song SPARROWS, small groups of WHITE-THROATED and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS and singles of FIELD SPARROW and GRASSHOPPER SPARROW.     Not far away, on Indian Island in the Bay of Quinte, just east of Carrying Place, a count of 29 GREAT EGRETS was made at the roost there in the evening. It is one of only two such egret roosts in Prince Edward County, the other being at the Hamilton Wetland near Demorestville where numbers there range between 30 to 80 per night. At Sandbanks Provincial Park, one lucky camper there in the Woodland Campground saw an adult BALD EAGLE. A birder travelling County Road 41, between Orland and Wooler, noted a gaggle of CANADA GEESE in a field, and with them, were 4 SNOW GEESE. It is September 30th, but still not too late apparently for RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS. A West Lake resident near Sandbanks, still has two hummingbirds visiting his Canna Lilies. The species could be around for another two weeks, if the weather remains fine. At Black River, two BARRED OWLS have been present for several days.

Monday, September 29: Bird sightings trickled in from all over today. From Campsite 669 in the Woodlands Campground, it was a fairly slow day. Several woodpeckers tapping near the campsite, among them, a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER  which are moving through right now.  There was a BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER  at the campsite. Also WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS.  There was an EASTERN SCREECH-OWL calling again from nearby, likely the same bird that was heard there yesterday.  MERLIN flew over in the early evening. The Cedar Sands Trail in the park produced an OVENBIRD and a WINTER WREN. Two or three pairs of PILEATED WOODPECKERS are calling regularly and dozens of BLUE JAYS were around the campsite. COMMON RAVENS also present with their raucous calls. COMMON RAVENS were also in evidence today at Sheffield Conservation Area, south of Kaladar where two of us enjoyed a four-kilometre hike over this challenging terrain. Present were lots of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, a PINE WARBLER, 2 EASTERN TOWHEES, DOWNY WOODPECKER, several EASTERN PHOEBES, SWAINSON’S THRUSH, SONG SPARROW and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW.  A text came in on my cell phone this morning regarding the sighting of 25 WILD TURKEYS about three kilometres west of Stirling on Carmel Road. You gotta love this technology! Probably the best sighting today was made at the H.R. Frink Centre, on Thrasher Road at Plainfield, where two NELSON’S SPARROWS were seen and photographed about mid-morning. The observer said,  “the two birds popped up when I played their song (on low volume), and a third popped up to the sound of Velcro being ripped.  This species will not respond to pishing.” Another text just came in (7:15 p.m.) from two volunteers monitoring the GREAT EGRET roost at the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville and their count of egrets coming into roost, stands at an unprecedented 82 birds! Two SANDHILL CRANES also dropped in as the sun was setting. A few shorebirds yesterday at Wilton Creek at Morven, including 2 GREATER YELLOWLEGS and 3 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS. Along Fralick Road, also at Morven, 60 AMERICAN PIPITS  were seen. A RUDDY DUCK was present along the Great Cataraqui River at Kingston by Belle Island, as were 2 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 5 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 50 AMERICAN WIGEON, and 5 GREATER SCAUP. There was a COMMON LOON near Forester’s Island at Deseronto this afternoon, a RED-TAILED HAWK at Beaver lake in Erinsville, and a BELTED KINGFISHER  reported today from Telegraph Narrows. To finish the list, a female VIRGINIA OPOSSUM was found dead along the side of Highway 2, west of Brighton. And that’s it for today. Not bad for a Monday!

Sunday, September 28: Except for an EASTERN SCREECH- OWL calling from the woods behind Campsite 669 at Sandbanks Provincial Park at noon, and a WHIP-POOR-WILL there this evening, there was almost no birding activity anywhere in Prince Edward County today, despite the fine weather. At Charleston Lake Provincial Park, a camper had a PILEATED WOODPECKER appear at his campsite at the Shady Ridge Campground at 10:00 a.m. this morning, where 2 COMMON LOONS, 2 OSPREY and a DOWNY WOODPECKER  were also checked off. As many as possibly 3 EASTERN SCREECH-OWLS were heard by the camper, an indication that this species is definitely on the move. At Presqu’ile Provincial Park, the HUDSONIAN GODWIT and LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER were present again today on the offshore Islands at Owen Point, and a PECTORAL SANDPIPER  was also seen, as well as AMERICAN PIPITS. An interesting e-mail from Geoff Carpentier of Port Perry who operates Avocet Nature Services, said things were hopping early this morning at 6:00 a.m. when thrushes were heard passing over his house. Migrating thrushes in the darkness of night have very distinct call notes and they can most always be identified as to species by these unique flight notes. Mostly the thrushes were SWAINSON’S THRUSHES as one would expect at this time of year, but several GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSHES passed over as well.  Geoff is suggesting that tonight, or even 5:00 a.m. in the morning might produce some similar results since conditions tonight will be similar to last night. For those of you who want to listen for the nocturnal thrush flight, tonight could be good as conditions are similar to last night. Usually just before dawn they get quite vocal and some even start to call from stationary perches as opposed to in-flight calls.   They stop calling shortly after they settle down from the night flight and the calls are usually done by about 7:00 a.m. An excellent website to learn the night calls of thrushes and a few others is BIRD CALLS AND SONGS.

Saturday, September 27: A migration of BLUE JAYS  was very much in evidence at Beaver Meadow Conservation Area at East Lake as numbers could be seen passing by overhead, and the wooded areas were filled with them,. Also present today were both RED-BREASTED and WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, COMMON RAVEN, DOWNY WOODPECKER, BELTED KINGFISHER and WOOD DUCKS. A few species not listed in yesterday evening’s report from Prince Edward Point, that were noted by another observer were newly arrived flocks of DARK-EYED JUNCOS to remind us that winter is acomin’. A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was also seen. The immature BALD EAGLE, seen earlier this month at the False Duck Islands offshore from Prince Edward Point, was present again today, along with a NORTHERN HARRIER. Outside the general reporting area, a camper at Charleston Lake Provincial Park north of Gananoque had both GREAT HORNED OWL and EASTERN SCREECH-OWL calling from his campsite last night. At Kingston’s Lemoine Point Conservation Area, seen today were NASHVILLE and PALM WARBLERS, SCARLET TANAGER, LESSER YELLOWLEGS, PURPLE FINCH (5), and EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE. Near Amherstview, Parrott’s Bay Conservation Area donated WOOD DUCKS, GADWALL, AMERICAN WIGEON, NORTHERN PINTAIL, and two species of warblers – BAY-BREASTED and PINE. Our congratulation to two participants in this year’s Baillie Birdathon for Prince Edward Point. Grand Prize winner, and a member of the Sprague’s Pipits Birdathon team, was Nick Quickert, who won a tour, of his choice, to West Mexico, Costa Rica or New Brunswick. Picton resident Cheryl Anderson won a pair of 8 X 42 Vortex Viper binoculars. Congratulations to both of you!

Friday, September 26: There were good birds to be had today, regardless of where one chose to try their luck. At Prince Edward Point today, eight species of warblers were noted - AMERICAN REDSTART, OVENBIRD, BLACK-THROATED GREEN, BLACK-THROATED BLUE, BLACKPOLL, MAGNOLIA, NASHVILLE, and TENNESSEE WARBLERS. Two vireos – BLUE-HEADED and RED-EYED were present as were YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, EASTERN TOWHEE, SCARLET TANAGER, BROWN CREEPER, and both species of KINGLETS – RUBY-CROWNED and  GOLDEN-CROWNED. In the thrush family, SWAINSON’S and GRAY-CHEEKED were on hand, and the season’s first HERMIT THRUSH. Other species of note included both WHITE-THROATED and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, 4 BALD EAGLES, SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS AND RED-TAILED HAWKS. Keeping just one step ahead of Old Man Winter was a RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD. Success was to be found at Presqu’ile Provincial Park too with those special shorebirds still present near Owen Point - highlights being the long staying HUDSONIAN GODWIT and WHIMBREL, and new this morning was a juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER that was feeding on the southeast corner of the island.  Also present were BAIRD’S, BLACK-BELLIED and AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS, and SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS.  It was glass calm this morning and observers could see upwards of 300 HORNED GREBES, a female BLACK SCOTER and 4 COMMON TERNS out in Popham Bay. But, the star attraction was a male PROTHONOTARY WARBLER at Owen Point early this morning. This is one of the very few Park records, and the first one ever observed at the Park during the fall season. Some good birds at 7:45 a.m. this morning at the Quinte Conservation Area on the west side of Belleville. The “early bird” there got the birds for sure when he noted a continuous migration of BLUE JAYS, totally some 255 birds. YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER and 12 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS were seen during the three  kilometre walk to the far north end of the property as well as 3 PALM WARBLERS, 30 CEDAR WAXWINGS, a GRAY CATBIRD, COMMON RAVEN, four RUFFED GROUSE and a PILEATED WOODPECKER. The latter species was also seen in Wellington in a backyard. An EASTERN PHOEBE was at 23 Sprague Road for much of the day.

Thursday, September 25: Three of us spent from 5:35  p.m.  until 7:18 p.m. counting GREAT EGRETS as they came in to roost at the Hamilton Wetland tonight, near Demorestville. A total of 65 egrets came in ones and twos and sometimes threes and fours during that time, and one of them was wearing a blue circular tag. The sunset glowed on the birds as they flew in and they became almost pink with purple wings.   Also present were 6 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 1 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 6 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS, and several GREAT BLUE HERONS, BELTED KINGFISHERS, and a NORTHERN HARRIER. Also present were several hundred CANADA GEESE, MALLARDS and about 20 GREEN-WINGED TEAL. The Presquìle Park Weekly Bird Report for this week by Fred Helleiner has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website. CLICK HERE to view it. Along County Road 7 (Lake on the Mountain area) a EUROPEAN STARLING was doing a perfect imitation of an EASTERN MEADOWLARK  this morning.  It would have been the perfect imitation, had the song not ended with typical starling chatter, commented the observer. Other than a LEAST SANDPIPER at Sandbanks Provincial Park, no other bird sightings came in today, so that`s it for today`s report.

Wednesday, September 24:  YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS  are still being seen in the area. One was present today on Black Road, near Demorestville, where a COMMON RAVEN, RED-EYED VIREO, and an amazing 12 EASTERN PHOEBES were tallied. I guess the latter would qualify as an “outfield” of flycatchers, or a “zipper” or a “zapper” of flycatchers, according to the accepted nouns of assemblage. Whatever they are called, that’s a lot of phoebes to be seen in one concentrated area. No other bird sightings in Prince Edward County, or sightings of any significance from anywhere else outside of the Bay of Quinte region. From Cheryl Anderson, President of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, comes this message: "Terry Sprague and Sandbanks Vacations have donated a special Fall Bus Tour to help raise much needed funds for the Ostrander Point Appeal Fund.  The Tour will be held on Oct 7 - a great date to see all the wonderful fall colours.  To book one of the 12 seats - available for a donation of $100 per person - visit  www.saveostranderpoint.org  .  The complete itinerary is as follows: 9:00 a.m.: leave Bloomfield and head for Sandbanks Park. We stop at Lakeshore Lodge and travel back in time to 1870-1972 when this famous destination drew over a million visitors during its 102 history. From this vantage point, we can see the famous West Lake sand bar, the largest sand dune baymouth bar separating fresh water in the world;  10:30 a.m.: arrive at Lake on the Mountain. We will explore the myths and legends of this famous lake and learn about its origin.; 11:30 a.m.: arrive at Black River Cheese. Our route will take us through `Grimmon`s Woods`on C.R 13, (which should be a cascade of colour by then). A brief stop at the cheese factory, the only remaining original cheese factory location in the County; noon: arrive at Jackson`s Falls B & B for lunch; 1:15 p.m.: brief stop at Mariner’s Museum & Park (stay on bus), marine history, shipwrecks; 1:30 p.m. Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, learn about bird banding, history of the area, lighthouse, and the commercial fishing industry. The entire peninsula from this location to Point Petre has been designated as an Important Bird Area; 3:00 p.m.: Little Bluff Conservation Area. View from the bluff and the site’s history during the Barley Days, and the location of a seismic station on the property; 4:00 p.m.: arrive Bloomfield."  Join us, if you can.

Tuesday, September 23: A SCARLET TANAGER was a nice find for one birder yesterday along the Kiwanis Bayshore Trail in Belleville. Always a nice find at this time of the year, although tanagers have been noted on rare occasions as late as mid-October at Prince Edward Point in past years. Two warbler species were seen – CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER and MAGNOLIA WARBLER along this popular paved trail in the city, as well as a RED-EYED VIREO. Two species of ducks – AMERICAN BLACK and MALLARD. Other good finds along the trail included 2 GREAT BLUE HERONS, a GREAT EGRET, 1 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 5 BONAPARTE’S GULLS, BELTED KINGFISHER, NORTHERN FLICKER, and a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW. An adult male COOPER’S HAWK was banded today at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. A few of the highlights today from Amherst Island were 14 AMERICAN PIPITS, 2 AMERICAN BITTERNS, a GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 2 AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS, 3 PALM WARBLERS, 3 LINCOLN’S SPARROWS, a MARSH WREN, 5 CASPIAN TERNS, and a SEMIPALMATED PLOVER. A text message just in at 7:00 p.m. on location at the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville. A count of 42 GREAT EGRETS, and still counting! And count they did, as at 7:10 p.m. this evening they were up to 62 GREAT EGRETS. By comparison - only 30 egrets this evening at Indian Island in the Bay of Quinte, east of Carrying Place. And an e-mail and photo just in as I was trying to put this evening’s report to bed – a MOURNING WARBLER was seen in a backyard along Wellington’s Narrow Street.

Monday, September 22: GREAT EGRETS continue their post breeding dispersal as individuals turn up across  the Quinte region, prior to migrating south in about a  month. Individuals have been seen this week at County Road 28 in Sawguin Creek (both sides of Highway 62), Carrying Place (Dead Creek) and in the Harmony Road wetland, north of Belleville. Meanwhile, the roosts where these egrets retreat for the night are of considerable interest as over 100 have been counted at the Indian Island roost, east of Carrying Place. The Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville is holding steady at between 30 and 40 egrets roosting there every night, and departing at daybreak to feeding areas. For several days there has been a GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL  seen perched atop one of the light standards on the Norris Whitney Bridge between Rossmore and Belleville. An AMERICAN KESTREL  was present today along Hamilton Road in Quinte West, off Wallbridge/Loyalist Road as this species continues its fall migration. The NORTHERN WHEATEAR at Ottawa was seen again today at 4000 Milton Road. And at Presqu’ile Park, with the duck hunting season almost upon us, and restrictions soon to be placed on birding in these areas within the park, still to be seen in the Owen Point area are the HUDSONIAN GODWIT. Yesterday there were 46 SANDERLINGS, 3 DUNLINS, 4 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, 30 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, 5 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, 1 LEAST SANDPIPER,  a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER and 1 AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER.

Sunday, September 21: A Wellington birder had great fun today watching a GREAT BLUE HERON chowing down a huge NORTHERN WATER SNAKE. At Smith’s Bay, birds seen there today included PIED-BILLED GREBE, BELTED KINGFISHER, 100 RING-BILLED GULLS, DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT and MUTE SWANS. Yesterday, an immature BALD EAGLE was seen flying low over the water. A resident along Napanee’s River Road was out in her backyard doing a little birding  this morning and was surprised to have a BALD EAGLE fly over her head. On Black Road, near Demorestville, a NORTHERN HARRIER  was seen today, but the really significant “Northern” is the NORTHERN WHEATEAR which continues to be seen for the second day at 4000 Milton Road, Ottawa. At Kingston, WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS and GRAY CATBIRD were among the species present today at the Little Cataraqui Conservation Area, just north of the city. Back in Wellington, 4 CASPIAN TERNS  were seen at the harbour today, and in Belleville, four GREAT EGRETS and a BONAPARTE’S GULL were present along the Kiwanis Bayshore Trail.

Saturday, September 20: Yesterday was a good day for one observer at Prince Edward Point who came up with 37 species, some represented by some impressive numbers. Among them were 15 BLACK-THROATED WARBLERS, 7 PALM WARBLERS, 20 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS,  6 BLUE-HEADED VIREOS, 100 HERRING GULLS, and 1,000 BLUE JAYS. A few other significant finds were one each of WINTER WREN, HOUSE WREN and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW and MERLIN. Also seen was a PEREGRINE FALCON, an EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE and two COMMON LOONS. No follow-up report today though to determine whether or not the selections and numbers continued into today. Last evening, a total of 49 GREAT EGRETS flew in to roost at the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville, between 6:00 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Two of the birds had coloured wing tags. Other sightings yesterday and today included 8 BONAPARTE’S GULLS at the Glenora Ferry Crossing, and a MERLIN which flew into a murmuration of some 1200 EUROPEAN STARLINGS singing away happily at 23 Sprague Road, and emerging victorious with a screaming bird, whereupon the flock simply left and abandoned it. At the Hamilton Wetland last evening, the resident 2 SANDHILL CRANES were present again, as well as five GREAT BLUE HERONS. Today, a PARASITIC JAEGER  was spotted working the gulls at Thickson’s Woods, at Whitby.

Friday, September 19: It was a slow day today for banding at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. Some good warblers though were PALM, TENNESSEE,  NASHVILLE, CHESTNUT-SIDED, MAGNOLIA,  BLACKBURNIAN, and BLACKPOLL. Also banded was a hatch year WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH. Also seen were SWAINSON’S and GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSHES, and lots of BLUE JAYS migrating overhead. At least one MARSH WREEN was still in evidence this afternoon at the Brighton Constructed Wetland, where shorebirds noted included three or four GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 2 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, and KILLDEER. At Brighton’s Proctor Conservation Area where a guided hike was being conducted by Lower Trent Conservation’s Ewa Bednarczk, a PILEATED WOODPECKER announced its presence twice along the trail. At the Amherstview Sewage Lagoons, birds present there have been a dozen or more GREEN-WINGED TEAL, WOOD DUCK, BLUE-WINGED TEAL, 11 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, GREEN HERON, and a MERLIN. Not far away, at Lemoine Point Conservation Area beside the Norman Rogers Airport, a BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBER and a SCARLET TANAGER have been seen, along with RED-EYED VIREOS and NORTHERN HARRIERS. The HUDSONIAN GODWIT, WHIMBREL, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, and GOLDEN PLOVERS are still hanging out together at Presqu’ile Park,  on Gull Island.   A PECTORAL SANDPIPER  was also present today.   Reports from a relatively new natural area, The Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre, near Perth Road Village, north of Kingston, has been producing a few birds of note. Seen today were 8 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, 4 WOOD DUCKS, an AMERICAN BITTERN, AMERICAN WOODCOCK, BLUE-HEADED VIREOS, CAPE MAY WARBLER, LINCOLN’S SPARROW, RED-SHOULDERED HAWK and a couple SOLITARY SANDPIPERS. I feel a field trip coming on.

Thursday, September 18: Can it be? Signs of winter so soon? Say it isn't so! The first ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK of the “winter” season was spotted today at the corner of Highway 2 and Shannonville Road, at Shannonville. The species has arrived this early before, but only rarely. Shorebirds continue to dominate the scene at Presqu'ile Provincial Park where at least a half dozen species which I would consider significant, have been present, along with the more commonly encountered BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, etc. AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS have been seen there on three different days, and the same number of WHIMBRELS, accompanied by a single HUDSONIAN GODWIT. That another godwit, instead of the same one, was seen is entirely possible, as two were present a few days ago at Pleasant Bay. Up to three RED KNOTS have been present at Presquìle as well as an elusive WESTERN SANDPIPER. Also present in the Park have been a couple WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS,  a few BAIRD`S SANDPIPERS, PECTORAL SANDPIPERS and DUNLINS. Fred Helleiner`s Presquìle Park Bird Report has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website and can be read by CLICKING HERE. Another untimely passing in the birding world. Dennis Duckworth from the Toronto area, who was known by many, passed away four days ago after a lengthy illness. He was a very keen birder and I once ran into him at Cressy many years ago when a rare SAY`S PHOEBE had appeared. Dennis had been there since early morning, and at noon, the bird still hadn't appeared. I still remember his shocked look when I appeared on the scene at noon from my place of employment just a 20-minute drive from there, and pointed it out not two minutes after I stepped out of the car! As it turned out, the bird had just finally arrived and was busy seeking out insects from under the eave of the house.

Wednesday, September 17: At about 6 pm last evening while walking the shoreline at North Beach Provincial Park, two birders saw a juvenile GOLDEN EAGLE and a mature GOLDEN EAGLE, one flying just ahead of the other.  A bit earlier than when we expect to see this species in migration, but a few have been reported in the area in the last few  days. At Prince Edward Point, BLUE JAYS are now migrating through in good numbers, and as many as 1500 of them have been seen migrating over the Observatory. Shorebirds seen yesterday at Presqui'le Park`s Owen Point and Gull Island areas, were present again today. The HUDSONIAN GODWIT was present on Gull Island in company with 8 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS.  It is spending time along the south shore of the island and at the east tip.  The latter location is viewable from Owen Point with a scope.  Also present on the island were 8 AMERICAN PIPITS and a single WHIMBREL on the north shore of the island.  Splitting their time between Gull Island and Owen Point where 3 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, 1 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS, 2 LEAST SANDPIPERS, 6 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, 3 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, 1 DUNLIN and 20-30 SANDERLINGS. A BAIRD`S SANDPIPER was also reported.  There was also a significant build-up of  MONARCH BUTTERFLIES  (50+) on Owen Point this morning. Some good birds today at the Marshlands Conservation Area in Kingston, among them SORA, 2 OVENBIRDS, NORTHERN PARULA, 2 MAGNOLIA WARBLERS, 3 COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER and an AMERICAN REDSTART. The trail through the area also produced a HOUSE WREN, 4 MARSH WRENS, 3 RED-EYED VIREOS and 2 WARBLING VIREOS. A YELLOW-THROATED VIREO  was seen at the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area yesterday.

Tuesday, September 16: It was a two kilometre walk up the beach between Pleasant Bay and Lake Ontario this evening, but we finally saw some shorebirds, after a fruitless search along the Lake Ontario shoreline. There weren’t many, but the selection was impressive with two HUDSONIAN GODWITS, 6 KILLDEER, 4 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS, two LEAST SANDPIPERS, a SPOTTED SANDPIPER and two SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS. In the Island Point area along the same stretch of beach, seen were RING-BILLED and HERRING GULLS, NORTHERN FLICKERS, 4 MUTE SWANS, a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK and a MERLIN that posed for a group of us for several minutes. Elsewhere at Pleasant Bay, a GREAT EGRET showed up today at Bay Meadows Trailer Park, and another was seen early this morning in Sawguin Creek at Highway 62. A day earlier at Bay Meadows, a GREAT BLUE HERON, 2 AMERICAN BITTERNS,  a female COMMON YELLOWTHROAT and a female INDIGO BUNTING were present. At Prince Edward Point – Point Traverse specifically – the woods were alive with waves of warblers yesterday. Close to 60 species of birds were tallied, among them 17 species of warblers, including 3 TENNESSEES, 8 NASHVILLES, 4 COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, 12 BLACK-THROATED GREENS, 2 WILSON’S,  and 6 NORTHERN PARULAS, just to name a few. Also seen were 10 GRAY CATBIRDS, a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, a first of the fall WINTER WREN, 10 RED-EYED VIREOS, a PHILADELPHIA VIREO and 6 BLUE-HEADED VIREOS. At Presqu’ile Park’s Gull Island, present today were BLACK-BELLIED and AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER, HUDSONIAN GODWIT, WHIMBREL, SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER and SANDERLINGS. A BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER  turned up today at Port Hope.

Monday, September 15: There was a fair bit around Ferris Provincial Park at Campbellford today and yesterday – several WOOD THRUSHES, two GRAY CATBIRDS and a contingent of NORTHERN FLICKERS as well as  COMMON RAVEN, lots of BLUE JAYS and many dozens of AMERICAN ROBINS gorging on Grey Dogwood berries. At Prince Edward Point, the fall bird migration continues with the arrival of the first RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS  on Saturday, and BROWN CREEPER and WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS yesterday. There was a large movement of BLUE JAYS (around 1,800) and the Bird Observatory caught and banded their first one today. Highlights of the week at Prince Edward Point by other observers included at least 1 OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER seen on 7th. Also seen that day were the season's first DARK-EYED JUNCO and WHIITE-WINGED SCOTERS. An impressive 11 NORTHERN PARULAS were also seen in the morning with one observer logging 19 species of warblers in total. A minimum of 5 YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHERS were also observed. A male HOODED WARBLER was banded on 8th, just the 3rd autumn season banding record since 1999. During the southerly 'storm' on the 11th, a total of 6 LITTLE GULLS and 5 BLACK TERNS were seen in the vicinity of the banding station/lighthouse. A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was reported on Friday swooping low over observers at the Station. Further along the south shore, 3 SANDERLINGS, a RUDDY TURNSTONE and single RED KNOT were seen at Charwell Point today. A reasonable hawk passage was also noted at Point Petre with 19 SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS, 2 COOPER'S HAWKS, 4 BROAD-WINGED HAWKS, 6 TURKEY VULTURES, 2 RED-TAILED HAWKS, an unexpected RED-SHOULDERED HAWK, 2 OSPREYS and 1 AMERICAN KESTREL - all noted within less than an hour. The highlight however was a sign of winter - a single SNOW GOOSE migrating south with 8 CANADA GEESE out over the lake. At Presqu’ile Park today,  a HUDSONIAN GODWIT on Gull Island that was first OBSERVED on Saturday, was seen again today. The bird was flying with an AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and headed west along the Island shoreline. Thirteen  species of shorebirds were present this morning:  22 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, 1 AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER, 5 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, 6 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, 2 BAIRD’S SANDPIPERS, 4 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, 36 SANDERLINGS, 1 DUNLIN, 2 RED KNOTS, 8 RUDDY TURNSTONES, 1 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, 1 WHIMBREL and, of course, the  HUDSONIAN GODWIT.  A PILEATED WOODPECKER was seen in flight today near the junction of Highway 62 and County Road 28 near Fenwood Gardens, south of Belleville. The two resident SANDHILL CRANES were seen at the Hamilton Wetland again, west of Demorestville. A juvenile WHITE IBIS that turned up at the Oshawa Second Marsh on Thursday, could very well have been the same individual that was present at Napanee on August 24th. Currently, there is one at Wheatley Provincial Park, near Point Pelee. Same one???

Wednesday, September 10: Shorebirds are still the order of the day at prime viewing locations like Presqu’ile Park. BLACK-BELIED PLOVERS were still around and are apt to be for a little while yet. The stars of the show today though on the popular beach were a juvenile WESTERN SANDPIPER and a juvenile RED KNOT.  At Indian Island, in the Bay of Quinte, east of Carrying Place, GREAT EGRETS are starting to congregate at the roost there. Last evening, there were 45 birds. This roost was first noted three years ago and there have been as many as 112 egrets counted. The egrets that congregate at  this roost as well as the Hamilton Wetland roost near Demorestville, are not necessarily birds that bred in this area. Egrets, like many herons and related species, undertake a major post breeding dispersal, and gather at these communal roosts prior to migrating south for the winter. These egrets are from breeding colonies all over Ontario as well as the United States. Fascinating ritual for them and we often note individuals among them carrying coloured wing tags which provides a clue as to their origin. Speaking of that family, a GREAT BLUE HERON and a GREEN HERON are still enjoying the hospitality of a pond behind the Reid’s Dairy on Bell Blvd at Sidney Street in Belleville. What makes birding so interesting, are the unanswered questions and sometimes all we can do is speculate. With even the commoner birds, where are they from, what kind of a season did they have, and where will they be going, ultimately? We still wonder as to the fate of the WHITE IBIS that spent far too short a time in Napanee recently, and why such an obviously “different” bird has not been seen by somebody, somewhere else. It is something that even a non birder would recognize as different, and be curious about it.  As Tweed area nature film makers John and Janet Foster have often said, “Sometimes the best ending to a wildlife story, is a mystery”.                           

Tuesday, September 09: AMERICAN KESTRELS appear to be moving through now. New appearances today were two on Doxsee Road and another not far away on Black Road. In Belleville’s Jane Forrester Park at Myers Pier Marina, birds seen today included CHIPPING SPARROW, COMMON TERN, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, 2 EASTERN WOOD-PEWEES, 3 NASHVILLE WARBLERS and a RED-EYED VIREO.  BELTED KINGFISHER, CHIPPING SPARROW and CEDAR WAXWINGS were among birds seen today at Strathcona, northeast of Napanee.  No report today from Prince Edward Point except for a HOODED WARBLER banded yesterday.  Near Brewer’s Mills, north of Kingston, a  RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER turned up, and yesterday two yellow bellies showed up – a YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER and a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER. At the Hamilton Wetland, west of Demorestville, a GREAT EGRET I saw in flight last evening wearing a green wing tag, was tagged in 2011, according to Chip Weseloh, retired biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service. Derek Dafoe of Marmora reported that MONARCH BUTTERFLIES were flying around at Presqu’le Park on Sunday by the hundreds, and that it was a very encouraging sight. This comment echoes others I have been receiving. More than a dozen always accompany me on my noon walks around the two fields west of our house, a sight I have not witnessed for several years.. On the same walk, before light in the morning, the MONARCH BUTTERFLIES  are replaced by KATYDIDS, dozens of them rasping away, hidden, in the vegetation beside the trail. All good signs.Be sure to see Derek Dafoe's excellent website.

Monday, September 08: Birding was good again today. Correction on the BLACK VULTURE reported at Prince Edward Point yesterday. Upon closer examination of the photo, several birders agreed that it was a juvenile TURKEY VULTURE. Easy mistake to make given that the head of a juvenile TURKEY VULTURE is also grey, like that of a BLACK VULTURE. Belleville birder and owner of  Fuller Native and Rare Plants, birded today on Simpson Road, south of Army Reserve Road in Prince Edward County.  Noted were a few mixed flocks of BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES and warblers (PALM WARBLER, NASHVILLE WARBLER, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, OVENBIRD, BLACKPOLL WARBLER). It seemed to be a good day for travelling raptors:  RED-TAILED HAWK, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, BROAD-WINGED HAWK, MERLIN, and NORTHERN HARRIER. Around the wetlands were flocks of migrating BLUE JAYS, a couple of LINCOLN’S SPARROWS, AMERICAN BITTERN, GREEN HERON, GREAT BLUE HERON, GRAY CATBIRD and many AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES. There were good numbers of MONARCH BUTTERFLIES as well as other butterflies (VICEROY, AMERICAN LADY, SULPHUR, COMMA).  Lots of dragonflies. In the moist meadows below the berm were many Spiranthes Cernua (NODDING LADIES TRESSES orchid). This evening at the Hamilton Wetland, 33 GREAT EGRETS flew into the wetland, the flight lasting from 6:05 p.m., when I arrived, until the last one floated in at 7:30 p.m. I stayed for another 20 minutes with further egrets being seen.  It would be interesting to know where these egrets spend their day as all but one flew in from a northerly direction, roughly from Muscote Bay, Big Island, Shannonville, etc.  The 21st GREAT EGRET was wearing a green wing tag, but never stopped so I could read the numbers, preferring instead to continue into the roost area, deep in the wetland. Two GREAT BLUE HERONS were present, and this time, there were four DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS in the trees, two of them juveniles. A MERLIN spent a few minutes chasing one or two of the 13 GREATER YELLOWLEGS present. A NORTHERN HARRIER also passed over. In addition to 500+ CANADA GEESE that left upon my arrival, waterfowl present included AMERICAN BLACK, WOOD DUCKS, GREEN-WINGED and BLUE-WINGED TEAL, and MALLARDS. In the distance at least a dozen AMERICAN CROWS were harassing something, possibly the GREAT HORNED OWL that had been seen there a few nights earlier. Also seen were two BELTED KINGFISHERS, a PILEATED WOODPECKER and countless KILLDEER. In Trenton today, an adult BALD EAGLE  was seen in flight over the town.  Some good sightings at Presqu'ile Park yesterday including a POMARINE JAEGER and 2 WESTERN SANDPIPERS.

Sunday, September 07: It was a great day for some special birds today, starting with a STILT SANDPIPER, seen at Presqu’ile Park today. An uncommon WESTERN SANDPIPER  was also seen. Also present, BAIRD’S and WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS, to add to the SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS and PLOVERS, SOLITARY SANDPIPER, LEAST SANDPIPERS, SANDERLINGS, SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, and LESSER and GREATER YELLOWLEGS seen at Presqu’ile and Brighton area yesterday. Also noted were REDHEAD, MERLIN and BELTED KINGFISHER. At Prince Edward Point today, bird activity was heavy near the former Ducks Dive Charters with a dozen NORTHERN PARULAS seen. GRAY-CHEEKED and SWAINSON’S THRUSHES were seen at the Bird Observatory. At Prince Edward Point today was a juvenile TURKEY VULTURE, identified by its greyish head and drooping wings as it dried itself from the branch of a willow tree. The harbour area is certainly worth exploring at this time of year. Also present down there today were BELTED KINGFISHERS, and adult BALD EAGLE,  PHILADELPHIA and BLUE-HEADED VIREOS, SCARLET TANAGER, BALTIMORE ORIOLE, RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD, LESSER YELLOWLEGS, COMMON RAVEN, EASTERN TOWHEE, TRAILL’S FLYCATCHER (Alder or Willow species), GREEN HERON, GRAY CATBIRD......the list went on, said the Belleville observer. At Charwell Point along Prince Edward County’s South Shore where off roaders are still churning up trenches and pitching tents, 2 SANDHILL CRANES managed to put up with the fracas. A FISHER  was also seen there. Last evening, birds were hopping too at the Hamilton Wetland west of Demorestville, where 40 GREAT EGRETS were counted, coming in to roost as the sun was setting. Also tallied were 5 waterfowl species – MUTE SWAN, 17 WOOD DUCKS, 140 MALLARDS, 37 BLUE-WINGED TEAL,  and 10 GREEN-WINGED TEAL. The single resident DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT managed to persuade another to join it, and there were two present last evening. Two SANDHILL CRANES that have been hanging out in the general area of County Road 14, were present as well, along with at least 5 GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, and a GREAT BLUE HERON. The nightly contingent of EUROPEAN STARLINGS came in to roost as they always do in the deciduous trees – fully 800 of them, and also arriving were 200 COMMON GRACKLES. A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was seen in the Sandbanks area today.  Insects too are in the news with numerous, and very encouraging, sightings of MONARCH BUTTERFLIES being seen along the County’s South Shore where huge numbers were collecting in the trees today at Sandbanks Park’s West Point area. “Thousands” of MONARCH BUTTERFLIES  were also along the Wellington shoreline today. A photo came in today as well of a GIANT SWALLOWTAIL larva, taken in Trenton. Also arriving were photos of an APPLE-OAK GALL, a BLACK FISHING SPIDER, a LITTLE BROWN SNAKE and a WHITE UNDERWING larva. It is so encouraging to see folks paying so much attention to what is around them in the natural world.  What ever did we do before e-mail?

Saturday, September 06: Birding was fairly good yesterday at Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area, north of Kingston, off Division Street. Some of the more significant finds included a juvenile SWAMP SPARROW, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, GRAY CATBIRD, BELTED KINGFISHER, GREAT BLUE HERON and 2 COMMON NIGHTHAWKS. A COMMON NIGHTHAWK was also heard last night at 23 Sprague Road, Big Island. At Black Road, west of Demorestville, a juvenile YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER is still frequenting a feeder there. North of Kingston, near Brewer’s Mills on the Rideau Canal, a CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER  was observed, along with COMMON LOON, HOUSE WREN, LEAST FLYCATCHER, NORTHERN PARULA, 3 SCARLET TANAGERS and a TENNESSEE WARBLER. At the Hamilton Wetland along C.R. 14, west of Demorestville, late this afternoon, 6 GREAT EGRETS, at least 25 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 100 MALLARDS, 5 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 2 GREAT BLUE HERONS and a PALM WARBLER. There was also a constant parade of WOOD DUCKS in and out of the wetland – at least 200. At Wellington last evening, a juvenile RED-TAILED HAWK swooped into a Narrow Street backyard, and escaped with nothing and was presumed by the homeowner to be nothing more than a practice manoeuvre for the winter months ahead! Today, there were a half dozen NORTHERN FLICKERS on Wellington Beach, and an AMERICAN KESTREL at the Sandbanks Dunes Beach yesterday.

Friday, September 05: Okay – a fair bit of bird news today, a leucistic CANADA GOOSE that was found today at the Dupont plant in Kingston. In commenting on the sighting, Mark Read of Kingston who submits weekly bird reports to the Ontario Birds listserv, says, “This bird (and there was another for a while) have been the subject of some local discussion with opinions ranging from leucistic CANADA GOOSE to hybrids of various origins. This one certainly shows typical CANADA GOOSE head pattern, so this would seem a likely candidate." As well as bird sightings arriving via two different e-mail addresses that I have, text messages are starting to arrive too. One coming in this morning reported a GREEN HERON, three DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS, 5 MALLARDS and a GREAT BLUE HERON in the pond behind the store complex at Reid’s Dairy in Belleville. It’s not that big of a pond!  And phone calls, which is how the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory report came in earlier this evening. Apparently, it wasn’t a super busy day this morning with a few warblers and other species being banded. The majority of birds captured were RED-EYED VIREOS and SWAINSON’S THRUSHES. Also seen, were a couple immature BALD EAGLES and a PEREGRINE FALCON. A Belleville birder, obviously a dedicated and caring naturalist, was birding the Harmony Road wetland, north of Belleville today, but mostly his time was enlivened by a wandering skunk which he kept shooing off the busy road, lest it be hit. The birder did say that he stayed well out of range. Most noteworthy at the wetland were 8 BLUE-WINGED TEAL, 1 AMERICAN BITTERN, 2 GREAT BLUE HERONS, 17 GREAT EGRETS, 1 NORTHERN HARRIER, 2 COMMON GALLINULES, 2 COMMON RAVENS, and one each of MARSH WREN and GRAY CATBIRD. Once again, the Marshlands Conservation Area, and nearby Lemoine Point Conservation Area, saw the presence of birders. Highlights at the former location included 8 YELLOW WARBLERS, a half dozen RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS, 15 COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, a MERLIN and 40 CEDAR WAXWINGS. Lemoine Point produced a WILSON’S WARBLER, and two other warbler species – MAGNOLIA and TENNESSEE. A LEAST FLYCATCHER  was also seen. Sad news in the Toronto and area birding circles in the passing of long time birder Don Perks at the age of 89. Don had been birding since he  found a Barn Owl in the Credit River in 1935. He was a founding member  of the South Peel Naturalists' Club and he was a long-time member of OFO  as well the Toronto Ornithological Club and the Hamilton Naturalists'  Club. I did not know Don well but we did bird together on one occasion, in 1996, when he drove to Big Island to see a Henslow’s Sparrow that was present for a month in a hay field beside our house. Don often birded with the late James Baillie back in the 1960s and 1970s, assistant curator of ornithology at the ROM.

Thursday, September 04: EASTERN SCREECH-OWLS appear to be on the move. One was heard calling at a resident’s bedroom window at midnight at Cressy. Before light this morning, one was calling across the road from 23 Sprague Road, Big Island, and another was answering it on the south side of the Big Island Marsh along County Road 15 somewhere. I will always remember one of my camping experiences in the Woodlands Campground one fall at this time when no fewer than five lulled me to sleep one night, all of them singing in slightly different pitches. Life doesn’t get much better when that happens.  At the H.R. Frink Centre today, seen were a BELTED KINGFISHER and NORTHERN HARRIER. Yesterday, a SORA and an OSPREY were seen there from the marsh boardwalk. The shorebird population has dwindled considerably at Wilton Creek near Morven, but still hanging in there today were 3 LESSER YELLOWLEGS and a LEAST SANDPIPER. Thirty-four species were tallied today at the Marshlands Conservation Area in Kingston, among them 6 RED-EYED VIREOS, a MARSH WREN, 2 MAGNOLIA WARBLERS, a WARBLING VIREO, 4 COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, 4 GADWALL and a SCARLET TANAGER. At nearby Cataraqui Bay, a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON was present, and also seen were BLUE-WINGED TEAL, WOOD DUCKS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, NORTHERN SHOVELERS and COMMON LOON. GREAT EGRETS are still holding strong at the Hamilton Wetland west of Demorestville, where 20 were tallied last evening along with 3 GREATER YELLOWLEGS. It was pretty quiet  this morning bird-wise at the Quinte Conservation Area in Quinte West, off Highway 2. Best birds were probably a pair of BALTIMORE ORIOLES still in breeding plumage. GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHERS may be moving through right now. There was one at the H.R. Frink Centre yesterday and one at the Quinte Conservation Area  this morning. Fred Helleiner’s Presqu’ile Park Weekly Bird Report has been uploaded for this week and can be found by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, September 03: I spent an hour very early this morning, birding Beaver Meadow Conservation Area, south of Picton. Present were EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, 2 RED-EYED VIREOS, a  PILEATED WOODPECKER, 6 WOOD DUCKS, GREAT BLUE HERON, NORTHERN HARRIER, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, CANADA GEESE and lots of BLUE JAYS. Shorebirds present today at Presqu’ile Park included SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, LEAST SANDPIPERS, SANDERLINGS  and RUDDY TURNSTONES. At Consecon Creek in the community of Melville, at the east end of Consecon Lake, birds seen there today were GREAT BLUE HERON, 2 GREEN HERONS, a few WOOD DUCKS and a BELTED KINGFISHER. Seen at Prince Edward Point this morning were an immature BALD EAGLE, 2 BROAD-WINGED HAWKS, 2 RED-EYED VIREOS, AMERICAN REDSTARTS, AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS, TURKEY VULTURES, BELTED KINGFISHER, and a LESSER YELLOWLEGS. Another rarity for the Point was caught and banded today, this time it was a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW. This is the first one banded here in the fall since 2007!  Also seen today, and considered uncommon for the Observatory in the fall of the year was an INDIGO BUNTING.  At Big Island, north of Demorestville, a COMMON RAVEN was present for much of the day. The Amherstview Sewage Lagoons were once again replete with fall birds with 20 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 3 WOOD DUCKS, 15 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 7 BLUE-WINGED TEAL and a HOODED MERGANSER, along with 2 LEAST SANDPIPERS and 4 LESSER YELLOWLEGS.  There was a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER today at Kingston’s Lemoine Point Conservation Area. Also present, a LEAST SANDPIPER and 2 MAGNOLIA WARBLERS.

Tuesday, September 02: Other than a MERLIN at Brighton lunching on a MOURNING DOVE, few bird reports came in today. However, several sightings came in last night, albeit right on time as requested, but missed the Report since I had uploaded yesterday’s sightings earlier than usual. However, still quite timely, especially the GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL perched on a light standard on the Norris Whitney Bridge at Belleville which was there again today. Two COMMON LOONS were at Prince Edward Point. There was good birding to be had along Royal Road, from Point Petre to South Bay with an immature BALD EAGLE  being seen, as well as 2 SANDHILL CRANES in a field on the east side 364 Royal Road and an AMERICAN KESTREL at Civic Address 203. Along Belleville’s Kiwanis Bayshore Trail, Lots of CASPIAN TERNS were seen fishing. A LEAST SANDPIPER flew onto the rocks on the Meyer’s Pier Marina breakwater. A GREAT BLUE HERON was spotted flying over the east end of Belleville. A GREEN HERON continues to make a daily appearance in the stormwater pond on Oak Ridge Blvd, but it is pretty skittish and flies up into an overhanging tree at the slightest approach. In Prince Edward County, a RED-TAILED HAWK was seen on a hydro wire beside the Circle K Ranch along Highway 33 (Glenora Road), and a NORTHERN HARRIER was present today over the Big Island Marsh. Birds present at the Martin Edwards Reserve at Amherst Island have featured as many as 24 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, 1 SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, one each of SOLITARY and SPOTTED SANDPIPER, 2 LESSER and 1 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 1 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER,  5 KILLDEER and 2 STILT SANDPIPERS. A BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, COMMON LOON, AMERICAN BITTERN and seven GREEN-WINGED TEAL were other good birds present. GREEN HERON, 8 BLUE-WINGED TEAL, 2 SANDHILL CRANES and a PILEATED WOODPECKER were present last evening at the Hamilton Wetland at Demorestville, and a PILEATED WOODPECKER visited a backyard today at 23 Sprague Road, Big Island. Up to 11 NORTHERN SHOVELERS have been present at the Amherstview Sewage Lagoons, as well as 4 WOOD DUCKS, and EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, 3 HOODED MERGANSERS and 2 PHILADELPHIA VIREOS. And today, near Brewer’s Mills north of Kingston, a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER turned up there as did 5 EASTERN KINGBIRDS and an EASTERN PHOEBE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






Last Updated ( Oct 22, 2014 at 09:28 PM )
Rise and Fall of the Purple Finch PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Oct 22, 2014 at 03:00 AM
 

   THE RISE AND FALL OF THE PURPLE FINCH 

                              Wednesday, October 22, 2014                                      

It was just a few kilometres from where we live when I saw my first purple finches. I was barely in my twenties, and was a relative newcomer to the ranks of the birding fraternity. Pretty much any species was a fresh entry on my life list! It was March and the birds were coming to a series of small hanging feeders that dangled in front of the living room windows.
 
This was also my first introduction to misnomers. These birds, at least the males, were not purple, but looked more like they had been dipped in raspberry juice, then left out in the sun to dry. Their also host didn’t know too much about why they were there, except to consume vast quantities of sunflower seed, and wasn’t sure where they came from each spring, or where they were going, after they disappeared in April. The colourful sparrow-like birds simply arrived every March, without fanfare, and without revealing many secrets.
 
When the birds first arrived at my own feeders, they numbered only two - a male and a female, and I was overjoyed to know that I was now going to experience my very own purple finches, albeit only two. By the end of the week, there were close to 75 purple finches that descended on my feeding station every morning, all of them vying for space at my small self-feeders, arguing amongst themselves with excitable notes that sounded more like creaky door hinges. In the afternoon, they retired to the backyard, in a grove of poplars, where they produced an ongoing musical warble that was as natural as the rippling of a mountain brook.
 
We haven’t seen purple finches in such numbers for several decades. They are declining and bird feeder operators want to know why. The principal cause of the decline may be the absence of large outbreaks of spruce budworm. Some think the decline was caused, at least in part, to the appearance of the very similar house finch which exploded in numbers shortly after its arrival to eastern Lake Ontario in the 1970s. At feeders, the new arrivals were competitors. In aggressive interactions, the house finch nearly always won. Purple finches, in their traditional spring arrival at their customary bird feeders didn’t stand much of a chance.
 
The house finch made its Ontario debut in 1972, interestingly at Prince Edward Point, and within 10 years were among the most common species at bird feeders all along the Lake Ontario and Erie shorelines. House finches, natives of western North America, were introduced to the eastern states around 1940, when caged birds were illegally released in New York.
 
Purple finches were always more common in these parts during spring and fall migrations, than they were as a nesting species. They prefer coniferous growths, so are therefore more commonly encountered as a nesting species in the boreal forests, and only occasionally may be found nesting here, and are almost entirely absent from the extensively cultivated areas of southwestern Ontario. House finches on the other hand are quite at home nesting in a hanging flower pot, or in an ornamental wreath hanging on a door, which is where I found my first nest, in Bloomfield, in 1990. So, as a species that really isn’t into a set migration pattern like most species, preferring instead to move about from feeder to feeder in loose winter flocks, and has nesting habits not unlike those of the house sparrow, it already has the upper hand when purple finches arrive. Purple finches are treated as interlopers in a territory already claimed by more resident house finches. Purple finches are short distance migrants, wintering not far south of their breeding range. They don’t seem to be into the long drawn out migrations of insectivorous warblers, for example, that winter in northern South America.
 
So where does that leave the hapless purple finch that some of us remember appearing in such flocks at our bird feeders in past years? Is the bird doomed to extinction, or perhaps local extirpation? Probably not, but we will likely never enjoy the large numbers of past years when 50 or more at feeders every spring was the norm.
 
Although similar, purple finches and house finches are not that difficult to tell apart. Male house finches are a rosy pink colour and very smooth, while male purple finches are larger and more robust. The females are easier to tell apart. The female house finch is grey and softly textured, lightly striped on the breast, with no noticeable facial markings. Female purple finches have coarser features, are more heavily striped and have a noticeable broad, white stripe behind each eye.
 
Like most finch species, the purple finch tends to be cyclic, erupting in somewhat larger numbers across portions of their winter range, which is probably attributed to successes and failures in conifer seed crops. Last winter many purple finches stayed in the boreal forest because of bumper seed crops there. This fall most of them should migrate south of Ontario because many coniferous and deciduous tree seed crops are poor in central and northeastern Ontario. When purple finches leave Ontario in October and November, they return in mid-April to mid-May to breed. At feeders Purples prefer sunflower seeds.
 
Scenes of Sandbanks PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Oct 21, 2014 at 01:04 PM
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October 23, 2014 12:29 am