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Quinte Area Bird Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Dec 21, 2014 at 03:00 AM

 Snowy Owl. Photo by Jeff HaffnerSnowy Owl. Photo by Jeff HaffnerTHE QUINTE AREA BIRD REPORT


with sightings from the Bay of Quinte region, and beyond



Please e-mail your sightings directly to   Terry Sprague

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 31: Happy Hallowe'en ! Twenty-six NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS were banded last night at Prince Edward Point and, for the first night in four, no BARRED OWLS  were caught. Tonight is the last night of owl banding and I will provide the total banded in this Report at that time. What allures us to feeding birds every winter is always the thrill of the unexpected. Habitat plays a major role in what one may get in any given winter, but in other winters patronage is by the whims of the species. One birder at the east side of Napanee laments that he never has NORTHERN CARDINALS  at his feeder; this fall he already has three. And so it goes. Our specialty is BLUE JAYS, it seems, as anyone who has tuned into my new NatureStuff Live Bird Cam soon finds out, with up to 30 every winter during peak season. The new web cam has proved to be very popular in its first day of operation, and anyone who logs in during the next few days may very well get a close-up of my right ear as I install another feeder or add some additional bird feed. So far, no major glitches, although the system has been known to shut down if the computer decides to do a system scan. Signing up is fairly straight forward, and once that is done, getting in each time to watch the action is just a click away. Not too many birds reported in the Quinte region today due to the weather, but AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS  were seen near Codrington, and a MERLIN  was seen in Kingston today. The grand re-opening of A PLACE TO PERCH in Belleville is happening tomorrow at their new location, so you may want to attend that. And the 23rd annual CHRISTMAS AT PRESQU’ILE begins its 5 day show of quality arts and crafts tomorrow, always a popular and well attended event.

Thursday, October 30: The only report to come in today was from the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory with the banding last night of 27 NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS and another BARRED OWL. Yesterday and today, my life changed forever. No longer can I use colourful language outside or make disgusting noises within a wide radius of the house. The reason being, is that I have been busy for the past two days installing a Live Bird Cam, pointed to a new feed tray that I installed in front of my office window. It isn’t high definition – that’s down the road when the wherewithal becomes available, and I am confident that my system can handle the extra demand. For now, the resolution isn’t bad and there is always lots of action at the new feeder during the day. Even a red squirrel and a chipmunk has joined the fracas. The microphone is super sensitive. The system has about a 15-second delay from the time I am actually seeing the activity until it streams through the system and onto the computer screen. Of course, this delay will not be noticed by the viewer. Last night, before retiring to bed, I let out a lusty sneeze, and 15 seconds later, it blasted through the speakers. Just about scared me to death! I turn the cam on at 7:00 a.m., and shut it off again at 6:00 p.m., so if you get a chance, have a look at it by CLICKING HERE. Just don’t frighten the blue jays!

Wednesday, October 29: Winter must be here! Five PINE GROSBEAKS were spotted today at Ostrander Point, off Babylon Road at South Bay. This may be a good omen, or it could simply be five that wandered a bit further south than normal this fall, as predictions are uncertain as to whether or not our feeders will be graced with this species this winter. During times of food shortages in the far north where they range, they will move south to seek out what they can find – usually sunflower seeds at feeders, or mountain ash berries, red cedar berries or apples. Their favourite food, mountain ash berries, are in short supply in northeastern Ontario, but still pretty good north-central Quebec and northwestern Ontario. It is felt that a few stragglers could stray down to our latitude this fall and winter, but perhaps not in the droves that we have seen other years. We shall wait and see, I guess. Lots of good birding at Little Bluff Conservation Area where 11 BROWN CREEPERS, 3 COMMON LOONS, 9 COMMON RAVENS, 34 HORNED GREBES and a  WINTER WREN were among some of the highlights. Others seen among the 21 species tallied included a GREAT BLUE HERON, 17 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, 2 RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, and 2 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS. An amazing spot, when it wants to be. Last night at Prince Edward Point, 16 NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS  were banded, and one BARRED OWL. Early this morning, before light, an AMERICAN WOODCOCK was flushed from a trail west of 23 Sprague Road, Big Island. At Smith’s Bay, still pretty quiet, according to one observer, except for 60 CANADA GEESE, and what are likely 60+ MUTE SWANS. A PIED-BILLED GREBE has been hanging around for about 10 days, as has a GREAT BLUE HERON. An OSPREY  continues to hunt for fish in the area, and two RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS and a RIVER OTTER were also seen. Yesterday, a motorist on 401 between Highway 62 and 37, came upon a RED-TAILED HAWK with a lunch in its talons, while a passing COMMON RAVEN displayed considerable interest in the catch. A COMMON RAVEN was present today in the area of the Cooper Lumber Yard in Bloomfield.

Tuesday, October 28: PINE SISKINS  were at a feeder in Wellington this week. The species in the Quinte area is still undecided what it wants to do – whether the stay, or keep moving south. Likely most of the numbers we are seeing right now represent migrants and probably very few, if any, may stick around this winter. Friend Ron Pittaway has been making predictions on what boreal finch species might be around during any given winter, based on the abundance or, conversely, the failure of a favourite food crop for many years. His prediction was, that siskins were observed in numbers this summer around southern James Bay and in southern Yukon, and they would move east and west this fall searching for areas with excellent spruce cone crops. He feels that 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 bird feeders with nyger seeds in silo feeders. Despite the rain and cooler weather in the offing later this week, six GREAT EGRETS were still present this evening at the Hamilton Wetland and two SANDHILL CRANES  were back along County Road 5 south of Demorestville. Could have been the 22 degree temperatures today, although they may get a surprise this weekend when the night time temperature plummets to minus five degrees. SANDHILL CRANES are a bit ornery, preferring to linger well into winter sometimes as a couple did in Hillier two years ago, but GREAT EGRETS have never lingered this late in the season before. This evening there were 3 GREAT EGRETS at the Indian Island roost across from Trenton. Luckily they are large white birds against a dark background since they came in about twenty minutes after sundown when the light is already quite dim.   Ten NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS and 1 BARRED OWL were banded last evening at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. This brings the number of NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS banded this fall to 535, and the number of BARRED OWLS  to 17. Two EASTERN SCREECH-OWLS and a LONG-EARED OWL have also been banded this season. A WINTER WREN was seen in Belleville today. While hauling our travel trailer to Belleville this morning at 7:00 a.m. to be winterized, what we presumed to be a BARRED OWL passed over us in front of the car just west of Northport. It was still quite dark out. EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were heard west of 23 Sprague Road at noon today, but it is not known if any of these were the five that had been there three days earlier.

Monday, October 27:   Four species of ducks were present at Zwick’s Park this morning, namely, MUTE SWAN (15), 30 MALLARDS, 2 LESSER SCAUP and a baker’s dozen of BUFFLEHEADS. Also present at the park were YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER and BELTED KINGFISHER. Meanwhile, on the other side of the river, 175 scaup representing both GREATER and LESSER  were seen along the Kiwanis Bayshore Trail, as well as six other duck species. Four GREATER YELLOWLEGS were still flirting with colder weather here, as were 20 AMERICAN ROBINS, 5 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, 5 COMMON GRACKLES, 2 SONG SPARROWS and a lone WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW. Also seen, a PILEATED WOODPECKER. At the other end of the Bay of Quinte, one Trenton birder there decided that it was too nice a day to be in the yard with a broom rake, and set off to “feed his addiction” in the Ameliasburgh area. During his exploration, he noted that the numbers of birds are still decreasing with autumn waning, but he still found a few interesting migrants about. These included 5 HERMIT THRUSHES, 2 FOX SPARROWS and singles of WINTER WREN, EASTERN PHOEBE, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT and a PALM WARBLER still hanging in there. As the fall banding season at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory draws to a close in just a few days, NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS  are still appearing with 32 banded last night, along with 3 BARRED OWLS. At Kingston’s Invista area (Dupont Lagoons), waterfowl are starting to happen with seven species tallied today, which included a single COMMON LOON. Others were 18 AMERICAN WIGEON and 150 RING-NECKED DUCKS. Three EASTERN MEADOWLARKS  were still making use of a hay field west of Sprague Road this morning, so they don’t seem to be in any particular hurry to catch the next flight out just yet. Scaup of undetermined species (probably LESSER) were present in good numbers on Fish Lake, and a large number of WOOD DUCKS had been reported settling down in the wetland a few days earlier.  And that’s it for today. Don’t forget – if you are out and about, we would love to know what you have seen. Judging from the almost 40,000 hits the Bird Report has received since January, others are keen about your observations too. Just click on my name at the top of this report and let us know what you have seen.

Sunday, October 26: Some good sightings today. A leucistic DARK-EYED JUNCO was trying its best to get on the Prince Edward County Bird List as a new species by passing itself off as a “white-crowned junco”. It was with a handful of other normal juncos in the Allisonville area, north of Wellington. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continues to visit a feeder there, and will likely be a regular through the winter. There was also a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW at the same address today. At 23 Sprague Road on Big Island, five EASTERN BLUEBIRDS showed up briefly early this morning before moving west along a fenceline and disappearing out of sight as they followed the bushes and trees along. About noon today an observer in Trenton found a large raft of waterfowl in the west end of the Bay of Quinte just southwest of the foot of Dufferin Avenue. There were about 1500 birds with ten different species present. The large majority, probably 90 per cent were LESSER SCAUP. Also present were 150 AMERICAN WIGEON, 20 BUFFLEHEADS, 15 REDHEADS, 12 AMERICAN COOT and a few AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, MALLARDS and CANADA GEESE. There were singles of RUDDY DUCK and CANVASBACK. At Wellington, a BELTED KINGFISHER continues to hang out there.  Last night, 20 NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS  were banded at Prince Edward Point. Presqui’ile Provincial Park  was pretty quiet today, according to one birder, but 10 SNOW BUNTINGS and 3 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS  did put in an appearance at Owen Point. A BRANT seen by another observer did not stick around. The St. Mary's Cement Wetland at Gosport was much more productive. with highlights there being were 5 PIED-BILLED GREBES, 8 TUNDRA SWANS, 75 or more GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 10 AMERICAN WIGEON and 2 NORTHERN PINTAILS as well as 50 or more BONAPARTE’S GULLS. At Kingston’s Marshland Conservation Area today, over a dozen species of waterfowl were present,  among the more significant being 4 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 2 TRUMPETER SWANS, and 4 WOOD DUCKS. Nearby, Cataraqui Bay had an AMERICAN COOT and 6 REDHEADS. It was a dull evening tonight at the Hamilton Wetland egret roost when only one GREAT EGRET turned up for the tally. Locally, PURPLE FINCHES are still being seen in small numbers, mainly at feeders, as the migration of this species through the area continues. Two PURPLE FINCHES  showed up today at a Wellington feeder.  And the story isn’t much better at Algonquin Provincial Park where birders “flock” every winter to see some of the finches that we may not see down in these parts. All finch species are showing up sparingly in ones and twos, and sometimes six, like WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, COMMON REDPOLL, PINE SISKIN and EVENING GROSBEAK. Hold off on that finch quest to Algonquin until a later date when things might improve.

Saturday, October 25: Birders are starting to pay closer attention now to their feeders as species begin checking out food supplies that will sustain them through the three lean months of winter. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continues to be seen in the Allisonville area near Christian Road, while a flock of 70 or more PINE SISKINS and AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES passing through Prince Edward Point today has everyone excited as to whether their numbers may be a good omen. Last night was another successful evening of owl banding at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory with 121 NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS and 5 BARRED OWLS being banded. Also down there, 2 FOX SPARROWS  were seen by one visiting birder as they foraged on the ground along the laneway leading to the lighthouse at about 11:00 a.m. In Wellington, ducks are starting to show some interest in the harbour and nearshore areas. Present yesterday were 4 COMMON MERGANSERS, 18 AMERICAN WIGEON, 13 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 4 BUFFLEHEAD, and one CANVASBACK. Of course, present too, were the ever present MUTE SWANS. Twenty-six BONAPARTE’S GULLS also put in an appearance. Five SNOW BUNTINGS seen by one birder in Kingston makes us wonder about snow flurries in the offing, but an AMERICAN WOODCOCK and a few other shorebirds seen in the Grey’s Wetland near Napanee are keeping just a few steps ahead of Ol’ Man Winter. These included both GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, and WILSON’S SNIPE.

Friday, October 24: “It's that time of year again when raptors rejoice in the abundant backyard fast food outlets, also known as bird feeders,” says Belleville birder and photographer Tom Wheatley who captured a photo of a MERLIN with a fresh kill. On the topic of predators, it was a successful night of banding last evening at Prince Edward Point, when 103 NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS  were caught and banded, the highest total so far in one night at the Observatory. Also caught and banded were four BARRED OWLS.  At Lake on the Mountain, a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK descended on a feeder east of there, hoping to grab a BLUE JAY for breakfast. Alas, the sharpie was no match for the jays. One by one, the jays dive-bombed the hawk. Each time, the sharpie turned in the air, screamed and took off after the jay ... until another jay headed its way. Finally, still hungry, the sharpie took off in search of an easier breakfast. Things were less frantic and stressful along the Millennium Trail at Consecon where a scattering of AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS turned up, as well as a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD. At Prince Edward Point today, activity this morning seemed to be at a slow ebb, with only BLUE-HEADED VIREO, RUBY and GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH and BROWN CREEPER  being seen. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  was at Allisonville today, and another was at a feeder along County Road 12 near Sandbanks where a  WINTER WREN also appeared. But the prize at that feeder today was a female BALTIMORE ORIOLE, a species that has been known in the past to linger well into the fall, and even into December. PURPLE FINCHES were seen along the Millennium Trail at the Slab Creek wetland in Hillier and a GREAT EGRET was present in Sawguin Creek along Highway 62 this morning. GREAT EGRETS will be around for likely no more than another week as two roosts in Prince Edward County – the Hamilton Wetland at Demorestville, and the Indian Island roost at Carrying Place, are showing signs of an egret exodus. Last evening, only 2 GREAT EGRETS were present at the Indian Island roost, where even the DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT population had dwindled to 12. Lemoine Point Conservation Area at Kingston, one of my favourite conservation areas, had 2 NORTHERN FLICKERS today, while the Marshlands Conservation Area, just east of there, produced 4 species of waterfowl – 10 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 3 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 5 GADWALL and 20 NORTHERN PINTAILS. A few ducks were also present today along Belleville’s Bayshore Trail, among them 140 LESSER SCAUP and 10 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS. However the 200 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS did not reflect the low number loafing at Indian Island last night. A GREATER YELLOWLEGS was still hanging around on the Bayshore Trail, as were two SONG SPARROWS, a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and a FOX SPARROW. Three PINE SISKINS gave rise to some hope that at least a few may stay in the region this coming winter. Eight AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS  were seen here too as this Arctic lowland species continues to move into the Quinte area with the advent of cooler weather. The 25 AMERICAN ROBINS seen will likely hang around much longer, feasting on wild berries, particularly buckthorn. Other good species along the Bayshore Trail today included 40 MALLARDS, a TURKEY VULTURE, 3 RED-TAILED HAWKS, the MERLIN (mentioned earlier and photographed), 3 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and two CEDAR WAXWINGS.

Thursday, October 23: The Slab Creek wetland (along the Millennium Trail at Station Road) was quiet today, yet a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER and a COOPER’S HAWK put in an appearance. A pleasant morning with lots of sunshine led to some productive birding in the Stinson Block area west of Consecon. Raptors included several RED-TAILED HAWKS and singles of COOPER’S and SHARP-SHINNED. Small groups of TURKEY VULTURES were also about including one kettle of 22 birds.  Sparrow species included 5 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS and a FOX SPARROW. Two species of warblers were still present with 10 YELLOW-RUMPED and one ORANGE-CROWNED. Other migrants and birds of interest were 2 PURPLE FINCHES, 2 EASTERN PHOEBES, 2 COMMON RAVENS and singles of HERMIT THRUSH and RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER. The PRESQU’ILE BIRD REPORT by Fred Helleiner has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website. It was "eyes to the skies" this morning at Prince Edward Point. Seen passing over were: 150 TURKEY VULTURES, 3 BALD EAGLES, 3 NORTHERN HARRIERS, 25 SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS, 2 COOPER’S HAWKS, 3 RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS, 60 RED-TAILED HAWKS, 1 GOLDEN EAGLE, 1 AMERICAN KESTREL, and 2 MERLIN. Three NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS were banded last night, as well as a LONG-EARED OWL. An update on the NUBIAN NIGHTJAR that I included in this Report a few days ago because it was such an interesting story. Paul Wallace provides this update:   “Hi Terry, we are back home from our fabulous cruise to ports in Italy, Greece, Turkey and Israel. What an adventure! Thanks for spotting this bird as a Nubian Nightjar. Nightjars are critically endangered in Israel due to habitat loss. We found it on our ship’s balcony floor in the container port of Ashdod, Israel.  It appeared dead but was in a state of  facultative hypothermia. Upon further Internet reading, NUBIAN NIGHTJARS  use facultative hypothermia regularly, and do so more on cold nights, and on nights when light intensity is low, when foraging opportunities are limited.  Nubian Nightjars have relatively small home ranges, which include patches of salt marsh which they use almost exclusively for roosting and breeding, and forage mainly in open habitats, including agricultural fields. The Nightjar never moved (except for my handling it daily) for four days. By the fifth day we were in the port of Naples, Italy. We were at sea for two days prior. I wanted to take it to shore; however, there was nothing but concrete and cats. It surely would not have survived. I found a slightly hidden patch of grass (yes real grass on the top deck) where I was going to place the bird for a chance at life.  However when I returned to our cabin, a housekeeping supervisor had removed the bird. To what fate I do not know. I was saddened.  I believe the Nightjar’s fate was already determined when it landed on our deck. The only positive is that it gave me the chance to be up close and personal and to gain some insight  as to the plight of this endangered species.” CLICK HERE to learn more about the Nubian Nightjar.

Wednesday, 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. 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.

Last Updated ( Dec 21, 2014 at 08:22 PM )
Presqu'ile Provincial Park Bird Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Dec 18, 2014 at 03:00 AM

Presqu'ile Provincial Park Bird Report


Presqu'ile Provincial Park

courtesy of Fred Helleiner


 Dec. 12 - Dec. 18 

A respectable 61 species of birds were seen in the past week at  Presqu'ile Provincial Park.  Of those, 58 were seen on Sunday, when the Christmas Bird Count took place.  No additional species were added since then, with birders apparently taking a pre-Christmas hiatus.  Next week's report will be posted on Wednesday, covering only a six-day period.
Two TRUMPETER SWANS and 20 TUNDRA SWANS were in Presqu'ile Bay, which remains largely ice-free.  Among the hundreds of ducks, some of the less  common ones seen on Sunday were REDHEAD, LESSER SCAUP, WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, and HOODED MERGANSER.  For the second consecutive week, a group of five WILD TURKEYS was seen.  A freshly dead COMMON LOON was late.  The first December record of a TURKEY VULTURE for Presqu'ile (though not for vultures, since a BLACK Rough-legged Hawk. Photo by Gilles BissonVULTURE was in the Park in December twelve years ago) was established last week when one flew over.  A BALD EAGLE and two NORTHERN HARRIERS were seen on December 12.  There were two sightings of ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK (photo by Gilles Bisson of Belleville) on the offshore islands.  The PURPLE SANDPIPER that has been on the north shore of Gull Island for over a week was still there this afternoon.  A GLAUCOUS GULL has been in Presqu'ile Bay for some time and was most recently seen on December 14.  A GREAT HORNED OWL was in "the fingers" on Sunday.  Of the five SNOWY OWLS seen on the Christmas Bird Count, three were still present this afternoon, one on the beach and one each on Gull and High Bluff Islands.  BARRED OWLS have been seen on at least three of the past seven days.
A NORTHERN SHRIKE has been in the vicinity of the calf pasture, most recently on December 17.   A COMMON RAVEN was seen and heard.  Four WINTER WRENS were an unusual number for this time of year, as were two RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, a HERMIT THRUSH, two SWAMP SPARROWS, two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, and a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW.   A RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD and a dozen COMMON GRACKLES have been sampling several feeders on Bayshore Road, as have a few COMMON REDPOLLS and PINE SISKINS.
To reach Presqu'ile Provincial Park, follow the signs from Brighton. Locations within the Park are shown on a map at the back of a tabloid that is available at the Park gate. Visitors to Gull Island not using a boat should be prepared to wade through water that is barely ankle-deep. It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is given priority tomorrow and the next  day, Owen Point, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those days. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.

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


Last Updated ( Dec 18, 2014 at 08:04 PM )
Fifty Years as a Columnist PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Dec 18, 2014 at 03:00 AM



                              Thursday, December 18, 2014                                      

Not enough people remember the late Phil Dodds. Phil was a tireless volunteer who was active in service clubs, was a familiar face at Picton Fair every year, and very involved with the horticultural society. With his “make the world a little better and more beautiful, because you have lived in it” motto, Phil always struck me as a pioneer in these efforts.
Phil was also editor of the Picton Gazette, a position he obtained at the young age of 26, and held until his retirement in 1969, at the age of 61. His column, “Phil-ing-in” always inspired me, for in it, he would promote his beautification message and report sightings of birds that he had seen in his Cherry Valley backyard. As a result, we became good friends, swapping sightings and it wasn’t long before he started incorporating these into his column, or made them into little news items or fillers.
One day in early 1965, Phil dropped a bombshell. “Why don’t YOU write a weekly nature column?”
I declined, claiming that I couldn’t even form a complete thought weekly, never mind a column. I was only 20 years of age. He replied, “Nonsense”, and ordered me to have something to him Monday morning. And, I did – but, because Phil never really specified how many columns I should write, or when I should stop, I continued to submit columns weekly for 50 years! In total, 2600 columns!
The columns knew no bounds when it came to their headings. Originally, called, simply, “Outdoors”, it left an open door for a wide range of  outdoor topics. “Talking at Random” expanded the possibilities even further. For a while there was “Sandscript”, written on behalf of Sandbanks Park where I worked, then “PERCA Update” when I was employed with the Prince Edward Region Conservation Authority, then “Conservation Corner” when I moved to Quinte Conservation. In more recent years, it has been “Outdoor Rambles”.  Since 2001, the column has also appeared in the Picton Gazette’s sister paper, the Napanee Beaver.
There have been several editors, and one editor many years ago, suggested that I should make the column more controversial. Clearly, the original intent of the column had sailed right over his head. I made it a policy through the years to avoid controversial issues, because you never win. I learned that lesson in the 1970s when I entered a debate in my column that dragged on for a year with a resident north of here. He felt predators should be exterminated – not extirpated, but wholesale exterminated, because he was a staunch believer in childhood storybook fables and openly said so. Where do you begin with someone like that?
So I purposely stayed away from getting extensively involved  in controversial issues. I would state my opinion, and then quietly move on to another subject the following week. After all, the main purpose of the column was to gently introduce readers to nature in a thought provoking, yet sensitive fashion. That seemed like the best approach. Let the readers find their way with a little guidance.
As a columnist, I became more knowledgeable about the world around us. Needing to come up with new material weekly, it was mandatory that I get out there and learn new things, then write about them and impart any new found wisdom to the readers. I certainly hope by doing so that I inspired them, for they certainly inspired me with their phone calls, letters and e-mails about their own discoveries.
In this process, however, I learned that we can never expect to know everything; we are always learning. How incredibly boring it would be if the day ever arrived when we knew everything about Nature. All the excitement in nature that lures us to the pursuit would suddenly vanish. 
I hope if the column accomplished anything at all, it stimulated not only an interest in the natural world around us, but also an appreciation of nature, and how important it is to our very survival as a human race. So many of us just don’t get that.  We cannot continue treating the natural world as an annoyance that gets in the way of development. We must learn to treat it as a dynamic part of us that needs to be preserved and conserved. If we are to survive on this planet at all, we need to embrace the natural world and treat it with the respect that it deserves.
In my 50 years as a columnist, I have seen so many changes. I have seen populations of tree swallows, barn swallows, bobolinks, plants, animals, plummet to a fraction of the population they were when I started out. I have seen invasive species like zebra mussels, buckthorn, dog strangling vine and numerous others destroy our native species. We did all this, with our meddling, and without batting an eyelash. Surely we can do much better, before it is really too late.
I have met so many naturalists through the years, many of whom I considered friends and mentors. There was Peterborough examiner columnist, Doug Sadler; Trentonian columnist from the 1960s, Orval Kelly; author Fred Bodsworth, the list goes on. Regrettably, I never got a chance to meet my most respected author, Farley Mowat, although I was a close friend of his father, Angus, when he lived at Northport, which gives you some idea of my vintage.
Today marks the very last column encompassing an amazing career, all due to Phil Dodds, 50 years ago, insisting that I have a column on his desk Monday morning for Wednesday’s paper. The success and longevity of the column I owe to you, the readers. Thank you so much for supporting it all these years! A merry Christmas to everyone and the very best to all of you in 2015.


Fifty Years as a Columnist PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Dec 17, 2014 at 03:00 AM



                              Wednesday, December 17, 2014                                      

Not enough people remember the late Phil Dodds. Phil was a tireless volunteer who was active in service clubs, was a familiar face at Picton Fair every year, and very involved with the horticultural society. With his “make the world a little better and more beautiful, because you have lived in it” motto, Phil always struck me as a pioneer in these efforts.
Phil was also editor of the Picton Gazette, a position he obtained at the young age of 26, and held until his retirement in 1969, at the age of 61. His column, “Phil-ing-in” always inspired me, for in it, he would promote his beautification message and report sightings of birds that he had seen in his Cherry Valley backyard. As a result, we became good friends, swapping sightings and it wasn’t long before he started incorporating these into his column, or made them into little news items or fillers.
One day in early 1965, Phil dropped a bombshell. “Why don’t YOU write a weekly nature column?”
I declined, claiming that I couldn’t even form a complete thought weekly, never mind a column. I was only 20 years of age. He replied, “Nonsense”, and ordered me to have something to him Monday morning. And, I did – but, because Phil never really specified how many columns I should write, or when I should stop, I continued to submit columns weekly for 50 years! In total, 2600 columns!
The columns knew no bounds when it came to their headings. Originally, called, simply, “Outdoors”, it left an open door for a wide range of  outdoor topics. “Talking at Random” expanded the possibilities even further. For a while there was “Sandscript”, written on behalf of Sandbanks Park where I worked, then “PERCA Update” when I was employed with the Prince Edward Region Conservation Authority, then “Conservation Corner” when I moved to Quinte Conservation. In more recent years, it has been “Outdoor Rambles”.  Since 2001, the column has also appeared in the Picton Gazette’s sister paper, the Napanee Beaver and, in 2004, started appearing in The Tweed News.
There have been several editors, and one editor many years ago, suggested that I should make the column more controversial. Clearly, the original intent of the column had sailed right over his head. I made it a policy through the years to avoid controversial issues, because you never win. I learned that lesson in the 1970s when I entered a debate in my column that dragged on for a year with a resident of northern Ontario. He felt predators should be exterminated – not extirpated, but wholesale exterminated, because he was a staunch believer in childhood storybook fables and openly said so. Where do you begin with someone like that?
So I purposely stayed away from getting extensively involved in controversial issues. I would state my opinion, and then quietly move on to another subject the following week. After all, the main purpose of the column was to gently introduce readers to nature in a thought provoking, yet sensitive fashion. That seemed like the best approach. Let the readers find their way with a little guidance.
As a columnist, I became more knowledgeable about the world around us. Needing to come up with new material weekly, it was mandatory that I get out there and learn new things, then write about them and impart any new found wisdom to the readers. I certainly hope by doing so that I inspired them, for they certainly inspired me with their phone calls, letters and e-mails about their own discoveries.
In this process, however, I learned that we can never expect to know everything; we are always learning. How incredibly boring it would be if the day ever arrived when we knew everything about Nature. All the excitement in nature that lures us to the pursuit would suddenly vanish. 
I hope if the column accomplished anything at all, it stimulated not only an interest in the natural world around us, but also an appreciation of nature, and how important it is to our very survival as a human race. So many of us just don’t get that.  We cannot continue treating the natural world as an annoyance that gets in the way of development. We must learn to treat it as a dynamic part of us that needs to be preserved and conserved. If we are to survive on this planet at all, we need to embrace the natural world and treat it with the respect that it deserves.
In my 50 years as a columnist, I have seen so many changes. I have seen populations of tree swallows, barn swallows, bobolinks, plants, animals, plummet to a fraction of the population they were when I started out. I have seen invasive species like zebra mussels, buckthorn, dog strangling vine and numerous others destroy our native species. We did all this, with our meddling, and without batting an eyelash. Surely we can do much better, before it is really too late.
I have met so many naturalists through the years, many of whom I considered friends and mentors. There was Peterborough examiner columnist, Doug Sadler; Trentonian columnist from the 1960s, Orval Kelly; author Fred Bodsworth, the list goes on. Regrettably, I never got a chance to meet my most respected author, Farley Mowat, although I was a close friend of his father, Angus, when he lived at Northport, which gives you some idea of my vintage.
Today marks the very last column encompassing an amazing career, all due to Phil Dodds, 50 years ago, insisting that I have a column on his desk Monday morning for Wednesday’s paper. The success and longevity of the column I owe to you, the readers. Thank you so much for supporting it all these years! A merry Christmas to everyone and the very best to all of you in 2015.


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