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What Birds To Expect This Month PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Mar 01, 2015 at 03:00 AM


                                                        *   M A R C H  *   

Killdeer are very hardy birds so don’t be surprised when you see one appear, followed by a snowstorm. Photo by Gilles Bisson of BellevilleWhile March generally marks the start of the spring migration, the date of arrival is almost as uncertain as the weather itself.  Persistent snowfalls and blustery weather will halt the northward movement, while an early spring will prompt the arrival of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, NORTHERN FLICKERS, AMERICAN ROBINS, KILLDEER (photo by Gilles Bisson of Belleville) and SONG SPARROWS, although many of these species can now be found in Prince Edward County most winters in varying numbers, if food supply has been good. Even TREE SWALLOWS may arrive by the end of the month if the weather remains warm and sunny.   Due to the polar vortex that kept the Bay of Quinte area plunged into a deep freeze for much of the season, this spring, however, will be late in coming, and so will, probably, the birds. Almost a repeat of last winter.
Depending on how soon winter releases its grip of the ice choked bays and marshes, waterfowl will commence arriving, usually appearing en masse by the end of the month. Although Presqu’ile Provincial Park continues to reign as the best location to see enormous concentrations of migrating waterfowl (their Waterfowl Festival is March 14-15 this year), there are some areas in Prince Edward County where high numbers may also be expected. You might try your luck at Wellington Harbour where good observing may be had right from the government wharf as the waters of West Lake begin to open. Other dependable areas include Prince Edward Point, Point Petre (Soup Harbour), South Bay, Prince Edward Bay and Smith’s Bay. If the ice continues to disappear, the more sheltered lakes such as Weller’s Bay, Pleasant Bay, North Bay and Huyck’s Bay will also produce interesting numbers. The Weller’s Bay Channel at Barcovan is an area where spectacular numbers can be seen. Right now, the ducks are gathering as the water in Weller’s Bay beyond the channel begins to open up a bit, and large numbers of wintering MUTE SWANS alternate between this location and Presqu’ile Bay, depending on ice conditions. Look also for TRUMPETER SWANS, particularly Prince Edward County, where 26 birds were released in June of 2006. Occasionally, individuals from this release turn up, especially at Wellington Harbour, East Lake at the Outlet River and, in more recent years, at the mouth of Consecon Creek in the village of Consecon. We hope the mortality that occurred this winter due to the incredible ice conditions Lake Ontario, has come to an end.
To hear the first SONG SPARROW sing at this time of the year is a thrilling experience and a promise of far greater things in the weeks to come. We can look for other sparrows arriving too by the last of the month including FOX SPARROW, VESPER SPARROW and SAVANNAH SPARROW, although the bulk of the sparrows will not arrive until April. EASTERN BLUEBIRDS may also appear this month and it would be wise to have nesting boxes ready for their arrival. Don’t be surprised either if a few warm days produces the distinct calls of an EASTERN PHOEBE.
For the most part though it will be the waterfowl that you should concentrate your efforts on as the bays and lakes prepare for their arrival. The ducks we will see this month are arriving from wintering grounds on the east coast and southern United States, seeking out staging areas along the way where they can rest and feed before continuing on to points north. Over 20  species of waterfowl, including geese and TUNDRA SWANS may turn up at major staging areas such as Presqu’ile. Their annual waterfowl viewing festival during March, hosted by the Friends of Presqu’ile, is an excellent opportunity to become acquainted with the thousands of mixed species. Volunteers are on hand both weekends to assist in the identity of those species present. However, what will still be around, given the early migration this year of some waterfowl species like NORTHERN PINTAILS (photo by Ian Barker of Bloomfield) is difficult to say.
Patronage at bird feeders may go up and down like a yo-yo as melting snows expose foods in the wild. We should continue to see at least a few of those winter species such as AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS and any others whose presence we had enjoyed through the winter. But joining them may be early SONG SPARROWS and perhaps a RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, or two.
It was a great winter for bird sightings and we had a number of interesting sightings including numerous BALD EAGLES, and plenty of RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS. Several feeders had PILEATED WOODPECKERS, a species that is turning up with increased frequency at bird feeders in the winter. Also about this past winter were incredible numbers of AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS, and excellent numbers of DARK-EYED JUNCOS. But the stars of the show were the hundreds of COMMON REDPOLLS  which finally descended onto feeders last month. They will likely continue visiting feeders well into March.   And if you are one of those who think that most birds go south for the winter, it is interesting to note that well over 100 species of birds were seen this year in the Bay of Quinte region between December 1st and February 28th, and that’s only half as many species that showed up across the province this past winter. Winter, for the purposes of record keeping, begins December 1st and ends February 28th.
Keep checking the QUINTE AREA BIRD REPORT for daily updates on the birds of our area.
Good birding this month!

As always, I am interested in hearing what you see at your feeder as well as in your travels throughout the Quinte area this spring. You can e-mail me right from this LINK

(Photo credits and descriptions of photos can be seen by "mousing over" each photo. )


Last Updated ( Feb 28, 2015 at 01:13 PM )
Quinte Area Bird Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Feb 28, 2015 at 06:00 AM

Red-bellied Woodpecker. Photo by Gabrielle Holowacz Red-bellied Woodpecker. Photo by Gabrielle HolowoczTHE 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. 

Gray Squirrel. Photo by Sydney SmithSaturday, February 28:  “May I have some more nuts, please?” This photo of a GRAY SQUIRREL, taken by Sydney Smith of Wellington,  is for East Street resident Jeff Haffner, in Napanee who is despondent because he has so few of these little critters running around! And how about a witty caption for the next photo of a NORTHERN CARDINAL, taken by Joe Charlton of Trenton? “Won’t anyone come out and play ball with me?” A few interesting sightings today, starting north of here with a a dozen SNOW GEESE, seen in flight along Crookston Road upon entering Tweed. And right behind them was an adult BALD EAGLE. Another sighting today was that of a HERRING GULL who hit pay dirt with his search for food in Wellington Harbour. The water was a bit more open there today, giving rise to some optimism.  Closer examination of the item in its bill revealed a MUDPUPPY. Wonder what they taste like? In the Moira River today across from the Yardman Arena in Belleville, present were 6 male and 5 female COMMON GOLDENEYES. Along Tufftsville Road east of Stirling, an immature BALD EAGLE has been seen regularly. COMMON REDPOLLS  are showing no signs of heading north yet – over 100 turned up today at a feeder in Wellington, where the appearance of a  COOPER’S HAWK kept the flock on high alert. At the Big Island Marsh, a NORTHERN HARRIER  is seen almost daily, and a RED-TAILED HAWK has been seen on more than one occasion at nearby Demorestville. Interested in surveying for Marsh Birds or Amphibians this spring? Each spring, hundreds of active Citizen Scientists in Great Lakes States and in Ontario dedicate 8 or more hours to survey marsh birds and/or amphibians in Great Lakes coastal and inland marshes.  Marsh Monitoring Program volunteers are awarded with a great Northern Cardinal. Photo by Joe Charltonopportunity to spend time in these unique habitats - enjoying nature, improving their skills, and supporting wetland conservation. At the same time the important data they collect contributes to our understanding of these species, their habitat needs and the health of the Great Lakes area. I have been the coordinator of the effort in the Bay of Quinte watershed since 2002, and once again I am seeking volunteers to monitor a marshland in their area. As well as being coordinator for the Bay of Quinte effort, I am also the coordinator and contact person  for Bird Studies Canada from roughly Oshawa to beyond Kingston and north to Highway 7. So, if you live in any of these areas and would like to take part in the program, please get in touch with me. Monday evening, commencing at 7:00 p.m., I will be conducting my annual Marsh Monitoring Program workshop at Quinte Conservation, at 2061 Highway 2, just west of the Loyalist/Wallbridge Road traffic lights. Chocolate cookies are standard fare at my workshops. Learn more by CLICKING HERE.

Friday, February 27: Very few reports came in today. A small rafter of  WILD TURKEYS was spotted on Fry Road, north of Picton today, along with a RED-TAILED HAWK. Near the junction of County Road 5 and Fry Road, a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  visiting a feeder there, and a dozen or so AMERICAN ROBINS were seen in the same area feasting on Buckthorn berries. In Napanee, a male PURPLE FINCH came to a feeder on East Street this morning. At Algonquin Park which is always a special place to visit in February, the breeding season there is underway despite the frigid temperatures. The first GRAY JAY nest under construction was found a week ago, and a COMMON RAVEN carrying a stick in its bill seen yesterday on Opeongo Road was nest-building. The average date of the first observation of ravens building or re-lining nests in Algonquin is March 5, so today's sighting was actually a little early. They must be really hard up. Remarkably, the road-killed moose put out in the Sunday Creek valley opposite the Visitor Centre over two weeks ago has still not attracted any birds or mammals. Surely that will change soon. GRAY JAYS are still being seen regularly at the Spruce Bog Boardwalk, and Opeongo Road at the closed gate at Cameron Lake Road. Two BOREAL CHICKADEES continue to be observed  at the suet feeder along the Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail. The parking lot of the Algonquin Logging Museum is another site for this species; one was reported feeding from the hand along with BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES there last week. At the Visitor Centre feeder 25 COMMON REDPOLLS  are still regular guests, as are 3 HOARY REDPOLLS. The Visitor Centre exhibits and restaurant at km 43 are open on weekends from 9 am to 5 pm. There is access with limited services on weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm. I don’t think it is about to thaw back there anytime soon, so a visit to Algonquin Park at this time of the year is always a rewarding experience, especially at the Mew Lake Campground where winter enthusiasts are actively camping, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, and enjoying what winter has to offer to the fullest.

Thursday, February 26: Almost a mirror image of yesterday. Swans and other waterfowl at Wellington Harbour doing well, thanks to the help from a dedicated team of volunteers.  Very small patches of open water. Mostly MUTE SWANS (70+) but some ducks as well. Small numbers of COMMON GOLDENEYE, MALLARDS, Scaup, LONG-TAILED DUCKS and at least 2 pairs of REDHEADS.  The only non-mute today was a TUNDRA SWAN. The lower Moira River is also iced up with diminishing patches of open water for the MALLARDS, COMMON GOLDENEYE and COMMON MERGANSER. Unlike last year there are no RED-BREASTED or HOODED MERGANSERS  present. An observation made by several birders is the absence of CANADA GEESE at ALL locations. Really different and puzzling says one birder who was out and about today to Wellington and the Moira River in Belleville. No report from Barcovan as to how the waterfowl are doing up there. Bird feeder-wise, 30 to 40 COMMON REDPOLLS and both HAIRY and DOWNY WOODPECKER at a Napanee feeder and close to 100 COMMON REDPOLLS at a feeder on Wellington’s Narrow Street. The Wellington numbers dropped to between 60 and 80 during “snack time”, said the bird feeder operator. A small flock of SNOW BUNTINGS were on the same Huyck’s Point roof top that were seen there on the 11th. It was soon easy to see why as there was a feeder on the house. There were 40 hanging around and another 60 in the next field farther down the road. A flock of HORNED LARKS  was also seen along the same road. South of Doyle Road in the Camden East area yesterday, an adult BALD EAGLE was seen flying over County Road 4. From the Frankford area, the now dwindling open waters under #33 Bridge in Frankford has been home all winter to a large permanent host of CANADA GEESE and COMMON GOLDENEYES. Periodic fly-overs of BALD EAGLES in the distance have been seen but today there was a pair of them roosting in the treeline, accompanied by the sudden arrival of eight swans - 2 TRUMPETER and 6 MUTE - which have not been seen in the area before.The Presqu’ile Park Weekly Bird Report by Fred Helleiner has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website. To find out what has been seen this past week at Presqu’ile Park, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, February 25: An adult BALD EAGLE  was seen a couple days ago as it made a single pass overhead at Glenora. The Glenora Ferry Channel's current condition is  relatively little open water and full of ice chunks in the middle 80%. Incredibly, a few waterfowl are making good use of what little open water there is – about 20 COMMON GOLDENEYE and 1 RED-BREASTED MERGANSER. The situation at Wellington Harbour has improved tremendously and affected waterfowl seem to be recovering. The Great Lakes this winter are 85% solid ice, although Lake Ontario is in a bit better shape than some. COMMON REDPOLLS keep a comin`. Numbers range from a mere handful, singles in some cases (put your hand up Sprague!) to other feeders who are experiencing 150+ . The 32 that are coming to a feeder in Brighton is about the average number though at most feeders. In the South Bay area near what is known as Smuggler`s Cove, three EASTERN BLUEBIRDS  were seen yesterday. Bluebirds and Robins commonly winter over – Robins more so – but both species are as rare as the proverbial hen`s teeth this winter due to a poor wild food crop compared to most years. A juvenile SHARP-SHINNED HAWK made a pass through the bird feeder area, sending birds scattering, at the Education Centre, at Goodrich-Loomis Conservation Area, north of Brighton. News from the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee includes a half frozen LESSER SCAUP that was brought in today and now eating voraciously. Other victims from this winter`s conditions that were admitted today were 2 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS (high mortality of these in the County last winter), and 2 LONG-TAILED DUCKS stranded and emaciated, and now doing well. These were all brought in from the Whitby area. Four MALLARDS  are also at the facility that were rescued in the Kingston area, so waterfowl are arriving to the popular Napanee rehabilitation centre as the relentless winter continues.

Tuesday, February 24: Waterfowl this winter are facing the same dilemma as last winter at this time – starvation. Areas particularly affected have been Cobourg Harbour, Barcovan and, now – Wellington Harbour. The big question is always – do we interfere or let Nature takes its course? As always, a big controversy with the invasive MUTE SWAN also entering the picture. Much of Lake Ontario is frozen again this winter and remaining open areas are few and far between resulting in an acute scarcity of food for surviving waterfowl to feed on as this cold snap continues, shrinking available areas. It is a tug of war match between unfeeling purists who prefer to do nothing, and the caring who show compassion to animals that are suffering.  In an outpouring of compassion, Wellington residents provided copious quantities of corn at the village harbour today to stave off the hunger.  I realize there are mixed feelings about feeding waterfowl, especially invasive MUTE SWANS, but my personal feeling is that this is no time to be discussing or worrying about ethics. We wouldn't see our fellow man suffer in winter extremes like this, so why should we stand by and watch waterfowl suffer a lingering death? MUTE SWANS did not ask to be brought to this country; they are only behaving as Nature has dictated them to do. Yes – MUTE SWANS are invasive and annually destroy breeding habitat for native waterfowl and they are extremely aggressive during the breeding season and none of us is blind to the damage they do. However, this winter, we need to put all that aside and offer some assistance to ALL waterfowl who may be having a difficult time in this harbour, until this cold snap passes and more feeding areas become accessible. It is not advisable to feed bread; instead offer them cracked corn which can be purchased locally at feed mills for a very small amount of money. It is really cheap food and will go along way in helping these critters.  I fed the waterfowl at the Glenwood Cemetery pond in Picton last winter when similar conditions forced well over 100 MALLARDS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, and a few AMERICAN WIGEON into this postage stamp-sized pond, and I apologized for nothing. Once spring arrived, they all departed to feed in the wild as Nature dictated. I am confident that the Wellington waterfowl will do likewise, and any efforts to feed them will do nothing to encouraging these birds to stay around once winter decides to end. At the east end of the County, along Cressy Lakeside Road, there is no open water as far as the eye can see, except a couple of small leads about 100 metres offshore, maybe 10 or 15 m wide, in which 5 swans were about to freeze in, and a few COMMON GOLDENEYE of both sexes were diving. One dead male RED-BREASTED MERGANSER frozen in the ice , head under wing, about 30 metres offshore. Two immature BALD EAGLES were seen flying offshore at the foot of Kaiser Crossroad, and crossed County Road 8 at the Fifth Town Cheese, heading north.

Monday, February 23: Birds are still flocking to feeders as winter refuses to release its grip. COMMON REDPOLLS descended on a Wellington feeder today. Narrow Street feeder operator Sydney Smith says, “The  Redpoll army sent a battalion to my house this morning instead of merely a troop!  They were everywhere (on and under feeders, in the trees and bushes, on my back deck).  After a 2-hour feeding frenzy, they basked in the sun and stayed around until noon and then left for parts unknown.  I think they numbered in the area of 150.  I was in awe of the wonder of it all.” Other feeders seem to be averaging 10 to 30 in number. I say 10 because that is the number I managed to attract as we head closer to March and little hope of numbers increasing. One feeder along Glenora Road has only one, but 30 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES are at that particular feeder, a species that seems to have burgeoned in numbers at most feeding stations this past week, with close to 60 at my feeder. A male RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER is also at the Glenora Road feeder. An adult BALD EAGLE today flew over Bay Meadows Park at Pleasant Bay. And on North Big Island Road, a half dozen AMERICAN ROBINS  were noted. The WOOD DUCKS are still present at the falls at Napanee`s Springside Park, but only the male was present today. Also present in the river, 50-60 MALLARDS, 5 CANADA GEESE, 1 female  COMMON GOLDENEYE and 1 COMMON MERGANSER. At Amherst Island yesterday, birds of note seen were 2 SNOWY OWLS one of which was on the ice within sight of the ferry. Most of the ferry route is filled with slush and ice and so only three ducks were present near Stella, a pair of MALLARDS and a female RED-BREASTED MERGANSER.  Also seen during the day on the island were COOPER`S HAWK, 5 RED-TAILED HAWKS and a probable juvenile BALD EAGLE. COMMON RAVEN and RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  were also seen.  

Sunday, February 22: Open water continues to persist in the harbour and in the channel at Wellington. Today, there were approximately 30 MUTE SWANS, 7 of them juveniles, and one mortality as the winter begins to take its toll on waterfowl like it did last year at this time. Of course, nothing in nature goes to waste. Any waterfowl that succumb to the winter conditions are quickly scavenged. There was a duck wing on the dock, swan carcass on the edge of ice in West Lake, and a scavenged duck carcass on the Sandbanks side of the channel, perhaps by the immature BALD EAGLE  that was seen on the dunes side of the channel.   Also present were 2 COMMON MERGANSERS, 1 REDHEAD, 2 male scaup of undetermined species, 1 RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, 2 COMMON GOLDENEYES and 5 LONG-TAILED DUCKS. Yesterday in the Moira River beside the Lion’s Park on Station Street in Belleville, there was a single COMMON MERGANSER, 29 MALLARDS, a male  COMMON GOLDENEYE, and a female RED-BREASTED MERGANSER. Meanwhile at Invista (Dupont lagoon) in Kingston, nine waterfowl species were tallied today, with the highlights being  5 GADWALL, 1 AMERICAN COOT, 1 TRUMPETER SWAN and four AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS. In the Adolphustown/Hay Bay area today, a NORTHERN FLICKER and a BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD  were seen. At Lemoine Point Conservation Area, an AMERICAN KESTREL and a COMMON RAVEN put in an appearance. Two distant BALD EAGLES  were at Presqu’ile Park, and two WILD TURKEYS  were seen along County Road 2, north of Wellington. Two hawks on Conley Road (Wellington) – COOPER’S and RED-TAILED. At West Lake near Sandbanks, a PILEATED WOODPECKER  was working on a Scot’s Pine. Despite the relentless cold (dropping again tonight!), signs of spring are happening with HORNED LARKS showing up everywhere as their migration gets in full swing. Thirty were seen along Gilead Road. COMMON REDPOLLS continue to work fields and feeders. Ten were seen today feasting on weed seeds along Sprague Road, ultimately appearing at my feeder, finishing their meal on niger seed. And AMERICAN CROWS? What can we say about them? Certainly here all winter, but their presence and cawing seems to suggest warmer days in the offing. Three were in Napanee today, and three to four are regular guests now at our own feeder on Big Island. NORTHERN CARDINALS  are starting to sing enthusiastically and BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES  have even been heard delivering their whistled spring song. And, along County Road 14, west of Demorestville, a half dozen WHITE-TAILED DEER put in an appearance in a field within sight of the road.

Saturday, February 21: No bird sightings came in today, despite it being a half decent day, at least, temperature-wise. The only e-mail today referred to a field trip organized by the Quinte Field Naturalists to Wolfe Island. On the island, the wind was fairly strong and began to blow with even more intensity after lunch. During their visit, the members noted a small flock of SNOW BUNTINGS about 500 metres from the dock, 2 COMMON REDPOLLS, and at least one SNOWY OWL. There were also HORNED LARKS in groups of two to four in a few places. Returning to Kingston, the group took King Street to the Invista pond where they found 3 AMERICAN COOTS, 3 GADWALLS, large numbers of MALLARDS , a half dozen CANADA GEESE and 3 MUTE SWANS. In total, the group saw 25 species.

Friday, February 20: Lots of birds reported today under bright, sunny skies.....except for Wellington receiving the effects of a heavy cloud bank hanging over Lake Ontario. In Wellington, open water continues to persist at the harbour where waterfowl numbering between 50 and 60 were taking advantage of any areas free of ice that they could find. Present were numerous swans but other than MUTE SWANS, the swan species present weren’t determined by the birder, whether TUNDRA or TRUMPETER,  who was without his binoculars (an oxymoron?). Within viewing range though were 4 COMMON GOLDENEYE, and a pair of LONG-TAILED DUCKS. A first year immature BALD EAGLE flew along the beach. In the open water at Glenora Ferry were 7 male  COMMON GOLDENEYE and 6 females, a male LONG-TAILED DUCK, and something a bit unexpected in the channel – a male WHITE-WINGED SCOTER. But given the hardness of the water this winter, ducks gravitate to where open water beckons.  In the Codrington area, an adult BALD EAGLE was seen circling over a birder’s house, and another was seen circling high above the Quinte Conservation office yesterday in Quinte West. Quite unexpectedly, a dozen EVENING GROSBEAKS showed up at a feeder off Talbot Street in Picton where the same number appeared on December 1st, but never appeared again, until today. At Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area, an observer there found a half dozen somewhat cold looking AMERICAN ROBINS last weekend. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW  was reported along County Road 28 near Fenwood Gardens, and a COMMON RAVEN was present today at Glenora. A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was seen in flight along South Shore Big Island Road near the causeway. Bird feeder-wise, lots of COMMON REDPOLLS around with 80 at a feeder on Narrow Street in Wellington, and 30 at a feeder in a small backyard along Dunnett Blvd in Belleville. A NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL, found in Kingston,  was brought in to the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee yesterday. Also brought in was a CANADA GOOSE, entangled in monofilament fishing line, always a serious threat to water birds when it is carelessly discarded into the water. Anglers need to be reminded that broken fishing line must be disposed of properly in a garbage receptacle and not thrown carelessly into the water where water birds can become entangled in it. I have several photos of loons, gulls and goldeneye ducks hopelessly entangled in fishing line, all of them dead.

Thursday, February 19: A good sighting always makes a visit to the washroom that much more rewarding! A NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL  was seen perched outside the observer's bathroom window early this morning along Elmbrook Road. One must wonder if this tiny owl has any hope of survival, given the depth of snow right now.  At Mountain View, an EASTERN SCREECH-OWL was feeling the cold and was seen warming up on a bare patch of ground on the south side of a barn. Also in raptor news today, a MERLIN was seen along County Road 7 near Bongard Crossroad today, there was a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK at a feeder at West Lake, and the resident COOPER’S HAWK did his usual morning pass through our bird feed area at Big Island. I think he just likes to see the birds suddenly scatter as his success rate so far has been very low. Even the MOURNING DOVES appear amused. Also on the predator side of things, an ERMINE has been observed frequently at Mountain View. One species, seemingly in low numbers this winter or, at least, not much in evidence, has been the WILD TURKEY. Six were seen crossing Caughey Road at the west end of Big Island today where last winter at this time, from 30 to 65 could be depended on most days there. Along North Shore Big Island Road, just west of Allison Road, two SNOW BUNTINGS come daily to feed on a driveway. COMMON REDPOLLS number only two at that address, but a respectable 80 were seen again covering the feeders on East Street in Napanee. A RUSTY BLACKBIRD is visiting a feeder regularly in the Thomasburg area, just south of Tweed. Three and sometimes four COMMON CROWS are daily visitors at my feeder on Big Island. There was no need to put out feed for them today as they spent most of their time hammering away at a frozen EASTERN COTTONTAIL carcass on the roadside. The Presqu'ile Park Weekly Bird Report by Fred Helleiner has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website and can be see by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, February 18: Despite the unrelenting low temperatures and snow, a hardy little YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER is still a regular visitor to her bird feeders at The Birdhouse store in Wooler. In an e-mail today from Connie, she commented, “This past Monday I was afraid he wasn't going to make it.He arrived at the feeder around 9  a.m. He stayed on the edge of it for almost two hours.The whole time he shook all over with his head under his wing.Every now and then he would straighten up and eat a bit of sunflower chips that were in the feeder but never went near the suet that was there too.  (The suet that he has been eating for months now) By noon the temperature had risen from -29 to -15. Also this little guy had been in the sun all this time.I looked once and he was gone and I figured we would not likely see him again.To my great surprise he showed up some time later and seemed none the worse for his ordeal.” It was literally a red letter day for me at my feeders when five NORTHERN CARDINALS  showed up, all at once. Once again, the activity today at my feeders was non stop with close to 30 BLUE JAYS, 40 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS, 50 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES and roughly 30 MOURNING DOVES. Oh, yes – one COMMON REDPOLL! I look forward to each new day with fresh hope that he will bring along the rest of his troupe. At Wellington, about a dozen COMMON REDPOLLS  coming to a feeder on Narrow Street, there were 40 at a feeder in Brighton today, and the lucky operator one set of feeders  on East Street in Napanee enjoyed the presence of 100 birds, mostly Redpolls with AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS and some DARK-EYED JUNCOS mixed in. The operator said the Niger feeders were emptied by 2:00 p.m. RED-TAILED HAWKS today in downtown Demorestville, Elmbrook and another reported from Lemoine Point Conservation Area in Kingston. Also in Kingston today, 10 species of waterfowl at Invista (Dupont Lagoons), among them 1 TRUMPETER SWAN, 11 GADWALL, 3256 MALLARDS, and one AMERICAN COOT. 

Tuesday, February 17: The only report to come in today was a SNOWY OWL along Huyck's Point Road, likely the same one that was there yesterday. Wellington Harbour had the same species of waterfowl today as were present yesterday, including a single COMMON GOLDENEYE.

Monday, February 16: It was around –25 degrees this morning at daybreak, but it wasn’t too cold for 20 HOUSE SPARROWS  in a Brighton backyard, many of which were observed enjoying a polar swim today in a heated bird bath!  Elsewhere, their numbers have plummeted to the extent where they can be considered a Species of Concern – but not too much “concern” according to many operators of bird feeders. A female arrived at our feeders on January 24th this winter and was the first HOUSE SPARROW  to have been seen in our yard since 2002 ! In the Barry Heights area of Trenton, near Telephone Road, it was –27 degrees there this morning, and it translated into some extra COMMON REDPOLLS for the resident there – an impressive 30 accompanied  by 9 PINE SISKINS. A RED-TAILED HAWK comes by several times a day and perches in the grove of trees behind the house waiting for an opportunity and has built up a tolerance to any human movement around the property. Also appearing there today was a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER. On Elmbrook Road, north of Picton, the BARRED OWL turned up again and there was a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER  at the feeder there too. At least one TUNDRA SWAN was at Wellington Harbour today, along with 3 TRUMPETER SWANS and 50 MUTE SWANS, and miscellaneous scaup, BUFFLEHEAD, COMMON GOLDENEYE and singles of CANADA GOOSE and LONG-TAILED DUCK. Along Huyck’s Point Road, west of Wellington, a SNOWY OWL was present, and and a small group of 10 HORNED LARKS  were found along Gilead Road. A SHARP-SHINNED HAWK was at a feeder along County Road 14, west of Demorestville. Along North Big Island Road, a small group of SNOW BUNTINGS were feeding nonchalantly on a driveway beside a garage.

Sunday, February 15: Incredibly, lots of birders out birding today, The SNOWY OWLS (2), have returned to Wellington, and TURKEY VULTURES – a dozen of them – were seen in the area of Highway 62/County Road 1/Wilson Road. Once again absolute pandemonium at most bird feeders today. Four PINE SISKINS , 2 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS and an AMERICAN ROBIN along Marsh Road at the Sawguin Marsh. COMMON REDPOLLS (2) are back at a Lake on the Mountain feeder after a bit of an absence, and a CAROLINA WREN in Picton today. At Wellington today, 30 HORNED LARKS  were seen as the species continues to arrive in numbers in the Quinte region. Yesterday, at Belleville, two ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS  were seen in flight. Picton and areas south seemed to have picked up a bit more snow yesterday than did the north half of the County, with 28 cm (11 inches) being measured. Open water is hard to come by in such temperatures, but one birding couple chose Point Petre to seek out some open water and, hopefully, a few ducks. Treading the snow was challenging and the wind chill was extreme, they reported. The area was teaming with scaup and LONG-TAILED DUCKS. Also seen by the duo was a SNOWY OWL that flew low across the road, disappearing into a field of Red Cedars. Down to -27 tonight. Put a couple more logs on the fire before retiring!

Saturday, February 14: “Just thinking...I may not feel like I know where I'm going sometimes, but at least I know where I've been. Gotta count for something.” claims one Pleasant Bay resident who e-mailed a photo of a set of tracks crisscrossing back and forth. Certainly birds knew where they were going today and that was straight for the bird feeders as Prince Edward County got dumped on again by heavy snow this morning, and after a brief explosion of sun, snow returned for an encore this afternoon. Lucks Crossroad lived up to its name this morning when a FOX SPARROW showed up at the feeder for breakfast. And turning up for supper this evening at 5:00 p.m. at a feeder along North Big Island Road was a BROWN CREEPER. Also a regular at this feeder is a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH. At our own feeder all day, it was mayhem. While shovelling the snow from the feeders, well over 60 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS gathered around my feet showing no fear at all, hurrying me on so they could feed. Also mobbing the feeders today were as many AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES and in amongst them – one COMMON REDPOLL. Can’t believe it after waiting all winter! Four AMERICAN CROWS fed at another table where I had pizza crusts piled up for them. Twenty-six BLUE JAYS, three NORTHERN CARDINALS, and the daily WHITE-THROATED SPARROW  were other notables. A feeder operator in Napanee today watched as a determined COOPER’S HAWK swooped in, landed in a tree, then turned and entered a discarded Christmas tree and calmly plucked out a DARK-EYED JUNCO, then flew away with its catch. Two BALD EAGLES were seen today along the Glenora Ferry channel. The snowfall today didn’t deter 12 TURKEY VULTURES in the area of Highway 62 and Wilson Road. One can’t help but wonder if these aren’t the same dozen that had been hanging out in the conifers at Roger’s Street in Picton for much of the winter. Some good sightings this week at Algonquin Park for those who may be planning a visit there. SPRUCE GROUSE and a possible BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER (identified by its drumming) along the Spruce Bog Boardwalk; GRAY JAYS at the Visitor Centre, Spruce Bog Boardwalk, Mew Lake Campground and Opeongo Lake; two to three BOREAL CHICKADEES at the Spruce Bog Boardwalk bird feeder; and a PINE GROSBEAK (very few present his winter) along Highway 60 through the Park. At the Visitor Centre feeder, both COMMON REDPOLLS (21) and HOARY REDPOLLS (3). In other Algonquin Park news, a MOOSE that was killed by a vehicle on Highway 60 in the Park has been placed in the Sunday Creek valley where it is viewable from the Visitor Centre viewing deck. It may soon attract ravens,  eagles and wolves. PINE MARTENS  have been observed this week at both the Visitor Centre and Spruce Bog Boardwalk suet feeders. Enjoy the snow conditions. It’s great weather to be outside. Well, perhaps not so much tomorrow with a wind chill of –33 degrees!

Friday, February 13:  Just north of Brighton two EASTERN SCREECH-OWLS were found today by someone walking their dog. One was a grey morph and the other was a red morph. South of Codrington, a bird feeder there still has 20 EVENING GROSBEAKS  appearing regularly, reminiscent of the days when these colourful finches with the voracious appetites turned up at most feeding stations, requiring operators to purchase sunflower seed by the hundredweight. Today, a NORTHERN SHRIKE showed up to look over the situation. COOPER’S HAWKS today at feeders in Brighton, Big island, Shannonville, and a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK at Wellington. An immature BALD EAGLE passed over Adolphus Reach at Lake on the Mountain today. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER at a feeder there, and in Wellington, a noteworthy five woodpeckers at a feeder on Narrow Street, including a RED-BELLIED. COMMON REDPOLLS well distributed across the reporting region including 11 at Napanee, but most feeders having only a few individuals. Two WOOD DUCKS continue to be seen at Springside Park in Napanee. A CAPE MAY WARBLER that has managed to challenge the rigours of winter successfully in Markham, surviving on crushed grapes, peanuts and suet, and being provided with a heated shelter, probably succumbed to the frigid temperatures last night. As the observers stated, “We became quite fond of him, and with all of life’s trials and tribulations he became a real source of joy to us”. Another CAPE MAY WARBLER in Belleville, first seen November 22nd, failed to see the arrival of the New Year, and was last seen on December 31st. One can only speculate why these insectivorous birds sometimes fail to migrate south in the fall with others of their kind. Similar problems in the Barcovan area with extremes in temperature. We can only suppose that the crowded open spot of water at Barcovan, is even smaller, if it exists at all, after last night’s temperatures. It was in this spot last winter when so many TRUMPETER and MUTE SWANS and other waterfowl species  died due to an insufficient food supply, brought on by the unforgivable conditions of last year. Last weekend, over 200 birds were present here as shown by this photo. It is reported that the birds are emaciated and unable to fly, and a small feeding program is in place. Anyone wishing to assist in the feeding program  again this winter, is asked to send an email to .  The program stops as soon as the ice frees up.

Thursday, February 12: Wherever one looks now, there are HORNED LARKS. Photos taken today along Conley Road, east of Wellington today, depicted some excellent examples of the northern sub-species that is migrating through right now and which breeds in the James Bay area, Eremophilia alpestris. Other photos submitted showed a few of the Prairie sub-species, E.a. praticiola which breeds locally. Both sub-species are expected here during the winter months, but when they start showing up in flocks along roadsides in areas scraped bare by the snowplow, we know the migration is underway. HORNED LARKS are considered one of our earliest ‘spring’ migrants, arriving, on average, February 8-12. I always look forward to their musical tinkling song, best described as a fast, high-pitched sequence of sharp, tinkling notes, often rising in pitch to a quick jumble of concluding notes. COMMON REDPOLLS continue to skirt past Big Island, although a large flock did appear briefly one day in our yard, spotted by an Oshawa birder who was driving by. A flock of 30 invaded a feeder at Cressy today. At Wellington, a few waterfowl there, including at least one TRUMPETER SWAN. This is FISH CROW  Awareness Week! In an e-mail from the Ontario Birds listserv, birders were advised to keep their ears and eyes open for this relatively new crow species in this part of Ontario. They first showed up in Prince Edward County in May of 2013, at Prince Edward Point, and again at the same location in April the following year. As the species continues to expand its range, and crows start their spring migration back into our area, listen for the higher pitched single or double nasal call that the FISH CROW gives. They are already a nesting species in Ontario, with at least one nest record in the Burlington/Oakville area. At Presqu’ile Park this week, the resident PINE WARBLER at the Sightings Board feeding station, WHITE-THROATED and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD and a HOARY REDPOLL were along some of the highlights. To see Fred Helleiner’s full report, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, February 11: SNOW BUNTINGS, about 80 in number, were seen along Huyck’s Point Road, west of Wellington today. They scurried to a rooftop from feeding alongside the road whenever someone across the street started up his saw. A couple nice sightings in a backyard along Elmbrook Road, north of Picton, involving a BARRED OWL checking out the feeders, and a NORTHERN FLICKER going up and down the hickories in the adjacent woods. Last evening, a SNOWY OWL was seen at the service centre sign at Odessa. Bird feeders continue to do a brisk business. Three species of woodpeckers – HAIRY, DOWNY and PILEATED were in a Napanee backyard where 11 COMMON REDPOLLS  were also present. Between 60 and 80 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES and 30 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS were among the regular visitors at our feeder on Big Island, along with three COMMON CROWS who are regulars now as well. With all the clientele present, hawks are sure to be there. Today, a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK was doing a little birdwatching of its own at our feeder. The BALD EAGLES along Victoria Road in Ameliasburgh seem to have ceased much of their activity in recent days.  There were two pairs of RED-TAILED HAWKS today in the Wellington area. Near The Ameliasburg sand dome today, 30 WILD TURKEYS and a flock of 20 SNOW BUNTINGS.  A NORTHERN HARRIER along Danforth Road rounds out our report for this evening. Gilles Bisson of Belleville who contributes photos regularly to my website (he is the featured photographer on my website this week), will have a few of his photos on display at the Quinte Mall (Belleville) starting tomorrow until Sunday closing time. The display will be part of PhotoNat’s annual exhibition. To see Gilles’ website, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, February 10: COMMON REDPOLLS are all around town, it seems, but the ain’t comin’ to my feeder. Not yet, anyway although with each new day there is fresh hope. Up to 20 are coming to a feeder on upper Victoria Road, and a half dozen or so to a Napanee feeder. Just one field south of the west bridge over the Murray Canal leading to Barcovan, a cloud of birds lifted from a weedy field in front of one observer, and assembled in four old apple trees near the road. They turned out to be all COMMON REDPOLLS – an estimated at 200 birds. A CAROLINA WREN showed up today at a South Bay feeder where a male RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD is also a guest. A male RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER at a feeder today in the Barry Heights area of Trenton off Telephone Road. The Moira River at the north end of the Belleville business section had 2 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS and 150 MALLARDS today. RED-TAILED HAWKS today in Belleville, and three along Highway 33 from Aldolphustown to Kingston. Two adult BALD EAGLES at the Amherst Island ferry landing, and at Glenora, 20 or so COMMON GOLDENEYES and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS enjoying a bit of angling, duck-style. To finish off this evenings report, a disturbing notice yesterday on the popular Ontario Birds listserv, regarding unacceptable behaviour by birders in the Kitchener area. Birder Ken Burrell reports: “It's just come to my attention that the owners who first reported the VARIED THRUSH and many of the neighbours where the Varied Thrush has been regularly coming to are very FED UP with birders coming to see the bird. Specifically birders trespassing onto private property and paying little regard for the people living in the area (i.e. throwing garbage, being disrespectful to people living in the area, and parking in non-parking areas). This absolutely CANNOT BE TOLERATED. I had assured the owners before reporting the bird that birders are polite, courteous people, who would be unobtrusive. I guess I've been proven wrong. The owners and the neighbours are asking birders NOT come to see this bird, as they are very upset with the behaviour exhibited by several people looking for the bird. Collectively they've agreed that if people continue showing up, they will stop putting feed out. We need to collectively think how our individual actions impact everyone else and be better neighbours.” This is not the first time arrogant birders have displayed such unacceptable behaviour, and is the very reason I no longer report rare birds to the listserv. Rare birds are reported in the Quinte Area Bird Report, but specific locations are not given, although may be obtained from me by e-mail on an individual basis. This way, we can monitor who is there, and when, resulting in minimal disturbance to the bird and to residents. Despite the Ontario Field Ornithologists’ Birders Code of Ethics, behaviour in recent years has been deteriorating. They didn’t used to be that way and I well remember the HENSLOW’S SPARROW  we had in a field beside our home in 1996. All 50 who travelled from as far away as London to see the bird, were polite and most parked at the roadside and refused our invitation to park in our driveway. Others declined our invitation to come in the house for coffee. They didn’t want to be a bother. What happened to those days and that behaviour? When I read Ken’s report, I was almost ashamed to call myself a birder.

Monday, February 09: You know you have a lot of snow around when SNOW BUNTINGS  coming calling at your bird feeder! A flock of two dozen SNOW BUNTINGS descended to a backyard feeding station on the west side of Trenton, not far from the hospital. Elsewhere, nothing too exciting. Three  COMMON CROWS are now semi-regulars at our feeder on Big island, and four are regulars at a feeding station near Northport. Today, birds at our feeders had little peace as a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK snagged a MOURNING DOVE and only a few minutes earlier, a RED-TAILED HAWK eliminated one of the GREY SQUIRRELS. A RED-TAILED HAWK was also seen at West Lake today near Sandbanks, but the most unusual sighting of all out there was not a bird, but a bat, believed to have been a BIG BROWN BAT. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources says that White Nose Syndrome (WNS), named for a fungus that grows on affected bats, may be responsible for disturbing the bats which are typically in hibernation right now. The fungus forces bats to awaken from their winter hibernation and become susceptible to winter’s elements.Bats so disturbed are usually doomed, as reserves, vital to their survival during winter, are expended. The fungus has killed more than one million bats so far, says the MNR, and is threatening some bat populations. Ontario bats are important to bio-diversity because they eat lots of insects. One bat can consume thousands of flying insects each night during the summer. If you see bats flying during the daytime in winter, or find sick or dead bats, contact the Canadian Co-operative Wildlife Health Centre at 1-866-673-4781 or the Ministry of Natural Resources Information Centre at 1-800-667-1940. White Nose Syndrome was detected in Ontario five years ago. There are eight species of bats in Ontario. Only the Hoary Bat, Silver-haired Bat and the Red Bat typically migrate out of the Bay of Quinte region. The remaining species hibernate.

Sunday, February 08: Gusty winds, blowing snow and a bit of freezing rain today. Not much birding today, unless from the comfort of your home. One exception was a Stirling birder who tried today for a repeat of yesterday with no success. Yesterday, she snowshoed along the Tuftsville Wetlands, east of Stirling and came across a large flock of SNOW BUNTINGS  cartwheeling across a meadow. Elsewhere, it was news from the feeders. And, it’s mostly about AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES and COMMON REDPOLLS. Thirty AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES and five NORTHERN CARDINALS were among the many dozens of visitors at a feeder along Luck’s Crossroad near Picton. AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES were also the order of the day at Napanee where up to 35 were at a feeder on East Street topday, 60+ at feeders on Sprague Road on Big Island, and 50 at feeders south of Codrington. COMMON REDPOLL numbers have dropped somewhat at a Belleville feeder from an estimated 100+ to about 40 today. Up to 40 COMMON REDPOLLS at a Napanee feeder, and lesser numbers, sometimes as few as only one, at other feeders across the region. Forty AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS appeared at a Big Island feeder again this morning before full light and 30 were present at the feeder near Codrington. Other highs today were 25 BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES and 30 DARK-EYED JUNCOS, once again, at the feeder near Codrington, and 11 juncos at the Napanee feeder. Meanwhile, at Waupoos today, a BLUE JAY  tried to enter the house the hard way. After recovering in a cardboard box, the stunned bird recovered and flew away through the open door.

Saturday, February 07: Today, when I went out to the bird feeders during the light continuous snowfall, I felt like the pigeon lady in the movie Home Alone Two! Never in the history of my bird feeders have I seen such activity in one day, and it never slowed. It started before full light with 20 or so AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS landing around my feet, and escalated from there. Highs today included 60 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, 40 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS, 34 MOURNING DOVES,  and 20-30 BLUE JAYS. Counting BLUE JAYS  is almost as frustrating as counting chickadees! No COMMON REDPOLLS today at our feeders although 65 were present in some trees beside the feeder yesterday. However, I didn’t see them; it was an Oshawa birder trying his luck on Big Island who came across them! He also found 2 PURPLE FINCHES and a NORTHERN FLICKER on his island travels. At Prince Edward Point yesterday, there was a fair bit of open water  where 700 LONG-TAILED DUCKS were seen. On the ice were 3 SNOWY OWLS, and also seen at Prince Edward Point were 2 BALD EAGLES and a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK. A nice flock of 200 SNOW BUNTINGS were seen on Victoria Road in Ameliasburgh, and at Point Petre, a MERLIN and an adult NORTHERN GOSHAWK were observed. All the visible portions of the lake there are covered with ice/slush and pack ice. On North Big island Road, a feeder there enjoyed the presence of 11 COMMON REDPOLLS today, while nearby Allison Road produced 2 COMMON RAVENS and SNOW BUNTING. Six WILD TURKEYS, a species not particularly in evidence this winter, at least, locally, were seen on Gomorrah Road at Demorestville. Another single COMMON REDPOLL and a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK along Fry Road. At a bird feeder west of Demorestville, two BLUE JAYS had a standoff which became increasingly aggressive, then one of the BLUE JAYS turned its frustrations on a female NORTHERN CARDINAL. A few interesting sightings outside the Bay of Quinte region reporting area included 6 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS on Howe Island, and there was a HARRIS’S SPARROW in Oakville today. If readers think only a few bird species may be around during the winter months, they might be surprised to learn that birder Josh Vandermeulen has amassed a list of 199 species to date since December 1st. Among them is an incredible tally of a dozen species of warblers! Others on his list include CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, SORA, 4 species of shorebirds, WHITE-EYED VIREO, every hawk species – except BROAD-WINGED HAWK, of course, both vulture species.......the list goes on. February 28th marks the close of the ‘winter’ season in birders’ records. This is an annual exercise for Josh, and his highest total ever was 224 species during the winter of 2011-2012.

Friday, February 06: A BARRED OWL near Camden East was a treat for a resident leaving for work early this morning. Other than that sighting, it was primarily a day for COOPER'S HAWKS with one at a feeder near Codrington, another in Wellington, and one that appeared quite surprisingly as I was filling my own feeders before it was even fully light out. Only the flock of 20+ AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS had arrived at that early hour and they scattered immediately. The hawk caught nothing as it wasn’t light enough to see yet! Two PILEATED WOODPECKERS were spotted at Pleasant Bay. At Napanee, feeder birds there on East Street today included a nice bunch of COMMON REDPOLLS, along with a dozen AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES. Meanwhile, a feeder in Belleville which earlier boasted a flock of 100 COMMON REDPOLLS saw none appear at his filled feeders today. In fact, there was nary a bird seen all day of any species. Zero, he emphasizes. Very unusual behaviour given that birds normally go into a feeding frenzy the day before a storm. And, there is snow  in the forecast for tomorrow (2 cm) and tomorrow night (5-10 cm), with possibly a little more for Sunday and Monday. All those birds (except for the redpolls!) must have been at our feeder for it was surely a circus out there today.

Thursday, February 05: Birding is addictive. It was quite evident by today’s reports that birders were anxious to get out today after snowy conditions yesterday prevented much activity. Just north of Rosehall, west of Wellington,  LAPLAND LONGSPURS were among the highlights today. There were about 30 in total, with a few SNOW BUNTINGS and at least one HORNED LARK thrown in for good measure. The birds were feeding along the roadside, and flushed numerous times due to passing cars. In Belleville, a HERMIT THRUSH was observed feeding on Euonymus shrubs in a backyard on Alexander Street. The bird was seen bobbing its tail slowly up and down in the manner of HERMIT THRUSHES and flew across the street to feed on some more Euonymus shrubs, where the bird was photographed by the observer as it perched on a wire and in a Silver Maple. The Victoria Road area in Prince Edward County had seven BALD EAGLES today. They were a bit easier to follow because of the updrafts. Otherwise birding seemed quite slow in that area as compared to past days. In the Napanee area, north of Selby, one backyard had 46 COMMON REDPOLLS  with at least one HOARY REDPOLL in the mix. Present too at this feeding station were 50 DARK-EYED JUNCOS among the usual species expected. The observer said bird feeding was non-stop, then at mid-afternoon, everything stopped except for one  DOWNY WOODPECKER who flattened himself against a peanut feeder, and froze as an incoming SHARP-SHINNED HAWK passed through the yard. On Sprague Road, Big Island, the Sharpie’s larger cousin the COOPER’S HAWK circled above a feeding area, doing several circles like a Turkey Vulture and deciding the sparse late afternoon birds weren’t worth the effort, and moved on. At Wicklow Beach at Colborne, a birder there has seen a SNOWY OWL hanging around for several months, along with a PILEATED WOODPECKER and a flock of SNOW BUNTINGS. Always a treat when winter visitors hang around in the same location for an extended period of time. At Kingston, some good sightings there as well with a  BALD EAGLE and BROWN CREEPER at Lake Ontario Park, AMERICAN ROBIN and RED-TAILED HAWK at Marshlands Conservation Area, and over in the Lemoine Point Conservation Area, 2 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS. The Presqu’ile Park Bird Report by resident Fred Helleiner for this week has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website, and can be read by CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, February 04: No reports of sightings came in today, due to the weather.

Tuesday, February 03: Lake effect snow moved in along the southern parts of Prince Edward County today. Along the Bay of Quinte, the sun was shining. COMMON REDPOLLS are moving in, albeit it slowly at some feeders. One turned up at a feeder in Trenton today, and 20 made an unexpected visit at a feeder east of Lake on the Mountain. And, of course, the feeder in east end Belleville has become legendary with its 100+ Redpolls! In Napanee, 4 HOUSE FINCHES and a single PURPLE FINCH at a feeder on East Street. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW  is still coming to a feeder along C.R. 2 north of Wellington, just past Wilson Road. At West Lake near Sandbanks Park, a RED-TAILED HAWK dropped by at a backyard bird feeder, where a PILEATED WOODPECKER  has also been seen occasionally. At a feeder along Huyck`s Point Road, a SONG SPARROW was seen, as well as a NORTHERN HARRIER in the same spot where it was seen in mid-January. On the east side of Wellington along Conley Road, a flock of AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS is still there where they were seen about a month ago, this time numbering only 20 from an earlier estimate of 50 in early January. A COOPER`S HAWK was seen in Wellington. At Wellington Harbour, conditions allowed for at least a few waterfowl. Present today were a pair of REDHEADS, 2 female RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, 2 female Scaup of undetermined species, whether GREATER or LESSER, and 2 male COMMON GOLDENEYE.  There was also a large patch of newly formed ice on which were resting 40 swans, mostly MUTE SWANS and four CANADA GEESE all curled up and covered with snow. One bird feeder operator north of Brighton, near Codrington,  is making regular bird feed runs to the store, reminiscent of the days when EVENING GROSBEAKS used to descend on bird feeders by the hundreds. Although this person`s flock is smaller in size at 30 individuals, their appetites are no less voracious. And finishing off our Report this evening, a look at what Kingston offered today. A GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET was found along the trail at the Marshlands Conservation Area, on the west side of the Cataraqui Golf and Country Club. Across the road at Lake Ontario Park, a SONG SPARROW and 2 BROWN CREEPERS were seen.

Monday, February 02: No one was out birding today! The wind has died down, temperatures will improve tomorrow, so we will resume the Quinte Area Bird Report tomorrow evening. 

Sunday, February 01: A bit slow today, except for the lucky resident in the east end of Belleville who has the 100+ COMMON REDPOLLS at his feeders. In commenting today, he says they require consistent and expensive maintenance. Completely covering his available two niger seed feeders, he has had to clear a table on his deck and press that into service too, spreading the seed on its surface. The flock is roaming. If there is a disturbance they all fly off in a cloud and may not come back for hours so they must be feeding somewhere else in the neighbourhood. Typically, there would be 40-60, but more showed up before the last snowfall. More snow is forecast for tonight and tomorrow! Meanwhile, we have no such numbers in Prince Edward County although a half dozen or so are coming to a feeder in the Ameliasburgh area, with the potential for more as a flock of 40 showed up on Victoria Road, accompanied by a lone SNOW BUNTING. That`s the best we can do around here. The photo above is some of a rafter of WILD TURKEYS that one observer, James Buck,  saw today on Shannonville Road just north of 401. A large flock of SNOW BUNTINGS showed up on nearby Bronk Road. Two Trenton birders yesterday tried their luck on Wolfe Island, coming up with little, although they did tally 6 SNOWY OWLS, 125+ WILD TURKEYS, 65 SNOW BUNTINGS and a NORTHERN HARRIER. Some friends have formed a committee and are throwing me a celebration (a roast ???) on April 18th in Wellington in recognition of my retirement from 50 years of conducting interpretive events in the Quinte area. So much for sort of melting away into the horizon when I retired last month!   : - )  The organizers would love to have you, if you can make it. More information by CLICKING HERE.

Saturday, January 31: A BLUE-HEADED VIREO in winter? Well, not really, although a photograph of one, taken at Prince Edward Point last May, did star as a clue on last Thursday`s episode of `Criminal Minds`. The producers noticed the image on photographer Ian Barker of Bloomfield`s website   ( http://ibc.lynxeds.com/users/ian-barker  ). Ian, a regular contributor to the NatureStuff website and this Bird Report, says he has no idea why they wanted that specific species, but is pleased that the bird had a few moments of fame. I guess it`s no longer a secret where all the  COMMON REDPOLLS are hiding out. They are all at a feeder on the east side of Belleville where 100 were counted today by the feeder operator. A more modest number of 14 were at a feeder today in Napanee. Meanwhile, at our feeder on Big Island, nary a redpoll, but I have lots of MOURNING DOVES and AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS that I will trade for even a handful of redpolls! At Victoria Road where the eagles and ravens roam, exact numbers were a bit tricky today since the birds come and go over the trees and sometimes circle around. Best estimate today ended up at 10 BALD EAGLES, including two adult birds, and an incredible 20 COMMON RAVENS. What a difference a few decades make. In the 1960s, ravens were almost unheard of in the Quinte area. Birds of the Kingston Region by Ron Weir, gives only 3 sightings for the period 1961-1965, but for the period 2001-2005, the number burgeoned to 680 sightings. Two PILEATED WOODPECKERS paid a visit to a backyard along County Road 12 today at West Lake.  And finally in our Report this evening as there were few sightings that came in, one of my favourite locations for birding and finding wildflowers is the Alderville Black Oak Savanna near Rice Lake. The Alderville First Nation Black Oak Savanna has received provincial recognition – the Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence. The award was presented 10 days ago by Glen Murray, minister of the Environment and Climate. Alderville was recognized for efforts to protect the Black Oak Savanna from development, and restoring rare ecosystems that are home to more than 20 species at risk and 163 species of birds that use the site for nesting, foraging or as a migrating stop-over. The 150 acres of former farmland have been naturalized with native species and are tallgrass prairie and oak savanna ecosystems. Community members and visitors participated in education workshops, tours and special events to help protect the rare ecosystems. The Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence recognizes and encourages environmental excellence, fosters innovation and raises awareness about the importance of protecting the environment. Since 2011, the program has recognized the environmental achievements of 40 organizations. This year Alderville First Nation was one of nine groups across Ontario to win the award.  It`s a great place to spend the day and you can find out more information about the site by CLICKING HERE.

Friday, January 30: Three banding recoveries that might be of interest to readers involving three CANADA GEESE observed yesterday at Napanee`s Springside Park. The observer was able to record the numbers through his binoculars. Anyway, they were all banded on 27th June 2012 in Mallorytown and aged as having hatched in 2011 or earlier. Birds 1078-10020 and 1078-10092 are female; 1078-10088 is male. ‘20’ is banded on the left; 92 on the right; and 88 on the left. There has also been a Trumpeter Swan (black script on yellow wingtag - K29) at Invista (Dupont Lagoon, Kingston) recently that was banded in Burlington last winter as an adult female. It arrived with an adult male (J83) but the two separated in the spring. K29 spent some time at Presqu’ile earlier in the fall. Also in Kingston, 9 PINE SISKINS and 5 COMMON REDPOLLS  were seen today along Lakeland Point Drive, a short distance east of Norman Rogers Airport. The RED-SHOULDERED HAWK at Brighton continues to be seen at the end of Ontario Street, near the entrance to Presquìle Park. Another RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was seen today at Rossland and Harmony Road in Oshawa. Back in Prince Edward County, a MERLIN was seen today at the far west end of North Big Island Road, a NORTHERN HARRIER  was at a feeder along County Road 1, northwest of Bloomfield, and a BALD EAGLE was seen recently at George`s Road, east of Northport. Readers may be interested in participating in a TRUMPETER SWAN survey tomorrow. This survey was first conducted in 1968 and has been completed at five-year intervals since 1975. The survey involves co-operators from federal, state, and provincial agencies across the United States and Canada, as well as volunteers from non-government organizations and the public. The information resulting from this coordinated effort is used to assess and track population status, evaluate restoration efforts and inform development of conservation and management plans for this species. Here in Ontario, assistance is needed to survey Trumpeter Swans during winter 2015. Although the survey is tomorrow, data obtained on Sunday or Monday is quite appropriate too. If interested, the details, instructions and data sheet can be obtained by CLICKING HERE.

Thursday, January 29: Much of the birding today took place before the snow started in earnest late this afternoon. Starting out with sightings previous to today, 30 MUTE SWANS  were present at Wellington Harbour where conditions had changed again with a thin skin of ice over much of the harbour, except a patch about 60-70 metres in diameter where the swans were, about 100 metres east of the dock, and open water further down the channel towards the lake. Today, there were plenty of CANADA GEESE and a half-dozen MUTE SWANS in the area, and in the channel , 7 REDHEADS, 2 COMMON GOLDENEYE and one LONG-TAILED DUCK.  At the lookout spot at Lake Ontario at the end of Kaiser Crossroad there were 252 MUTE SWANS, 3 TUNDRA SWANS and a bonus – one TRUMPETER SWAN and also a BALD EAGLE. Along Cressy Lakeside Road, another 48 MUTE SWANS and two SONG SPARROWS. At Prince Edward Point today, there were a dozen WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, 300 LONG-TAILED DUCKS, and 150 COMMON GOLDENEYE  - all seen in a slip of open water out near one of the offshore islands. Point Petre, not contributing much these past few weeks, lived up to its reputation with only 7 LONG-TAILED DUCKS. A male and female WOOD DUCK were checked off at Napanee`s Springside Park below the falls. Other birds in the Prince Edward Point area today included 2 BALD EAGLES and 11 CEDAR WAXWINGS, and a NORTHERN HARRIER along Babylon Road. Seven COMMON REDPOLLS were found along Rock Crossroad, and lesser numbers in other areas in the County, seen by the same observer. At Kingston`s Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area, a female BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER made an encore visit on Tuesday and was seen the same day by a Kingston observer as well as a Napanee area observer. Prior to the 27th, the woodpecker had been absent for a couple of weeks.  Patronage at bird feeders was brisk today with the impending snow of later this afternoon. Our own feeders on Big Island had close to 30 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS, dozens of DARK-EYED JUNCOS, HOUSE FINCHES, and a miscellany of other clientele all bustling around with a happy kind of madness that the whole world could use a lot more of. A male RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD at South Bay that first turned up at a feeder there mid-month is still around and was at the feeder again today. Two dozen DARK-EYED JUNCOS and a female RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER are also regulars at that feeder. At our own Big Island feeders, an immature RUSTY BLACKBIRD  continue to be regulars. Elsewhere around the general reporting area, the Violet Dump at Odessa had an adult GLAUCOUS GULL today, along with 300 HERRING GULLS and 10 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS. At Invista (Dupont Lagoon), a female LESSER SCAUP was seen there today. This week`s Presquìle Park Bird Report by Fred Helleiner has been uploaded to the NatureStuff website and can be viewed by CLICKING HERE

Wednesday, January 28: It’s hard to know where to begin with this evening’s report. A TRUMPETER SWAN was seen today at Barcovan, one of three present, along with 165 CANADA GEESE and 250 MUTE SWANS.  MALLARDS (275)  were found in their usual spot along the Belleville Bayshore Trail. Lots of waterfowl at Prince Edward Point, but all requiring a good spotting scope to identify. A Point Petre, a few LONG-TAILED DUCKS were present. At Wellington Harbour, ice conditions remain about the same as Monday. Open conditions about 200 metres out into West Lake, and the channel ice free. About 30 MUTE SWANS, 3 COMMON GOLDENEYE (1m, 2f), and 3 LONG-TAILED DUCKS (2m, 1f). While on the topic of waterfowl, the HORNED GREBE found last Friday on the ground in Demorestville, and delivered to the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee, is looking even perkier now, even more so apparently than when it had my finger firmly in its grip. It had been rather emaciated and has been tube fed but recovering well,- biggest issue is feathers lack water repellence. Full of attitude says the rehabilitator. Along Victoria Road today in the area of Snider Road, 3 BALD EAGLES were seen flying along the ravine, being chased four COMMON RAVENS.The eagles could be part of the same ones that have been seen daily just east of there where today eight were present at 3:30 p.m. today. At noon, there had been 10 eagles, two of them adults. With good thermals six were doing some high soaring and could be seen from the road. Most birds especially on overcast days cannot be seen because of the topography and distance. When the birds leave they fly low and east along the valley and are not visible. Beautiful bird day today on Amherst Island, reported another birder.  One almost pure white male SNOWY OWL at the east end of Front Road, a female SNOWY OWL along Second Concession. Also on Second Concession 2 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, one of them catching lunch and eating it on top of a nearby post, and a RED-TAILED HAWK.  One more ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK on Shore Road and finally a mature BALD EAGLE at the far western end of Front Road. Okay – now for the dicky birds. COMMON REDPOLLS today along Victoria Road and Snider Road (1), and 8 on Big Island’s North Shore Road. In Wellington, a PILEATED WOODPECKER, COMMON RAVENS at Ostrander Point Road, and another one at Prince Edward Point, and a RUFFED GROUSE at Little Bluff Conservation Area. Two birders lost track of the number of RED-TAILED HAWKS  seen in the area of County Road 4 and Taylor Kidd Blvd. but must have been at least 5 in a 1 km radius. Another two RED-TAILED HAWKS between Wellington and Bloomfield.  I am a few minutes late with tonight's report, due to its complexity, but I would like to thank those who continue to send bird sightings for inclusion in this Report. So far, the Report has had 2,700 hits since January 1st, and we ended last year with 47,000 hits. This probably means that at least 100 to 125 readers are following it daily. Thank you again, and continue to send in your sightings.

Tuesday, January 27: Here in Arctic Quinte, two COMMON REDPOLLS turned up at a Wellington feeder, and 16 arrived today in the Barry Heights area of Trenton, north of Telephone Road. This feeder backs onto a wooded area so patronage is brisk, with 36 MOURNING DOVES, 7 PINE SISKINS, 26 DARK-EYED JUNCOS, along with lesser numbers of the expected clientele, as well as a RED-TAILED HAWK that comes by now and then for some birdwatching of its own. Speaking of RED-TAILED HAWKS, nine were counted today by a motorist travelling 401 from Trenton to Belleville, each spaced about one kilometre apart, in trees on the sunny north side of the highway. In Wellington, the HOUSE SPARROW  which I reported with tongue in cheek as a ‘Species at Risk’ at our feeder with one seen the other day – the first since 2002,  60 of them swarmed in to a Wellington feeder, consuming the day’s rations, then left. At Big Island, a few good sightings on the island’s North Shore Road involving a female WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL which spent the day gorging. Also, 4 PINE SISKINS. Allison Road, just south of there, produced a small flock of 13 SNOW BUNTINGS, and the bayshore area yielded an adult BALD EAGLE, bending a willow branch when the massive bird landed. At Sandbanks Park, a PILEATED WOODPECKER was seen today. Not a bad day, considering the temperatures. And, sorry about throwing a spoonbill photo into tonight's Report, but it did get your attention, didn't it?

Monday, January 26: Ice conditions continue to change at Wellington Harbour, depending on wind directions and temperatures. Much the same is true wherever one goes these days. In Athol Bay on the weekend, there were hundreds of LONG-TAILED DUCKS loafing and feeding. At Wellington Harbour, there was open water around and south of the dock extending several hundred metres out into the channel and into the west end of West Lake, where there were about 25 MUTE SWANS feeding; 2 male COMMON GOLDENEYE; 1 male BUFFLEHEAD and a female merganser, species undetermined. At Presqu’ile Park today, LONG-TAILED DUCKS  were sprinkled along the shore with a few  COMMON GOLDENEYE. A skein of 95 CANADA GEESE flew southwest over Popham Bay and another 39 were at Owen Point. A RED-TAILED HAWK soared over the Day Use Area and about a dozen AMERICAN ROBINS  were  found along the Pioneer Trail. A small group (29) of COMMON REDPOLLS flew back and forth on Gull Island, and were last seen headed toward Sebastopol Point. . Perhaps the rest of the 100-250 that have been seen there in recent days, are now headed east toward Quinte area feeders. Whatever the food source was on Victoria Road, in Ameliasburgh, it seems to have run out as only 2 BALD EAGLES  were counted today. COMMON RAVENS, numbering about 10, were still in the area, and other raptors seen in that area were two ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS and a RED-TAILED HAWK.  PINE SISKINS, although greatly reduced from earlier numbers, seem to be around yet as eight were seen on Island Road, Sheba’s Island at West Lake today. Ten HOUSE FINCHES, seen there too, also represented a nice flock, given how their numbers have declined somewhat in recent years. A NORTHERN HARRIER  was seen at dusk flying over the Big Island Marsh.

Sunday, January 25: In the Moira River yesterday near the north end of the downtown area, present were 3 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, 150 MALLARDS, 1 COMMON GOLDENEYE, and 3 COMMON MERGANSER.  Today, at Springside Park in Napanee, waterfowl present there below the falls included 18 CANADA GEESE, 14 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS and 125 MALLARDS. A SNOWY OWL today appeared near Shannonville Road and the 5th of Tyendinaga, and has been around all week. Another SNOWY OWL was spotted at Point Petre today. Two BALD EAGLES – an adult and a first year bird – were seen flying over Adolphus Reach today near Lake on the Mountain. At Presqu’ile Park, the wintering PINE WARBLER is still frequenting the feeder at the Bird Sightings Board, and the RED-SHOULDERED HAWK is also still to be found at the end of Ontario Street just outside the Park entrance. In the Stirling area, at the Tuftsville Wetlands, an adult BALD EAGLE and a sub-adult were seen floating lazily on thermals. Also seen, a pair of  COMMON RAVENS, and a pair of RED-TAILED HAWKS near the Trans Canada Trail. Moving east to the Rideau Canal, six TRUMPETER SWANS, were seen at Jones Falls, and another one was present at Chaffey’s Lock. South of Kingston Mills, 30+ swans in the distance – some TRUMPETER and a couple of MUTES. At Jones Falls, there was an adult BALD EAGLE. In Stirling, AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS, DARK-EYED JUNCOS, AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES and WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES were reported at a feeder there. The immature RUSTY BLACKBIRD now appears daily at our feeder on Sprague Road, Big Island, along with a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and three NORTHERN CARDINALS. Making an unsuccessful pass today through the feeding area was a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last Updated ( Feb 28, 2015 at 09:21 PM )
BQRAP Newsletter - February, 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Feb 27, 2015 at 03:00 AM


E-Newsletter - Waterlogs


Welcome to the November E-Newsletter. Each month, we will keep you updated on what is happening with the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan. The Bay of Quinte RAP and its partners, are successfully under-taking actions to rehabilitate the Bay of Quinte.



February 2015

Be a citizen scientist for the Bay of Quinte

Can you tell a Bullfrog’s croak from a Spring Peeper’s peep, or a Least Bittern from a Virginia Rail? If you can’t, don’t worry, Terry will explain all you need to know. Over the course of this evening, you will learn how to monitor a local wetland for frogs and/or birds, whether it’s in your backyard, at the cottage, or a selected monitoring site. There are two programs to choose from, the FrogWatch program is a family-friendly activity while the Marsh Monitoring Program is more structured.  Terry says, “These monitoring programs are all user friendly and even inexperienced volunteers will feel comfortable taking part.” He adds, "The majority of wetland species of frogs and birds have calls that are different enough from each other that they can be identified with little trouble.”

Habitat Enhancement Program 

The Habitat Enhancement Program provides funding assistance to landowners for: livestock fencing, waterway plantings, shoreline and habitat naturalization projects.

Each of these projects provides a significant benefit to the Bay of Quinte. Livestock fencing and alternative watering projects keep livestock away from shorelines, helping to reduce erosion problems, and keep nutrients and bacterial contaminants from entering the water. Waterway plantings create wildlife habitat, and the deep root systems of native plant species help to prevent erosion and filter runoff. Shoreline and habitat naturalization projects, improve water quality, support spawning beds for fish, provide erosion control and flood protection, and provide habitat for a variety of species of flora and fauna.


The Bay Today

Since 1985, the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan has been working to change the status of 11 impaired environmental health issues that were identified for the Bay of Quinte. Today, the Bay has reached the point where 3 of those issues have met the scientific criteria necessary to change their status to unimpaired. 

One of the environmental health issues is Degradation of fish and wildlife populations.

In the early 1990s, the fish population was considered impaired due to the lack of species variety.
• Fish populations were affected by
the overabundance of phosphorus.
• Too much phosphorus produces
excess amounts of algae that 
   reduce water clarity

• Reduced water clarity impedes underwater plant growth.
• Today, water clarity has improved due to reductions in phosphorus
• Underwater plants have regrown providing homes for prey fish like perch and 
   sunfish, and hunting grounds for predators like walleye, pike, and bass.
• Today, the Bay of Quinte is considered a world-class walleye and bass fishery.
• A Phosphorus Management Strategy is being developed.

• Wildlife populations were never considered impaired.

Degradation of fish and wildlife populations video


Last Updated ( Feb 27, 2015 at 11:57 AM )
Presqu'ile Provincial Park Bird Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Feb 26, 2015 at 03:00 AM

Presqu'ile Provincial Park Bird Report


Presqu'ile Provincial Park

courtesy of Fred Helleiner


 Feb. 20 - Feb. 26

On Sunday at Presqu'ile Provincial Park there was a flurry (nasty word) of bird sightings, including the remote possibility that some of them might actually reflect an end to winter.
Waterfowl have been coming and going as the wind moves the ice into and out of Presqu'ile Bay.  For the first time in many weeks, a dabbling duck, a lone male MALLARD, showed up yesterday at Salt Point.  Among the hundreds of GREATER SCAUP, a few birders have spotted a male CANVASBACK, a few REDHEADS, and a male RING-NECKED DUCK.  After being absent since Blad Eagle. Photo by Gilles Bissonlate January, the first returning WHITE-WINGED SCOTER arrived on Saturday, and up to six have been present on most days since then.  The first HOODED MERGANSER of the year, a female, was found on Sunday.  A remarkable showing of BALD EAGLES (file photo by Gilles Bisson of Belleville) on Sunday generated a lot of interest from birders and non-birders.  Several reported seeing seven or eight and one birder counted ten, a number that was quite unprecedented at  Presqu'ile in winter.  Since numbers from one or two to three or four have been the norm for most of the winter, one wonders whether that influx was in part an early migration since BALD EAGLES are among the first spring arrivals in places like the Northwest Territories.  Smaller counts later this week have revealed no more than four in sight at any one time.  A COOPER'S HAWK was at Salt Point on Sunday and RED-TAILED HAWKS have been seen a few times.  To my knowledge, no one has had the ambition (a euphemism for foolhardiness) to visit Gull Island recently, but in a normal year the RING-BILLED GULLS that nest there would be milling around by this date searching for a patch of bare ground on which to establish their territories.  A GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL this morning was the first in a few weeks. A BARRED OWL was seen on February 20.
COMMON RAVENS continue to appear here and there.  AMERICAN ROBINS have managed to find buckthorn and other berries to survive.  On the other hand, there have been no reported sightings of the wintering PINE WARBLER for over a week.  WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS have been frequenting feeders at the camp office and at 85 Bayshore Road.  Two COMMON GRACKLES were at the latter address on Sunday.  A HOARY REDPOLL accompanied a flock of several dozen COMMON REDPOLLS at 186 Bayshore Road this morning.
To reach Presqu'ile Provincial Park, follow the signs from Brighton. Locations within the Park are shown on a map at the back of a tabloid that is available at the Park gate. Visitors to Gull “Island” can walk across the gap from Owen Point without special footwear. Ice conditions may make for slippery walking. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.

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


Last Updated ( Feb 26, 2015 at 05:57 PM )
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