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Stop Living at Work, Start Working at Living PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Dec 04, 2014 at 03:00 AM

 

 

   STOP LIVING AT WORK, START WORKING AT LIVING 

                              Thursday, December 04, 2014                                      

 
There seems to be a rumour that I am retiring.
 
It’s true. I know how to retire as I have done it before, and may even do it again. The first time was in 2004 from the office scene at Quinte Conservation. Funniest thing though. After the party at the Waring House, not much really changed. The only difference in my routine was in the purchase of office equipment – new computer, high speed printer and scanner and some upgrades to existing equipment here and there. As memories of the Waring House dessert still lingered on my palate, I found myself still employed – on contract, they called it – and digital files flew back and forth through cyberspace as I enjoyed my new working arrangement. Instead of clocking in at 8:30 a.m., I started work at 5:00 a.m., my peak hour, gradually deteriorating as the day wore on, and calling it a day at 2:00 p.m.  I was wireless, but wired emotionally, with the new arrangement, and I didn’t have to drive to work. Life was good.
 
As the years passed, I gradually pulled out of those things I didn’t particularly enjoy doing anymore and increased my work load at home, running much of what I did through my business NatureStuff Tours. I did some environmental contract work on highway projects. My favourite was at the new Salmon River Bridge on the 401 where we devised ways to keep a colony of barn swallows from nesting under the structure while deconstruction of the bridge was taking place. I learned construction speak, and how to hang on to my hard hat and safety vest whenever an 18-wheeler sped by me. I learned quickly to wear ear protectors as the noise beside 401 is absolutely deafening.
 
At Brighton, I watched a burly, hairy-chested worker in a tank top with a cigar hanging out of his mouth, absolutely melt when he put down his jack hammer and peered into a 401 overpass conduit where a pair of rough-winged swallows had young. The heads of three tiny nestlings begging for food popped up the moment I shone the flashlight into the conduit. A compromise was reached. Workers could continue on the other side of the bridge, and the side with the nesting birds could wait for one more week.
 
I have acted as a step on guide for incoming bus tours to the area. I even organized a few bus tours to Algonquin Park, rented a full sized coach (ever rent a 56-passenger tour bus?), then trembled as I tried to fill it. Wanting to work in a few perks, I included the noon meal as part of the package, not really knowing how much passengers would eat. Some ate nothing, a few ate next to nothing, and a few others wouldn’t stop eating. I watched in horror as the cash register receipt spiralled out onto the floor from the till and snaked its way to a neighbouring table. Reeling in the 15 feet or so of cash register tape, I was astonished when the grand total came to a scary five dollars under what I had budgeted! It was the last bus trip I ever organized as I couldn’t take the stress! One learned to have a backup plan. One fall colour bus trip I organized to Jones Fall, a location well known for its fall colour, happened to fall in a year when there was no colour. Instead, we made it a shopping trip, invading the famous Kilborn’s Store in Newboro, then moved on to Foley Mountain and Village Green in Westport.
 
Retirement? Likely  “restructuring” is a more accurate term as I wrap up the programs of guided hikes that I have conducted across eastern Ontario for 19 years, and move on to another chapter in my life. It has been a journey, one filled with humorous misadventures and camaraderie involving an amazing 25,722 participants that has been just short of incredible. It has been an accident-free 19 years, and we never lost a soul, always coming out of the woods with as many as we went in with (to the best of my knowledge). A colleague once dubbed me the “pied piper of nature”. And, I guess I was, as I always seemed to have 15 to 30 participants behind me. My wife once commented how lucky I was to be a male as I could simply duck in behind a tree when it came time to answer the call of nature. Not if you are a hike leader, for they follow you everywhere!
 
Part of reason for there being no incidents on our guided hikes, was our attention to detail. I had to know the route well, whether it was one kilometre or 13 kilometres, as it is always best not to lead 30 hikers into a dead end. It’s hard to turn them around when they are fixated in one direction. We travelled with cell phones, walkie-talkies, G.P.S and compass, leaving nothing to chance. Hikers were always well informed as to the expected terrain, length of hike, and anticipated weather for the day. Not once did we ever have to pull out the first aid kit. Quite a record, considering some of these long distance hikers were in their 60s and 70s with a few even in their 80s. They wrote the book on fitness and we could all learn from them.  
 
As I ponder what direction my life will take now, I still plan to be on the trails. After all, I am only 70, and in reasonably good health. There is one 26-km hike I want to do, but I tremble when I think it will be on arthritic feet and ankles, helped along with an Obus  back support and walking poles! But, it has become a distraction and I will likely do it soon, as it won’t get any easier the longer I leave it.
 
I am also contemplating three more books. I am well into one right now called “Naked in the Sand”, a collection of some of our humorous misadventures over the years. Regrettably, my increased interest in writing will not include the outdoors column that I have written for the Picton Gazette for 50 years, the Napanee Beaver for nine years, and the Tweed News for eight years. After 2600 columns, it is time for the column to retire while it can do so with dignity. I feel that is important as I want to say a proper goodbye in a couple weeks to those who have supported the column and our outdoor program for so many years. It’s time to move on.
 
After all, I may want to retire again 10 years or so down the road.

 

Stop Living at Work, Start Working at Living PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Dec 03, 2014 at 03:00 AM

 

   STOP LIVING AT WORK, START WORKING AT LIVING 

                              Wednesday, December 03, 2014                                      

 
There seems to be a rumour that I am retiring.
 
It’s true. I know how to retire as I have done it before, and may even do it again. The first time was in 2004 from the office scene at Quinte Conservation. Funniest thing though. After the party at the Waring House, not much really changed. The only difference in my routine was in the purchase of office equipment – new computer, high speed printer and scanner and some upgrades to existing equipment here and there. As memories of the Waring House dessert still lingered on my palate, I found myself still employed – on contract, they called it – and digital files flew back and forth through cyberspace as I enjoyed my new working arrangement. Instead of clocking in at 8:30 a.m., I started work at 5:00 a.m., my peak hour, gradually deteriorating as the day wore on, and calling it a day at 2:00 p.m.  I was wireless, but wired emotionally, with the new arrangement, and I didn’t have to drive to work. Life was good.
 
As the years passed, I gradually pulled out of those things I didn’t particularly enjoy doing anymore and increased my work load at home, running much of what I did through my business NatureStuff Tours. I did some environmental contract work on highway projects. My favourite was at the new Salmon River Bridge on the 401 where we devised ways to keep a colony of barn swallows from nesting under the structure while deconstruction of the bridge was taking place. I learned construction speak, and how to hang on to my hard hat and safety vest whenever an 18-wheeler sped by me. I learned quickly to wear ear protectors as the noise beside 401 is absolutely deafening.
 
At Brighton, I watched a burly, hairy-chested worker in a tank top with a cigar hanging out of his mouth, absolutely melt when he put down his jack hammer and peered into a 401 overpass conduit where a pair of rough-winged swallows had young. The heads of three tiny nestlings begging for food popped up the moment I shone the flashlight into the conduit. A compromise was reached. Workers could continue on the other side of the bridge, and the side with the nesting birds could wait for one more week.
 
I have acted as a step on guide for incoming bus tours to the area. I even organized a few bus tours to Algonquin Park, rented a full sized coach (ever rent a 56-passenger tour bus?), then trembled as I tried to fill it. Wanting to work in a few perks, I included the noon meal as part of the package, not really knowing how much passengers would eat. Some ate nothing, a few ate next to nothing, and a few others wouldn’t stop eating. I watched in horror as the cash register receipt spiralled out onto the floor from the till and snaked its way to a neighbouring table. Reeling in the 15 feet or so of cash register tape, I was astonished when the grand total came to a scary five dollars under what I had budgeted! It was the last bus trip I ever organized as I couldn’t take the stress! One learned to have a backup plan. One fall colour bus trip I organized to Jones Fall, a location well known for its fall colour, happened to fall in a year when there was no colour. Instead, we made it a shopping trip, invading the famous Kilborn’s Store in Newboro, then moved on to Foley Mountain and Village Green in Westport.
 
Retirement? Likely  “restructuring” is a more accurate term as I wrap up the programs of guided hikes that I have conducted across eastern Ontario for 19 years, and move on to another chapter in my life. It has been a journey, one filled with humorous misadventures and camaraderie involving an amazing 25,722 participants that has been just short of incredible. It has been an accident-free 19 years, and we never lost a soul, always coming out of the woods with as many as we went in with (to the best of my knowledge). A colleague once dubbed me the “pied piper of nature”. And, I guess I was, as I always seemed to have 15 to 30 participants behind me. My wife once commented how lucky I was to be a male as I could simply duck in behind a tree when it came time to answer the call of nature. Not if you are a hike leader, for they follow you everywhere!
 
Part of reason for there being no incidents on our guided hikes, was our attention to detail. I had to know the route well, whether it was one kilometre or 13 kilometres, as it is always best not to lead 30 hikers into a dead end. It’s hard to turn them around when they are fixated in one direction. We travelled with cell phones, walkie-talkies, G.P.S and compass, leaving nothing to chance. Hikers were always well informed as to the expected terrain, length of hike, and anticipated weather for the day. Not once did we ever have to pull out the first aid kit. Quite a record, considering some of these long distance hikers were in their 60s and 70s with a few even in their 80s. They wrote the book on fitness and we could all learn from them.  
 
As I ponder what direction my life will take now, I still plan to be on the trails. After all, I am only 70, and in reasonably good health. There is one 26-km hike I want to do, but I tremble when I think it will be on arthritic feet and ankles, helped along with an Obus  back support and walking poles! But, it has become a distraction and I will likely do it soon, as it won’t get any easier the longer I leave it.
 
I am also contemplating three more books. I am well into one right now called “Naked in the Sand”, a collection of some of our humorous misadventures over the years. Regrettably, my increased interest in writing will not include the outdoors column that I have written for the Picton Gazette for 50 years, the Napanee Beaver for nine years, and the Tweed News for eight years. After 2600 columns, it is time for the column to retire while it can do so with dignity. I feel that is important as I want to say a proper goodbye in a couple weeks to those who have supported the column and our outdoor program for so many years. It’s time to move on.
 
After all, I may want to retire again 10 years or so down the road.

 

Moving Forward, or Backward Thinking? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Nov 28, 2014 at 03:00 AM

 

   MOVING FORWARD, OR IS IT BACKWARD THINKING? 

                            Thursday, November 27, 2014                                      

 
A recent letter to the editor that has appeared in several local newspapers regarding wind energy is just another example of the ill-informed ignoring the damage this so-called “green energy” does to the biodiversity that sustains us as a human race. That birds are not “stupid” and “can see turbines” and will avoid them, may not be the most absurd statement I have read in support of wind turbines, but it is clearly among the top two. Even those in support of this form of energy are better informed than that.
 
Then, to follow it up by claiming there is “no evidence of wholesale slaughter of birds by wind turbines” simply boggles the mind. How does this author explain TransAlta’s turbine project on Wolfe Island which has caused the highest mortality rate of birds and bats in North America, with the exception of Altamont pass in California and,  and has displaced the indigenous and wintering Red Tail Hawk and Short Eared Owl populations? Even supporters of wind energy are in agreement that wind turbines do kill wildlife; the question is how much do supporters of wind energy really care, and how much importance do they place on biodiversity being critical to our own survival? And the mindless claim that cats kill more birds is getting a little tired.
 
President of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) , Myrna Wood of Picton, provides some sobering statistics. The Evening Grosbeak, she reports, is one of Canada’s declining species.  It has declined 78% in the last 40 years.  Other examples of species decline: our iconic Canada Warbler: 80%; Rusty Blackbird: 90%; Olive-sided Flycatcher 79%; Bay-breasted Warbler 70%.  Populations of  vertebrate species, including mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have fallen on average by 52 percent since 1970. 
 
The root cause of these decimations is simple - loss of habitat, she says. “This loss of habitat and the species they support is a crisis for our planet. Not only do we humans urgently need to stop the use of fossil fuels, we also need to urgently move to conserve the habitats of our remaining wildlife.
 
“In order to stop fossil fuel use we must implement conservation by investing in retrofitting all 19th-20th century technology in our buildings and vehicles and begin to build alternative sources of power.  It is imperative that these new developments be sited in places that we humans have already removed from nature in order to preserve the scarce wildlife lands that remain.  New developments should not be sited in land that functions as significant habitat for wild species.”
 
Make no mistake; our undeveloped wild places play a vital role in mitigating the effects of climate change.  Forests and wetlands sequester carbon keeping it out of the atmosphere, while tall grass prairies actually remove carbon from it. Wetlands prevent flooding and erosion and replenish our aquifers. Alvars and other seasonal wetland habitats filter contaminants, keeping them out of our streams and lakes. What allows these invaluable habitats to mitigate climate change are the wild species they support. Without these wild species, they will no longer function. Eventually they will cease to exist at all. The undeveloped south shore is therefore critical in protecting undisturbed habitat. Ontario has more than 6,000 wind turbines built, planned or proposed, the majority in Southwestern Ontario. Turbines generate only about 4% of the province’s power. Contrary to what some apparently think, the nine turbines at Ostrander Point will not save the world, but they will put lots of “green” into the pockets of the developers. And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.
 
PECFN has raised almost $200,000 to pay the legal costs of these appeals against Gilead Power, the Ministry of Environment and the 291 corporations of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWea).  The  support of Field Naturalist clubs and concerned citizens from all parts of Ontario is needed because the work they are doing will affect environmental law for the Province and the County.  Donations may be made online at www.saveostranderpoint.org  or by cheque to Ostrander Point Appeal Fund, 2-59 King St, Picton K0K 2T0.
 
The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) is appealing the Ostrander Point Crown Land wind project at the highest Court in Ontario. The hearing will occur at Osgoode Hall Dec 8-9.  Ostrander Point Crown Land is situated in an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) - a refuge for migrating birds, bats and butterflies - it contains provincially significant wetlands, globally imperilled Alvar habitat and is the home and breeding ground of several avian, reptilian and amphibian species at risk, such as the Blanding’s turtle. 
 
At present, says Myrna Wood, the Divisional Court’s ruling on Ostrander Point undercuts the ability of the Environmental Review Tribunal to make decisions based on the evidence before it. PECFN’s appeal of the Divisional Court ruling is a precedent setting case that impacts the validity of the Environmental Review Tribunal, the Endangered Species Act and the Environmental Protection Act.  As such it will affect environmental law across Ontario. As Justice Blair, who granted a stay against any construction on the site said, “the issues raised on the proposed appeal are issues of broad public implication in the field of environmental law”.

 

Quinte Area Bird Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Nov 27, 2014 at 09:00 AM

 White-breasted Nuthatch. Photo by Dave BellWhite-breasted Nuthatch. Photo by Dave BellTHE QUINTE AREA BIRD REPORT


 

with sightings from the Bay of Quinte region, and beyond

 

*******

Please e-mail your sightings to   Terry Sprague


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 22: Rain last night prevented any NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS being banded, so the total for the fall season remains at 245 owls to date. Early this morning a flock of 20 SANDHILL CRANES flew over the East Hill district of Belleville, on the Bay of Quinte, in a V-formation, heading northwest. One has to wonder if some of these are the same cranes that are seen occasionally at the Hamilton Wetland along County Road 14 in Prince Edward County, off Highway 62. Incidentally, last night`s final count of GREAT EGRETS at the Hamilton Wetland between 5:29 p.m. and 6:16 p.m., ended at 14 birds.  BALD EAGLE numbers seem to be building as winter approaches. Two were seen this morning flying over Adolphus Reach below Lake on the Mountain. At least one of the birds was an adult, and another was seen again this evening as the observer and I talked on the phone. Five WILD TURKEYS  were observed this morning along Tank Farm Road near Cannifton, north of Belleville. Also in Belleville, along the Kiwanis Bayshore Trail, seven species of waterfowl were encountered, among them 125 CANADA GEESE, 180 LESSER SCAUP, 2 COMMON GOLDENEYE and COMMON MERGANSER. Of particular interest was a late NASHVILLE WARBLER. This species has been seen in October before by banders at Prince Edward Point, but seldom later than this date. WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, SONG SPARROW, CEDAR WAXWING, and both kinglet species were also tallied along the trail. PINE SISKINS  continue to taunt us with their sporadic appearance this week with individuals being seen at Prince Edward Point, and others at a feeder on Fry Road, north of Picton. Ten waterfowl species were present in yesterday’s rain at the Marshlands Conservation Area in Kingston, among them 300 GADWALL, 2 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 8 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 60 NORTHERN PINTAILS and a single PIED-BILLED GREBE. In Cataraqui Bay, 700 GREATER SCAUP and five REDHEADS  were present.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 03: Birds present today at the Castleton Hills RV Park, north of Colborne, included TURKEY VULTURE, COMMON RAVEN, BLUE JAY, SWAINSON'S THRUSH, DARK-EYED JUNCO and PILEATED WOODPECKER. At Red Cloud Cemetery, north of Castleton, off Dawson Road, the prairie fields there hosted several EASTERN MEADOWLARKS, and a single HORNED LARK was heard. To feeders, to feeders, the redpolls are coming! Perhaps a corruption on my part of Paul Revere’s midnight ride of 1775, but not without a few similarities. Bird feeder operators who have experienced COMMON REDPOLLS  at their feeders know that the species often appears in armies, and while they may not ride in the night like Paul Revere, they do favour the twilight hours. And they may appear this coming winter at local feeders. Ron Pittaway of Minden who has done a winter finch forecast for several years, predicts that a moderate to good flight south will occur this fall and winter because birch seed crops are variably poor to average in the boreal forest. At bird feeders COMMON REDPOLLS prefer nyger seeds in silo feeders. Watch for "Greater" common redpolls (subspecies rostrata) from Baffin Island and Greenland in flocks of "Southern" COMMON REDPOLLS (nominate subspecies flammea). Greaters are larger, browner, longer tailed, and bigger billed in direct comparison with "Southerns".

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

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



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