Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The 2015 KFN Bio Blitz

Looks like the 2015 Bio Blitz was a success!   I personally didn't get to attend, much to my chagrin other commitments prevented me from participating in this fun event.  ( I like to look for critters.  And plants.)  But about 66 people did get to go out and about, searching for every mammal, bird, plant, insect, fish, moss, lichen, you-name-it-that's-a-living-entity that they could find during a 24 hour period in a given area, and find stuff they did.   Here's the intial report sent to us by Janis Grant, with a photo from John Critchley.




The Great Canadian BioBlitz of 2015

Naturalists count plants and animals at annual BioBlitz

The Kingston Field Naturalists recently held their 17th annual BioBlitz at Wintergreen Studios on Canoe Lake Road.  This 204 acre property, located on the Canadian Shield north of Sydenham, has a variety of habitats, providing living space for a diversity of plants, animals and other species. We are most grateful to the owner for allowing us onto this beautiful property. Habitats include wetlands (including bog, pond, lake and streams), woodlands (including shrubby swamp and mixed deciduous woodland) and open areas (including rocky outcrops and grassland).

The purpose of a BioBlitz is to list as many different species as possible in a 24 hour period, thus giving a snapshot of the biodiversity of the site. This one-day inventory of the living things in an area provides a baseline for observing future changes that could occur due to natural succession or invasive species as well as global warming.  Both amateur and professional naturalists join forces to spot and identify species and to educate each other and the public about the diversity of the location.

Sixty six field observers spread over the property from 3:00pm on Friday June 12 to 3:00pm Saturday June 13 collecting information on everything from night time moths to early morning birds and from beautiful dragonflies to forest ferns. Participants included Kingston Field Naturalists, fellow naturalists from further afield, professionals, neighbours and youth.  The public was invited.  The weather on Friday was rainy with temperatures around 13C, not conducive to the activity, and just three people camped overnight.  But we persisted and set our minnow traps and pitfall traps for invertebrates. By 9:00pm the rain had stopped and we spent 3 hours with moth lights identifying many beautiful species of this group of insects.  Saturday, with temperatures in the mid- twenties and sun, was perfect.  A delicious BBQ was held at noon on Saturday with quiz questions to identify natural objects for which prizes were awarded.

Guided walks were held throughout the event on a variety of natural history topics for those wishing to participate and learn about the ecology of the area.  Topics included bird watching, and pond dipping as well as moth identification and dragonfly and butterfly listing and a plant identification walk.  A couple of canoes were available to explore some wetland habitats.  Other participants waded up to their waists to access the bog mat for different species. This year our non-species-listing activity was a sketching nature workshop held on the porch of the house (out of the rain).

All observed species were noted - from those that are very common to those on the endangered end of the scale.  Plants varying in size from plankton in the pond to ferns, grasses and all herbaceous and woody plants were added to the tally.  Spore-bearing species including fungi were included.  All identified invertebrates including insects (butterflies, damsel and dragonflies, moths, flies, beetles, bees) and non-insect species (including spiders, ticks, centipedes, millipedes, slugs and snails), that were observed were also added to the tally.  All vertebrate species (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish) were noted.

The minnow traps left in the water overnight with bait and light sticks to attract species were well filled by morning.  Observations enjoyed by participants included several Grey Ratsnakes, Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies pollinating Wood Lilies, an Arrow Spiketail (a lifer dragonfly for a professional naturalist), Luna Moth, Giant Leopard Moth and a Clearwing Moth.  The Daisyleaf Moonwort and Rattlesnake Fern were new species for many.  Three species of hawk were seen soaring about the same time.  They were Red-shouldered, Broad-winged and Sharp-shinned Hawks.  Active nests of Red-eyed Vireo and Rose-breasted Grosbeak were noted.  Several special sightings of unusual or species-at-risk or of particular interest were added to the tally.  A patch of 50 Showy Orchis was found, just past flowering. Several endangered Butternut trees were seen.  A Fisher, a mid-sized mammal, was observed in the late evening. A Five-lined Skink (our only lizard) was an exciting find: a species of special concern.  One Whip-poor-will, a threatened species, was heard calling.

Anne Robertson, coordinator of the event said, “Despite the wet weather on Friday the overall annual BioBlitz event was very successful and enjoyed by the participants, with plenty of ‘special’ species over a variety of different wildlife groups.”

How many species were found?  The final tally is not in but we are hoping for about 600.  We do know so far we have 7 mammal species, 58 birds, 3 reptiles and 4 amphibians.  Within the invertebrates 22 dragon and damsel flies, 16 butterflies and roughly 50 species of moth were recorded.  The final tally of plants including seed and spore bearers is well over 200 including 11 species of fern and 24 sedge species.

The Kingston Field Naturalists hope that future generations will also have the thrill of finding as much variety of life in this area in one day and would like to thank all those who joined us at this annual party held in a different location each year.


  L to R

Damon Gee, Shirley French, Diane Lawrence, Janet Elliott and Erica Barkley

                                                                                                 Photo:  John Critchley


Monday, 30 March 2015

KFN Bio Blitz 2015

We have just received information for the Kingston Field Naturalists 2015 Bio Blitz event:

April 2015

Hello Participant!

The Kingston Field Naturalists invite you to join us in the
2015 Great Canadian BioBlitz
This will be our 17th in the Kingston area! We would like to record over 600 species in 24 hours and hope that everyone, including our volunteers, will find it a fun and educational event.
The idea for the BioBlitz comes from the Canadian Biodiversity Institute. It’s an inventory of as many living things as can be identified within a 24 hour period. Specialists and experts from a diverse set of disciplines will be grouped with interested volunteers to explore the area under investigation. The inventory and interaction of volunteers with the public are integral goals of this event.
The BioBlitz takes place from 3:00 pm on Friday, 12 June to 3:00 pm on Saturday, 13 June, 2015. 
The event will run, rain or shine.

The Site

We are delighted for the opportunity to hold this BioBlitz at Wintergreen Studios at 9780 Canoe Lake Road (north of Sydenham).  This is a 204 acre property and has a variety of habitats including forest, cliff, ponds/lake, stream, cranberry/tamarack bog, fields and a butterfly garden.     
Access from Kingston. Allow about one hour from Kingston to the site.    Car pooling is suggested.
Directions to Wintergreen Studios- 9780 Canoe Lake Road
GPS location: 44.592608, 76.529491
From Kingston follow Sydenham Road north to Sydenham, then north on Bedford Rd to Desert Lake Road (north of Helen Quilliam Sanctuary) then 10 km north on Canoe Lake Rd. to 9780.
From the west (Toronto) turn north on Hwy 38 (Hwy 401 exit 611). Just north of Verona (25km) turn right on Desert Lake Road to T intersection (18km).  Turn left onto Canoe Lake Rd and go to 9780 (10km)
From Westport go west 10 km on Bedford St.(County Rd 12). After Fermoy turn left onto Canoe Lake Rd and go 7 Km to 9780.

Camping.  We may camp for that one night at the site.  Primitive camping only.  Privy available. There is no running water and no fires are allowed.  There will be a charge of $10:00 per adult to help cover the BioBlitz costs.  Please register in advance with Peter Good at HYPERLINK goodcompany@sympatico.ca or 613 378 6605
Bed and Breakfasts (also available on line) should be booked well in advance.
Wintergreen Studios 613 284 4656  Bed only $50.00
A Victorian Reflection Bed and Breakfast, Westport 613 273 8383
Cove Country Inn (The) Westport 613 273 3636
Church St. Bed and Breakfast Westport 613 273 9112
Loon Lake Bed and Breakfast Westport 613 273 3839
Snug Harbour Cottages Canoe Lake Road 613 374 5412
Desert Lake Family Resort, Desert Lake  613 374 2196
Canoe Lake Tent and Trailer Park 613 273 5232 Registration
Participants must register at the BioBlitz base site between 2:30 and 7:00 pm on Friday, June 12 or between 8:00 am and 2:00 pm on Saturday, June 13.
Species observed
A written record with your name must be handed in for species to be included in the final tally. Upon registration, a tally sheet will be provided and a map of the property. A tally will also be kept at the BioBlitz base site so you may look at species already recorded and note those that may yet be found. Please return your final tally sheets and field notes to the base site before departure. Tally sheets will be copied and returned if you wish. A reward will be offered for checking out and returning tally sheets.

What to bring
* Please bring your own meals and snacks, but note the Saturday BBQ option (see below) and coffee available     at the base site 7:30 to 8:30 am on Saturday.
* Please also bring sunscreen, insect repellant, hat, and a flashlight for night activities.
* Good walking boots are advised. Wear long pants to protect against Poison Ivy, deerfly and ticks.     Tick protection also with long boots, gaiters, and/or 30% deet. 
* Your own clipboard, checklist and field guides, binoculars and magnifiers.
* Cameras and GPS units will be useful (but not required) to record rare species and species needing identification.
* Potable water and a washroom will be available at the base site. Please bring your own water bottle and travel mug.
*Cell phone coverage at the site is unreliable (Rogers and Fido best).
* Nearest stores Desert Lake and Westport
A barbeque lunch will be available on Saturday from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm. Darren Rayner, our chef again this year, will provide sausage on a bun (or vegetarian), ice cream and drinks.  The suggested donation is $5 (no charge for under 18 year olds). First come, first served! You may wish to bring a chair.  Do join us for the BBQ.  Informal remarks and Quiz prizes at 12:30pm.
Please . . .
Plan on taking your garbage home with you.
NO dogs at this event. Please be sensitive to the fact that this is private property and we are there with the kind permission of the owners. Try to keep the impact to a minimum and attempt to leave things as they were found. Collecting should only occur where necessary for the inventory and trap-and-release and/or photographs should be used wherever possible. We are requesting that all qualified observers prepare NHIC species occurrence forms for rare and declining species observed during this event. Forms will be available on request.
If you have expertise not covered in the accompanying program, please come and educate us! Please also let us know if there is anything you might need that we might supply.
We look forward to this event and hope you do as well. Please share this information with anyone you know who might be interested.
Contact us if you plan to come or have any questions: Anne: phone  613-389-6742 or e-mail "n8ture.anne@sympatico.ca .
Janis: phone 613-540-1167 or e mail janis.grant@iCloud.com

Yours truly,
Anne Robertson, Coordinator HYPERLINK "mailto:n8ture.anne@sympatico.ca" n8ture.anne@sympatico.ca       

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Terry Sprague retirement event

Terry Sprague, long time naturalist and columnist from the Picton area, will soon be retiring.  An event to honour his many contributions to nature education and ethusiasm in encoruaging others to observe and protect nature and natural habitats will be held  April 18, 2015.  Click on poster below for information about this event.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Field Trip to Amherst Island

There was a recent field trip to Amherst Island, Janet Scott has written a report.  Sounds like a good one, I'm sorry I missed it!


Kingston Field Naturalist’s Visit to Amherst Island on March 7th, 2015.

Report from Janet Scott

  Nine members of the KFN visited Amherst Island on Saturday, March 7th looking for raptors and perhaps early spring migrants. They arrived in plenty of time for the 8:30 ferry, organized quickly into two cars by Gay Beckwith and met me at the ferry dock for a trip through the ice. There was no wind and the snow was falling lightly. It was a snow on snow on snow day with sky meeting ice lightly covered in fresh white snow and the temperature at minus 5. Our first raptor was an immature Snowy pointed out to us by Will Reed one of the ferry crew. The bird did not move as the ferry cut through chopped and chunky ice and turned nicely so that Bonnie Bailey was able to capture its profile from both sides almost as if it wanted to show off its better side. We were met at the Stella Dock by 3 Red-breasted Mergansers all decked out in spring plumage who hardly moved away from the path as the ferry approached. Judy Bierma joined us at the Stella Dock. Earlier in the village I had spotted a Cooper’s Hawk but he was rude and did not wait around for our honoured guests.

We drove south through thickening snow and stopped to observe a Snowy owl in a tree east of the Road’s Garage .Thanks to Alex Simmons’s scope we were also able to identify a Red-tailed Hawk close by. Turning west along the Second Concession gave us more sightings of raptors in total 4 Snowy Owls, 8 Rough-legged hawks, 5 Red-tailed hawks and thanks to Betsy Beckwith’s hawk eyes a Barred owl was seen on the lower Emerald Forty-foot. Crows were calling and appeared in a group of five along the Second. The feeder areas along the Second gave us White-breasted nuthatches, Tree Sparrows, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, Mourning Doves including a flock of fifteen scared up by Gay behind us while we were looking at a feeder. SURPRISE!! Ravens were feeding on a dead sheep at the Quinte pasture and Goldfinches happily twittered with Blue jays, Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees and Woodpeckers among lilacs further west.

On the Third Concession we spotted European Starlings and Snow Buntings and were treated to yummy muffins by Betsy. Here a Red-tailed hawk flew over us to check assorted birders off his list. The breeze had stiffened and the large snowflakes that had fallen earlier fell softly from the branches over our heads. Some were able to catch the 12:00 ferry home and the others stopped with Judy and I to see the Raven nests at 350 Third Concession before catching the 1:00 ferry home where Bonnie was greeted by a Cooper’s Hawk eyeing her feeders.

A House Finch stopped at my feeder after the others had gone. It just added a little drop of colour to a snowy landscape on a wonderful day.

List of birds:

Cooper’s hawk 1

Snowy Owl 4

Red-breasted Mergansers 3

Red-tailed Hawk 5

Rough-legged Hawk 8

American Crows 8

Common Ravens 2

Downy Woodpeckers 5

Hairy Woodpeckers 1

Black-capped Chickadees 12

Tree Sparrows 6

Dark-eyed Juncos 5

White-breasted Nuthatches 2

American Goldfinches 2

Blue Jays 3

Mourning Doves 15

Barred Owl 1

Snow Buntings 7

European Starlings 12

House Finch 1

House Sparrows 12

Rock Pigeons 4

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Cleaning out the Woodduck Nesting Boxes at the Sanctuary

One of the recent maintenance projects taking place for KFN is the cleaning out of wood duck nesting boxes in the KFN Sanctuary.  This is often done by the Teens during the month of February, a good opportunity to get young people out in the woods in winter and teach them about the wood ducks and what we can do to help with nesting.  A few years ago Ducks Unlimited provided 4 nest boxes and poles, a crew of adults put the support poles up, and then Teens mounted the boxes. These 4 boxes were placed strategically around a large pond in the Sanctuary that is surrounded by woodlands.  Each year the boxes are checked and cleaned out, and information about what is found is recorded.  Materials and nests that are found within the box are examined, some material saved in marked plastic bags, any unhatched eggs are counted and recorded, the boxes are brushed out and drained holes cleared, and new nesting material (wood shavings) are added.  The material is examined for feathers which are helpful in determining which species used the box.  Egg shells are also examined, often whole membranes are found which helps in the count of the number of eggs.  All data is kept in both Kingston Field Naturalist files as well as reports to Ducks Unlimited. 

On February 27th, 2015, 3 members of the KFN attended to the task; Anne R., Gaye B., and Rose-Marie B.  In spite of it being a brutally cold morning with a low of -24C, the three of us carpooled from Sydenham and arrived at the Santuary around 9:45 a.m.   By then the sun had risen high and provided a classically picturesque winter day with clear blue sky and very little wind, the temperatures creeping upward.  It has been a deep-snow winter, so snowshoes were necessary to trek through the powdery snow to reach the pond with the 4 D.U. nest boxes.  With the thick ice of winter a short cut was available along a stream bed, over a large beaver pond, up a short stretch of hillside over another dam that brought us to the pond where the boxes are located.  We took turns breaking the path, and took our time, enjoying the scenery along the way.  We took some tools to open the boxes, a few extra tools in case repairs of any sort were necessary, and a big supply of fresh wood shavings.  Gaye carried the aluminum step ladder needed to reach the higher boxes.  One after another we opened the boxes, gathered materials, cleaned them out, and recorded our findings.  Two of the boxes contained grackle nests on top of the wood duck boxes.  In one of those boxes there were 15 unhatched eggs, and a big grackle nest on top.  When Gaye removed the grackle nest the form of the unhatched duck eggs were seen pressed into the bottom. 

Once the four boxes were completed, we headed back out.  Along the way we admired the work of a pileated woodpecker, 5 big holes were bored into a dead pine tree, the chips littering the snow below.  Not many birds were active, but we heard the calls of a few chickadees, a couple of bluejays, and one white breasted nuthatch.  Tracks were found in the snow, squirrels, deer, and possibly a fisher, the powdery nature of the snow didn't provide clear footprints.  By the time we reached the car after our pleasant outing the temperature had reached -4C. 

A new year!

It comes as a shock to realize that my last posting to this blog has been a year ago!   There comes an age in one's life, when one is fortunate to have lived a half century or more, when the hands on the clock seem to have sped up.  (Just using a reference to "hands on a clock" in this digital era is telling enough about one's age, but I digress....)

My apologees to those looking for updates in this past year, I could give the usual excuses about a dial-up internet connection, personal responsibilities and so forth, but I shall spare you.  The good news is that members of the KFN Executive have expressed interest in more timely updates for the blog, so we may be able to get a couple more people onboard to publish more items of interest.

So....onward to new beginnings for 2015!

Monday, 17 February 2014

Kingston Area Birds February 8th to 14th, 2014

Birders have been focussing their attention on the eastern section of the
region this week, primarily to view a RED-NECKED GREBE that has taken a
liking to the Gananoque River. Other areas are somewhat lacking this week.
As well as the grebe, other highlights include; widespread TRUMPETER SWANS,

City of Kingston

Invista continues to hold waterfowl in good numbers but diversity remains
reduced. Both the SNOWY OWLS and the NORTHERN SHRIKE continue. The city's
resident PEREGRINE FALCONS continue to be seen downtown though are by no
means guaranteed. Kingston Mills produced a COMMON REDPOLL yesterday,
perhaps the first of the year.

Wolfe Island

SNOWY OWLS continue to dominate the news, though SNOW BUNTINGS, a single
LAPLANG LONGSPUR and AMERICAN KESTREL were seen last weekend.

Howe Island

WOODPECKERS continue to be seen and ferry services appear to have improved.
I have been advised that the following link has the most accurate
information on services: <https://twitter.com/HICountyFerry>

Amherst Island

SNOWY OWLS continue on Amherst, as well as a couple of 'northern' RED-TAILED
easier to find.

Other Sightings

East of the city, the long-staying RED-HEADED WOODPECKER and pair of
RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS continue at Gananoque Golf Club. RED-BELLIED
WOODPECKERS were also observed at Ivy Lea this week, where good numbers of
COMMON GOLDENEYE are to be seen, along with all three mergansers. A
RED-NECKED GREBE has delighted many on the Gananoque River at Marble Rock
Road and continues to date. Also seen in that general vicinity on Wednesday
were 8 RUSTY BLACKBIRD and a single BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD. North of the city,
TRUMPETER SWANS continue to be seen at several locations from Bedford Mills
to Chaffey's Locks and Lower Brewer's Mills Locks.

As always, thanks to all those who submitted sightings over the last week.