Friday, 4 November 2011

A Junior KFN's Thankyou for Summer Camp

For decades the Kingston Field Naturalists have run  Juniors and Teens programs.  In memory of George Stirrett, a founding member of KFN, a scholarship has been established to help fund a Junior KFN member's attendance at a summer camp where the emphasis is learning about natural history.  Recently the Queen's Univeristy Biology Station (QUBS) had set up summer camp sessions at their newly acquired property at Elbow Lake, just north of Kingston.  This year's scholarship award went to Sophie, here is her letter thanking KFN for the scholarship and describing her camp experience:

Dear Kingston Field Naturalists,

I wanted to thank you for giving me the Stirrett scholarship to attend  Eco Adventure Camp’!!!!  The camp is set up on a great lake with beautiful cabins and great scenery! I really enjoyed the camp and also enjoyed meeting new people. The counselors were really nice and caring. I really enjoyed all the games we played, as well as all the different biologists that came and taught us things about frogs, fly catching, and equipment used for measuring certain amounts of CO2. I even learned what poison ivy looked like!  I  really had fun at this camp, and I plan to go again next year! Thank you very much,
                        Sophie  (aged 12)

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Foxfire and Fairy Lights

Occasionally when one lives in a rural or wooded are one can come across some of the delightful and mysterious forms of nature.  In my case it was in the form of a block of firewood brought indoors.  The gray, cloudy, rainy low pressure system that has swirled overhead and plagued us for days brought some middle-of-the-night lightning and thunder, waking me out of my sound sleep.  Hoping to photograph some lightning I set up the camera by the livingroom window, but alas, it was "up in the clouds" lightning, no clear bolts, just a brightening of the billowing clouds.  I sat on the couch watching the occasional flash, and as my eyes grew accustomed to the darkness I noticed a strange pale green glow by the firewood box.  A bit of investigation showed the source to be a block of firewood, from one of the small dead trees that I had gathered the day before.  It had begun to rot, and the fungi in the decaying wood was creating bioluminescence.  A search on the internet tells me that this light is caused by a chemical reaction.  A substance called luciferin reacts with the enzyme luciferase.  The luciferin is caused to oxidate, creating the emission of light.  That's the short explanation, a google search of bioluminescence in decaying wood will turn  up several sources that will give the academic details, and historical notes of observations  that go all the way back to Roman times.

 Advice is also given on how to find it in the forest.  On a dark and cloudy night one can get the eyes adjusted to the dark and then look for the glow of decaying wood on the ground.  At this time of year when the temperatures are dropping and the conditions are wet, I feel lucky to have found it in the warmth and comfort of my livingroom.  Next summer I'll have to try looking for it when going out in the woods at night is more inviting.  I'm sure that being out in the woodlands, listening to owls, loons and crickets calling, maybe even the howl of a coyote in the background, it would be more fun  to think of finding the place where the fairies danced, leaving foxfire in their wake.

                                                                                                                    - posted by R. Burke




A long exposure shows the glow of bioluminescence in a block of decaying firewood.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Field Trip: Date correction

KFN members please note:  The field trip listed in the newsletter to Wolfe Island takes place on SATURDAY, October 1st, not Sunday.  Kurt's number is listed in the newsletter if you have any questions.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Giant Swallowtail caterpillars

Since 2006 there have been more and more sightings of Giant Swallowtail butterflies  (Papilio cresphontes) in our region, and now the caterpillars can be found on prickly ash, one of their favourite food sources.  September is the month to find mature caterpillars, fattening up before forming cocoon or chrysallis, or crawling into some crevice or shelter and overwintering as caterpillar.  The Giant Swallowtail caterpillar resembles a big bird dropping, helping to camouflage it from predators.  Another tactic to ward off predators is by popping out bright red tentacle-like osmeterium.  Caterpillars in the photos below were found north of Perth Road Village.



                                                                               Photos: Rose-Marie Burke

Kingston Area Birds to September 9, 2011

September welcomes back migrating birds from the north, and we welcome back members to the first general meeting of the season.  Our Speaker tonight is Mark Conboy, whose talk is entitled "The Sky is Green: a Brief Natural History of Guyana".

Sightings for the week (forgive us for being a bit late on the posting!) are in Peter Good's weekly report:

It has been a good week for fall migrants. Bald Eagles, both adults and immatures, appeared at four different locations this week. A Peregrine Falcon was on Amherst Island last Friday and Saturday. There has also been a good movement of warblers and vireos on a few of the days this week. Highlights included Philadelphia Vireos at Bedford Mills and Elginburg on the 4th and the 7th respectively, a Canada Warbler at Elginburg on the 3rd and 2 Connecticut Warblers, one out Montreal St. on the 3rd and the other at Elginburg on the 5th.
Incidental observations include a Chimney Swift on Queen St. on Wednesday, two Whip-poor-wills and a pair of Barred Owls calling at Bedford Mills, and a Great Horned Owl hooting near Camden East last night.
Shorebird sightings have been terrific. The Long-billed Dowitcher is still at the lagoons as was a Whimbrel last Thursday. There were two more Whimbel at the Kingston airport on Friday. The bar on Amherst has been very productive; last Friday a Hudsonian Godwit, a Willet, 2 Ruddy Turstones, a Red Knot and 8 Sanderling and then yesterday; a Stilt, a half dozen White-rumped along with a few Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers as well as 5 Short-billed Dowitchers , 7 Sanderling, a Black-bellied Plover, 3 Greater Yellowlegs and at least two dozen Semipalmated Plover.
Cheers,
Peter Good
Kingston Field Naturalists

Friday, 26 August 2011

Kingston Area Birds to August 26, 2011

A sure sign that summer is nearing its end is the return of Peter Good's postings to ont.birds.  Here is his latest report:

Shorebird  migration started locally with both yellowlegs reported on July 7th. Since then it has been steady but not spectacular. Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plover, Short-billed Dowitcher and Semipalmated Sandpiper have been seen on several occasions and there have been lots of Least Sandpipers and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. In the "less common" category were a Stilt Sandpiper at the lagoons on July 17th, a White-rumped, a Solitary and a Western Sandpiper in the Wilton Creek at Morven on July 21, 24, and 26 respectively and a Long-billed Dowitcher at the lagoons on August 12th. Local habitat is not particularly good this year; the lagoons are full restricting the few shorebirds to the very edge; the water level remains high behind the dike on the KFN property and the Wilton Creek has one of its bridges under construction.
There are lots of waterfowl, both on Amherst Island and at the lagoons. If one has the patience to sort through dozens of brown ducks some surprises are possible. There has been a pair of Ruddy Ducks at the lagoons at least since July 23rd. Lesser Scaup nested there again this year and over the summer Common Goldeneye, Ring-necked Duck, Greater Scaup and Redhead have been seen. A Tundra Swan has oversummered off the east end of Amherst Island.
The highlight of the summer was the discovery of nesting Great Egrets on Centre Brothers Island between Amherst Island and Amherstview. (This is a first for the Kingston area.) Since then Great Egrets have been seen in wetlands all around Kingston including the Lennox Generating Station, Simcoe and Amherst Islands and Glenburnie.
Unusual sightings include Common Terns (They are not common at this end of Lake Ontario.) off Amherst island on July 12th and in the Kingston Harbour on August 12th, a Least Bittern on Garden Island on August 9th and a Little Gull at the lagoons on August 22nd.
Landbird migration is picking up. There have been concentrations of Common Nighthawks in Kingston, Elginburg, Camden East and Gananoque. A few warblers have started the trek south with reports of Yellow, Blackburnian, Blue-winged, Chestnut-sided, Black and White, Black-throated Green as well as Am. Redstart and Ovenbird. An Olive-sided Flycatcher was on Garden Island on Tuesday.

Cheers,

Peter Good

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

What I Did with my Summer Vacation

Not blogging, obviously.  Like for most people in Ontario summer is filled with numerous distractions.  Our season of warmth and sunshine are far too short.  Many of us were, however, getting outdoors as much as possible to view nature, watching the season of nesting and rebirth flow through growing into the fullness of maturity.  Eggs hatch to chicks who fledge and fly the nest, flowers drop petals and fruits ripen, young animals grow and leave their mothers.  Plenty of things in our area to observe, so much of nature, so little time.  Yours truly was busy working throughout summer, not much time in between chores and responsibilities to play with the camera gear.  Nights, however, allowed a few hours here and there for long exposures of stars and storms.  So for this posting we shall just share a couple scenes with you.



Lightning from a passing storm on August 20, 2011.


















View of the night sky looking to the south on August 1, 2011.  Moonless nights in summer allow us to enjoy the sight of the Milky Way, and summer constellations such as Scorpio and Sagittarius, "the Teapot".






Photos:  Rose-Marie Burke

Thursday, 23 June 2011

KFN 2011 Bio Blitz

Anne Robertson has sent us a report of the KFN's 13th Annual Bio Blitz.  Details will be published in an upcoming issue of the KFN quarterly Blue Bill, which can be viewed online at the KFN website.

The Kingston Field Naturalists recently held their 13th Great Canadian BioBlitz at the Lost Bay Nature Reserve on Gananoque Lake a property belonging to Ontario Nature.  This was a public event and included guided walks along with listing species of all kinds.  The property has a variety of habitats including forests, wetlands and some open areas  It has rocky slopes, wet ravines, shoreline and ponds all contributing to the biodiversity of the area.

A BioBlitz is an attempt to list as many species as possible in 24 hours, to give a snapshot of all the plants and animals of the site.  They usually take place in June and serve as a good one day view of the living things in a particular area.  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.

The dubious weather prediction, the loss of power in the area and trees falling along the access road did not deter the enthusiastic crowd of members, professionals and friends who turned out for this event.  The weather was perfect: dry and around 20C, power was not necessary for this event recording nature at this site and we were grateful to locals who managed to clear the trees from the road before we arrived.

Sixty participants enjoyed a 24 hour listing of species of all kinds to get a baseline inventory of the property.  Everything from Mink to Cerulean Warbler, Grey Rat Snake and Map and Snapping turtles, a Pickeral Frog and a Grass Pike amongst the vertebrate species were recorded. Lots of invertebrates including an Arrowhead Spiketail dragonfly,  butterfly and various pond creatures scooped up by some Junior Naturalists
were added to the tally.    The plant lists provide the majority of species as trees, shrubs, vines, herbs including ferns were listed.  Butternut and fern were good finds. Some of those listed are species of concern or on the endangered species list.

Guided walks included discussion of plants, small mammals, early birds, reptiles, dragonflies, butterflies, pond dipping and night time creatures including owls and moths.

In total over 400 species were listed and a good time was had by all.  The final tally will depend on the final identification of those species photographed for professional confirmation.

The importance of the BioBlitz is in the long term value of knowing the Biodiversity of the site at a particular point in time.  Environmental changes including the effect of global warming or invasive species can be seen and monitored.  Reference to the report where there may be future threat of development whether for housing, roads, wind turbines or something else is useful. 

A full report and listing of species for the 2011 BioBlitz will appear in the September issue of the Kingston Field Naturalists quarterly magazine, the Blue Bill and on their web site at www.kingstonfieldnaturalists.org (Volume 58 # 3).

Friday, 17 June 2011

Dragonfly Report to June 16, 2011

Here is the latest odanate report from Carol Seymour, our "dragonfly lady":


After the deluge of rain and cloudy days of May both humans and dragonflies alike have come out of the shadows into the sun. The first continuous days of warmth and sunshine triggered the emergence of thousands of dragonflies in the Kingston area. The list of newly emerged species is extensive and some are quite interesting.

All four of the Baskettail species are now out, in fact the Beaverpond and Spiny are already beginning to decrease in numbers, though the Common and Pince Baskettail are out in prodigious numbers. And no, they do not carry baskets from their tails as the name might suggest. All of the females of the Baskettail dragonfly collect their eggs beneath their tails, as if in a basket, then when ready the eggs are dispersed onto the surface of a pond or wetland. Female Elfin Skimmers have been spotted in their black and yellow stripes hovering around flowers, looking much like bees - an excellent disguise to keep predators away, much needed when you are the smallest dragonfly in North American. Other species seen recently are: Chalk-fronted Corporals, Eastern Pondhawks, Sedge Sprites, Lancet Clubtails, Common Whitetails, Twelve-spotted Skimmers, Four-spotted Skimmers, Frosted Whiteface, Marsh Bluets, Boreal Bluets, Northern Bluets, Eastern Forktails, Fragile Forktails, Widow Skimmers, Arrowhead Spiketails (the ovipositor on the female of this species is in the shape of a spike, which is rammed many times into the sandy bottom of a pond or shallow creek to deposit her eggs). Also seen flying were Raqet-tailed Emeralds, Ebony Boghaunters, Belted Whiteface, Lilypad Clubtails, Blue Dashers, Dusky Clubtails, Calico Pennants, Halloween Pennants, Amber-winged Spreadwings, Emerald Spreadwings, Aurora Damsels, Taiga Bluets and Violet Dancers, and let us not forget the beautiful and recently observed in our area again, the Harlequin Darner, one of our earlier darners dressed in harlequin colours of green and yellow.   

                                                     Elfin Skimmer  Photo:  Bruce Ripley

                                           Harlequin Darner    Photo:  Murray Seymour

Monday, 13 June 2011

Butterfly Report 16 May to 5 June, 2011

In the last report I mentioned that it was hoped to see three rare Hairstreaks that have previously been sighted in the Kingston area. I am happy to report that the Gray Hairstreak has been seen a Frontenac Park, on the Cataraqui trail east of Perth Road village and at Menzel park just outside our area. Also the Juniper Hairstreak which was not seen last year within the 50 km radius of Kingston has been seen north of Odessa and at Parrots Bay Conservation area. The Early Hairstreak remains elusive though some were seen north of Ottawa.
      There have been reports of quite a number of new arrivals since the last update. They include Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, Question Mark, Meadow Fritillary, Monarch, Viceroy, Northern Cloudywing, American Copper, Common Ringlet and Little Wood Satyr. The Skippers have also started to be observed. To date the Hobomok, Arctic, Common Roadside and Indian Skippers have been reported.
      The other main news is the sudden and unexpected arrival of Giant Swallowtails. Several have been seen in the last few days all the way from Chaffeys Locks to Roblin but surprising not from Prince Edward Point, the only location where they were observed last year.  

John Poland 

                                               Juniper Hairstreak
Photo:  John Poland

Kingston Area Birds to June 10, 2011

Most local birders quit chasing migrants last weekend so we have to be content with Breeding Bird Surveys and observing those birds that want to hang around for the summer. Some of these include another Prairie Warbler north of Sydenham at the Helen Quilliam Sanctuary, seen last Friday, Alder and Willow Flycatchers on Amherst Island and in the Newburgh area, Upland Sandpipers on Wolfe, Amherst and Simcoe Islands as well as in the Loggerhead Shrike areas northeast of Napanee. Simcoe Island also had 10 N. Harriers on Wednesday.
The last of the shorebirds moving north included a Greater Yellowlegs, 6 Dunlin, 10 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 2 Black-bellied and 2 Semipalmated Plovers on Amherst last Sunday, another Greater Yellowlegs on Simcoe on Wednesday and a White-rumped Sandpiper south of Napanee yesterday. Also on Amherst, 3 Brant and 2 Common Goldeneye lingered at least until Sunday.
"Good birds" for the week were a N. Mockingbird on Amherst, a Sandhill Crane flying over the Florida Road; both reported on Sunday and a Marbled Godwit and a one-day-wonder Say's Phoebe on Amherst Island last Friday.
The Kingston Field Naturalists are doing their annual Bioblitz at the Lost Bay Nature Reserve northeast of Gananoque today and tomorrow. For details see the KFN website.
This will conclude my regular reports from Kingston until the fall (actually mid-summer) migration starts.

Peter Good

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Kingston Area Birds to June 2, 2011

With most passerine migrants already gone and the shorebird migration on the wane, there were still some good birds locally this week. High water levels have reduced habitat at the usual spots but flooded fields have been a bonus. Near Amherstview there were 3 Whimbrel, 5 Red Knots and a Hudsonian Godwit among others on Saturday; the next day 30 Black-bellied Plovers and a Ruddy Turnstone and on Tuesday another 19 Black-bellied Plovers. On the KFN property on Amherst Island today there were 4 Black-bellied Plovers, about 30 Dunlin and 50 Semipalmated Sandpipers.
Two small flocks of Brant were seen on Wednesday east of Amherst Island and two more individuals grazed with Canadaa Geese on Amherst this afternoon. A lone male Common Goldeneye seemed out of place off the east end of Amherst today.
The latest mention of warblers had a Wilson's at Elginburg on Tuesday and a Hooded in the city on Wednesday. There was an Olive-sided Flycatcher on Tuesday and a Broad-winged Hawk on Thursday; both seen near Elginburg.

Peter Good

Friday, 27 May 2011

May Dinner Meeting

The KFN May Dinner Meeting is something we all look forward to, good food, good speaker, good books to be had in the Silent Auction.  Our Speaker this year was Terrence Dickinson, our local famous astronomer, author of several books including the popular astronomy guide Night Watch, a man whose pleasant demeaner and sense of humour draws a crowd, in this case to a sold out crowd of 104 plus 2 KFN members who came after the dinner just to hear his presentation.  He spoke about the mind-boggling numbers of stars in our known area of the universe, and the incredible distances between stars and galaxies.  He also spoke of a concern both to astronomers and environmentalists:  light pollution, and how the ever-expanding population centers make it more and more difficult to enjoy the view of nature above.  Fortunately we still have places within our area where we can see dark skies and marvel at the stars and Milky Way.  Mr. Dickinson  certainly inspires people  to get outside and look up at the evening sky. 

==============================================

Currently in the night sky:

The planet Saturn is putting on a show, its current position being opposite to the sun from planet Earth makes this favourite ringed planet bright in the evening sky.  Look towards the SSW and find Corvus, a quad-shaped constellation low on the horizon, with Spica a bright star in the constellation Virgo above and a few degrees to the left.  Go up from Corvus to the bright "star" above to see Saturn.  The photograph below was taken on May 23rd at 11:18 p.m., Saturn will move through the sky more westerly until June 14th when it reaches its turning point and heads back east in a slightly lower position.  Those of you fortunate to get one of the copies of the current issue of Sky News magazine that Mr. Dickinson handed out, look to pages 28 and 29.  There is  also information posted to the Sky News website at http://www.skynews.ca/ .  Now, if we can just get all this  rainy weather to move off so we can enjoy a bit of astronomy!



Photo taken with Canon 350D digital slr, 18-55 mm lens set at 21mm, camera set on barndoor tracker, IS0 400 at f 4.0, exposure time 215 seconds.

Photo and posting:  Rose-Marie Burke


Kingston Area Birds to May 27, 2011

The Brant migration has been in full swing this week. One hundred flew over Amherstview last Sunday, two flocks were near Bath and over 200 were on Amherst on Wednesday and a mere 5 remained on Amherst yesterday. Great Egrets have been regular on Amherst all week as have Black-crowned Night-Herons. Great Egrets have also been seen in Bell's Swamp out Division Street and in Collin's Bay. Sandhill Cranes were reported from both Crosby and Elginburg on Wednesday.
Small bird migration is on the wane but 2 Blue-winged Warblers on Amherst on Wednesday were noteworthy. The Prairie Warbler on the Canoe Lake Road could not be refound yesterday. On Monday the Chimney Swift roosts on Westdale Avenue and at Queen's were checked and had 60 and 40 birds respectively.
Shorebird numbers and variety have improved significantly. The KFN property on Amherst had 3 Red Knots, 4 Ruddy Turnstones, 3 Upland Sandpipers and 5 Short-billed Dowitchers on Wednesday and yesterday the knots had moved on but 2 Black-bellied and 2 Semipalmated Plovers, a White-rumped, 150 Semipalmated and 5 Least Sandpipers, and 1000 Dunlin were added to the tally. A Wilson's Phalarope at the Camden Lake Wildlife Area last Saturday was certainly unexpected.
Unusual sightings included a late Rough-legged Hawk on Amherst on Wednesday, a Snow Goose near Perth Road Village and a Great Cormorant on the Amherst Ferry crossing last Saturday.
Cheers,
Peter Good

More on the Snow Goose from Rose-Marie:

I first noticed the goose on our lakeshore by our boats here on our property north of Perth Road Village after supper when I was wandering around with the camera hoping for some sunset clouds over the lake.  It allowed me to approach within about 50 feet before stepping into the water and swimming along the shore.  Having only a short lens and light conditions being very poor before sunset, I only got some poor shots, just good enough for identification.  The goose was there again the next morning, and I got much better photos of it.  As seen in the shot below the right wing is hanging down a little bit, our concern was that it was injured.  Sometimes the best thing to do in these cases is just leave it alone and keep an eye on it.  The goose seemed otherwise strong and healthy, was eating and swimming, and now and then  stretched and flapped the wings vigorously.  We figured it just needed a little quiet rest to recouperate from whatever was ailing it and keeping it from its journey north.  It hung around for a couple of days, seemed content, and then on Thursday it had disappeared.  Hopefully it has gone on about the normal business of being a wild goose.


          
                                                        Photo: Rose-Marie Burke

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Kingston Area Birds to May 20, 2011

Peter Good's weekly bird summary:

Warblers, vireos and sparrows continue to move through in good numbers. The weather has not been conducive to birding or any other outdoor activity so reporting has been somewhat reduced this week. There were 4 Blackpoll Warblers at PEPt last Friday (sometimes a sign that warbler migration is on the wane) and a Canada at the start of the Rideau Trail the day before. Our second Prairie Warbler of the season was found along the Canoe Lake Road and was seen both Saturday and Monday.
A female Brewer's Blackbird was on Wolfe Island for a few days at the beginning of the week, a N. Mockingbird was seen on the River Road southwest of Napanee on Sunday and a Black-billed Cuckoo was at Lemoine Point on Monday.
After a flurry of Brant sightings last week only one was seen this week; on Monday at Dupont. Twenty Black Terns on Wolfe Island were tallied on a survey of Big Sandy Bay last Tuesday and 3 Black-crowned Night-Herons were on the penitentiary property on Wednesday.
Shorebird numbers are improving but nothing unusual as yet. A Pectoral Sandpiper and a lone Dunlin were on Amherst Island and 40 Least Sandpipers were at the Kaiser X-road last Friday. There was another Least on Amherst, 16 Dunlin on Salmon Island  and a Short-billed Dowitcher in Cape Vincent across the river in New York State on Monday.
The KFN does their annual spring round-up this Saturday and Sunday so we are all hoping for good weather and good birds.
Cheers,
Peter Good

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

KFN Amherst Island Sanctuary

Paul Mackenzie sends us photos taken on April 27, 2011 when a work crew of KFN members got the cattle watering troughs ready for the season.

The KFN owns about 200 acres at the southeast end of Amherst Island.  In order to maintain grassland  for birds that require grassland habitat, the fields are rented to a drover who pastures 85 head of cattle for the summer.  A solar system has been set up to provide water for the cattle.  Erwin Batalla, head of the Nature Reserves Committee, along with help from Bud Rowe, Hugh Evans, George Vance, Peter Good,  and Hugh Evans worked to get the troughs cleaned and the system running.






Meanwhile, at the other end of the property, migrating waterfowl were flying over the gravel bar, and a mute swan took advantage of the pond.






Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Birds in East Kingston

Kevin Bleeks sends us a report of birds recently sighted in East Kingston:

A few birds observed within the past week in the east
part of the city around Hwy # 15 and the Gore Road.
 
-2  Gray Catbirds
- numerous Yellow warblers
- one Black & White warbler
- 2 sightings of an Eastern Towhee
- 2 white crowned sparrows
-Carolina Wren
- Pileated Woodpeckers are nesting   on Gore Road.  Lots
  of activity at the site that is next to the road.
 
 
Also last Thursday at Lemoine Point
- 4 Baltimore Orioles
- 2 Rose Breasted Grosbeaks

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Butterfly Report 1 May to 15 May 2011

John Poland sends us an updated butterfly report:


                                   Brown Elfin                Photo: John Hall    

The first half of May is the time to see Whites and Elfins. All four Elfins on the KFN list have now been sighted at various locations mostly on the Canadian shield. The highlight was finding the rare Brown Elfin both at the Second Depot Lakes Conservation area and at Menzel Centennial Provincial Park. The four white butterflies on the KFN list are now also present. These include the West Virginia White and the Olympia Marble which we are lucky to have in our area. Of these eight butterflies only the Eastern Pine Elfin, the Mustard White and Cabbage White will not be around for much longer so get looking.
There have been reports of quite a number of new arrivals since the last update. They include Clouded Sulphur, Juvenals Duskywing, Columbine Duskywing, Black Swallowtail, Red Admiral and Northern Crescent and most recently the Eastern Tailed Blue and Silvery Blue. The other highlight to report is the return of the Chryxus Arctic to Rock Dunder. These Arctics were re-discovered last year and I am happy to report that they are back in good numbers.  
The three rare butterflies that I will be looking for in the last two weeks of May are all Hairstreaks. They are the Gray (four were sighted last year but they often go unreported), the Juniper (only one sighted at Menzel last year but quite a number seen in our area in 2008 and 2009) and the Early (last reported in our area at Helen Quilliam Sanctuary in 1979 but are likely present high in beech trees).

John Poland


                                      Chryxus Arctic     Photo: Murray Seymour

Midges

It's that time of year again, when midges appear, along with other insects.  Murray Seymour sends us a report and photos of midges:

If you have been cycling or running or even just walking along close to Lake Ontario in the last little while, you're probably familiar with these little fellas. Quite possibly intimately familiar – nothing like one of these up the nose to get your attention. They are Midges. But say Midge to a taxonomist and you'll probably receive a blank stare. That's not really telling them something useful. The one shown here with the feathery antennae is probably a male of the genus Orthocladius. There are at least 29 species of that genus in North America. The other one could also be of that genus, or it could be a member of Chironomus – 25 species. I'm not sure how many genera of Midges there are, but there are quite a few. Identifying which is what is a task for specialists with microscopes, time and patience. I came across one comment stating that to really identify a certain species it would be necessary to immerse a specimen in a borax solution until all the soft bits were gone and then look for the genitalia.

What is really important to know is that they only swarm in the spring and THEY DO NOT BITE.

Unlike black flies.

But that's a whole other story.

                                                                      Orthocladius
                                                                    

                                                     Chironominae  sub Orthoclodinae

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Opinicon Road Area Birding

Mark Conboy gives an update on recent birding at the Opinicon Rd./Chaffey's Lock area:

Everyone,

Some have been asking for an update on birding conditions along
Opinicon Road in Eastern Ontario, so here it is:

Though migration was fairly slow this spring all of the most sought
after species have returned to Opinicon Road at this time. I counted
15 cerulean and 3 golden-winged warblers between the Lindsay Lake Road
(trail) to the Skycroft Campground. Other warblers present in the area
include yellow, chestnut-sided, blackburnian, magnolia, black-throated
blue, yellow-rumped, prairie (only 1, on May 9), palm, pine,
black-throated green, black-and-white, Canada and Nashville warblers,
along with American redstart, northern parula, northern waterthrush,
ovenbird and common yellowthroat.

A blue-winged warbler was foraging and singing in the shrubs along the
creek just south of Crosby on Highway 15 (about 1 km north of where
Opinicon/Chaffey's Lock Road (the name changes part way along the
road) meets Highway 15). A white-phase snow goose was there too.

Other birds of interest: yellow- and black-billed cuckoos (still low
numbers), 2 red-bellied woodpeckers (on May 13; 1 on Lindsay Lake Road
and 1 near the Skycroft Campground), peregrine falcon (1), bald eagle
(1), American bitterns, Virginia rails, sora (1),  blue-gray
gnatcatchers and yellow-throated vireos (and 3 other vireo spp). My
field assistants and I saw a tufted titmouse back on May 5 at the
Queen's University Biological Station. Unfortunately it has not been
relocated, but keep your eyes and ears peeled - it's an unusual bird
around here. Pretty well all of the expected migrants have returned
with only the latest-arriving species left to make an appearance.

Finally, recent counts of eastern whip-poor-wills along Opinicon Road,
Massassauga Road and the Cataraqui Trail have provided estimates of
about 50 singing males within earshot of the roads/trail - not too bad
for a threatened species. If you come whip-poor-willing you'll also
hear lots of American woodcocks, common snipes, barred owls and an
occasional great horned owl.

Directions to Opinicon Road: From Kingston: Go north on Division
Street/Perth Road/County Road 10 to just past Perth Road Village. Turn
east (right) on Opinicon Road. From Ottawa: Go west on Highway 417 to
Highway 7. At Carleton Place turn south (left) on Highway 15. Follow
Highway 15 for about 60 km through Smith's Falls and all the way to
Chaffey's Lock Road (name changes to Opinicon Road west of Chaffey's
Lock). The best birding is between Chaffey's Lock and Perth Road.
Queen's University Biological Station (main operations centre;
emergency address 280) is located at the end of Queen's University
Road, 2 km west of Chaffey's Lock.

Note: Visitors are welcome at Queen's Univsersity Biological Station
throughout the year. Please avoid distrubing ongoing avain
research projects by staying on the trails and not using playback. If
you have questions about research at QUBS you can contact Mark Andrew
Conboy by email (mconboy@lakeheadu.ca).

Mark

Friday, 13 May 2011

Kingston Area Birds to May 13, 2011

Here is Peter Good's weekly summary of birds for the Kingston area to May 13th:

With so many new arrivals I'll concentrate on the early and the unusual. At PEPt there have been up to 6 Harlequin Ducks and on May 7th an impressive 85 Surf Scoters. The Brant migration is in full swing with several hundred seen this week off the east end of Amherst Island and north of the city. Green Herons were seen in three locations and our third sighting this spring of a Sandhill Crane was near Crosby a week ago yesterday. A Great Egret (13A on red wing-tags) was seen on Amherst Island on Monday. This bird was tagged near Collingwood last June. The only new additions to the shorebird list were a Solitary Sandpiper at PEPt on May 7th and 5 Least Sandpipers on Amherst on Tuesday.
There was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo on the Opinicon Road yesterday, a Red-headed Woodpecker on Amherst May 3rd and 4th and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher at PEPt on the 7th. So far, seven pairs of Loggerhead Shrikes have returned to the Newburgh area northeast of Napanee.
Warbler and vireo numbers and variety have been good at such diverse locations as the Rideau trail, the Opinicon Road, Lemoine Point, Charleston Lake, Amherst Island and Prince Edward Point. Highlights included a Prairie at Charleston Lake P.P. on the 5th and a Yellow-throated Warbler at PEPt on the7th. An early Blackpoll was north of Millhaven last Friday.
Noteworthy sparrows were a Lincoln's on the Opinicon Road and 3 Grasshopper near Napanee, all reported yesterday. The last local Dark-eyed Juncos and Pine Siskins were seen on May 6th and 7th respectively.

Peter Good

                            -----------------------------------

While on the subject, I will just tack on a couple sightings of my own:  I had 2 white-crowned sparrows hopping across my lawn north of Perth Road Village this morning.  2 whipporwills are calling nightly.  Our local heronry has about 6 active nests, and the chicks have hatched out.  
  - Rose-Marie

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Field Trip Report: Prince Edward Point, May 7, 2011

Prince Edward Point is a favourite destination for birders, especially during migration.  Paul Mackenzie led a field trip to the area on Saturday, May 7th, and sends us this report:

Trip Report                                         Prince Edward Point       May 7, 2011                        

It was a 6.00 am departure for the 6.45 Glenora ferry for about 13 people sharing 5 vehicles. Although KFN bird trips are traditionally held on Sundays, May 7 was a trial on a Saturday. Some people like Saturdays and others are freer on Sundays.
We set out all hopeful given that the weather was finally sunny after a cool rainy week during which May migrants were scarce. We stopped to observe Purple Martins at a nest box and a colony of Cliff Swallows under the eaves of a shed. On Babylon Road, the Upland Sandpipers were heard only and no Grasshopper or Clay-colored Sparrows were found. Quite a cool west breeze was blowing and there was little evidence of a “fallout” of migrants as we drove toward the Point. Hope fell temporarily.
We sped to the Point to try for the Harlequin Ducks which had been seen intermittently the past week. Our mood improved greatly when we had excellent views of 2 pair close to shore near the banding station, along with Long-tailed Ducks, and Red-breasted Mergansers. Observatory manager David O’Kines reported that many new birds had arrived in Point Traverse Woods. The trails had many other birders, and all were delighted to find a variety of colorful spring birds. We soon had Yellow, Cerulean, Cape May, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, and Black & White Warblers. Above us were Northern Parula, and several Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and Baltimore Orioles. Great Crested Flycatcher and Red-bellied Woodpecker flew past. We were told about two coveted species we did not locate: Red-headed Woodpecker and Yellow-throated Warbler. But we did find all three species of Scoter offshore.
Additional species were added all morning. We had an early lunch near the banding station and walked past the new gate toward the lighthouse and back to the banding station.  New birds included Blue-headed Vireo, Palm Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and White-crowned Sparrow. Whoever screamed ice cream caused a stop at the Black River Cheese Shop.  
A total of over 90 species was recorded and Prince Edward Point lived up to its reputation of a rewarding place to bird.

                                Photos by Paul Mackenzie and Kurt Hennige

                                                    Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

Harlequin Ducks

                                       
                                                               Cape May Warbler
                                            
                                                  Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Ode Hunters Awake! They're Coming Back.

Carol Seymour sends us this report on dragonflies:

Following the first arrivals of the far-wandering Common Green Darners, things have been quiet for a couple of weeks. But now our own Canadian odes are beginning to hatch – strong and free. North of town, both east and west, Beaverpond Baskettails, American Emeralds and Hudsonion Whitefaces have begun to emerge. At first a few sporadic sightings were made, but a couple of days ago near the eastern edge of Frontenac Park, we were met by waves of Baskettails and Emeralds – all teneral (newly hatched.) Kurt Henige reports seeing Dusky Clubtails and Eastern Pondhawks taking flight. Can't wait to see what's next!

                                              Hudsonian Whiteface


Photo:  Murray Seymour

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Big Day April 11, 2011

We have some enthusiastic birders in our club, often heading out to spend the day finding and recording species.  Erwin Batalla sends us this report of a group effort, along with a photo from Paul Mackenzie:

On Thursday 28 April, Paul Mackenzie, Bruce Ripley and Erwin Batalla attempted to break the ABA (American Birding Association) Big Day record for April in Ontario (111 species set by another group from the KFN in 2009).
We left Amherstview at 5 AM and headed west. There was a little bit of wind and the Eastern Screech Owl did not respond at a marsh north of Bath. We caught the 6:15 ferry at Adolphustown and were quickly off towards Prince Edward Point, trying to outrun the bad weather.
There were several squalls and we were pelted by rain early on. This made it very difficult to see or hear the birds. We occasionally saw little flocks darting through but could only positively identify a few of the passerines. We still managed to find Nashville, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green, Pine, Palm and Black-and-white Warblers as well as Northern Parula. When we reached the Point, the wind was really howling and our walk to the lighthouse was not very productive but we added House Wren, Least Flycatcher and Veery to our list. We searched for the Harlequin Ducks that had been seen but could not locate them.
We retraced our steps and went past Waupoos to the Kaiser Crossroad. There were a few species of ducks and shorebirds at that location. By this time, the gale was such that scopes placed at knee high in the lee of the car still shook a lot. Taking the ferry towards Kingston, we birded at Hay Bay where we puzzled over two small terns, along Wilton Creek, at the Amherstview Sewage Lagoons and at Lost Lake where we saw a Common Yellowthroat.
Despite our very respectable nine species of warblers, we could see that the strong winds would not allow us any chance at breaking the existing record so we headed home after 4 PM. We had totaled 98 species on a day on which fallen and uprooted trees were more numerous than raptors.

Erwin Batalla

                                                                    Northern Parula


                                                 Photo:  Paul Mackenzie

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Humble and Regal Bumblebee

I don't see why birds, butterflies and dragonflies should get all the press; there are a host of other animalia popping up at this time of year. For instance, the common old bumble bee you might have been lucky enough to see in the past week or so has spent the whole winter all alone in an abandoned mouse hole or some similar protected spot. She is now faced with the daunting task of starting a whole new nest all by herself. At this time she desperately needs to find pollen from the few spring flowers available, both as food for herself and for her young. She was inseminated during a mating flight late last summer or early fall, found a safe spot to winter and is now ready to lay her fertilized eggs. (Many don't make it through the winter's cold.) When she has collected enough pollen, she will roll it into a ball and lay her eggs in the middle. She will also scrape wax from the underside of her abdomen to make a little cup just in front of the pollen ball. This she will fill with nectar. She will then place her body in the groove she left in the top of the pollen ball and raise her body heat to incubate her eggs. While incubating, she will sip from the cup of nectar to provide the energy she needs. When the young hatch, they can eat their way out of the ball. These will provide the first workers for the new nest. Before they are even mature, the queen will have started another batch. Towards the end of the summer, the nest will be producing both males and females, and the cycle repeats. And life goes on.

A little show of respect to any queen you might come across is definitely in order.

Murray Seymour


                                           Two-Spotted Bumblebee  Bombus bimaculatus


                                                Photo:  Murray Seymour

Dragons and Damsels Update

Not only the birders and butterfliers have been busy this weekend, the Seymours have been out and about taking advantage of the nice weather.  Carol Seymour sends this report and photo:

Dragons and Damsels Update

As usual, the first returnees from the long migration up the eastern seaboard are the Common Green Darners. We saw nine on Saturday on a couple of the CUBE trails and there have been reports of others from all over the Kingston 50km area. While walking beside a pond, we saw a pair wheeling (mating) which means in a little while there'll be lots of Canadian Darners in the air. For those not familiar with these insects, the Common Greens are the big green odonates  reminiscent of military helicopters that remain with us all season long. Like most dragons, they will try to eat anything that doesn't eat them first. Fortunately, they are completely harmless to humans, even little ones.


Carol Seymour

Butterfly Report January 1, 2011 to April 30, 2011

John Poland has become keen on observing and recording species of butterflies in the Kingston area, and has even put together a "Pictorial Pocket Guide to the Butterflies of the Kingston Region".  The KFN is keeping records of butterflies and dragonflies along with the copious records of birds.  John sends this report of butterfly sightings since the first of the year:

Butterfly Report  1 January to 30 April 2011

The first butterflies that  were reported this year were seen on the trails at Skycroft by the Opinicon Road on 12 April. These were the Eastern and Grey Commas, Compton’s Tortoiseshell and Mourning Cloak which are all overwintering species. These four butterflies have been seen since at several locations especially in woodland on the shield but also in Kingston.  The first non wintering adult butterfly to be seen was a Cabbage White on 23 April. During the last week several new species have been seen but only the Spring Azure has been seen in any numbers. New butterflies that have been reported from the Cataraqui Trail off the Perth Road, trails along the Opinicon Road and the Helen Quilliam Sanctuary are Mustard White, West Virginia White, Olympia Marble, Eastern Pine Elfin, Henry’s Elfin, American Lady and Spring Azure.

John Poland

                                           Olympia Marble


                                                       Photo: R. Burke

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Cerulean Wabler, Opinicon Road: Request for Information

This note copied off the birding list from Mark Conboy:

The first cerulean warbler of 2011 has returned to Opinicon Road. I
found it singing infrequently on the north side of the road 100 m east
of the Skycroft Campground sign.

Request for information on Opinicon Road's cerulean warblers: There
are 100-106 pairs of cerulean warblers breeding on the lands owned by
the Queen's University Biological Station. Most are concentrated in
1,250 ha along Opinicon Road. Last year Paul Martin, Liz Purves and I
colour banded about 85 males. Banding was part of a longterm
monitoring programme, part of which hopes to determine return rates of
banded birds. We'd appreciate reports of banded male (and female)
cerulean warblers from Opinicon Road and its environs. If you would
like to submit a sighting you can simply email me privately
(mconboy@lakeheadu.ca). The only information I need form you is the
band combination (each bird has 4 bands, 1 of which is always a
standard silver CWS band and 3 plastic colour bands; each band
combination is unique, no two ceruleans at QUBS wear the same
combination) and a general location (i.e. near Skycroft Campground or
6 km from Perth Road, etc). Colour band combinations are usually
reported as "top left/bottom left - top right/bottom right". For
example today's cerulean warbler was wearing the colours white/white -
white/silver. Please don't feel obligated to submit your sightings,
but I'd welcome them from anyone who is interested in doing so. Thank
you.

Other recent migrants along Opinicon Road: scarlet tanager, common
yellowthroat, blue-winged teal, brown thrasher, grey catbird. The
orchard oriole originally found on 27th was present at Queen's
University Biological Station again on the 28th but hasn't been seen
since.

Directions to Opinicon Road: From Kingston: Go north on Division
Street/Perth Road/County Road 10 to just past Perth Road Village. Turn
east (right) on Opinicon Road. From Ottawa: Go west on Highway 417 to
Highway 7. At Carleton Place turn south (left) on Highway 15. Follow
Highway 15 for about 60 km through Smith's Falls and all the way to
Chaffey's Lock Road (name changes to Opinicon Road west of Chaffey's
Lock). The best birding is between Chaffey's Lock and Perth Road.
Queen's University Biological Station (main operations centre;
emergency address 280) is located at the end of Queen's University
Road, 2 km west of Chaffey's Lock.

Mark

                                                                            Posted by R. Burke

Friday, 29 April 2011

Nature Workshops at QUBS

Once again Queen's University Biology Station is setting up some natural history workshops for the summer and fall.  These provide a great opportunity for anyone wanting to learn more about natural history in our area.  Mark Conboy sends out this information:

This summer and autumn Queen's University Biology Station is offering
a number of workshops on natural history. Presently we have four
workshops booked: Wetland Ecology, Forest Ecology, Fabulous Fall Fungi
and Art in Nature. We have a few other possible offerings that we're
hoping to add to the above list. These workshops are guided by
experienced naturalists (or artists in the case of the art workshop)
and are suitable for beginners and experts alike. All the details can
be found on our website:

http://post.queensu.ca/~qubs/QUBS_Outreach/Workshops.html

For additional information you can email:

qubsoutreach@gmail.com

Mark

                                                                                              Posted by R. Burke

Birding report April 22 - 29, 2011

Peter's weekly roundup of sightings in the Kingston area:

The area was well covered this week and migrants are arriving in good numbers and variety. On Amherst Island on Wednesday there were several Spotted Sandpipers, half a dozen Greater Yellowlegs and 5 Wilson's Phalarope on the KFN property. In the Owl Woods, a good selection of warblers; Nashville, Black and White, N. Parula, Pine, Palm, Yellow and Black-throated Green. The Opinicon and Canoe Lake Roads were also visited and added Ovenbird, both waterthrushes and Common Yellowthroat to the list. Also in this area north of the city were a Solitary Sandpiper, E. Kingbirds, Great Crested Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo and Wood Thrush. Chimney Swifts arrived at Queen's and RMC on Wednesday.
Other migrants included lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, several Rough-winged Swallows, E. Bluebirds, Brown Thrashers and Field Sparrows as well as Surf Scoter, Cliff Swallow, Least Flycatcher, House Wren, Veery and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. A Virginia Rail was at Buck Lake and another Great Egret was at Lemoine Point a week ago. A Whip-poor-will arrived at Bedford Mills yesterday as did a White-crowned Sparrow at Camden East.
The Loggerhead Shrike surveying north and east of Napanee has so far found seven birds and also a dozen Upland Sandpipers.
Raptors were well represented this week; there are numerous Broad-winged and Red-shouldered Hawks north of the city, a Merlin was on Amherst and the last (?) Rough-legged Hawk was seen there on Tuesday.
In the unexpected department, there was a flock of 200 waxwings near Elginburg on Tuesday and many were Bohemians. A Lincoln's Sparrow on the Opinicon Road on Wednesday was really early and an Orchard Oriole in the same vicinity was totally out-of-the-ordinary.
Cheers,
Peter Good
I'll just tack on a note that almost every day this past week I've seen a couple of juncos hopping through my backyard in Glenburnie.

                                                                                               Posted by R. Burke

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Migration is heating up!

More and more reports of warblers are coming in, along with other summer species.  Mark Conboy posts this report to  the  Ontario birding list:

"Migration has been slow along Opinicon Road this spring. But this
morning has been the best one so far. Philina English and I had the
following highlights this morning:

1 orchard oriole (early and a rare species on Opinicon Road) - Queen's
University Biological Station

1 Lincoln's sparrow (early) - Opinicon Road near Rock Lake Road

warblers: northern waterthrush, black-throated green warbler,
black-and-white warbler, ovenbird, pine warbler and yellow-rumped
warbler - along Opinicon Road

I'll post more updates on warblers and other birds as migration progresses."

Mark joins us on the Executive this year as a Member at Large, we look forward to more of his reports.
Now, if we could just get some drier weather to get out and about and enjoy the birding.  The cloudy weather doesn't bode well for things astronomy-wise.  Coming up this week is a rare gathering of 4 planets close together in the dawn sky, along with the new crescent moon.  Venus, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars will be in the same area on the eastern horizon just before the sun comes up on the morning of April 30th, with the crescent moon joing them on May 1st.  Currently the weather forecast says sunshine for Saturday, but clouding over again afterward.  At least if we can't see our own sky show, Terence Dickinson will be sure to have some good slides of the night sky during his presentation, he will be our Speaker for the May Dinner Meeting this year. 

                                                                                                Posting:  R. Burke

Monday, 25 April 2011

Spring Blooms

Spring is getting underway, more blooming wildflowers are making their appearance.  North of Perth Road Village I found hepaticas, bloodroot, spring beauties, and Dutchman's breeches in bloom.  The trilliums had popped out of the ground and were beginning to unfurl, most of them still had buds tightly closed and their leaves wrapped round them like a young gal wearing a cloak in chilly weather from some gothic novel.   One early meadow rue looked anxious to start the season, one big glob of unopened leaves and buds on a thick stem pushing upwards towards the sun.  

A sighting I'll share:  as we drove north on Hwy 10 yesterday around 12:30 p.m. a fisher crossed the road between Glenburnie and Inverary.  It  raced to an island of rock and trees in a field, and then stood upright on hind legs and watched the passing traffic.  Unfortunately one can only get a brief good look while  driving in holiday traffic. 

         

  


Bloodroots in bloom.     










                             


Hepaticas.  Leaves were not apparent, so was not determined whether these were sharp- or round-lobed type.  Colour of blooms on hepaticas scattered over this hillside ranged from white through varying pinks and blues to dark purply-blue.





                                               Photos and posting by R. Burke

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Black Ratsnakes

Chris Robinson, Park Naturalist and Education Coordinator at Charleston Provincial Park, treated us to his talk at the April General Meeting entitled "The Constricted Constrictor:  The Life of the Black Ratsnake". Chris told us many things about the black ratsnakes, and gave us a few pointers on their identification, and how to distinguish it from similar species such as the northern watersnake.  Black ratsnakes are the longest snakes in Ontario, and are generally slim in comparison with their overall length.  They can grow to be 4 to 5  feet long, some earlier records have shown even larger specimens, but black ratsnakes over 6 feet long would be very rare.  These snakes can live to be 20 or 30 years old, and do not reach maturity until about age 9.  Black ratsnakes have a body shape on the cross-section  that can be described as being like a bread basket, flat on the bottom then coming up to a dome on top.  Northern watersnakes, the snake most commonly confused with black ratsnakes, grow to about 3  or 4 feet long, are thicker in the middle, and have a cross-section shape of  being oval.  One feature that Chris told us to look for in comparison is on the head, the watersnakes generally have a groove underneath the eye.




The colour of snakes cannot always be relied upon, there are some very dark watersnakes, and the skin colour can vary depending on whether a snake has recently shed its skin.  Young snakes can also be difficult to differentiate. 

Black ratsnakes are currently listed under threatened status in Ontario.  Habitat loss, traffic danger, and human persecution have diminished their numbers. The range of these snakes is now limited in Ontario to the Frontenac Axis and to a few fragmented areas along the north shore of Lake Erie.  It is unfortunate that these snakes don't receive more respect, they are harmless and beneficial, as they eat rodents such as mice.    Chris handed out some copies of the booklet "The Black Rat Snake/A Landowner's Guide to Helping It Recover".  This information can be downloaded online at
Hibernacula can be difficult to find, and due the nature of places where these snakes overwinter (rock piles, under snaggly tree roots) these places are  even more difficult to examine.  Several snakes can gather together in these hibernation shelters, and in the company of other species of snakes as well.  These are places especially important for preservation. 

This is only a short account about black ratsnakes, we would encourage people to find out more about this interesting species.  A google search will provide many more details on nesting, habitats, etc., and there are many field guides and reptile books available containing good information about Ontario snakes.
                                                                                          Posting and Photos:  R. Burke

Friday, 22 April 2011

Weekly Bird Report

Here is Peter Good's weekly bird summary for the week of April 15th through 21st.

There was not much chance of being overwhelmed by migrants this week. Those that did arrive trickled in to give us a decent variety but the dam will surely break with the first warm day. There were 2 Great Egrets in the marsh east of Westbrook last Friday and a Sandhill Crane was at Elginburg yesterday. Little Gulls have been found amongst flocks of Bonaparte's; 2 at Sandhurst on the 17th and another on Amherst Island on the 18th. That same day on Amherst there was a Ruddy Duck and a Black Tern.
Two Red-shouldered Hawk surveys have been completed north of the city. The first, along the Opinicon Road last Friday, tallied 26 and the second on the Canoe Lake Road on Tuesday, counted 23. Other raptors of note included a Broad-winged Hawk near Verona on the 15th, a Cooper's Hawk and a Merlin at Bedford Mills on the 17th and a pair of Peregrine Falcons over Queen's yesterday.
Passerines moving through included Winter Wrens, Brown Creepers, both kinglets, Hermit Thrush, Brown Thrasher, E. Towhee, Purple Finch and Fox, Field, White-throated and Swamp Sparrows. A White-Crowned Sparrow was near Bellrock on Tuesday and last Sunday both Evening and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were seen near Verona. Pine Siskins are still numerous at niger seed feeders but the last local redpoll was at Camden East on Tuesday.
A very few warblers are coming through. On the Canoe Lake Road on Tuesday, a Pine Warbler and both Northern and Louisiana Waterthrushes and at the start of the Rideau Trail there was a single Yellow-rumped yesterday.
Cheers,
Peter Good