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

Annual General Meeting April 21, 2011

Last night was the KFN's Annual General Meeting, followed by our Speaker, Chris Robinson, whose talk was entitled "The Constricted Constrictor: The Life of the Black Rat Snake".  Highlights of the AGM will follow here, but since we learned some interesting things about black rat snakes, highlights of the talk will appear in a separate post.

Several Announcements were made:

*Please note that the butterfly field trip that was scheduled for Saturday, April 23rd, has  been POSTPONED due to the predicted cold rainy weather, and rescheduled for Saturday, May 14th with a rain date of Sunday May 15th.*

Owl Woods Management Plan.  This Plan has been completed, the next step is to follow through with recommendations that were made.  One of the items in the works is to form "Friends of the Owl Woods", similar to some local "Friends" groups around the area who help out with education and maintenance of conservation areas.  The Owl Woods is well known and appeciated by many as a unique area giving people the opportunity to see unusual owls and other species.  If you are interested in participating, contact Chris Grooms. *

*contact information  will appear at the end of this list.

Bio Blitz.  Anne Robertson and the Bio Blitz Committee have completed plans for the 2011 Bio Blitz that will take place June 10th and 11th at the new addition to the Lost Bay property near Gananoque.  Anyone interested in participating can contact Anne and she will send out the information by email.  This is a fun event open to both KFN members and the general public, come on out and see how many species you can find.

Talk on Climate Change.  Transition Kingston will be hosting a talk by Grant Linney on Climate Change at the Wilson Room of the Kingston Public Library on Tuesday, April 26th, 7:00 p.m.; admission is free.

Teens/Baillie Birdathon:  The Teens will be participating in the Birdathon again this year, Anne is taking pledges for the event.

May Dinner Meeting.  It should be a good one this year, Terence Dickinson, a local well known astronomer is our Speaker, his talk will be "A Voyage to the Edge of the Universe".  Tickets are on sale for $30.00 per person.  We will also be having our Silent Auction, many good books on natural history and other items will be up for bid, as well as the 8x10 photos that were entered into the competition, winners published in the 2011 KFN calendar.

Butterfly Field Guide.  John Poland has printed another 100 copies of his "Pictorial  Pocket Guide to the Butterflies of the Kingston Region" and has them available for sale. 

Bug Exhibit.  A travelling insect exhibit will appear at the Cataraqui Town Centre May 5th to 7th.

* contact information for most of the people/events above are listed in your newsletter and Blue Bill, or go to the KFN main website for contact information.  If you can't find it there send an email to kfnblog@gmail.com .

Members' Observations.

There were not as many observations reported as you would expect this time of year, the cold rainy weather has slowed things down.  Some birds have shown up, a great egret was seen off Dalton Ave. on April 1st, making this an early record arrival for this species.  Peregrine falcons were flying over Queen's University. A Carolina Wren was found in Kingston.  One yellow-rumped warbler  was found at the head of the Rideau Trail, kicking  off the warbler season.  An osprey nest is active in Amherstview near the water tower, and a white-throated sparrow was also seen near there.  Loggerhead shrikes have been slow to arrive this year and are on average 2 weeks late.  So far only 7 have been found in the Napanee area.  One was observed north of Opinicon Rd. during a recent ramble.  Crows are nesting in a tree in downtown Kingston, and are getting feisty in protecting their nest.  A squirrel was seen to be chased off by the crows, and their aggression got to the point of chasing the squirrel across a lawn, picking it up in their claws and then dropping it. 

Members were reminded that the peak of Lyrid meteor shower takes place on the 21st/22 and 22/23, and some auroras are possible.  Predictions of cloudy weather, however,  cast doubts on whether these can be seen.

Annual Reports.  Our Committees have been busy this year.  Janis gave an overview with highlights of the work and achievements by the various Committees and Volunteers during the past year, details will be published in the June issue of Blue Bill.

The 2011/2012  Executive has been voted in, there are a few minor changes with a couple new people coming on board. 

Just a reminder about our Volunteer List:  Throughout the year events will pop up that require help from volunteers, and often these arise quickly between meetings and newsletters with no time to inform Membership.  Often we have heard "Oh, I would have liked to have helped with that".  So...we created a Volunteer List that Members can sign up for to be kept updated.  Please be assured that by putting your name on the list you are not obligated to any of the requests, the Executive will simply send out an email to the Volunteers telling of what event is coming up, and then if your are interested in helping out just reply to the contact information.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Annual Sanctuary Cleanup



In spite of rainy weather about 20 hardy KFN members, including 5 children, showed at the Helen Quilliam Sanctuary on April 16th for the Annual Cleanup. It was decided to split into two groups and work on 2 of the shorter trails, some members will come back on a sunnier day to work on longer trails. The crews headed out to pick fallen branches off the trail, trim little toe-grabbing sucker-sprouts, and saw through some of the larger debris. Trail markers were replaced where needed, and the Juniors filled trash bags with garbage picked up from the roadsides that was thrown there by careless motorists who don't share our respect of the environment. It is too early yet for buds to be breaking out, but the first springflowers were beginning to show their presence. Dutchman's breeches and hepaticas were scattered throughout the woodlands, and in defiance of the cold a few chorus frogs and peepers were calling. Having done a morning's work we all gathered back at the gravel pit, where Erwin and Sandra treated us to some welcome hot chocolate and coffee and a supply of cookies. The light rain was increasing to a more steady rain, so we didn't dawdle, we all got into our vehicles, cranked up the heat and headed home.





                                                                                                                                                Photos and posting by R. Burke

Friday, 15 April 2011

Weekly summary of bird sightings in the Kingston Area

It's Friday, here is the weekly bird summary from Peter Good:

Despite the less than favourable weather many migrants have arrived in the Kingston area this week. The number and variety of waterfowl is excellent although there were no rarities. A Red-necked Grebe was at PEPt on Sunday and 1500 Bonaparte's Gulls on Amherst Island yesterday was the largest group seen. A Caspian Tern was in the Kingston Harbour last Saturday. Two more Great Egrets were seen this week; one over Elevator Bay on Saturday and the other in Collins Creek near Westbrook on Wednesday. A couple of Am. Bitterns have been reported.
The shorebird migration has started, notwithstanding the already numerous Killdeer, Am. Woodcock and Wilson's Snipe. Ten Greater Yellowlegs were in the Newburgh area a week ago Wednesday and another 4 were on Amherst on Tuesday, There was an Upland Sandpiper at PEPt on Sunday.
There has been a good influx of sparrows with reports of several E. Towhees, Vesper, Field, Fox , Savannah and Swamp Sparrows. A single White-throated was noted as were large numbers of Dark-eyed Juncos. A few Am. Tree Sparrows still linger. All the swallows were tallied this week with the exception of Bank. Other new arrivals include lots of N. Flickers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Brown Creepers, E. Phoebes, both kinglets, Winter Wrens and Rusty Blackbirds. In smaller numbers we had Brown Thrashers, Hermit Thrush and a House Wren.
The last of the Common Redpolls seem to have gone but a few Pine Siskins persist. Two N. Shrikes were seen near Newburgh last Friday and another was at PEPt on Sunday. There were still 4 Rough-legged Hawks on Amherst yesterday.
Less-than-common birds noted this week were a singing Carolina Wren near Collingwood Street, a noisy Sandhill Crane flying over Camden East on Tuesday and 3 Red Crossbills in Bath yesterday. The Loggerhead Shrike surveying has started and so far 5 birds have returned to the Newburgh area.
Cheers,

Peter Good


Also noted from the birding list is the report that the first hummingbirds have returned to Ontario.  It doesn't say where in Ontario, but lists the website http://www.ontariohummingbirds.ca/  and requests reports of hummingbird sightings for their 2011 spring migration map.

                                                                                        Posted by R. Burke

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Request: Collect the Exuviae!

Carol and Murray Seymour, KFN members, are enthusiastic observers of nature, and often direct their attention towards dragonflies and butterflies.  Carol sends this request:

"Having spent the last few years becoming familiar with the many and varied species of dragonflies we have in the Kingston area, I am now seeking to expand my knowledge of Odonata. This amazing insect actually spends only a short time as an adult dragonfly. The larger part of its life is spent as a nymph or larva in pond, lake, stream or wetland. When the nymph emerges from its egg it is barely discernible by the naked eye.  As it grows it sheds its cuticle or skin, as do all arthropods. This can happen up to fifteen times, depending on the species of dragonfly and how fast it matures. As the nymph nears adulthood, it crawls from its watery home onto a plant stem, tree trunk or rock and goes through the complex process of emerging into its new form as a dragonfly. This is the point at which the old skin, which remains attached to the plant stem, tree trunk or rock, is now called an exuviae. The exuviae of each species, like its adult counterpart, has unique physical features, but unlike the mature dragonfly the differences between species are more subtle and at the same time, more difficult to interpret. Learning to identify the species of exuviae will be a challenge, one I look forward to.

Collecting and identifying exuviae enables the student of odonatology to recognise which species live or breed in a particular habitat without having to see the more elusive adult dragonfly. It also aids in discovering new species for the Kingston area. I need help, so I'm asking you to  assist me in this endeavor. If you observe some exuviae while on your walks, please place them carefully (they are very delicate and break easily) into a small container. It would help immensely if you would label the specimen, describing location (name of lake, road etc.) exuviae platform (plant, tree, rock, boathouse etc.) and date found. If you are lucky enough to observe the nymph emerging into its adult dragonfly form and recognise the species, please add that to the label. (If you are lucky enough to have a camera with you, a picture is worth a thousand words). Please bring your find to the next meeting you attend at the end of summer.

As you can see from the photos attached, there are two basic forms. The small narrow damselfly exuviae with three feathered gills on the end of its abdomen and the rounder and usually larger dragonfly, lacking exterior gills. Thanks for your help and happy hunting."


Fragile Forktail Damselfly                                                                   Dragonfly exuviae





















Photos:  Murray Seymour

Monday, 11 April 2011

Field trip to Prince Edward Point

On Sunday April 10, 2011 Kurt Hennige led a field trip to Prince Edward Point and sends us this report:

We had 14 participants, weather was partly cloudy and southwesterly winds over the Lake kept things cool, but not uncomfortable. There was a good migration of Golden-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creepers and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.  Sparrows were also common with many Dark-eyed Junco's, also Vesper and Field Sparrow were seen.  Other highlights were 2 American Bittern, 1 Red-necked Grebe, many Bonaparte's Gulls and 3 Purple Martins.

Also seen was a Garter Snake. 

Below is the complete list of birds seen today during the field trip.
 
Kurt
 Location:     Prince Edward Point
Observation date:     4/10/11
Notes:     KFN fieldtrip to PEPT
Number of species:     72

Canada Goose     160
Mute Swan     12
Tundra Swan     2
Gadwall     6
American Wigeon     1
American Black Duck     16
Mallard     64
Northern Shoveler     14
Northern Pintail     34
Green-winged Teal     6
Redhead     74
Ring-necked Duck     35
Lesser Scaup     8
White-winged Scoter     19
Long-tailed Duck     480
Bufflehead     140
Common Goldeneye     6
Common Merganser     24
Red-breasted Merganser     160
Ruffed Grouse     3
Common Loon     5
Red-necked Grebe     1
Double-crested Cormorant     3
American Bittern     2
Great Blue Heron     4
Turkey Vulture     3
Osprey     3
Northern Harrier     5
Red-tailed Hawk     2
American Kestrel     2
Killdeer     10
Wilson's Snipe     12
American Woodcock     2
Bonaparte's Gull     34
Ring-billed Gull     16
Herring Gull     5
Great Black-backed Gull     2
Rock Pigeon     2
Mourning Dove     15
Belted Kingfisher     2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker     3
Downy Woodpecker     2
Hairy Woodpecker     2
Northern Flicker     6
Eastern Phoebe     5
Blue Jay     12
American Crow     18
Common Raven     4
Horned Lark     2
Purple Martin     3
Tree Swallow     12
Black-capped Chickadee     8
White-breasted Nuthatch     2
Brown Creeper     8
Golden-crowned Kinglet     27
Hermit Thrush     1
American Robin     140
European Starling     105
American Tree Sparrow     30
Field Sparrow     1
Vesper Sparrow     4
Song Sparrow     35
Dark-eyed Junco     180
Northern Cardinal     2
Red-winged Blackbird     90
Eastern Meadowlark     10
Common Grackle     55
Brown-headed Cowbird     14
Purple Finch     1
House Finch     8
American Goldfinch     8
House Sparrow     3

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Last call for winter constellations

As we move into spring, our view of the winter sky changes along with the landscape.  Many of us go out in the mild evenings to listen for frogs calling and woodcock peenting and twittering, and while out there  we can enjoy the sparkling view above.  Orion, a prominent constellation during winter, is slipping to the horizon in the west, but can still be enjoyed in the early evenings just after sundown.  The waxing moon, new on April 3rd, is making it more difficult to see the stars until the full phase is past on the 17th, but towards the end of the month while it wanes the stars will again become brighter.  It will be worth it to be outside for a bit during the bright moon while flocks of migrating birds fly over on their way north.  You may even hear the howl of coyotes.  The Lyrids meteor shower will peak on the 22nd, but the waning gibbous moon will make the "shooting stars" a little more difficult to see. One does not necessarily need expensive telescopic equipment to enjoy the night sky, just aim your binoculars at some of the viewpoints such as the Pleiades Cluster and enjoy the scene of many sparkling points of light.

The shot posted here of the crescent moon between Taurus and the Pleiades (moon looks round due to long exposure)  was taken with a camera mounted on a "barn door tracker", a simple device that offsets the rotation of the earth and allows you to take long exposures of the stars without the trailing.  Directions for making one are found on page 168 of Terrence Dickinson's book NightWatch, and not that difficult to make.  This book is an excellent introduction to astronomy, and Mr. Dickinson will be our Speaker for our May Dinner Meeting.



Friday, 8 April 2011

Weekly Bird Report, Friday April 8, 2011

Peter Good has been collecting bird reports for our area for KFN records, and compiles them into a weekly summary for a province-wide network.  With his permission they will be published here on the blog as well.

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

Lots and lots of waterfowl. There were almost thirty species this week including 8 Trumpeter Swans at the Narrows Lock last Friday, 2 N. Shoveler at the lagoons on Monday, 11 Snow Geese, 8 on Wolfe Island and 3 at Crosby, and Green-winged Teal at Charleston Lake P.P., Wolfe Island and the lagoons. The first two Bonaparte's Gulls of the year were at the lagoons yesterday.
Raptor reports have diminished but Bald Eagles are still in good numbers near the lakes north of the city. Unusual was a Peregrine Falcon at Westport last Sunday. Osprey have returned, seemingly all at once. The first was at Bedford Mills on Saturday, then at RMC, Amherstview and Collin's Bay on Monday, a pair on the Aragon Road on Wednesday and three more sightings on Thursday; at the Lennox Generating Station, Adolphustown and the Queen's Biological Station.
Redpolls and siskins remain in good numbers at many feeders enhanced by a few returning Purple Finches and the now almost gold Am. Goldfinches. Other winter birds seen of late include a Bohemian Waxwing at Loughborough Lake on Saturday and a N. Shrike at QUBS yesterday.
Tree swallows have arrived in numbers. Mixed in were two Barn Swallows on Wolfe Island and at RMC on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. Yesterday there were 2 Purple Martins with Tree Swallows at Westport.
The best sightings of the week were a pair of Great Egrets on the Clogg Road on Tuesday and a very early Spotted Sandpiper at QUBS yesterday.
Cheers,
Peter Good

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Recent Amphibian Activity

There have been reports to a regional nature list of chorus frogs, spring peepers and wood frogs calling, and sightings of leopard frogs on the move. Frogs and salamanders are coming out of hibernation and heading for their breeding grounds.  On April 4th Mark Conboy was out and about in the Lake Opinicon/Chaffey's Locks area and reported:

I had a good movement of frogs and salamanders in the Lake Opinicon
area last night. One of the best and most accessible amphibian
breeding ponds in my area has about 30 of shoreline along a road which
makes for an excellent way to sample the comings and goings of frogs
and salamanders. Forty minutes of counting amphibians crossing this
patch of road way (which had no traffic between 9:40 and 10:20 pm)
produced the following:

wood frog 48
spring peeper 42
yellow-spotted salamander 6
blue-spotted salamander 36
eastern newt 4

There was also a small chorus of wood frogs and spring peepers in the
pond, but it was still very small compared to what it will amount to
in future evenings. Spring peepers only started calling here Sunday
afternoon/evening and this was my first batch of calling wood frogs.

On the 1.3 km driveway in the Queen's University Biological Station I counted:
northern leopard frog 8
spring peeper 4
yellow-spotted salamander 2
blue-spotted salamander 2

Mark


The Opinicon Natural History website, with postings from researchers at Queen's University Biological Station, has some species accounts.  A timely one for spring gives us information about the spring peeper, a diminutive frog that we don't often notice throughout the summer season, but one that makes its presence clearly known with loud peeping calls in springtime. The detailed account by Kathryn Stewart is found at
 http://opinicon.wordpress.com/species-accounts/spring-peeper/

                                                                         Posted by R. Burke