Saturday, 21 December 2013

Christmas counts and winter birding.

On Sunday, December 15th, KFN held the annual Christmas Bird Count for the Kingston circle.  My group had the section from Division St. over to Sydenham Rd., a pie-shaped area encompassing the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area.  We had snow and cold temperatures, so our lofty ambitions of trekking through the conservation area like we did last year got pared down to shorter walks in areas where we were most likely to find birds.  We also drove around in the city within our section, 3 pairs of eyes on the lookout for anything with feathers.  The noteable thing our carload couldn't find was white-breasted nuthatches, fortunately the other half of the team found both white breasted and red breasted. The count overall was down from the average, the cold weather sent a lot of birds south.  Mark's report copied below contains some highlights from both the count and sightings for the past week.

The end of the day tally and dinner gathering was held at the Cataraqui Golf and Country Club, it is always fun to have a nice meal and social gathering after the count.  Half the fun is sharing stories of our adventures getting out and about during the day and bragging on what we found, or lamenting about what we didn't find.

Birding at the moment is challenging, the ice storm that has us in its grip certainly does not entice one to venture forth.  Feeders should be attracting local birds, as soon as I knocked the ice off and spread seeds upon the ground juncoes, tree sparrows, doves, chickadees, bluejays and goldfinches came swarming in to fill their bellies. There has been a flock of about 100 cedar waxwings cruising the neighbourhood these past couple of days, I see chewed bits of crabapple under my tree in the backyard and wonder if they had been picking at the little apples this morning.  I would love to see where these birds spent the night when everything is covered in ice, there must be some sheltered places in the thickets of cedars where they can roost comfortably.  The weather predictions for the next 36 hours are dire, we could be faced with a heavy layer of ice.  May everyone stay warm and safe this holiday season!

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

Kingston Field Naturalists (KFN) maintains records in a 50km radius of
MacDonald Park, Kingston. Birders already using eBird are encouraged to
share their sightings with 'Kingston FN'. Alternatively, please email, phone
or post records directly to me - contact details below. Note: some sightings
may require review and remain unconfirmed unless stated otherwise.



Highlights:

CACKLING GOOSE, ROSS'S GOOSE, SNOW GOOSE, BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, GYRFALCON,
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, SNOWY OWLS, TUFTED TITMOUSE, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER,
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW



City of Kingston/Wolfe Island

A note summarising the preliminary findings of the 66th Kingston Christmas
Count was posted earlier in the week but highlights included 2 CACKLING
GEESE, 2 BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, a GYRFALCON and 6 species of owls, including a
very respectable 22 SNOWY OWLS and 16 SHORT-EARED OWLS. Please read my
earlier post (written by co-ordinator Ron Weir) for a more detailed summary.
The immature dark phase SNOW GOOSE was again seen in Cataraqui Bay, Kingston
over the weekend and two SNOWY OWLS continue at Landings Golf
Course/Kingston Airport as of today. A WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW attracted a
steady stream of winter listers during the week at a private residence just
east of Kingston, a SWAMP SPARROW was seen at Little Cataraqui Creek CA on
15th and a BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD returns with some regularity to a feeder
just north of the city.



Amherst Island

Not too many observers made it across to the island this week but sightings
included GREAT-HORNED, SNOWY and SHORT-EARED OWLS, up to 4 ROUGH-LEGGED
HAWKS, SNOW BUNTINGS, NORTHERN HARRIER, NORTHERN SHRIKE, a single RUSTY
BLACKBIRD and 5 RED-WINGD BLACKBIRD.



Napanee/Hay Bay/Belleville

The ROSS'S GOOSE reported last Friday just west of the Lennox Generating
Station was seen again on Saturday 14th. Whether it continues is unclear.



Howe Island

The TUFTED TITMOUSE continues to be seen on Howe Island, where BALD EAGLES
have also become quite reliable. The RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER also remains.



Other Sightings

TRUMPETER SWANS have been seen in small numbers along the Rideau waterway
from Brewer's Mills to Chaffey's Locks. A YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER continues at
Heritage Park, Bath, as does the RED-HEADED WOODPECKER at Gananoque Golf
Club. Gull watchers have enjoyed ICELAND and GLAUCOUS GULLS at both
Lansdowne Dump (near Gananoque) and Violet Dump (south of Odessa). Six
Eastern Bluebirds and 2 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS were seen near Elgin, north
of Kingston on Hwy 15 on 18th during the Delta CBC.



Thanks to all those who submitted sightings over the last week.



Good birding!

Mark.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Computer problems caused me to miss a week on the bird reports.  Can't miss out on this week, got some good sightings to report!   A thick billed murre took top billing, drawing birders from across Ontario and even up from the United States to get a look at it.  A good selection to get us all psyched up for the Kingston Christmas Bird Count taking place on December 15th.  Here is Mark's report:


Highlights:

RED-THROATED LOON, THICK-BILLED MURRE, RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, TUFTED
TITMOUSE, CAROLINA WREN, EASTERN MEADOWLARK, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, BALTIMORE
ORIOLE



City of Kingston

Undeniably Kingston-centric, the highlight of the week was, without doubt, a
THICK-BILLED MURRE that showed up mid-afternoon on 3rd and remained in place
in Kingston's downtown throughout the 4th, allowing birders from far and
wide ridiculously close-up viewing. A RED-THROATED LOON was also located
nearby, at the entrance to the Inner Harbour on 4th and remains to date. A
CAROLINA WREN has been less reliable during the week putting in sporadic
appearances near Fort Henry. At least three observers caught up with a late
BALTIMORE ORIOLE on 3rd at the Invista plant where NORTHERN SHRIKES have
become regular. Other late birds include 22 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS on 2nd at
Cataraqui Bay and widespread but decreasing numbers of DOUBLE-CRESTED
CORMORANT, BELTED KINGFISHER and GREAT BLUE HERON. Reports of interesting
geese have dropped off, though an immature dark-phase LESSER SNOW GOOSE was
an interesting local find at Lake Ontario Park early in the week. Both
LESSER BLACK-BACKED and GLAUCOUS GULLS have been reported within the city
limits this week.



Amherst Island

Please note that the Owl Woods remain closed (for the hunt) until 9th
December. Up to 3 Snowy Owls have taken up residence on the island and the
occasional SHORT-EARED OWL has been reported. Three SWAMP SPARROWS, as well
as 3 SONG SPARROWS were observed on 6th by the Fishing Village and the
regular cast of NORTHERN HARRIER, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, NORTHERN SHRIKE and
SNOW BUNTING seen quite widespread.



Napanee/Hay Bay/Belleville

Now outside our reporting area, the AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN was relocated at
Belleville on 2nd but not seen subsequently. However, it was reported on the
Trent River at Frankford on 6th.



Howe Island

The TUFTED TITMOUSE continues to entertain, or frustrate, birders popping
over to the island. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER is also regular at the same
feeding station.



Other Sightings

Six TRUMPETER SWANS were seen back at Chaffey's Locks on 4th and may remain
now that the lake is beginning to thaw. YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS continue at
Heritage Park, Bath. An ICELAND GULL has taken up residence at Lansdowne
Dump near Gananoque and the RED-HEADED WOODPECKER at Gananoque Golf Club
continues.



Thanks to all those who submitted sightings over the last week and sorry for
the slight delay in reporting the news.



Good birding!

Mark.