Saturday, 8 November 2014

Amherst Island delights

This morning Kyle Blaney and Brad Hamilton found an American Avocet in the Ducks Unlimited Pond on the Martin Edwards Reserve (Amherst Island) so when we got word of it we headed down for the ferry. Erica and I met up with Mark on the 11:30 ferry and started the 20 minute boat ride from Millhaven to Stella. The ferry crossing at this time of year is a great way to see Common Loons up close as we had 15 on the way over and 14 on the way back (and you can get many more than that). They often are quite close to the ferry, offering great looks:

Once we got across it was straight to the Martin Edwards Reserve - this property is owned by the Kingston Field Naturalists and is known by many as simply the "KFN Property". It should be noted that, for liability reasons, you must be a member of the KFN, or accompanied by one, to enter the property. As soon as we got to the pond we could see our prize waiting for us, a beautiful American Avocet!

After enjoying very nice scope views of this bird we headed out further to the end of the reserve where we were able to pick up a nice assortment of ducks including a relatively rare for the area Black Scoter. Also present was a Snowy Owl, presumably the same bird that has been seen sporadically at least since late summer.

On the way out we kept moving to stay warm with the brisk south wind in our face but we did stop long enough to enjoy some Snow Buntings on the beach:

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Fall counts

Several clubs across Ontario host fall roundups in their respective bird study areas and as far as I know, these all happen the first weekend of November. I know Hamilton has a big one (I have participated many times) and so does Ottawa, Thunder Bay, and Kingston. This year I did the Kingston count for the first time.

The Kingston count covers the Kingston study area (see the Ontario Birding areas page for map) and unlike the Hamilton count that I have helped with in the past, the Kingston count covers a 24-hour period overlapping two days, starting at 3pm on Saturday and finishing 3pm on Sunday. So yesterday I met up with Mark and James and we headed for Prince Edward Point. We decided we'd spend the 3 hours of daylight on Saturday there to get our start. We weren't disappointed as within a few minutes of the clock hitting 3pm we had our first good scores:
Rough-legged Hawk

Red-necked Grebe

The Red-necked Grebe was the only one of any groups and not many people had Rough-legged Hawk either. A little further on and we had another raptors coming in adult Golden Eagle!
Golden Eagle
We got another (this time a young bird) a few minutes later so were quite pleased with ourselves! It wasn't much after that that we picked up a flock of Cedar Waxwings, our only Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-crowned Sparrows, and Brown Creeper. Just past the bird observatory we managed to get all three scoters before it got too dark to see much. On the way back home we made a few stops for owls but the howling wind didn't help much, however we still managed to get one Barred Owl and best of all a flyover nocturnal migrant Swainson's Thrush!

Saturday morning we caught the first ferry to Amherst Island and quickly saw lots of loons on the water and started added to our 51 species from the previous day. Amherst was good to us with the best bird being a Vesper Sparrow that flushed from the road and perched long enough for James to grab a photo. We were off the island by 10 and headed for Morvin Creek to look for shorebirds (picked up both yellowlegs) and on the way back east from there we stumbled on our best bird of the day, a Cattle Egret!!
Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret and cow

From there we picked up a ton of new ducks (check out lists from Cataraqui Bay, Marshlands, and the Montreal Street apartments) but we were running out of time. We added one last species, Wild Turkey, with ten minutes left to round out our list of 88 species, not a bad 24 hours of birding in November! We did well but had some big misses: all Accipiters and falcons, Belted Kingfisher, Hermit Thrush, Wood Duck, Killdeer, and of course more than I can list here :)