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 :)

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