Sunday, August 30, 2009

Birding Presqu'ile P.P. August 29/30, 2009

The birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park was good over the weekend. We managed to avoid the rain and had a nice variety of shorebirds at Owen Point. The banded Sanderling was still present (first reported on August 23rd)) and there were 3 Baird's Sandpiper feeding along with Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers. The Caspian Tern numbers were down since my previous visit earlier last week and Double-crested Cormorants were still in large numbers on High Bluff and Gull Island. There was also a migration of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds off Owen Point with 20+ hummers observed over an hour period, flying off over Lake ontario. Other birds of note included 4 Great Egret, 14 Black-crowned Night-Heron, 1 American Bittern, and 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

Banded adult Sanderling near Owen Point.

Originally banded on May 31, 2008 at Osprey Point, Delaware.

Baird's Sandpiper feeding along shoreline.

Early morning concentration of Double-crested cormorants at Owen Point. We counted 500+ in this tightly packed group.

Two juvenile plumaged Semipalmated Plover.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

IMPORTANT Registration Update !

When registering on-line, it is important to ALSO send me an email confirming your participation.

Birding Britannia Conservation Area August 29, 2009

Despite the sometimes heavy rain there were pockets of warbler activity this morning along the ridge at Britannia. Highlights include a Canada, Magnolia, Nashville, Palm, Black-throated Green Warbler and Philadelphia Vireo. On Mud Lake there were numerous Wood Duck, Mallard, American Black Duck and an immature Black-crowned Night-Heron. Water levels are still high along the Ottawa River but some exposed rocks at Britannia Rapids had over 130 Great Black-backed Gulls resting.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Birding Shirley's Bay and Dunrobin area August 25, 2009

Yesterday on the Tuesday birding course outing we started at Shirley's Bay. The Ottawa River is still high with no shorebird habitat. Along the Shirley's Bay dyke we observed a few migrant warblers including Nashville, Tennessee, Blackburnian, Black-throated Green, Yellow-rumped, Magnolia and American Redstart. A few Scarlet Tanager, Eastern Phoebe and a Great Crested Flycatcher were also noted. On our return to the parking lot a Common Nighthawk was observed roosting on top of a telephone pole. The group had an excellent view. In the Dunrobin area were had great views of Ospreys carrying food overhead and a Merlin drive bombing one.

A roosting Common Nighthawk caused lots of excitement.

Osprey coming in for a landing with breakfast.

Time to eat!

A second Osprey overhead.

A juvenile Merlin tried numerous times to dive bomb the Osprey.

Birding Amherst Island and Presqu'ile Provincial Park August 23 and 24, 2009

Spent the past two days birding Amherst Island and Prequ'ile Provincial Park. On August 23rd Ben and I arrived on Amherst Island at 10:50 a.m. and headed for the East Point (K.F.N. property). There was lots of activity overhead with 100's of swallows feeding over the point and we flushed a few flocks of Bobolinks from the grass. The water levels were high in the two ponds and there was little shorebird habitat to be found. Highlights included 7 Great Egret and 1 Baird's Sandpiper. On Lake Ontario we observed a breeding plumaged Red-throated Loon. This is a very rare summer visitor. The last summer record I recorded was in the early 90's also off Amherst Island. Perhaps the odd loon summers? We also counted 56 Common Loons, all in breeding plumage. Our next stop after leaving the island was the Amherstview Sewage Lagoon. There was little shorebird habitat but lots of waterfowl. Highlights included 1 Bufflehead, a family of Lesser Scaup, 3 Hooded Merganser, lots of Mallards, Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal. We also had 130+ Bonaparte's Gull, mostly moulting adults but 20+ juveniles. Late afternoon we spent at Presqu'ile birding Owen Point, Marsh Boardwalk and the beaches. With high water levels along Lake Ontario there was little mudflat area but the shorebirds were in close and easy to observe. Overall we counted 300+ shorebirds (mostly juveniles) mainly off the lookouts along Owen Beach Trail. Highlights included 3 Baird's Sandpiper, 4 Sanderling (one banded), 150+ Semipalmated Sandpiper, and 100+ Least Sandpiper. We also saw an Olive-sided Flycatcher at Owen Point and 300+ Caspain Terns resting on the gravel bar. The next morning there were only 100+ shorebirds remaining and a pair of Trumpeter Swans off Owen Point.

Juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs.

Preening juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper.

Mixed flock of Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers

A juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper.

Juvenile Least Sandpiper.

Trumpeter Swan off Owen Point.

Caspian Tern resting on a gravel bar.

Directions: Amherst Island: Located 18 km. west of Kingston. Exit off Hwy. 401 at exit 593 (County Rd. 4, Camden East) and drive south to the very end (Millhaven). Turn right on Hwy. 33 and drive 100 metres until you see the sign for the Amherst Island ferry. The ferry (20 minute trip) leaves the mainland on the half hour and leaves the island on the hour. Cost is $8.00 Canadian round trip. There are no gas stations on the island. There are restrooms on the ferry, and at the island ferry dock. The East End K.F.N. property is at the easternmost part of the island on the east side of the Lower Forty Foot Road.

Because of liability issues, visitors to the Kingston Field Naturalists'
property at the east end of Amherst Island MUST be accompanied by a KFN
member. For KFN contact
information or how to become a member, please visit ."

Directions: To reach Presqu'ile Provincial Park, follow the signs from Brighton.
Locations within the Park are shown on a map at the back of a tabloid
that is available at the Park gate. Access to the offshore islands is
restricted at this time of year to prevent disturbance to the colonial
nesting birds there.

Fall migration. Warblers on the way. August 22, 2009

The Britannia Conservation Area/ Mud Lake has been increasingly active the last few days. Today, Ben and I found a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on the trail along the east side of Mud Lake. This is the same area that on Thursday, there was a Yellow-throated Vireo and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Also along the ridge on Thursday, there was an Olive-sided Flycatcher. Since Thursday, a total of 20 species of warblers have been observed in B.C.A./ Mud Lake including numerous Canada, Tennessee, Cape May, Mourning, Bay-breasted and Blackburnian Warblers. Along the Ottawa River at Andrew Haydon Park we observed the Brant that has been summering. Yesterday evening, we observed 56 Common Nighthawks fly catching over our house in Carp.

Good Birding, Bruce and Ben

Directions: The Britannia Woods/Mud Lake area is located in Ottawa off Richmond Road and Carling Ave. Take Britannia Road north to Cassels and turn right and go east a few 100 metres and park near entrance to woods.

Summering Brant at Andrew Haydon Park.

Birding Prince Edward Island August 13, 2009

We made a quick trip to Prince Edward Island National Park and spent part of a day birding Covehead Harbour. This area had lots of activity and we arrived as the tide was going out. In the area we counted over 100+ Great Blue Heron as they fed and rested in the salt marsh. Ospreys were everywhere hunting and shorebirds were plentiful. On the mudflats we observed 82 Black-bellied Plover, 34 Semipalmated Plover, 34 Greater Yellowleg, 21 Ruddy Turnstone, and 11 Short-billed Dowitcher. Resting on a exposed sand bar were 26 Caspian Tern and 100+ Bonapates Gull. Though a brief visit it was worth while!

A view of Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick.

A view of the salt marsh area.

Out going tide at Covehead Harbour.

Birding Johnson's Mills, New Brunswick August 12, 2009

After leaving Gand Manan we headed for Fundy National Park and around the bay to Johnson's Mill's, a Shorebird Sancutary where 10's of thousands of Semipalmated Sandpiper stage before making there remarkable non-stop flight to there wintering grounds in South America. During there short stay these sandpipers double there weight. We arrived at high tide and watched 20-30 thousand fed along the shoreline while 4 Peregrine and 3 Merlin hunted the nervous flocks as they took to the air. It was a specatacle sight watching these large flocks as they would out or the bay in ever changing flock shapes.

One of many large flocks.

Shoulder to shoulder, 1000's of Semipalmated Sandpipers!

Close-up view of a flock. 100's.

Peregrine's are a regular sight hunting Semipalmated Sandpipers.

Ever changing flock shape.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Grand Manan Birding August 10 & 11, 2009

Our scheduled pelagic was canceled due to foggy conditions so we spent the day wandering around Grand Manan. Overall it was quiet but we managed to see a number of good variety of shorebirds feeding at Grand Harbour including 120+ Black-bellied Plover, 72 Semipalmated Plover, 9 Ruddy Turnstone, 460+ Semipalmated Sandpiper, 24 White-rumped Sandpiper and 42 Short-billed Dowitcher. There were still adult birds feeding young including Black-capped Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Black-throated Green Warbler and Alder Flycatcher. At Southwest Head we great views of Black Guillemots below the steep cliffs.

Foggy conditions off Southwest Head

A Black Guillemot though the fog.

Common Eider with young.

With a change in weather today we headed out from Seal Cove for our afternoon pelagic trip both seabird and whale watching off Grand Manan Island. We had a great time with lots of seabird activity and awesome views of Humpback Whales. We had a few surprises including an adult Pomarine Jaeger, 2 Parasitic Jaeger, and 7 Manx Shearwater. Other species included 2500+ Greater Shearwater, 250+ Sooty Shearwater, and 2500+ Wilson's Storm-Petrel.

Adult Pomarine Jaeger made a brief fly by.

The Greater Shearwater was common sight on the bay.

Humpback Whale diving.

Whales at play.

Wilson's Storm-Petrel feeding over the water.

The Red-necked Phalarope spends most of it's life on the ocean.

An immature Parasitic Jaeger harassed a few gulls.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Birding Grand Manan August 9, 2009

The birding today was good with a few interesting birds including a juvenile Snowy Egret at Castalia Marsh. The egret was present most of the day feeding at low tide. We also had great views of Nelson's Sparrow and at least 4 individuals were singing.

Snowy Egret at Castalia Marsh.

A Nelson's Sparrow at Castilia Marsh.

Machias Seal Island August 8, 2009

We set off for Machias Seal Island at 7:00a.m. with Seawatch Tours. The boat ride was a little choppy but the birding was great! Before arriving at our destination we observed both Greater and Sooty Shearwater , 3 Manx Shearwater, and numerous Black-legged Kittiwake and our first distant views of Machias Seal Island. As we approahed the island, 100's puffins, razorbills, murres, and terns were feeding, flying or on the water. It was an amazing sight!

Approaching Machias Seal Island

An Atlantic Puffin flight.

A distant view of seabirds off Machias Seal Island.

Docking on the island.

Puffins were everywhere!

Even the blinds were covered with Puffins.

Heading to the blinds.

Once we were in the blinds, the birds settled down and the close-up photography was excellent!

A few Razorbills were still present on the island.

Only a few feet away.

Smile for the camera!

A Common Murre with breakfast.

It was an amazing morning.

All good things must come to an end as we head back to the main boat.

Sea Watch Tours Captain Peter Wilcox taking a group back to the "Days Catch".

Harbour Seals sun bathing.