Friday, 5 May 2017

Just some painted turtles on a log.

As soon as the ice is off the ponds and the sun starts to warm the air and water, painted turtles start climbing out onto  logs to sun themselves.  Certainly after a Canadian winter we all like to get out in the bright sunshine, soaking up the rays and feeling glad that spring and summer are coming.  A good way to see painted turtles up close is from a car window at a roadside pond.  Turtles can see and hear you coming from a long ways off, but those that live in ponds close to gravel roads get used to the vehicles and don't see them as an immediate threat, these big noisy things whizzing past don't come diving into the water trying to catch turtles.  (At least not intentionally.)  If you can find a spot on a quiet backroad where it is safe to pull over on the shoulder and not block traffic,  you may get a good view of turtles basking on logs, like these two eyeing me suspiciously when I rolled down the window and took a few photos with  a 300 mm zoom lens.

Springtime is well underway.

"April showers bring May flowers."   I think something is reversed this year, we had some hot dry days in April, and now May is bringing us a soaking and some flooding in the region.  Even Lemoine Point had to close some of its lakeside trails due to Lake Ontario being so high., debris was washed right over parts of the trails.
Springtime is our favourite season for observing birds and their behavior, most of the migrants have arrived and are busy staking out territories, displaying for and choosing mates, and most important of all, nesting and producing the next generation of birds.  Once again May bird walks are being led by Kingston Field Naturalist leaders on Wednesdays both in the mornings and evenings.  This year's walks are being held at Lemoine Point Conservation Area, the location of this site being on the north shore of Lake Ontario on the west end of Kingston,  an ideal place to see migrants where they land over a passage of water, joining the resident birds in feeding and singing.    These walks are open to the public, see the facebook page   for a schedule.  Leaders will take you on the higher drier ground, but be sure to wear waterproof footwear and bring bug spray.
One of our resident birds, the ruffed grouse, is also struttin' his stuff this time of year.  Listen carefully in the woodlands, you'll hear them drumming.  They'll pick out a fallen log or dry open area, stand upright, and then start flapping their wings in a manner that cups and  "drums" the  air, slowly at first, and then picking up speed, like an ATV engine revving up.  Whump.  Whump. Whump.  Whump-whump-whump-whumpwhumpwhumpwhumpwhumpwhump!   This is a good time to try to see them, the males are so busy trying to show off that you may even be able to sneak up and get a good look at one of these wary birds.   They are so well camouflaged that most often you don't know one is there until you startle it and it takes off flying.  They seem to like gravel roads, not only do they find grit but if there is enough loose sand it's a good place for taking a dust bath.  Here is a photo of one that was in the middle of the road, when I came around the corner in my vehicle it picked its way up the hillside.  It is certainly an example of how well camouflaged these birds are in their environment, the colours and patterns of the feathers blend right in with the dead leaves, rocks and sticks around it.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Autumn 2016

Just a bit of eye candy from one of our local backroads.  There has been a drought of postings to go along with the drought we experienced this summer.  It is amazing how resilient the forests can be, in spite of no rain for weeks at a time the colours this autumn were among the best seen in the past couple of decades.

The Messenger: Upcoming event, documentary regarding songbirds

We have received word of an upcoming event:

The Messenger "Imagine a World without Birdsong" is an awe-inspiring,
award-winning 90-minute feature documentary that chronicles the struggles of
songbirds worldwide to survive in the face of myriad man-made challenges.

There will be a FREE screening of The Messenger on Wednesday November 9,
2016 at 7:00 p.m. in the Queen's University Dupuis Hall Auditorium, 19
Division St. Kingston


Followed by a 30-minute panel discussion including Dr. Vicki Friesen from
Queen's University and Mark D. Read from the Kingston Field Naturalists.


This event is co-hosted by Conservation Queen's and the Queen's University
Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology

Sponsored by Queen's University Biological Station, the Department of
Biology and the School of Environmental Studies

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The 2015 KFN Bio Blitz

Looks like the 2015 Bio Blitz was a success!   I personally didn't get to attend, much to my chagrin other commitments prevented me from participating in this fun event.  ( I like to look for critters.  And plants.)  But about 66 people did get to go out and about, searching for every mammal, bird, plant, insect, fish, moss, lichen, you-name-it-that's-a-living-entity that they could find during a 24 hour period in a given area, and find stuff they did.   Here's the intial report sent to us by Janis Grant, with a photo from John Critchley.




The Great Canadian BioBlitz of 2015

Naturalists count plants and animals at annual BioBlitz

The Kingston Field Naturalists recently held their 17th annual BioBlitz at Wintergreen Studios on Canoe Lake Road.  This 204 acre property, located on the Canadian Shield north of Sydenham, has a variety of habitats, providing living space for a diversity of plants, animals and other species. We are most grateful to the owner for allowing us onto this beautiful property. Habitats include wetlands (including bog, pond, lake and streams), woodlands (including shrubby swamp and mixed deciduous woodland) and open areas (including rocky outcrops and grassland).

The purpose of a BioBlitz is to list as many different species as possible in a 24 hour period, thus giving a snapshot of the biodiversity of the site. This one-day inventory of the living things in an area provides a baseline for observing future changes that could occur due to natural succession or invasive species as well as global warming.  Both amateur and professional naturalists join forces to spot and identify species and to educate each other and the public about the diversity of the location.

Sixty six field observers spread over the property from 3:00pm on Friday June 12 to 3:00pm Saturday June 13 collecting information on everything from night time moths to early morning birds and from beautiful dragonflies to forest ferns. Participants included Kingston Field Naturalists, fellow naturalists from further afield, professionals, neighbours and youth.  The public was invited.  The weather on Friday was rainy with temperatures around 13C, not conducive to the activity, and just three people camped overnight.  But we persisted and set our minnow traps and pitfall traps for invertebrates. By 9:00pm the rain had stopped and we spent 3 hours with moth lights identifying many beautiful species of this group of insects.  Saturday, with temperatures in the mid- twenties and sun, was perfect.  A delicious BBQ was held at noon on Saturday with quiz questions to identify natural objects for which prizes were awarded.

Guided walks were held throughout the event on a variety of natural history topics for those wishing to participate and learn about the ecology of the area.  Topics included bird watching, and pond dipping as well as moth identification and dragonfly and butterfly listing and a plant identification walk.  A couple of canoes were available to explore some wetland habitats.  Other participants waded up to their waists to access the bog mat for different species. This year our non-species-listing activity was a sketching nature workshop held on the porch of the house (out of the rain).

All observed species were noted - from those that are very common to those on the endangered end of the scale.  Plants varying in size from plankton in the pond to ferns, grasses and all herbaceous and woody plants were added to the tally.  Spore-bearing species including fungi were included.  All identified invertebrates including insects (butterflies, damsel and dragonflies, moths, flies, beetles, bees) and non-insect species (including spiders, ticks, centipedes, millipedes, slugs and snails), that were observed were also added to the tally.  All vertebrate species (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish) were noted.

The minnow traps left in the water overnight with bait and light sticks to attract species were well filled by morning.  Observations enjoyed by participants included several Grey Ratsnakes, Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies pollinating Wood Lilies, an Arrow Spiketail (a lifer dragonfly for a professional naturalist), Luna Moth, Giant Leopard Moth and a Clearwing Moth.  The Daisyleaf Moonwort and Rattlesnake Fern were new species for many.  Three species of hawk were seen soaring about the same time.  They were Red-shouldered, Broad-winged and Sharp-shinned Hawks.  Active nests of Red-eyed Vireo and Rose-breasted Grosbeak were noted.  Several special sightings of unusual or species-at-risk or of particular interest were added to the tally.  A patch of 50 Showy Orchis was found, just past flowering. Several endangered Butternut trees were seen.  A Fisher, a mid-sized mammal, was observed in the late evening. A Five-lined Skink (our only lizard) was an exciting find: a species of special concern.  One Whip-poor-will, a threatened species, was heard calling.

Anne Robertson, coordinator of the event said, “Despite the wet weather on Friday the overall annual BioBlitz event was very successful and enjoyed by the participants, with plenty of ‘special’ species over a variety of different wildlife groups.”

How many species were found?  The final tally is not in but we are hoping for about 600.  We do know so far we have 7 mammal species, 58 birds, 3 reptiles and 4 amphibians.  Within the invertebrates 22 dragon and damsel flies, 16 butterflies and roughly 50 species of moth were recorded.  The final tally of plants including seed and spore bearers is well over 200 including 11 species of fern and 24 sedge species.

The Kingston Field Naturalists hope that future generations will also have the thrill of finding as much variety of life in this area in one day and would like to thank all those who joined us at this annual party held in a different location each year.


  L to R

Damon Gee, Shirley French, Diane Lawrence, Janet Elliott and Erica Barkley

                                                                                                 Photo:  John Critchley


Monday, 30 March 2015

KFN Bio Blitz 2015

We have just received information for the Kingston Field Naturalists 2015 Bio Blitz event:

April 2015

Hello Participant!

The Kingston Field Naturalists invite you to join us in the
2015 Great Canadian BioBlitz
This will be our 17th in the Kingston area! We would like to record over 600 species in 24 hours and hope that everyone, including our volunteers, will find it a fun and educational event.
The idea for the BioBlitz comes from the Canadian Biodiversity Institute. It’s an inventory of as many living things as can be identified within a 24 hour period. Specialists and experts from a diverse set of disciplines will be grouped with interested volunteers to explore the area under investigation. The inventory and interaction of volunteers with the public are integral goals of this event.
The BioBlitz takes place from 3:00 pm on Friday, 12 June to 3:00 pm on Saturday, 13 June, 2015. 
The event will run, rain or shine.

The Site

We are delighted for the opportunity to hold this BioBlitz at Wintergreen Studios at 9780 Canoe Lake Road (north of Sydenham).  This is a 204 acre property and has a variety of habitats including forest, cliff, ponds/lake, stream, cranberry/tamarack bog, fields and a butterfly garden.     
Access from Kingston. Allow about one hour from Kingston to the site.    Car pooling is suggested.
Directions to Wintergreen Studios- 9780 Canoe Lake Road
GPS location: 44.592608, 76.529491
From Kingston follow Sydenham Road north to Sydenham, then north on Bedford Rd to Desert Lake Road (north of Helen Quilliam Sanctuary) then 10 km north on Canoe Lake Rd. to 9780.
From the west (Toronto) turn north on Hwy 38 (Hwy 401 exit 611). Just north of Verona (25km) turn right on Desert Lake Road to T intersection (18km).  Turn left onto Canoe Lake Rd and go to 9780 (10km)
From Westport go west 10 km on Bedford St.(County Rd 12). After Fermoy turn left onto Canoe Lake Rd and go 7 Km to 9780.

Camping.  We may camp for that one night at the site.  Primitive camping only.  Privy available. There is no running water and no fires are allowed.  There will be a charge of $10:00 per adult to help cover the BioBlitz costs.  Please register in advance with Peter Good at HYPERLINK or 613 378 6605
Bed and Breakfasts (also available on line) should be booked well in advance.
Wintergreen Studios 613 284 4656  Bed only $50.00
A Victorian Reflection Bed and Breakfast, Westport 613 273 8383
Cove Country Inn (The) Westport 613 273 3636
Church St. Bed and Breakfast Westport 613 273 9112
Loon Lake Bed and Breakfast Westport 613 273 3839
Snug Harbour Cottages Canoe Lake Road 613 374 5412
Desert Lake Family Resort, Desert Lake  613 374 2196
Canoe Lake Tent and Trailer Park 613 273 5232 Registration
Participants must register at the BioBlitz base site between 2:30 and 7:00 pm on Friday, June 12 or between 8:00 am and 2:00 pm on Saturday, June 13.
Species observed
A written record with your name must be handed in for species to be included in the final tally. Upon registration, a tally sheet will be provided and a map of the property. A tally will also be kept at the BioBlitz base site so you may look at species already recorded and note those that may yet be found. Please return your final tally sheets and field notes to the base site before departure. Tally sheets will be copied and returned if you wish. A reward will be offered for checking out and returning tally sheets.

What to bring
* Please bring your own meals and snacks, but note the Saturday BBQ option (see below) and coffee available     at the base site 7:30 to 8:30 am on Saturday.
* Please also bring sunscreen, insect repellant, hat, and a flashlight for night activities.
* Good walking boots are advised. Wear long pants to protect against Poison Ivy, deerfly and ticks.     Tick protection also with long boots, gaiters, and/or 30% deet. 
* Your own clipboard, checklist and field guides, binoculars and magnifiers.
* Cameras and GPS units will be useful (but not required) to record rare species and species needing identification.
* Potable water and a washroom will be available at the base site. Please bring your own water bottle and travel mug.
*Cell phone coverage at the site is unreliable (Rogers and Fido best).
* Nearest stores Desert Lake and Westport
A barbeque lunch will be available on Saturday from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm. Darren Rayner, our chef again this year, will provide sausage on a bun (or vegetarian), ice cream and drinks.  The suggested donation is $5 (no charge for under 18 year olds). First come, first served! You may wish to bring a chair.  Do join us for the BBQ.  Informal remarks and Quiz prizes at 12:30pm.
Please . . .
Plan on taking your garbage home with you.
NO dogs at this event. Please be sensitive to the fact that this is private property and we are there with the kind permission of the owners. Try to keep the impact to a minimum and attempt to leave things as they were found. Collecting should only occur where necessary for the inventory and trap-and-release and/or photographs should be used wherever possible. We are requesting that all qualified observers prepare NHIC species occurrence forms for rare and declining species observed during this event. Forms will be available on request.
If you have expertise not covered in the accompanying program, please come and educate us! Please also let us know if there is anything you might need that we might supply.
We look forward to this event and hope you do as well. Please share this information with anyone you know who might be interested.
Contact us if you plan to come or have any questions: Anne: phone  613-389-6742 or e-mail " .
Janis: phone 613-540-1167 or e mail

Yours truly,
Anne Robertson, Coordinator HYPERLINK ""       

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Terry Sprague retirement event

Terry Sprague, long time naturalist and columnist from the Picton area, will soon be retiring.  An event to honour his many contributions to nature education and ethusiasm in encoruaging others to observe and protect nature and natural habitats will be held  April 18, 2015.  Click on poster below for information about this event.