Saturday, 26 March 2011

Spring migration

The spring migration of birds is well undeway, reports to the area this past week include great blue herons, belted kingfisher, American woodcock, e. meadowlark, e. bluebird, Wilson's snipe, cowbirds and songsparrows along with the flocks of robins and redwinged blackbirds.  Waterfowl continue to gather in the open waters, pied-billed grebes and lesser scaup in the Cataraqui River and a few double-crested cormorants in Kingston Harbour, hooded mergansers are in the creeks and ponds north of the 401. Several species of ducks and small flocks of swans are coming in near Prince Edward Pt.  Raptors, such as kestrels, rough-legged hawks, merlin, and n. harrier are showing their presence.  Red-shouldered hawks are cruising the air over forests along Opinicon Rd.

This is a time of transition, pine siskins, dark-eyed juncos, common and hoary redpolls are still lingering and slowly making their way back north.

The ice on the inland lakes is beginning to thin and turn dark, along the shorelines there are slim patches of open water.  Much of the ground is bare, thicker layers of snow that lay in the shaded hillsides are taking longer to melt.   There is a "chance of flurries" forecast for tonight with a sunny stretch for the remainder of the week.  Temperatures will go a few degrees above freezing during the day but are predicted to dip a few degrees below freezing overnight.  Sunshine will pique impatience for warmer days to come.

R. Burke

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Field trip to Wolfe Island

Sunshine and light breezes...we couldn't have ordered better weather for a March field trip led by Peter G. to Wolfe Island today.  At the ferry dock we watched a cormorant fly by, and counted 38 species of birds during the day.  Many of us were getting our first spring birds for 2011, meadowlarks, grackles and songsparrows were heard among the lively chatterings of large flocks of  robins and redwing blackbirds.  Among the early migrants were redhead ducks, pintails, hooded mergansers, northern harriers, rough-legged hawks, kestrels, turkey vultures, killdeer, and flocks and flocks of Canada geese with one lone snowgoose flying with them.  Four white-tailed deer and a loping coyote provided the mammal highlights.   'Twas a great day to be out and about to get a taste of spring.

                                                                                                                                  R. Burke

Friday, 18 March 2011

Welcome to The Kingston Field Naturalists' blog!

Welcome to the blog of the Kingston Field Naturalists! This modern age of internet communications provides us with another venue to keep Members updated on the latest news. We've decided to start a blog, and hope to keep up with field trips, rambles, events, and natural history sightings that our Members may be interested in. It seems only fitting that we start in spring while the snow melts and the migrating birds return, bringing the promise of nature awakening from another snowy winter.
General Meeting, March 17, 2011
We can start with last night's General Meeting. Our Speaker, Leslie Hale, talked about Ontario Bats: The Impact of Wind Power and the White-Nose Syndrome. Leslie is a lively Speaker, and with many good slides told us of the challenges faced by bats when encountering wind turbines, and how the white-nose syndrome (WNS) is spreading rapidly across eastern North America, threatening bat populations. Leslie provided handouts giving  information about WNS and instructions for building bat houses.
During Members' Observations there were several reports of migrating birds returning to the area. Robins and redwing blackbirds are found all over the area, we're starting to hear killdeer calling over the fields. In the open waters of Lake Ontario thousands of ducks and geese are gathering, ready to make their way inland. Hundreds of snow geese and one Ross' goose were gathering near Waupoos-Kaiser sideroad in Prince Edward County on their way north. A fisher and a raccoon were filmed on Queen's University property with an automatic camera. A bald eagle was seen flying over the Helen Quilliam sanctuary, hawks and falcons were reported over Kingston. Another harbinger of spring was reported: pussywillows are starting to bloom. As the snow melts and warmer weather arrives it won't be long before we start to find coltsfoot and other early flowers making their appearance.  No doubt from the field trip scheduled to Wolfe Island this weekend we'll receive more reports of arriving migrants.

Migrating birds, like these geese photographed at Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area  in spring 2010, are arriving and setting up territories.  Photo: R. Burke