Saturday, 21 December 2013

Christmas counts and winter birding.

On Sunday, December 15th, KFN held the annual Christmas Bird Count for the Kingston circle.  My group had the section from Division St. over to Sydenham Rd., a pie-shaped area encompassing the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area.  We had snow and cold temperatures, so our lofty ambitions of trekking through the conservation area like we did last year got pared down to shorter walks in areas where we were most likely to find birds.  We also drove around in the city within our section, 3 pairs of eyes on the lookout for anything with feathers.  The noteable thing our carload couldn't find was white-breasted nuthatches, fortunately the other half of the team found both white breasted and red breasted. The count overall was down from the average, the cold weather sent a lot of birds south.  Mark's report copied below contains some highlights from both the count and sightings for the past week.

The end of the day tally and dinner gathering was held at the Cataraqui Golf and Country Club, it is always fun to have a nice meal and social gathering after the count.  Half the fun is sharing stories of our adventures getting out and about during the day and bragging on what we found, or lamenting about what we didn't find.

Birding at the moment is challenging, the ice storm that has us in its grip certainly does not entice one to venture forth.  Feeders should be attracting local birds, as soon as I knocked the ice off and spread seeds upon the ground juncoes, tree sparrows, doves, chickadees, bluejays and goldfinches came swarming in to fill their bellies. There has been a flock of about 100 cedar waxwings cruising the neighbourhood these past couple of days, I see chewed bits of crabapple under my tree in the backyard and wonder if they had been picking at the little apples this morning.  I would love to see where these birds spent the night when everything is covered in ice, there must be some sheltered places in the thickets of cedars where they can roost comfortably.  The weather predictions for the next 36 hours are dire, we could be faced with a heavy layer of ice.  May everyone stay warm and safe this holiday season!

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Kingston Field Naturalists (KFN) maintains records in a 50km radius of
MacDonald Park, Kingston. Birders already using eBird are encouraged to
share their sightings with 'Kingston FN'. Alternatively, please email, phone
or post records directly to me - contact details below. Note: some sightings
may require review and remain unconfirmed unless stated otherwise.



Highlights:

CACKLING GOOSE, ROSS'S GOOSE, SNOW GOOSE, BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, GYRFALCON,
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, SNOWY OWLS, TUFTED TITMOUSE, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER,
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW



City of Kingston/Wolfe Island

A note summarising the preliminary findings of the 66th Kingston Christmas
Count was posted earlier in the week but highlights included 2 CACKLING
GEESE, 2 BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, a GYRFALCON and 6 species of owls, including a
very respectable 22 SNOWY OWLS and 16 SHORT-EARED OWLS. Please read my
earlier post (written by co-ordinator Ron Weir) for a more detailed summary.
The immature dark phase SNOW GOOSE was again seen in Cataraqui Bay, Kingston
over the weekend and two SNOWY OWLS continue at Landings Golf
Course/Kingston Airport as of today. A WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW attracted a
steady stream of winter listers during the week at a private residence just
east of Kingston, a SWAMP SPARROW was seen at Little Cataraqui Creek CA on
15th and a BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD returns with some regularity to a feeder
just north of the city.



Amherst Island

Not too many observers made it across to the island this week but sightings
included GREAT-HORNED, SNOWY and SHORT-EARED OWLS, up to 4 ROUGH-LEGGED
HAWKS, SNOW BUNTINGS, NORTHERN HARRIER, NORTHERN SHRIKE, a single RUSTY
BLACKBIRD and 5 RED-WINGD BLACKBIRD.



Napanee/Hay Bay/Belleville

The ROSS'S GOOSE reported last Friday just west of the Lennox Generating
Station was seen again on Saturday 14th. Whether it continues is unclear.



Howe Island

The TUFTED TITMOUSE continues to be seen on Howe Island, where BALD EAGLES
have also become quite reliable. The RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER also remains.



Other Sightings

TRUMPETER SWANS have been seen in small numbers along the Rideau waterway
from Brewer's Mills to Chaffey's Locks. A YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER continues at
Heritage Park, Bath, as does the RED-HEADED WOODPECKER at Gananoque Golf
Club. Gull watchers have enjoyed ICELAND and GLAUCOUS GULLS at both
Lansdowne Dump (near Gananoque) and Violet Dump (south of Odessa). Six
Eastern Bluebirds and 2 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS were seen near Elgin, north
of Kingston on Hwy 15 on 18th during the Delta CBC.



Thanks to all those who submitted sightings over the last week.



Good birding!

Mark.

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