Thursday, 6 March 2014

KFN Field Trip - Kingston

Sunday 23rd February 2014

Following an almost identical format to the trip held a couple of weeks earlier, six members and two guests joined me for a fruitful morning visiting a few of Kingston’s birding locations. We met at Marshlands Conservation Area where three of us kicked off the day with a very large immature female Cooper’s Hawk flicking through the trees. She was first seen perched just up the trail with the remains of an American Red Squirrel. Upon the arrival of three more members, the car park area became alive with chickadees, a couple of Northern Cardinals, 3 Downy Woodpeckers and American Robin. The highlight however was a flock of 15 Red-winged Blackbirds, including an immaculate male pronouncing his presence with his characteristic song. The other birds were a mix of age and sex suggesting a wintering flock rather than newly-arrived migrants.
Cooper's Hawk (immature female) - Marshlands CA, Kingston, ON
We then headed to the Wolfe Island Ferry Dock where waterfowl again provided some cracking views on this bright and considerably milder morning. Birds included Greater Scaup, Goldeneye, Mallard and single male Redhead and Long-tailed Duck. The highlight for many though was the opportunity to photograph some of these species so close to shore – favourites being the Common and Red-breasted Mergansers. A scan of the ice however, revealed the second bonus species of the day – an immature Glaucous Gull, way out in the channel. Thoughts of getting everybody on the bird were dashed though when it took off with the 20 or so Herring Gulls also present that day. As fortune would have it, the bird actually flew in towards us and passed right in front of the ferry dock allowing everybody present to see the bird in flight.

Greater Scaup (male) - Wolfe Island Ferry Dock, Kingston, ON
Greater Scaup (female) - Wolfe Island Ferry Dock, Kingston, ON
Red-breasted Merganser (male and female) - Wolfe Island Ferry Dock, Kingston, ON
After an unsuccessful stop in town for the resident Peregrine Falcons, we continued to Invista with 2 guests and another KFN member bringing the party total to 9. Almost immediately, we located the ‘resident’ immature Snowy Owl. As a bonus, a female American Kestrel sat up on a wire allowing us all good views through the ‘scope. Never knowing exactly what we’ll see at the pool, we began to scan the birds and soon located the Red-necked Grebe that had first been located a few days earlier. We also locked onto 2 male American Wigeon, certainly a ‘new’ species for the month. We also saw the usual Mallard, Gadwall and American Black Duck, though numbers of other species were way down. We then moved to the Ball Diamond in order to get better looks at the outfall and quickly located another bonus bird, a male White-winged Scoter – not an easy bird to find in the Kingston area. Also present here were a handful of Greater Scaup, a single Mute Swan, lone female Goldeneye and a couple of Red-breasted Mergansers. As last time (but by no means guaranteed), a Northern Shrike put on bit of a show, allowing us all great views through the ‘scope. Two Red-tailed Hawks were seen on the way out.

At Invista (photo by Gaye Beckwith)
White-winged Scoter (male) - Invista, Kingston, ON
Northern Shrike - Invista, Kingston, ON (photo by Gaye Beckwith)
We then continued to Lemoine Point, exploring the trails at the southern end of this Conservation Area. Almost the first bird encountered was another Northern Shrike, though the ‘ever-present’ American Kestrel could not be located. The woods were busy with birds; chickadees as ever hoping for a free hand-out of sunflower seeds. On the ‘Feeder Trail’, we also saw a pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches and their larger, more common, cousins White-breasted Nuthatches. Both Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers allowed comparison and a few American Robins added a splash of colour. A Brown Creeper was heard but not seen.

Returning to the car park, we added Northern Cardinal, Eurasian Starling, Red-tailed Hawk and Blue Jay. In total, we saw 38 species, a very respectable count.

'Till next time,


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