Recent Trip Reports

December 9 2018 (Sunday) Toronto Lakeshore

Leader: John Schmelefske.

December 8 2018 (Saturday) Barrie Lakeshore

Leader: Jim Coey.

Eighteen hardy birders met at Dock Road in Barrie at 9 a.m. December 8 for a series of stops along the south shore of Kempenfeldt Bay in Barrie. Snow fell heavily at times making visibility poor, down to 100 metres at times, and covering binoculars, cameras and scopes with light, white flakes. The snow finally ceased at about noon as the trip was ending at the Barrie Marina. I was the substitute leader and relied heavily on Chris Evans for local knowledge and eBirding. The participants were able to see 8 species of waterfowl and five species of gulls, For those looking for close up views of gulls, the marina at the west end of the bay is a wonderful spot. We had several Glaucous Gulls in various plumages and at least one first winter Iceland Gull. Bonaparte's Gulls were notable by their absence. We saw or heard very few passerines on the morning.

December 2 2018 (Sunday) Niagara River Gull Watch

Leader: Josh Vandermeulen, Jeremy Bensette, Marcie Jacklin.

Yesterday was another great time at the annual OFO Niagara Falls Gulls trip! We did not take an exact count of attendees, but we estimate that this event was attended by approximately 100 birders. This was a bit less than last year, likely due to the rainy weather forecast for Sunday morning. That rainy weather ceased before we started, and the sun even came out for a good portion of the day! Eight species of gulls were identified by the group, despite high temperatures and high water level above the falls.

We started the day at 9 am at Sir Adam Beck Generating Station, where we enjoyed at least two Iceland Gulls and a Great Black-backed Gull among many Herring and Ring-billed Gulls. We also saw an adult Little Gull among a flock of Bonaparte's Gulls at the Roosting Rocks a few hundred metres up river. We stopped briefly at the Whirlpool, where we watched a flock of a few hundred Bonaparte's Gulls resting and a Red-tailed Hawk perched on a very low branch, seemingly watching the turbulent river.

By late morning most of the group made it to the Upper Falls viewing area, where we were granted views of an immature Glaucous Gull, a probable hybrid Glaucous x Herring Gull, a couple more Iceland Gulls, multiple Lesser Black-backed Gulls of various ages, and many Great Black-backed Gulls. Non-gull highlights above the falls included as many as three Harlequin Ducks and two Dunlin perched between the rapids above the falls, a local breeding pair of Peregrines occupying a high ledge overlooking downtown Niagara Falls, and a Black-crowned Night Heron perched very close to the driveway in Dufferin Islands Park.

We did not visit the Queenston boat launch area as a group this year because of the high volume of boaters using that area lately, but many individuals who did check out this spot were rewarded with a few Little Gulls. Also, it was reported that 7 Little Gulls flew by with around 1400 Bonaparte's Gulls at the mouth of the Niagara River at Niagara-on-the-Lake around sunset.

We would like to thank everyone who participated in this fun and social birding event, especially Justin Peter and Mark Peck for Saturday's ID workshop, and the various great people who helped with organizing the weekend. Have a great winter birding season!

November 4 2018 (Sunday) Cobourg Harbour, Presqu'ile Provincial Park

Leader: Ian Shanahan.


A one-day reprieve from gloomy weather made for a delightful outing for the 30 participants. The temperature peaked at about 7 degrees Celsius under sunny skies as a light wind gradually shifted from northeast to east.

Cobourg Harbour Several BONAPARTE'S GULLS fed at close range and a single BRANT fed at even closer range, delighting many. A male BELTED KINGFISHER ("It's right behind the 'No Fishing' sign"), a single HORNED GREBE, and a small flock of SNOW BUNTINGS were other notables here.

The Birdhouse Nature Store, Brighton While PINE SISKINS and AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES busily fed on the nyger feeders, six EVENING GROSBEAKS (3 males; 3 females) rested above in the cottonwoods. A male RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD also put in an appearance.

The causeway marsh (northern border of Presqu'ile Provincial Park) Singles of NORTHERN PINTAIL and AMERICAN BLACK DUCK fed with MALLARDS and GREEN-WINGED TEAL on the north side; an AMERICAN COOT and a resting PIED-BILLED GREBE stayed close to the cattails on the south side.

Owen Point, Presqu'ile An immature MERLIN was likely the cause of the limited shorebirds numbers, which comprised five distant BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS feeding with two "peep" species on the south shore of Gull Island. A NORTHERN HARRIER hunting over the island may have contributed to the scarce shorebirds, too. Some participants spotted and photographed a GREAT HORNED OWL in the cedars near the Park Store parking lot before it fled.

Presqu'ile Bay From both the Government Dock and the base of Salt Point along residential Bayshore Road, we enjoyed side-by-side comparisons of COMMON and RED-THROATED LOONS. A male WHITE-WINGED SCOTER resting on the end of Salt Point was the closest of the handful we saw throughout the day. A SHARP-SHINNED HAWK drifted from northeast to southwest, flapping frequently.

Gilmour property, Presqu'ile Loads of finches and sparrows were feeding here, including singles of SONG SPARROW and EASTERN TOWHEE and multiple WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS (one of which appeared to be in great distress as it remained stationary on the ground and seemingly worked to regurgitate something). The BROWN THRASHER, BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD (male), and COMMON GRACKLE (male) are unlikely to stay for much longer. An elusive November butterfly sighting manifested in an Eastern Comma sunning on the lawn.

Presqu'ile Yacht Club, Gosport Our final stop was at this nearby marshy inlet where we scoped a single AMERICAN WIGEON, two NORTHERN PINTAILS, and two GREATER YELLOWLEGS in the late-afternoon light.

Thanks go to Bill Gilmour and Maureen Riggs for their assistance and to the Gilmour family for allowing us to enjoy their feeders.

Cobourg Harbour is between the south ends of Division St. and Third St. in Cobourg. Apprixamtely 30 minutes east, Presqu'ile Provincial Park is well signed south of Highway 401 exit 509; the Birdhouse Nature Store is just outside the Park gate. The Presqu'ile Yacht Club is outside the Park in the adjacent village of Gosport to the east.

Thanks to all who attended and hopefully we'll see you again next year!

October 28 2018 (Sunday) Grand Bend, Pinery PP, Kettle Point

Leader: Donald Pye.

We had a total of 10 people that met at 0830 to do some Fall Birding . The rain was Light and stopped within half Hour. It was nice till the last Hour. The Rain started again. By then we had a Total Of 80 Species for the day.

I was early and there is a small water hole at the back of the Store and 2 Common Redpolls popped up. When the Group started we went looking for the Redpolls and a small bird at the edge of the water got our Attention. Finally it came out in the open a Nelson Sparrow. Later we found the Redpolls. A life bird for most of us.

Next the Beach. Not much was flying but a Horned Grebe, a Common loon and a Red-throated Loon were just off shore

Next the Lagoons. The road to the back has a gate and was Locked. So we stayed out. Along the road were some Bluebirds and our only Warbler for the day, a Yellow-rumped.

Next the Park. Lots of Feeders and no Feed in them. We did get a Titmouse and a Hermit Thrush. Another Red throated Loon.

Next Kettle Point. A flock of Snow Buntings was on the beach. A Bald Eagle flew over. Also 2 Sanhill Cranes landed close by

Out last stop was Forest Lagoons. We had a Rusty blackbird, 2 species of Shore Birds and several species of ducks a Rough-legged Hawk and a Golden Eagle.

October 20 2018 (Saturday) Ottawa River

Leader: Tony Beck.

8 hardy participants joined Tony Beck for a breezy afternoon along the Ottawa River in Ottawa's West End. With strong gusty winds coming from the Northwest, viewing conditions were challenging at best. Although our species count was low (29 species), we had a few very entertaining highlights.

A tame and approachable flock of 33 Brant had everyone excited.

A single sleepy female Surf Scoter was new for some participants.

We spotted up to 5 Red-necked Grebes, and one dark Cackling Goose at Andrew Haydon Park. Most interesting was a single juvenile Lapland Longspur following the shoreline near Shirley's Bay.

October 14 2018 (Sunday) Durham Waterfront

Leader: Geoff Carpentier.

12 OFO members joined me yesterday as we explored the area including Pringle and Lynde Creeks and Cranberry Marsh. Although the area of study was small, the variety and number of birds was quite excellent. The weather was gorgeous (too good for a hawk flight but great for lingering birds).

Highlights of our 71 species included:

  • 5 species of sandpipers: Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Dunlin, and White-rumped and Semipalmated Sandpiper

  • 5 species of warblers: Yellow-rumped, Nashville, Tennessee, Orange-crowned and Palm

  • The highlight for one lucky observer was a Nelson's Sparrow at Cranberry, but this hard to see species eluded the rest of us!

Lots of pipits and a few hawks drifted by overhead, while phoebes, kinglets, Hermit Thrushes, bluebirds, Pine Siskins and Purple Finches were noted as well.

Great day, great weather and great folks! Thanks for sharing the day with me.

Loggerhead Shrike
Photo: Jean Iron

White-crowned Sparrow
Photo: John Millman

Golden-winged Warbler
Photo: Sandra and Frank Horvath

Red-necked Grebe
Photo: Sam Barone

Tufted Titmouse
Photo: Sam Barone

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Photo: Sam Barone

Pacific Loon
Photo: Mike McEvoy