Recent Trip Reports

December 10 2017 (Sunday) Toronto Lakeshore

Leader: John Schmelefske.

Three relatively new birders attended today's waterfront outing along the lakeshore west of Toronto. 38 species were seen. The small group size allowed us to linger on each species and look at details. The day began at Humber Bay Park where we were lucky to get a good look at a Winter Wren.. Other highlights here were White-winged Scoter, Great Black-backed Gull and Green-winged Teal.

The next stop was Colonel Sam Park, where an American Widgeon, Red-Necked Grebes and numberous other waterfowl were seen.

The final stop of the day was Sedgwick Park where Nashville and Yellow-rumped Warblers were still present. Also seen were Golden-crowned and Ruby Crowned Kinglets as well as another Winter Wren and Brown Creeper.

Many thanks to the three eager participants for their enthusiasm and companionship! It?s a great day when you can add 9 new species to your life list!

December 3 2017 (Sunday) Niagara River Gull Watch

Leader: Josh Vandermeulen, Jeremy Bensette, Marcie Jacklin.

In perfect gull-watching weather on Sunday 4 December 2016, over 130 OFO members and friends spend an enjoyable day birding the Niagara River. The purpose of the trip was to identify and age the largest number of gull species and see other good birds on the River. It was a treat to see everyone from all over Ontario, and we were pleased to welcome our American friends from neighbouring states. Having so many sharp-eyed birders worked in our favour. Our group saw 10 species of gulls listed here in checklist order:

Bonaparte's Gull: numerous and almost all were adults.

Little Gull: one adult seen very well from the boat launch at Queenston.

*Black-headed Gull: one adult flying and resting on the water put on an excellent show at Whirlpool, though was a challenge to pick out from above at the viewing areas.

Ring-billed Gull: common on the River.

Herring Gull: common on the River at Adam Beck and above the Falls.

Thayer's Gull: one adult at Adam Beck was seen well. One juvenile below the Falls was seen well by a group that braved the wet mist.

Kumlien's Iceland Gull: almost all the Iceland Gulls we see on the Niagara River are the kumlieni subspecies which breeds in the eastern Canadian Arctic. At Adam Beck we saw two adults and 1 third winter. Above the Falls out from the barge viewing area was one adult.

Lesser Black-backed Gull: several adults and a juvenile at Adam Beck, and at least five adults and a juvenile seen from the control gates area.

Glaucous Gull: one adult out from control gates area.

Great Black-backed Gull: one adult at Adam Beck, two at Queenston, and least four adults and one juvenile above the Falls and at the control gates.

Other Species on or near the River: four adult male Harlequin Ducks seen well from the viewing areas near the barge. At least five Tufted Titmice at Dufferin Islands were eating peanuts from people's hands, also a Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Wren, Winter Wren and Brown Creeper. A Pine warbler was in a pine tree on the median between the Greenhouse and the River. Black Vultures were seen all day on various roofs and chimneys in Lewiston NY (up to 7 at one time), from the pull-off on the road below Brock Monument that leads down the hill to Queenston, adult Bald Eagle at Queenston.

December 3 2017 (Sunday) Niagara River Gull Watch

Leader: Josh Vandermeulen, Jeremy Bensette, Marcie Jacklin.

Well over 100 birders joined Marcie Jacklin, Jeremy Bensette and I for the annual OFO gull trip along the Niagara River yesterday, December 3, 2017. We were treated to beautiful weather conditions - nearly 10 degrees, sunny and calm - and a wide variety of interesting birds were seen, including nine species of gulls as well as the Thayer's subspecies of Iceland Gull. The OFO group began at the overlook for the Adam Beck/Robert Moses power plants in the morning, then birded the stretch of river from Niagara Falls to above the Control Gates during the late morning and early afternoon. Due to the size of the OFO group, small factions broke off throughout the day, covering many locations. Below are some of our highlights from an excellent day along the mighty Niagara River. My apologies if I have missed any sightings. Due to the size of the group I am sure there were several notable sightings that are not covered here.

Adam Beck overlook - several "Kumlien's" Iceland Gulls of various ages, including a nice comparison of several 2nd winter birds. One of the 2nd winter Iceland Gulls at Adam Beck appeared to lie more on the Thayer's side of the spectrum, while an adult "Thayer's" Iceland Gull was also viewed by some. Two Peregrine Falcons were seen here as well.

Niagara Falls - the Black-legged Kittiwake was seen well by most birders who tried for it. The bird would disappear for half an hour at a time but was frequently observed flying in and out of the mist at the base of the Horseshoe Falls, providing excellent looks at its distinctive juvenile plumage. A life bird for many!

Above the Falls - the group of five Harlequin Ducks were in their usual location, amongst the rocks mid-river and across from the Floral Showhouse building (greenhouse). At least eight different Lesser Black-backed Gulls of various ages were found in the stretch of river between the edge of the Falls and the Control Gates, while "Kumlien's" Iceland Gull and Glaucous Gull were also observed here. A Snowy Owl spent a second consecutive day at the south end of the concrete breakwall extending south from the Control Gates. Two Common Ravens provided entertainment near the Control Gates as they flew around and exhibited some pair-bonding behaviour. I heard second hand that someone watched one of the Common Ravens steal the remains of a dead bird from the Snowy Owl! Common Raven has only recently become a member of the avifauna of Niagara as the species slowly extends its range to the south in southern Ontario. Three Northern Rough-winged Swallows were lingering on the river, flying back and forth from the area around the barge to the Control Gates. Northern Rough-winged Swallows are often seen here into early November, but it is unusual for them to linger into the winter birding season. This is only the second record out of the last 10 years during "winter" in Ontario.

Queenston - The Black Vultures were active on this warm sunny day and several groups saw individuals gliding over the river near Queenston. Some of us were not so lucky and our only views of Black Vulture were of 1-3 birds roosting on the roof of the usual church across the river in Lewiston, NY. The Queenston docks provided good views of up to three Little Gulls as they foraged along the river to the north.

Crystal Beach - While a little ways away from the Niagara River, several groups of birders reported success in observing the Brant at Crystal Beach Waterfront Park, located on the north shore of Lake Erie between Point Abino and Fort Erie. This bird does occasionally wander along the shoreline, but is usually on the beach immediately west of the parking area at Crystal Beach Waterfront Park.

Thank you to Marcie and Jeremy for assisting me with leading this hike, and thank you to all the other birders who were so generous in assisting with identification and aging of gulls with their fellow peers. Additionally, I want to give a special shout out to Justin Peter and Mark Peck who put together an excellent gull workshop and quiz at the Niagara Falls Public Library on the Saturday afternoon. I hope that a great time was had by all, and I'm looking forward to next year!

November 5 2017 (Sunday) Cobourg Harbour, Presqu'ile Provincial Park

Leader: Ian Shanahan.

Eleven participants made a go of it amid on and off rain throughout the day. Limited visibility across the lake made long-distance viewing challenging. That, combined with bouts of torrential rain, contributed to a lower-than-usual species count of 37. All the same, it was a solid day of early November birding.

Cobourg Harbour

The most notable bird here was a BRANT that fed close to five DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS perched on the breakwater rocks. Lots of waterfowl were congregated in the harbour, including many AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS and BUFFLEHEADS. Five AMERICAN COOTS were also in the mix. From the pier, we spotted two COMMON LOONS and several distant flocks of RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS and LONG-TAILED DUCKS. Eight GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS loafed on the sand beach just before 8:30 a.m.

Chub Point Nature Reserve, Grafton

A heavy downpour, accompanied by distant lightning, preceded our arrival, and then steady rain continued as we scanned across the lake. The most notable birds were five WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS and another Common Loon. Again, there were distant rafts of Long-tailed Ducks, as well as several Buffleheads and Red-breasted Mergansers.

Presqu'ile Provincial Park

We stopped by Beach 1 during a break in rainfall, and had a brief look at a RED-NECKED GREBE in Popham Bay, as well as several distant and one close look at a COMMON LOON. Six SANDERLINGS flew across the bay towards Gull Island.

At Owen Point, we scoped three Sanderlings on the eastern point of Gull Island where several gulls rested. A large raft of scaup congregated off the island's north shore. We started to leave as another wave of rain hit, but paused as a first cycle ICELAND 'KUMLIEN'S GULL' drift overhead and roosted on the eastern point of Gull Island such that everyone got scope views.

Two REDHEADS were among hundreds of scaup at Salt Point.

Immediately north of the Park gate, we stopped at The Birdhouse Nature Store and enjoyed a collection of common feeders birds.

Thanks to Doug McRae for keeping us posted throughout the morning, and thanks to all who participated.

October 22 2017 (Sunday) Grand Bend, Pinery PP, Kettle Point

Leader: Donald Pye.

10 People meet at Grand Bend for some late Summer and Early Winter Birding. First Stop was the Beach where we Found a Merlin , 2 Red Throated Loons Several Common Loons and some Horned Grebes.

Next stop Grand Bend Lagoons where we had a lot of Ducks to look through. 2 Bald Eagles ,1 American Tree Sparrow Some Juncos, Sharp-Shinned Hawks, a Northern Harrier and a Rough-legged Hawk.

Next Stop Pinery PP At lunch we had 1 Chipping Sparrow and a Titmouse.

Next stop Kettle Point where we found a Surf Scoter.

Last stop Forest Lagoons - some Ducks, no shore Birds. There was a Hermit Thrust by the edge of road.

At the end of the day we had 69 species.

October 21 2017 (Saturday) Ottawa River

Leader: Tony Beck.

Yesterday, 12 keen birders participated in a delightful afternoon of fall birding along the shores of Lac Deschenes in Nepean. With unseasonably warm temperatures and relatively calm conditions, we ended with a total of 40 species. Some of the highlights included 3 Great Egrets, 2 Red-necked Grebes, 4 Cackling Geese, 3 Surf Scoter, 1 Long-tailed Duck, a late Osprey, plus small numbers of Brant and White-winged Scoter. Songbird numbers were low, as were the expected flocks of waterfowl and gulls at dusk. Regardless, the afternoon was extremely pleasant and wildly entertaining.

Click here to see complete list on eBird.

Black-headed Grosbeak
Female 1st Basic
Photo: Harold Stiver

Barrow's Goldeneye
Photo: Barry Cherriere

Summer Tanager
Photo: Bill Climie

Baltimore Oriole
Photo: Sandra and Frank Horvath

Turkey Vulture
Photo: Brandon Holden

Mute Swan
Photo: Max Skwarna