Kingston Area

February 23 2020 (Sunday) Amherst Island with optional extension to Kingston and Wolfe Island

Leader: Jon Ruddy.

The omens for the OFO trip to Amherst island were not good. A dearth of meadow voles this winter has meant that raptor numbers are very low. Owls in particular are in very short supply. And our fearless leader had to cancel out, leaving the trip in the hands of a couple of volunteers from the Kingston Field Naturalists. Despite being advised of these issues, twenty cheery OFO members showed up at Millhaven eager to take their chances. So did we prove the doubters wrong? Well -- no. But we had a very pleasant day exploring the island in the bright sunshine. We managed to spot one Snowy Owl at long range, had several good views of Red-tailed Hawks, and a large lump in a tree was revealed by the high-end scopes and lenses to be an adult Bald Eagle. A very early Turkey Vulture was seen soaring over a treeline, and a lone Horned Lark made a low pass over the group. Nineteen Wild Turkeys were seen in a farmyard imitating domestic cousins. In other places this might evoke a yawn, but it was an exceptionally high count for Amherst. Waterfowl numbers are just starting to build up, and we had good views of some Long-tailed Ducks and a large armada of Common Goldeneye. The bird of the trip was a dark phase Rough-legged Hawk -- a life bird for many of the participants -- that gave us a good look at its plumage as it banked and soared. These birds are typical winter visitors to the Kingston area but have been very hard to come by this winter. After a visit to Owl Woods to feed the chickadees we called it a day and caught the 3:00 p.m. ferry back to the mainland. Thanks to all the participants for making this a good day out, and to Paul Mackenzie for stepping up at late notice to assist. Anthony Kaduck

May 28 2011 Opinicon Road, Amherst Island

Leaders: Kurt Hennige, Gary Ure.

17 birders attended this OFO outing under overcast skies. The 5 different areas visit were Opinicon Road, Moscow Marsh, Newburgh Grasslands, Amherst Island and a flooded field near Amherstview. A total of 112 species were recorded.

Opinicon Road

Although subdued songs this morning, we managed to find all our targets including Cerulean & Golden‐winged Warblers, Yellow‐throated Vireo and heard both Cuckoos. However the highlight was an unexpected Olive‐sided Flycatcher.

Moscow Marsh

Willow Flycatcher, Common Moorhen, Black Tern, Ring‐necked Duck, Marsh Wren

Newburgh Grasslands

Grasshopper & Clay‐colored Sparrows

Amherst Island

Upland, Semipalmated and White‐rumped Sandpipers, 500 Dunlins, Philadelphia Vireo, Tennessee & Magnolia Warblers, Brant

Amherstview flooded field

On our return ferry ride from Amherst Island we meet Mike Burrell who directed as very kindly to a flooded field near Amherstview were he had found the species below earlier. Hudsonian Godwit, only the fifth spring record for the Kingston area, Red Knot, Whimbrels, Ruddy Turnstones, 85 Black‐bellied Plovers many in immaculate breeding plumage, Semipalmated Plover.

No doubt these were the highlights of a great day of birding.

May 22 2010 (Saturday) Napanee area and Amherst Island

Leaders: Kurt Hennige, Gary Ure.

Many thanks to Kurt Hennige and Gary Ure for a great OFO fieldtrip today to the Kingston area and Amherst Island.

A special thankyou to the Kingston Field Naturalists for allowing us to access their wonderful grassland and shorebird habitat on Amherst Island.

Car pooling enabled 29 birders to use 14 cars for the outing. A group total of 107 species included many highlights:

7 Wilson’s Phalarope (4 females) on Amherst, Short‐billed Dowitcher, Brant flock + one injured goose onshore, a flock of White‐winged Scoter, Common and Red‐throated Loons from the ferry, Least Bittern, Black Tern, both Cuckoos, 5 woodpecker species including Pileated, Loggerhead Shrike, 2 Golden‐winged and 2 Cerulean Warblers, a Scarlet Tanager singing from the top of a pine tree, and Grasshopper Sparrow.

24 May 2008 Napanee area & Amherst Island

Leaders: Kurt Henninger, Owen Weir.

Saturday’s fabulous OFO outing in the Napanee area was well attended by 24 satisfied participants. A total of 122 species included a male Eurasian Wigeon, 21 Brant Geese, 3 Marbled Godwits and up to 14 Wilson’s Phalaropes on Amherst Island, a male Golden‐winged Warbler and a Brewster’s Warbler, great views of Prairie Warbler, Cerulean and several other warblers, singing Grasshopper and Clay‐coloured Sparrows, Loggerhead Shrike, Virginia Rail, and a calling Barred Owl.

Many thanks to Kurt Henninge for organizing and leading this tour. He was ably assisted by Owen Weir. Special thanks to the Kingston Field Naturalists for permitting us to enter their lovely property on Amherst Island.

Reported by Dave Milsom.

26 May 2007 Opinicon Road Area north of Kingston, & Amherst Island

Leader: Kurt Henninger.

The 25 OFO members met our leader, Kurt Hennige, at the Days Inn in Kingston at 6:30 am.

From there, we drove to the Collins Creek. A Virginia Rail responded to the recording of a Sora Rail. Marsh Wren were numerous. Further north, on Opinicon Road, we had excellent view of a Yellow‐throated Vireo and glimpses of a Blackpoll Warbler. We proceeded north‐east along Opinicon Rd to a cemetery where a Cerulean Warbler was seen by the entire group. Further on, at the entrance to the Queen’s University Biological Station, several Golden‐winged Warblers were heard and one provided excellent views. Our efforts to entice Yellow‐billed and Black‐billed Cuckoos were not rewarded.

The group returned to Kingston at 11 am and proceeded west to Odessa where we observed a Grasshopper Sparrow by the roadside. We took the 12:30 pm ferry to Amherst Island. On the Kingston Field Naturalists property at the east end of the island, we found a large group of shorebirds including lots of Semipalmated Sandpipers and Dunlin, a few Semipalmated Plovers, Least Sandpipers, Wilson’s Phalaropes and two White‐rumped Sandpipers.

The trip concluded at 3 pm. We observed 92 species.

Reported by Erwin Batalla.

27 May 2006 Opinicon Road Area North of Kingston and Amherst Island

Thirty eight people participated in the OFO field trip to Opinicon Road and Amherst Island today. The morning along Opinicon Road started out a little windy and cool so birds were not singing as much as on a warmer morning. We did manage to get all of the target species with some quality looks at most.

The group had excellent close‐up views of Cerulean and Golden‐winged Warblers as well as a Yellow‐throated Vireo sitting right at eye level very close to us. Along Opinicon Road we had 14 species of warblers including 20 Cerulean Warblers, 12 Golden‐winged Warblers, 2 Northern Parulas, 1 Chestnut‐sided Warbler, 1 Magnolia Warbler, 1 Black‐throated Green Warbler, 1 Pine Warbler and 3 Blackpoll Warblers. Also we found 1 Northern Goshawk, 3 Red‐shouldered Hawks, 2 Broad‐winged Hawks, 1 Common Raven, 3 Wild Turkeys, 1 heard Yellow‐billed Cuckoo, 3 Yellow‐throated Vireos, 3 Blue‐gray Gnatcatchers and many Scarlet Tanagers, Indigo Buntings, Eastern Bluebirds, Rose‐breasted Grosbeaks and Baltimore Orioles.

A quick stop at the Amherstview Lagoons produced a few species of common ducks, 6 Black Terns and a few shorebird species. On the way to the ferry someone spotted a Northern Mockingbird. On Amherst Island at the Kingston Field Naturalists (KFN) Property we had 11 species of shorebirds including 1 Whimbrel, 2 Upland Sandpipers, 1 White‐rumped Sandpipers, 2 Short‐billed Dowitchers and 6 Wilson’s Phalaropes. A lone Brant was swimming close to shore. Other good sightings include 3 Grasshopper Sparrows and 3 Willow Flycatchers. The day ended as we zipped up to Newburgh to get a close look at a Loggerhead Shrike. We accumulated 120 bird species for the day and 7 butterfly species.

A good day had by all with most people driving a considerable distance to see these birds.

Reported by Bruce Ripley.

28 May 2005 Opinicon Road Area (North of Kingston) and Amherst Island

Leaders: Bud Rowe and Paul Mackenzie.

This Kingston area trip really exceeded our expectations. The weather forecast was wrong and the day was glorious. The 21 participants pooled into 8 cars.

The Opinicon Road specialties started with a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo calling from an open branch for all to see. Then a Golden-winged Warbler and a Yellow-throated Vireo did the same. We also had good looks at Cerulean Warbler before even leaving the road. On the Pangman trail we had Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and Red-headed Woodpecker. Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, and Ruby-throated Hummingbird added colour. Some Map turtles were sunning on logs.

From the Queens University biologists we learned that a Louisiana Waterthrush was not on site this year and that we missed a Black-backed Woodpecker by 30 minutes or so. A Red-shouldered Hawk was circling high in the blue.

At the Amherstview Sewage Lagoons, the Eurasian Wigeon was still present and the cells with low water produced an assortment of shorebirds, including a White-rumped, and a late Greater Yellowlegs. The ducks included Northern Shoveler, Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Wood Duck and scaup. Ten each of Caspian and Black Terns were there.

At the Amherst ferry docks, two flocks of Brant flew over and another flock was seen on the island for a total of over 350. On Amherst Island, one Black-bellied Plover was found on a field and some saw Upland Sandpipers. At the Kingston Field Naturalists property Wilson's phalaropes were plentiful and tame. Osprey, Bald Eagle, American Kestrel and Northern Harrier were seen by some and an immature Lesser Black-Backed Gull flew off. At the tip we added Short-billed Dowitcher.

We then entered the "Owl Woods" and were surprised that there was activity in mid-afternoon including a Blue-winged Warbler, Summer Tanager, Swainson's Thrushes, Blue-headed Vireo, Canada, Magnolia, Palm and Chestnut-sided Warblers.

The species total was about 118.

24 May 2003 Opinicon Road Area North of Kingston, and Amherst Island

Leader: Ken Kingdon.

On Saturday, 24 May I led nine members of the Ontario Field Ornithologists on the scheduled outing to the Opinicon Forest and Amherst Island. Both locations are near Kingston. Although the weather was rainy all day, nevertheless we were dressed for it, and since it was calm and a mild 15C, we all managed well. During the morning at Opinicon, we saw and heard singing most of the target species: Cerulean Warblers, Golden-winged Warblers, Indigo Buntings, American Redstarts, Baltimore Orioles. We heard Warbling Vireos and the flute-like "ee-o-lay" of a nearby Wood Thrush. The close and lengthy view of a male Golden-winged Warbler was perhaps the most outstanding I have personally ever seen. Nice views of Common Loon and Hooded Mergansers. Nevertheless, the rain prevented us locating Red-shouldered and Broad-wing Hawks, Cuckoos, and Yellow-throated Vireos, Scarlet Tanagers. During our afternoon on Amherst Island we saw Bobolinks (many), Meadowlarks, Savannah Sparrows, Blue-winged Teal, Horned Grebe, Spotted Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers (many), some Semipalmated Sandpipers, Black-bellied Plovers, Sanderling (both breeding and winter plumages), Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitchers, Wilson's Snipes. Bonaparte's Gulls, six Ruddy Turnstones, and Caspian Tern. Best highlights were: a Snowy Egret and an amazing 16 Wilson's Phalaropes (a memorable view of five walking just 4 meters ahead of us, like a pack of puppies). Despite rainy weather, we observed 65 species and I was surprised by the number of birds singing in the rain. I was also pleased to note the resilience of all the persons who attended... they were all happy being there, and they turned dull weather into a joyful day together!

25 May 2002 Opinicon Road Area North of Kingston, and Amherst Island

Leader: Ken Kingdon.

The Ontario Field Ornithologists trip to Opinicon Forest (25km north of Kingston) was held on Saturday, 25 May. The sub-freezing temperature at dawn soon gave way to warm pleasant weather under "bluebird" skies, with lots of bird song. Plenty of Indigo Buntings battled it out with lots of Eastern Bluebirds for the honour of Most Beautiful View, but in the end, our panel of judges voted the Indigo Buntings as clear winners. We enjoyed numerous and close views of Golden-winged Warblers, Cerulean Warblers, Yellow-throated Vireos, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. Yellow-billed Cuckoos, which had been seen the previous day, were heard very close, but stubbornly remained just out of sight. Red-shouldered Hawks were seen soaring, and one was being chased by a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Numerous other now seasonally common birds were seen. Our walks on two fine forest trails can be described with one word: magical.

After this delightful forest experience, we departed Opinicon for Amherst Island, arriving at 1 pm. The Kingston Field Naturalists Property (at the extreme south-east corner of the Island) provided numerous close views of pairs of Wilson's Phalaropes, Brant, several shorebird species... but the highlight was the Snowy Plover; this bird was so white that at first we thought it was an albino Semipalmated Plover, but closer examination convinced us otherwise. Then, at the north tip of the KFN gravel bar we witnessed an amazing six Ospreys (three landed together on a beach). Nearby a Great Egret and an American Bittern stalked slowly, and two breeding-plumaged Sanderlings foraged with a Ruddy Turnstone; then suddenly two Red Knots landed close to us to complete a gorgeous "all-in-one" telescope view!

We all enjoyed a great day with great birds and great views, shared by a bunch of happy and wonderful people.

Reported by Ken Kingdon

22 September 2001 Amherst Island and area.

Led by Peter Good.

Ten OFO members took the 7:30 ferry to Amherst Island . The Owl Woods contained a few passerines but no Northern Saw-whet Owls as yet. The bar at the east end of the island was crowded with ducks; a Long-tailed Duck and a small flock of Lesser Scaup were noteworthy. There were 10 species of shorebird including 25 Black-bellied Plovers, five American Golden-plover and five Baird's Sandpipers. There were hawks all over the island; highlights included one Peregrine Falcon, one Merlin, two immature Bald Eagles, one Rough-legged Hawk, and 75 Northern Harriers. In total we saw 76 species.

Amherst Island is a 20 min. ferry ride from the village of Millhaven just west of Kingston.

26‐27 May 2001 Kingston area

Led by Ken Kingdon.

The two-day birding trip to Kingston was attended by about 20 members. The weather was pleasant and rain-free, the mosquitoes very few, the blackflies absent, and bird song everywhere made for a pleasant time. On Saturday morning, 26 May, we toured the Opinicon Road area north of Kingston. The target species of Yellow-throated Vireos, Cerulean Warblers and Golden-winged Warblers provided plenty of beautiful, lengthy and close-up views; our scopes feasted on these birds, lasting as long as 15 minutes! Other highlights from amongst the many birds seen were: Red-shouldered Hawks, Scarlet Tanagers, Eastern Bluebirds, Indigo Buntings, Black-and-white and Magnolia Warblers, American Redstart, Ovenbird and Northern Waterthrush.

In the afternoon, we dashed over to Amherst Island to the Kingston Field Naturalists' Reserve "for a change of habitats", and we got good views of a wide mix. Highlights were: Brant Geese, Upland Sandpiper, Black Terns and Caspian Terns, Short-eared Owl, and several Wilson's Phalaropes.

On Sunday morning, 27 May, about 10 OFO members went birding-by-bike on a portion of the Cataraqui Trail about 30 km north of Kingston. This bike trail goes through the Opinicon forest via an abandoned train track which provided easy (flat) riding through hilly areas. Biking past a large cliff bordering Long Lake, we got a good view looking downward upon a nesting Common Loon. The target species of Prairie Warbler was often heard and seen at close range... marvellous! Several Yellow-billed Cuckoos were heard and one seen very briefly, but Black-billed Cuckoos were not encountered. Indigo Buntings were common all along the bike trail. Scarlet Tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and Yellow-throated Vireos were amongst the many common species.

During the two days, over 100 species were seen in diverse and interesting habitats that included some impressive scenery.

Reported by Ken Kingdon

Snowy Owl
Photo: Jean Durepos

Snowy Owl
Photo: Brandon Holden

Snowy Owl
Photo: Brandon Holden

Snowy Owl
Photo: Saul Bocian

Wilson's Plover
Photo: Bill Edmunds

American Golden-Plover
Photo: Daniel Cadieux

American Golden-Plover
Photo: Latafat Correa

Piping Plover
Photo: Mark Peck

Cooper's Hawk
Photo: Frank and Sandra Horvath

Rough-legged Hawk
Photo: Sam Barone

Broad-winged Hawk
Photo: Brandon Holden

Black-billed Cuckoo
Photo: Brandon Holden

Black-billed Cuckoo
Photo: Sam Barone

Black-billed Cuckoo
Photo: Frank and Sandra Horvath

Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Photo: Sandra and Frank Horvath