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.
October 7 2018 (Sunday) Westmeath Provincial Park & Lac Dore
Leader: Mark Gawn.
Grey skies and an autumnal chill greeted six stalwarts for this year's excursion to the Renfrew lake country. A Cooper's Hawk, scarce in the county, was first up, along with a handful of Common Loons and two Surf Scoter on the fabled Muskrat Lake.
Despite excellent viewing conditions, Lake Dore produced few birds; Common Loons and grebes were thinly scattered about, along with a small flotilla of six Surf Scoter, without the usual throng of cormorants (we later noted that the trees had been removed on their breeding island near Pembroke, presumably as a control measure). The bird of the lake was a distant tern (great spot, Michelle!) which we noted land on the far shore; eventually we worked our way over to the site and determined it to be an immature Common Tern, very rare in eastern ON on this date.
After a copious breakfast at the not-to-be-missed Irving Truck Stop in Pembroke, we visited Westmeath in the hopes of Nelson's but were thwarted by a dearth of sparrows and boot fillingly deep water. The consolation prize was a flock of about fifty White-winged Scoter and an early season mini raft of Common Goldeneye. Heading back to Ottawa we ventured along some backroads in the La Passe area and were rewarded by a vociferous flock of 47 Sandhill Cranes, always a thrill to hear and see flocks of this once rare bird.
September 22 2018 (Saturday) Hamilton, Burlington & Vicinity
Leader: Richard Poort.
Today 15 people joined in for a short walk along the Hamilton waterfront near Hutches. Winds were good for a lakewatch, but due to time constraints we moved inland. We had 40 species in 2 hours.
Highlights were a Yellow-billed Cuckoo showing well for a few members in the group and a few early Hermit Thrushes. Birding was a little slow, but the company was good.
Thanks to all who joined in and let's hope next year is better. If you want me to share the ebird checklist from today, please feel free to email me.
September 16 2018 (Sunday) Point Pelee National Park
Leader: Jeremy Hatt.
20 participants braved mid-July temperatures on Sunday, Sept. 16th for the OFO hike at Point Pelee National Park, the onion fields, and Wheatley Harbour. It was a hot day with light east winds and clear skies, which made finding birds a challenge. We ended the day with 52 species.
Highlights from the morning at Point Pelee included 4 Sanderlings at the Tip area, a good Sharp-shinned Hawk flight with the odd Merlin, American Kestrel, and Broad-winged Hawk mixed in, and a couple pockets of migrants at the Tip and on Red Bud Trail including Red-breasted Nuthatch, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Purple Finch. We only ended up with 6 species of warbler: Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Magnolia Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, and Black-throated Green Warbler. We only saw a few Monarchs at the Tip.
The Onion Fields north of Point Pelee unfortunately didn't have many shorebirds and the heat haze made for difficult viewing but 3 Wilson's Snipe within the Pelee marsh at the east end of Mersea Rd E was a highlight.
We finished the afternoon at Wheatley Harbour. There we had our best bird of the day, a very early female Long-tailed Duck in the inner harbour. The harbour also provided a good chance for close study of terns and gulls.
September 15 2018 (Saturday) Kettle Point and inland lagoons
Leader: Sean Jenniskens.
On Saturday September 15, 8 birders met at Kettle Point to bird the area. Visibility on the lake was horrific, as we couldn't see more than about 20m out into the water first thing. We soon decided to head over to the Forest Sewage lagoons, and found that clear blue skies and high visibility treated us just a km or so inland. The lagoons provided a few dozen shorebirds (9 species) to scan through, and many ducks (5 species). Once everyone was content, we headed back to kettle point hoping the fog had lifted. Upon arrival, visibility was up close to 200m, but within a few minutes it had drifted back in to about 50m! We ended the day with a trail in Port Franks.
Our group totalled 66 species and highlights included: Red-necked Phalarope, Baird's and White-rumped Sandpipers at Forest Lagoons; Red-headed Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, and Forster's Tern at Kettle Point; and Eastern Kingbird and Gray-cheeked Thrush in Port Franks.
September 9 2018 (Sunday) Presqu'ile Provincial Park
Leader: Ian Shanahan.
A group of 22 participants enjoyed a dizzying fall-out of passerines to begin Sunday's annual OFO outing at Presqu'ile Provincial Park in Brighton. The northeast wind gradually shifted to an east wind and steadily gained strength throughout the day beneath partly cloudy skies. The core group amassed 78 bird species, while off-shoot sub-groups contributed another 7 species for a total of 85.
Lighthouse and area (8:00am-mid-morning) Warblers and other passerines were cascading from tree to tree around the Lighthouse parking lot and a small section of adjacent Paxton Drive. 16 warbler species were spotted, including Black-and-white, Tennessee, Nashville, American Redstart, Cape May, Northern Parula, Magnolia, Bay-breasted, Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, Blackpoll, Black-throated Blue, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green, Canada, and Wilson's. Red-eyed Vireos, a singing Warbling Vireo, both nuthatch species, a small flock of Cedar Waxwings, Easter Wood-Pewees, Alder/Willow Flycatchers, Blue Jays, American Goldfinches, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were also in the mix. Singles of Common Raven and Northern Harrier (immature) circled overhead briefly.
Owen Point Trail / Owen Point / beach (mid-late morning) Many more passerines fed in the cedars, and both Palm and a late Yellow Warbler foraged in the willows at Owen Point. From the point, we scoped two Caspian Terns, one 1st-cycle Great Black-backed Gull, and a distant group of Sanderlings (part of a larger groups of shorebirds on the north shore of Gull Island ? accessible as of tomorrow). One Sharp-shinned Hawk and at least one Merlin put in appearances, which kept the shorebirds scattered and flighty. We did, however, eventually enjoy close views of a flock containing many Least Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers and two Semipalmated Sandpipers. A juvenile Black-bellied Plover flew past as well.
Calf Pasture (early afternoon) After a quick lunch by the Park Store, we stopped by Calf Pasture, but it was too windy for much bird activity, save for a resident Belted Kingfisher and a family group of Eastern Phoebes.
The Birdhouse Nature Store (early afternoon) Winds were unfavourable for raptor viewing, but many passerines were on the move here. A distant Northern Flicker offered satisfactory views.
Brighton Constructed Wetland (BCW) / Brighton Sewage Lagoon (early-mid-afternoon) After seeing four juvenile Common Gallinules en route, we encountered six juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs and one adult Greater Yellowlegs at the BCW. Several Green-winged Teal, many Wood Ducks, and two Marsh Wrens were other notables here. We finished the outing around 2:50 p.m. at the entrance to the gated Brighton Sewage Lagoon where two adult Bonaparte's Gulls, two Blue-winged Teal, and one Spotted Sandpiper completed our day's tally.
Thanks again to the local birders who offered their assistance and to Keith Lee of the Municipality of Brighton for granting group access to the BCW. We hope to see you next year.
September 1 2018 (Saturday) Toronto Islands
Leader: Gavin Platt.
On Saturday, September 1, 31 birders attended the OFO outing to the Toronto Islands. I think the birding would best be classified as slow and steady. Between flyovers from fighter jets (practising for the air show), we managed a collective total over 70 species. The trip highlights were 2 Olive-sided Flycatchers, along with a good variety of warblers (15 species total). Thanks to all who came out for the day.
August 25 2018 (Saturday) Palgrave, Tottenham Sod Farms, Schomberg Lagoons
Leader: Kevin Schacklton.
Filling in for John Schmelefske, I followed his written itinerary in hopes of finding some shorebirds.
There were 33 of us initially and all the extra eyes paid off with some excellent birds being added to the species list; Olive-sided Flycatcher, Baird's Sandpiper and an immature Peregrine Falcon all spotted initially by members of the group being the highlights. Our tally for the day was 55 species. We traveled about 89 kilometres, dodging rain drops after about 10:30.
We noted a spotting scope pointed at an empty field on the 11th Line east of Tottenham Road. The Alliston OPP detachment has it now, 4601 Industrial Parkway, Alliston, thanks to Constable Brian O'Neill.
Those wishing eBird checklists should email separately. It was a fun day with a group of keen and knowledgeable birders.
Regards, Kevin Shackleton