Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Amherst Island Birrrrrrrrr-ding

I spent the past two days birding Amherst Island.

Important information about the Amherst Island Ferry.

Frontenac II - the ferry to Amherst Island
arriving at the dock on the mainland.

Weather conditions were highly variable including snow, wind and extremely cold temperatures.
Despite all of that, the birding was excellent.

The shores of Lake Ontario on January 13, 2009.
Conditions were far from ideal for our owling trip!

Even Snow Buntings, who live in the
arctic, were having a hard time!

Yesterday, January 13th we observed 6 Northern Saw-whets, 3 Boreals,
9 Long-eared and 4 Short-eared Owls. Open field birding was difficult due to the blowing snow but 5 Snowy Owls were observed late in the afternoon after conditions had changed.

A Boreal Owl with snow sticking to the back
of its head. Fortunately this one was smart
enough to face away from the blowing snow!

This Northern Saw-whet Owl was facing INTO
the blowing
snow! I guess by being covered in
blowing snow
he blends in well with the tree.

A relaxing afternoon on the island, despite the cold!

Today, January 14th, it was a clear, cold morning, -25C, but a great morning in the "Owl Woods." A total of 5 Northern Saw-whets, 1 Boreal, 19 Long-eared and 8 Short-eared Owls were observed.

The ferry arriving at Millhaven on January 14, 2009.
Every day is different on Amherst Island, particularly
when it comes to the weather.

A photo of the new wind turbines that have been installed
on Wolfe Island. This photo was taken from Amherst Island.

What a difference a day makes! The frozen
shores of Lake Ontario on January 14, 2009.

A beautiful cold, crisp morning at
the entrance to the Owl Woods.

The first tracks are from an Eastern Cottontail.

Time for a party on the bench! Donations for
the Owl Woods feeders are greatly appreciated.

That's not sweat on my feathers!
A Boreal Owl in the Owl Woods.

This is a photo of Long-eared Owls in the Owl Woods today.
How many do you see?
Post your answer in the comments!

Today was a much nicer day, weather-wise.

A Short-eared Owl in flight.

Northern Saw-whet Owl
A bit of a change from yesterday!

Camouflage is very important for owls.
There is one here...a Long-eared Owl.
Can you spot it?

An immature Snowy Owl with a drooping right wing.
It appears to be able to fly okay.

Other species included, a few small flocks of White-winged Crossbills, 1 Northern Shrike, 1 Hermit Thrush and 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker. A quick check of the island roads produced 14 Snowy Owl, 27 Rough-legged and 21 Red-tailed Hawk, 3 Northern Harrier, 3 American Kestrel, 1 Northern Shrike and 70 Snow Bunting. Access to the "Owl Woods" by car, was only from the South Shore Rd.

Everyone came out today! A male
Northern Cardinal feeding on natural food.

Remember your birding ethics - obey signs and respect
private property and the rules of the place you're visiting.

Good birding,

Directions: Amherst Island: Located 18 km. west of Kingston. Exit off Hwy. 401 at exit 593 (County Rd. 4, Camden East) and drive south to the very end (Millhaven). Turn right on Hwy. 33 and drive 100 metres until you see the sign for the Amherst Island ferry. The ferry (20 minute trip) leaves the mainland on the half hour and leaves the island on the hour. Cost is $8.00 Canadian round trip. There are no gas stations on the island. There are restrooms on the ferry, and at the island ferry dock. The East End K.F.N. property is at the easternmost part of the island on the east side of the Lower Forty Foot Road. To reach the Owl Woods, turn left (east) at the four-way stop sign by the general store and drive 3.4 km along Front Rd. to the (seasonal) Marshall Forty-Foot Rd. Marshall Forty-Foot Rd. is across the road from house #2320. Drive along Marshall Rd. to the mid-way point, where there is an "S" in the road (1.2 km, look for the K.F.N. kiosk which had owl observing ethics). Park in the gravel lane or off the road edge. Because of liability issues, visitors to the Kingston Field Naturalists' property at the east end of Amherst Island MUST be accompanied by a KFN member. For KFN contact information or how to become a member, please visit

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