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Latest Reports

This page will have up to date information on what is (and what isn't) being seen in the woods

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October 17, 2008

Alex spent a couple of hours in the Owl Woods this morning.  There were 4 SAW-WHET OWLS and at least a dozen LONG-EARED OWLS, 3 of which stayed put and gave good views.

Also of note:  BOREAL OWLS are on the move this year to north of us, and one was reported near Ottawa on September 29th, I believe one of the earliest recorded dates for up there.  This is also the 4th year in their typical 4 
year cycle of irruptions.                                                                                                 

October 18, 2008

The 4 SAW-WHET OWLS reported yesterday were seen again today in the owl woods, along with several LONG-EAREDS.

November 1, 2008

A number of birders were in the woods on Saturday, and reported 3 SAW-WHET OWLS, along with one BARRED OWL, and one LONG-EARED OWL

From the KFN property on the Island, Bruce Di Labio reported 10+ Northern Harrier, 6 Rough-legged Hawk, 5 Tundra swan, 5 Black-bellied Plover, and 1 adult Lesser Black-backed Gull.
At dusk they were entertained by a group of 26 Short-eared Owls feeding over a field just south of Stella. Also, there was a good number of finches present on the island including 40+ White-winged Crossbill, 6 Common Redpoll, 30+ Pine Siskin and numerous Purple Finch. One Pine Grosbeak was heard calling as it flew overhead. Overall hawk numbers good with 3 American kestrel, 16 Red-tailed Hawk , 15 Rough-legged Hawk and 25+ Northern Harrier.

November 2, 2008

Report from Bruce Di Labio:

Hi Everyone
Spent another interesting day birding Amherst Island. The "Owl Woods" again hosted 2 Northern Saw-whet Owl, 1 Barred Owl and 1 Long-eared Owl. There were still a number of White-winged Crossbill, Pine Siskin and Purple Finch in the woods. A late lingering "Western" Palm Warbler and Common Yellowthroat were observed in the open area between the "Owl Woods" and Jack
Pine Plantation. There was lots of raptor activity at the east end  KFN property including 1 Snowy Owl.
Good birding, Bruce

November 4, 2008

Bruce was in the woods again, and reports seeing the BARRED OWL and LONG-EARRED OWL, but no SAW-WHETS today.  Also there were a couple of Eastern Bluebirds in the open area between the cedars and the pines.

November 7, 2008

7 members of the Cornwall bird club, along with Bud and Joel from the KFN, found 2 SAW-WHET OWLS in the woods, and 6 SHORT-EARED OWLS flying at dusk, along with 50+ other species.

November 9, 2008

(reported by Chris Kimber on Ontbirds)

Martin Mallet, Sara Calhim and I spent the morning and early afternoon birding Amherst Island in defiance of the bands of horizontally blowing showers and bitterly cold wind.  The Owl Woods produced a Long-eared Owl just past the feeders on the walk in, and a pair of Northern Saw-whet Owls.  The first was kindly pointed out by a pair of ladies whose names I should have noted for this post, along the south edge of the Jack Pine Plantation, and the second I stumbled upon at close range in some of the isolated Jack Pines in the field between the plantation and the woods.  A couple of White-winged Crossbills were calling up above the woods but at this point the sky had turned a crystalline blue, briefly, so as to render seeing them impossible.  Among the House Finches feeding on berries near the Owl Woods feeders were several Purple Finches, including at least one male.

A walk out to the gravel bar at the east end of the KFN property yielded a relatively lightly marked Snowy Owl sitting sheltered from the wind part-way out the bar.  4 Black-bellied Plover were out on the bar, likely the same ones we had seen earlier on the South Shore Road, and they were joined by a single Dunlin.  4 Tundra Swans were at the bar as well, with a pair of female Hooded Mergansers augmenting the normal waterfowl assortment.  The chop on the lake south of the island made observing conditions somewhat difficult, but there were clearly lots of Long-tailed Duck moving around on the horizon as well as 3 White-winged Scoter and a lone Common Loon.  Several more Common Loons were in the channel between Amherst and the mainland, but no other loons or grebes were to be found.

A Northern Shrike was trying to stay upright in a stiff wet breeze on our way east out of Stella along Front Road early in the morning.  Of course, the usual abundance of Red-tailed and Rough-legged Hawks, Northern Harriers and American Kestrels dotted the eastern end of the island all day.

November 11, 2008

Karen and I made a thorough search of both the Cedar Woods and the Pines of the Amherst Island Owl Woods today in hopes of finding an early BOREAL OWL but came up empty handed.  There were no SAW-WHETS found either, nor did we find the recent BARRED OWL.  There were however 4 LONG-EARED OWLS.

While BOREAL OWLS have been seen earlier than this, they are more common in late November and early December.  Right now we're at a point between the end of SAW-WHET migration and the arrival of the overwintering population, and the numbers will be very dependent on the vole population.

Other birds of interest today were a BROWN CREEPER, 2 or 3 FOX SPARROWS, some WHITE WINGED CROSSBILLS, PURPLE FINCHES and a small flock (3) of CEDAR WAXWINGS.

Alex & Karen Scott

December 7, 2008

An updated report from Bruce:

Hi Ontbirder's
A quick update on the Boreal Owls on Amherst Island. We ended the morning with 3 Boreal Owls, plus 5 Northern Saw-whet and 20+ Long-eared Owls, all in
the "Owl Woods" both Jack Pine Plantation and Red/White Cedars.  Lots of Meadow Vole sign and numerous Red-tailed & Rough-legged Hawks, Northern
Harrier and 1 American Kestrel. Along the south shore Road there was 1 Snowy Owl.
The male Eurasian Wigeon was still present at the DuPont Plant/Elevator Bay at 3:30pm.
Good birding, Bruce

December 8, 2008

Chris Kimber reported 3 BOREAL OWLS and 1 SAW-WHET OWL, along with the usual complement of LONG-EARED OWLS

December 12, 2008

Reported from the Owl Woods today: four BOREAL OWLS - three in the jack pine plantation and one very well concealed low in a spruce tree just outside of the plantation.  There were also three NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS, at least 19 LONG-EARED OWLS, and a variety of non-owl highlights including three female RING-NECKED PHEASANTS near the jack pine plantation, three HERMIT THRUSHES in the plantation (aural only),
five GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, a NORTHERN FLICKER, and a male RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, which made a brief appearance at the feeders.

At the KFN property - one SNOWY OWL and also two SNOWY OWLS and some SHORT-EARED OWLS along the South Shore Road.

December 13, 2008

From Gary Fairhead:


Spent several hours in and around the Owl Woods and Jack Pine Plantation yesterday ( Saturday) with Ted Busby. Conditions looked promising in the morning but quickly gave way to snow flurries. We saw several Northern Harriers and Rough Legged Hawks shortly after getting to the island on the way to Owl Woods. A Northern Sawhet had been discovered by others at the
Jack Pine Plantation  and Ted managed to find another.. Several Long Eared Owls were seen in the Plantation and at least one Short Eared Owl was flying in the vicinity and could be best observed on the South side where it was seen flying in the morning. There were quite a few people in the area. Later in the afternoon. I found one Boreal Owl around 3:00 PM in the Jack Pines
and the photos taken are pretty busy with habitat but that was the bird's choice.There was a partially eaten mouse or vole on a branch a few feet below where the Owl was perched.  During the day we also saw 2 Hermit
Thrushes, 1 Golden Crowned Kinglet, 1 Brown Creeper, all in the Jack Pines as well as 2 American Tree Sparrows at the feeders. A White Breasted Nuthatch at the feeders put on a very nice wing display to another Nuthatch it pursued in the area. On the way out we saw several Short Eared Owls hunting on both sides of the road.

(See pictures on photo page - thanks Gary!)

December 14, 2008

From Patrick Blake:

I returned to Amherst Island today with my wife in an attempt to relocate all the boreal owls I reported on Friday.  The weather was harsher than earlier this weekend, with strong gusts of wind coming off Lake Ontario all day long.  This forced a lot of the smaller owls deeper into the jack pine plantation.  We managed to locate one BOREAL OWL nicely tucked away under a
fallen tree, but there was no sign of the other three.  However, we did find the three NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS I reported earlier, and approximately 13
LONG-EARED OWLS, two of which were very calm around people and allowed for some great viewing.  GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS and BROWN CREEPERS were present in the jack pines as well.  The male RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER is still present at the feeders, but comes and goes often so patience is needed to spot him. AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS and AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES are also present at the feeders.

I attached links to some photos from today and Friday, which I would have done in my previous posting had I had time to upload them to my website.

Good birding!

Boreal Owl #1 (12/12):
http://pj-mcblake.smugmug.com/gallery/4266081_mRyWe#P-2-15
** Please note: boreal owls #'s 2 & 3 were not photographed; #2 was snuggly hidden on a tall stump, surrounded by thin twigs and branches, and #3 was
near the top of a tree in the northwestern end of the plantation, approximately 20ft above the ground **
Boreal Owl #4 (12/12):
http://pj-mcblake.smugmug.com/gallery/4266081_mRyWe#435402395_JsUZn
Saw-whet Owl #1 (12/12):
http://pj-mcblake.smugmug.com/gallery/4266081_mRyWe#435402362_7KeoJ
** Please nore: saw-whets #2 & 3 we also not photographed; #2 was in a tall tree near the entrance to the plantation on the eastern side, and #3 was on the northern edge of the plantatiion with its back to me (the tree was not accessible from the other side) **

Saw-whet Owl #1 (12/14):
http://pj-mcblake.smugmug.com/gallery/4266081_mRyWe#436574276_WTn3f
Saw-whet Owl #2 (12/14):
http://pj-mcblake.smugmug.com/gallery/4266081_mRyWe#436574374_UA5jy
** Please note: saw-whet #3 was in an extremely dense juniper tree approximately 600ft west of the jack pine plantation and was not photographed **
Boreal Owl (12/14):
http://pj-mcblake.smugmug.com/gallery/4266081_mRyWe#436574392_tDPWg
Red-bellied Woodpecker (12/14):
http://pj-mcblake.smugmug.com/gallery/4386688_qfR9t#436603151_Kj8cD

December 15, 2008

3 SAW-WHET OWLS reported in the Owl Woods, as well as the usual LONG-EARED OWLS.  3 SNOWY OWLS were seen as well, and one NORTHERN SHRIKE along the South Shore Road.

December 18, 2008

Thursday with the help of 3 or 4 experienced birders we scoured the Owl Woods pretty thoroughly.  By the end of the day we had 1 BOREAL OWL and 5 SAW-WHET OWLS.  There were also numerous LONG-EARED OWLS throughout the woods and many SHORT-EARED OWLS in the surrounding areas.  There were 4 or 5 SNOWY OWLS between the village and the east end of the Island.
 
Other sightings were a number of RED and WHITE-WINGED CROSS BILLS including one flock of at least 20 of the latter, 2 HERMIT THRUSHES, a few REDPOLLS and SISKINS.  There were at least 3 NORTHERN SHRIKE, and 29 TUNDRA SWANS.
 
Hawks are plentiful, mainly HARRIER, ROUGH-LEGGED and RED-TAILED.
 
Alex Scott

December 30, 2008

From Bruce Di Labio:
Hi Everyone
Spent the morning birding the "Owl Woods" on Amherst Island starting at 8:00am. Our first run through yielded only 1 Northern Saw-whet Owl, 7 Long-eared Owls and 3 Short-eared owls hunting over the open fields. On the second run we found an additional 3 Northern Saw-whet Owls and few more Long-eared Owls. As we were leaving I decided to check one more tree, a spruce which I had observed Boreal in previous years and to my surprise there it was sitting quietly. It was a "lifer" for a number of the birders who were still searching the woods. At the east end of the island we observed 1 Snowy Owl on the KFN property. The "Owl Woods" also had a number of finches including 16 White-winged Crossbill, 3 Pine Siskin and 20+ Common Redpoll. There was 1 Northern Shrike at the north side entrance road to the woods.  We did have a Great Horned Owl along CR4 near Taylor Kidd Road driving down and on our return we observed 3 Eastern Bluebirds along CR 4 at Millhaven Road.
We ended the day in Ottawa with our 7th species of owl, Northern Hawk-Owl on Grandview Road.
Good birding, Bruce

December 31, 2008

Spent the day in the Owl Woods.  The Saw-whet population continues to increase with at least 6 being present today.  This and the significant number of voles bodes well for the rest of the winter.
 
Another Boreal has joined in as well.  This one is a huge female that must be pushing the upper limits of the size range.  Perched high in a tree, it was hard to identify at first - with its head tucked in and its feathers puffed out it looked at first to be the size of a fat Long-eared Owl.  Fortunately someone came along with a Boreal song and after several repeats it turned to look at us, confirming the identity, and several photos were obtained. 
 
There are still 6-8 Long-eared Owls present, but the Short-eared Owls weren't seen today, at least around the Owl Woods. 
 
There were 2 Hermit Thrushes again in the pines, several flights of White-winged Crossbills, and the Red-bellied flew overhead just at dusk.
 
The northern section of the Marshall 40 foot to the woods is now impassable to vehicular traffic but so far the southern section remains open.

Alex Scott

January 1, 2009

From Paul O'Toole:

Spent a few hours birding owl woods and finally managed to locate one Boreal owl past the bird feeders on the left side of the trail (North) close to the trail in some cedars. The regular long eared where present in the Jack Pines with one in the same general area as the Boreal. Two Saw-whet were located, on on the outer North edge of the Jack Pine Plantation on one just off the main trail on the way back out from the Planation. Snowy owls were seen heading out of owl woods on the North side entrance in the field to the west of the owl woods path while a second snowy was located on the KFN property. 1 Kestrel; 2 shrikes, several red tail hawks & 1 coyote were also seen. See images below, others available under flicker account newfoundlander61.

Boreal:
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3245/3156665027_f051c85a98.jpg

KFN Snowy:
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3090/3156705341_3c983baf35.jpg
 

January 2, 2009.

The owl population of the Amherst Island Owl Woods continued to increase over the past week.  The single (probable male) BOREAL OWL that has been present regularly since early December was joined Wednesday by a very large female BOREAL and today by another smaller one.  Today's final count was 3 BOREAL OWLS, 8 SAW-WHET OWLS, and at least 12 LONG-EARED OWLS.  Also present were a single HERMIT THRUSH although 2 or 3 have been seen together this past week, and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER in the feeder area.
 
There were also a few SHORT-EARED OWLS but not in the numbers they have seen recently.  SNOWY OWLS are also numerous with up to 12 being counted this week all over the Island.
 
There was a COOPER'S HAWK just south of the Owl Woods today as well as numerous RED-TAILED and ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS and a few HARRIERS.
 
Today was the Amherst Island Christmas Count so there may be a more detailed list of other Island birds when it is published

Alex & Karen Scott
 
January 3, 2009
 
Alex was over to the woods today, and again found 3 BOREAL OWLS and 8 SAW-WHET OWLS, as well as the usual 12 - 15 LONG-EARED OWLS.  There were also 3 Pine Grosbeaks in the woods.
 
Karen Scott

January 4, 2009
 
Alex and I had the pleasure of escorting photographer Marie Read through the woods today.  We found 3 BOREAL OWLS6 SAW-WHET OWLS and 15 - 20 LONG-EARED OWLS, most of which were sitting quietly today, allowing nice looks.
 
Karen Scott
 
January 5, 2009
 
Alex was over to the woods today, and found 2 BOREAL OWLS and 7 SAW-WHETS, and the usual 15 - 20 LONG-EARED OWLS.
 
Karen Scott
 
January 8, 2009
 
Alex was in the woods Tuesday and found 3 BOREALS, and 8 SAW-WHETS, so we know the 3 are still there.  Yesterday, Wednesday the 7th, he went to the woods with a group of students from Upper Canada College and their teachers, and they found 2 BOREAL OWLS, and 6 SAW-WHETS - but 2 of the ones the day before had been in the cedars, and there wasn't time to go there yesterday, so likely that's where the "missing" 2 were.  As usual, 15 - 20 LONG-EARED OWLS.  Oh, and there was a report of a TUFTED TITMOUSE at the feeders, seen by one of the birders from Conecticut.
 
Karen Scott
 
January 11, 2009
 
Weekend report from Bruce Di Labio:
 
Hi Everyone
Birded Amherst Island Saturday, January 10th and today, Sunday January 11th.  Conditions were excellent and we were still able to drive to the Owl Woods from the South Shore Road. Both days were very successful in the woods with 3 Boreal Owls Saturday, 2 today, 4 Northern Saw-whet Owls Saturday, 5 today, 9 Long-eared Owls Saturday, 14 today, and 2 Short-eared Owls Saturday, 8 today. We also had 9 Snowy Owls scattered around the island. Hawk numbers were good with 34 rough-legged and 28 Red-tailed Hawk, 6 Northern Harrier and 2 Bald Eagles. Other interesting observations included 100+ White-winged Crossbills, 1 Hermit Thrush, and a Northern Flicker. Water bird numbers were limited due to ice conditions around the island. We made a brief stop at the warm water lagoon at the Dupont Plant/Elevator Bay and observed 22 American Coot, 42 Gadwall, 2 American Wigeon, 4 Ring-necked Duck, 1 Lesser Scaup and 7 Hooded merganser along with 100's of Mallards and American Black Ducks.
Good birding, Bruce
 
January 12, 2009
 
Alex and I spent three hours in the woods this afternoon, and found 3 BOREAL OWLS, 9 SAW-WHETS, 15 - 20 LONG-EARED OWLS, and at least 4 or 5 SHORT EARED OWLS.  On the way back to the ferry we saw 2 SNOWY OWLS, and 2 BALD EAGLES, as well as numerous hawks we didn't have time to stop and identify; as I had to get home to get to work.
 
Karen Scott
 
January 14, 2009
 
I braved the below 0 (Fahrenheit) temperatures this morning along with Bruce Di Labio and Marilyn MacIvor and her husband.  The south approach is still open but just barely. 
 
By the time we got separated we had found 1 Boreal Owl and 5 Saw-whets and Bruce had counted at least 19 Long-eared Owls.  I went deeper into the woods and found the second Boreal in it's typical territory, and then a third.  The third one was not in a usual location and was extremely well hidden.  I was lucky enough to catch just a glimpse of tail feathers at first.  I ran off to try and locate Bruce but I guess he had gone by that point.  As I continued my search, I came to the area where I had seen the second Boreal but didn't see it.  I checked the surrounding area more thoroughly but couldn't find it so I thought perhaps it had moved, although there were no other footprints than my own in the area.
 
Just as I was leaving that section I came across a pile of feathers and a closer inspection left no doubt that it was the remains of the Boreal Owl.  Now, nature is nature, and it doesn't always behave the way we'd like.  Several years ago we had a Northern Goshawk that decimated the Long-eared Owls that season, leaving piles of feathers here and there.  Another year we lost several Saw-whet Owls to a Barred Owl, but none of these had quite the same impact as this morning's find.  I think the difference is that with the Boreals being few in number and having established their wintering territories within the woods, we get to know them and their personalities more and they become more like pets in that we know them as individuals.  So I felt a real sense of loss in discovering the remains of this beautiful bird just after I had seen it less than an hour previously.
 
What happened?  Well, I haven't seen any Goshawk in the neighbourhood this year and although I got a brief glance of a Coopers hawk a couple of weeks ago down on the south shore, I haven't seen it around the Owl Woods either.  While there are numerous Long-eared Owls around, they are not daytime hunters for the most part and there have been many times in the past 30 years where there have been large numbers of Long-eared, Saw-whets and Boreal Owls and no evidence of interaction or predation.  The only time I have seen anything close is once when a Long-eared Owl landed in a tree close to a Saw-whet, the Saw-whet was startled and took off to a different perch, but there was never any real threat. There have been quite a few Rough-legged Hawks overhead but I think it unlikely one would have found it or taken it.  The Short-eared Owls, however, have been very active in and around the area in question and have been roosting in these same trees, so that is my best guess at this time.  Interestingly, the last time we saw this particular owl while the Short-eareds were active, it seemed not to be concerned about our presence at it's roost, but was constantly watching overhead as the Short-eareds were flying around above the woods.  This is the first predation of a Boreal Owl that I have seen, and it has been years since the last Saw-whet met such an end.
 
Anyway, the count is now 2 Boreal Owls and 8 (?9) Saw-whet Owls, 19 Long-eared Owls and about 24 Short-eared Owls.
 
Alex.
 
Thursday January 15, 2009
 
Janet Scott reported a BOREAL OWL very well hidden in the Cedar woods - hard to tell at this point whether one of the regulars has moved, or if we have a new one.  She also reported another kill, of a LONG-EARED this time, in the same area as the Boreal the other day.
 
Monday January 19, 2009
 
Following the untimely demise of one of our BOREAL OWLS, the other 2 seem to have packed up and left as well.  There were 3 present on Wednesday, January 14 prior to the kill, only one reported on Thursday and Friday, and since then nothing.  I did a complete search on both Saturday and Monday and failed to find one.  There were several field trips on Sunday none of whom apparently were able to find one either.
 
The conditions for the past 2 days have not been particularly good with heavy snow making it hard to get a good look at most of the trees.  Still Karen and I did turn up 6 SAW-WHET OWLS both Saturday and today.
 
There are still numerous LONG-EARED and SHORT-EARED OWLS about as well as many hawks and a few eagles.  Two HERMIT THRUSHES continue to be seen as well as a few GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS.  Today there were 2 CARDINALS at the feeders as well as DOWNEY and HAIRY WOODPECKERS and the RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER.
 
Still no definite ID on the predator but my own opinion is either a GOSHAWK or a PEREGRINE FALCON both of which have been reported on the Island.  So far, we have identified a Junco, a Starling, the Boreal Owl, a Long-eared, and a Short-eared Owl as victims of this unknown predator.  The Short-eared Owl carcass that we found on Saturday was almost complete except for a large hole in its back.  My favourite interpretation of this is that it was the Short-eared Owl that took the Boreal, and the 2 remaining Boreals ganged up and took it from behind and then lit out for the hills.
 
We also had a report from one of the ferry crew of 2 Glaucous Gulls.
 
As of today, the south approach to the Owl Woods is still drivable but it won't take much more to close it to regular traffic.
 
Alex and Karen Scott
 
January 20, 2009
 
Connie Denyes reported 1 BOREAL OWL, well hidden deep in the woods today.
 
January 22, 2009
 
We got a report today from Wednesday January 21 of 1 BOREAL OWL and 1 SAW-WHET OWL in the pines, along with at least 11 LONG-EARED OWLS.
 
January 25, 2009
 
John Schmelefske sent a report for yesterday and today of 1 BOREAL OWL, seen both days, 4 SAW-WHET OWLS, and approximately 20 LONG-EARED OWLS in the woods.  Also seen were at least 7 SNOWY OWLS, and numerous hawks.
 
Other birds of interest seen were Red-bellied Woodpecker, Redpolls, Snow Buntings, Pine Siskins, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and Shrike.
 
January 31, 2009
 
Reported by Bruce Di Labio:
Hi Everyone
Birded Amherst Island today. Despite the -20 C temperature this morning, birding was good. Due to snow conditions,we parked along the South Shore Road and walked in to the "Owl Woods". We observed 5 Northern Saw-whet Owls and 6 Long-eared Owls. On our walk out we observed one Northern Shrike. We drove around the island roads and counted 47 Rough-legged Hawk, 16 Red-tailed Hawk , 3 American Kestrel, 11 Snowy Owl and 2 Short-eared Owl.
There were 140+ Snow Bunting along the South Shore Road. Overall a good outing. At the DuPont Plant/Elevator Bay pond we observed 6 Ring-necked  Duck, 6 Hooded Merganser, 16 American Coot and 3 Gadwall among the 1000+ Mallards and 200+ American Black Duck. Please review OFO's Ethical Birding  Principles
Good birding, Bruc
e
 
February 1, 2009
 
Birding Amherst Island and owl woods today, located 1 Boreal; 3 Northern Sawwhet; 1 Long Eared, & 1 Barred owl in owl woods. Other species located were snowy owl; long tailed duck during the ferry crossing and a nice close look at a Rough-Legged Hawk. Images of all available at link below.
If link doesn't work search in flickr under newfoundlander61.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/newfoundlander61/

Paul O'Toole
Kingston
 
February 2, 2009
 
An Unwelcome Visitor in the Owl Woods
 
If the continued predation of Long-eared and Short-eared Owls in the Amherst Island Owl Woods by an as yet unidentified predator was not bad enough, the arrival this week-end of a Barred Owl is bad news for the overwintering Saw-whet population there.
 
Despite having large numbers of Long-eared Owls and Saw-whet Owls present at the same time over the past 30 years, the only time I have witnessed Saw-whet predation has been when a Barred Owl is also present.  These owls are also by far the most troublesome when they are present in the same area as a Saw-whet banding operation.
 
It was not unexpected then that today the Barred Owl was seen carrying the remains of a Saw-whet Owl which it dropped at one point enabling us to identify it as an unbanded Saw-whet.  Most likely it was the big female that has been roosting regularly in one of the pines along the east margin of the woods between the Cedar Woods and the Pine plantation.  In addition, there was evidence of another fresh Long-eared/Short-eared kill, and there were a couple of feathers from what appeared to be a Boreal Owl although there was no evidence of any carnage nearby.
 
So far there has been a rather significant decline in the owl population over the past several weeks - from 8 Saw-whets on January 9 to just 4 today, from 3 Boreals up to January 14 to 1 today, and from about 20 Long-eared Owls as recently as a week ago to just 2 today and yesterday.  Whether these declines reflect the presence of predators, a declining food supply, or just chance, the fact is that the populations have declined significantly and rapidly during a period when we would have been expecting a gradual increase into March.
 
Also, please be advised that the roads to the Owl woods are now impassable from both directions.  Do not be fooled by the fresh tire tracks of those who persist in trying to drive up from the south.  Short of a big plough on the front, your 4 wheel drive just ain't going to make it!
 
Alex.
 
February 3, 2009
 
From Bruce Di Labio:
Hi Everyone
Birded Amherst Island late afternoon today. After a brief search of the "Owl Woods" I located the elusive Boreal Owl in the southwest section of the Jack Pine Plantation. Also, located 2 Northern Saw-whet Owl and 1 Long-eared Owl.

Towards dusk did a quick run around the island and observed 7 Snowy and 1 Short-eared Owl. Please review OFO's Ethical Birding Principles
Good birding, Bruce
 
February 4, 2009
 
Not good news today - the last remaining Boreal Owl seems to have met its fate in the talons of the Barred Owl overnight along with at least two more Saw-whets yesterday.  At the moment there are still 5 Saw-whet Owls present although how long they will survive is anyone's guess.  Still one Long-eared Owl in the Cedar
Woods, and a Raven was seen and heard calling several times.
 
February 5, 2009
 
We had reports of the BARRED OWL, and 3 SAW-WHET OWLS.  Apparently no sign of any LONG-EARED OWLS.  No sign of additional Saw-Whet kills though, which is good news, at least for now.
 
Saturday February 7, 2009
 
Birded owl woods today and located 1 Boreal Owl; 2 Northern Saw-whet, & 1 Barred owl. No sign of any Long Eared's. See link for images.

Paul O'Toole
Kingston
Flickr user name newfoundlander61

http://www.flickr.com/photos/newfoundlander61/
 
February 13, 2009
 
We got one report from the Owl Woods today, of 1 SAW-WHET OWL and 3 LONG-EARED OWLS.  No sign of the Boreal or the Barred Owl.  The RAVEN was also seen again today, as well as numerous hawks, and 2 SNOWY OWLS at the east end of the island.
 
February 16, 2009
 
Some good news - Ottawa Field Naturalists had a field trip to the island yesterday (Sunday), and reported 3 NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS, and 3 BOREAL OWLS in the woods, as well as the BARRED OWL.  No Long-eared Owls were seen.
 
Seen at the feeders in the woods were the Red-bellied Woodpecker, several Redpolls, including one Hoary Redpoll, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, and several Robins. 
 
Around the rest of the island: at least 18 SNOWY OWLS, about 25 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, 30 RED-TAILED HAWKS, 3 HARRIER, 1 AMERICAN KESTREL, and seen from the ferry, 1 PEREGRINE FALCON.
 
February 16, 2009
 
Report from Paul O'Toole:
 
Birded owl woods today and was treated to 3 Boreal Owls. No sign of the Barred today and also found 2 Northern Saw-Whet. One freshly killed Short Eared in the woods may indicate its still around. Hoary & common redpolls at the feeders.Images at link below.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/newfoundlander61/
 
February 21, 2009
 
From Paul O'Toole:
 
Birded owl woods today and was able to locate 6 Northern Saw-Whet; 2 Long Eared, & 1 Barred owl. 1 Male Rednecked Pheasant put in a brief appearance
on the south side of the jack pine plantation. At the owl woods bird feeders were good numbers of common redpoll (no Hoary observed) & 1 Red-Bellied Woodpecker put in a brief appearance.South entrance was driveable today but may not be so good tomorrow with pending snow tonight.  Just to the west of the south entrance to owl woods a large flock of snow buntings was feeding at a nearby feeder. 1 Snowy owl was sitting a a tree behind the maint. buildings just up from the general store. See link below for images from today.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/newfoundlander61/
 
March 12, 2009
 
Sorry about the lack of reports - lots of sickness in the house this winter; not to mention last minute details of moving into a new church building - first service in the new church is this Sunday!
 
Last report we had from the Owl Woods was last weekend, when 8 SAW-WHET OWLS were found, along with the BARRED OWL.  The last report we've had of the BOREAL OWL was March 1.  We're hoping someone may be over this weekend and send in a report.
 
 
 

 

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Thanksgiving 2004
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Saw Whet in the Pines

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