Wednesday 21 November 2012

Hastings and Prince Edward counties - Sunday, November 18

On Sunday morning, I left my sister's place in Kingston and began the drive back towards Cambridge. However I had nothing planned for a few days, so I decided to spend a day checking out Prince Edward County, a location I have wanted to check out for some time.

Prince Edward County is a peninsula located in eastern Lake Ontario, just south of Belleville. With a population of just over 25,000 people it has to be one of Ontario's least populated counties. The birding there, however, is great. Over 350 species have been recorded in the county, including some notable rarities in Ferruginous Hawk, Brown Pelican, Say's Phoebe, Painted Bunting, Great Cormorant, Ash-throated Flycatcher, White Ibis, and Bicknell's Thrush, just to name a few. Ontario's 5th Black-bellied Whistling-Duck record was of a long-staying bird which I was able to see two years ago.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck - Milford

On Sunday morning, I birded around Belleville and Trenton before crossing over to Prince Edward County. I didn't see a lot of birds, but it was fun sorting through all the ducks. The highlight was probably the Ring-necked Pheasant that was creeping in the weeds behind the Canadian Tire in Trenton!

Next on the agenda was a spot near Carrying Place that looked good for waterfowl. It was - several thousand of them! Notable were the hundreds of American Wigeon, though no Eurasians mixed in.

I drove some roads near Consecon, seeing little, and eventually wound up at the LCBO in the town of Wellington. It has to be one of the most scenic LCBO locations in Ontario, backing onto a beautiful bay and harbour. Here I saw my only Northern Pintails, some cormorants, a Great Blue Heron, some Pine Siskins, and a juvenile Greater Yellowlegs hanging out on top of a beaver dam. Nothing super rare, but some good birds, especially considering it is almost December. Of greater interest was the local I ran into, and ended up chatting with for over half an hour. Turns out he is from a little oceanside community in Nova Scotia that Laura and I had visited numerous times, and he was familiar with the wildlife rehab place where Laura worked for 5+ summers! Unexpectedly meeting people like this is a cool side-effect of doing a "Big Year"!

Not long after, I received a call from Tyler Hoar who was birding at nearby East Lake. He had a probable Pacific Loon, but it was diving regularly and hard to locate. Needless to say I raced over to East Lake to meet up with Tyler, and you can read about the Pacific Loon success here.

Pacific Loon - East Lake, Prince Edward County

Whether it was complete luck that I happened to be in the right place at the right time to be able to chase this loon, or whether it was skill in my part in picking Prince Edward County for a few days of birding, I certainly wasn't complaining!!

That evening, I picked up groceries in town, then found a nice secluded spot near Point Petre to spend the night. The last bird of the day was a Northern Saw-whet Owl calling in the darkness.

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