Friday, September 21, 2012

Migration in Full Swing at Prince Edward Point South Shore IBA

Ontario Field Naturalists at Prince Edward Point South Shore IBA 

Bird migration is full steam ahead in the Prince Edward Point South Shore IBA, and guest blogger Terry Sprague recounts an outing of the Ontario Field Ornithologists (OFO) to the IBA on September 15. Two years ago, 264 birders largely from OFO provided their opinions on how wind energy projects might influence their visiting their favourite birding spots. One of the conclusions from the report was that “Some birders, over one-third of those sampled here, said they would be discouraged from visiting the iconic birding locations of Point Pelee or Prince Edward Point if wind farms were built near them.” This is an obvious concern of the tourist industry that has developed around seasonal birder visit to places like southern Prince Edward County. Terry Sprague, a local naturalist and guide knows this all too well

You can always expect a good day of birding at Prince Edward Point, no matter what the season. While spring can often produce numbers and variety of species to rival Point Pelee, the autumn season can be just as productive with its fall migration of passerines, birds of prey, as well as Monarch butterflies. 

Prince Edward Point is a long way to drive, even for those who live in Prince Edward County! However, that did not stop 32 members of the Ontario Field Ornithologists who were based in Cobourg for the OFO Conference. They made the trip on September 15th, arriving in Picton to meet birder and leaders Myrna Wood and myself for a half day at the Point. 

Nothing spectacular in terms of species, but lots of activity in the Point Traverse Woods as well as at the Observatory itself and around the harbour area. Birders were present from Toronto, Ottawa, Guelph, Waterloo, Cobourg, Algonquin, Dundas and Ancaster.  

Prince Edward Point is part of the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area, set aside in 1978 by the Canadian Wildlife Service in recognition of its importance as a bird migration staging area during migration. It is also part of a much larger South Shore Important Bird Area that stretches from Prince Edward Point for almost 30 km, to Point Petre. How unfortunate that this shoreline, and its importance to bird migration, habitat diversity and biodiversity, is also a target area for nine massive wind turbines at Ostrander Point by the Gilead Power Corporation, to be followed later by a dozen more as part of the White Pines Wind Project (WPD), all within the Important Bird Area. WPD has plans for 29 turbines in total, both in and adjacent to the IBA - enormous structures some 200 feet higher than those at Kingston’s Wolfe Island (which can be seen clearly from Prince Edward County, 40 kilometres away !).
It is the opinion of this writer that wind turbines have no place in an IBA. Rare birds that have shown up here in the last several years include Pacific Loon, Western Grebe, Tricolored Heron, White Ibis, Ferruginous Hawk, Chuck-will’s-widow, Northern Wheatear, LeConte’s Sparrow, Mountain Bluebird, Fork-tailed Flycatcher and Black-bellied Whistling Duck.
Below is a list (62 species) of what were seen on September 15: 

Canada Goose
Common Loon
Double-crested Cormorant
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Mourning Dove
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Blue-headed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (1st bird of the day ! )
Swainson’s Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Palm Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
American Redstart
Common Yellowthroat
Scarlet Tanager
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco (1 in Point Traverse Woods)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Purple Finch
American Goldfinch


Bird Window Collisions said...

I agree with you on the wind turbines. They have no place in a such a heavy bird traffic location. They pose a serious risk to all bird species there.