Snowy Owl -Karin Laine

Amherst Island Snowy Owl -Karin Laine

I spent most of the weekend birding the Kingston area including Wolfe and Amherst Island. The Snowy Owls continue to dominant the winter birding scene with 15+ on February 8th on Wolfe Island, mainly the west end of the island and 11 on February 9th on Amherst Island, with at least 5 out on the ice along the south shore. There were very few hawks observed, 2 American Kestrel on Wolfe and 3 Red-tailed Hawks on Amherst Island. One Northern Shrike was observed at the east end ( Martin Edwards Reserve) of Amherst Island. Overall very few land birds on either island but did see a couple of small flocks of Snow Bunting on Wolfe Island. There was virtually no water birds due to the ice conditions except a small number in the ice chocked ferry channels. At the Kingston ferry dock a flock of 110+ Greater Scaup, 3 Lesser Scaup,1 Red-breasted Merganser,6 Common Merganser, and 2 Common Goldeneye were crammed into the limited open water. At the Millhaven dock a flock of 6 Red-breasted Mergansers w

The road into the “Owl Woods” on Amherst Island is impassable with amazingly high snow drifts but there is a well packed path you can follow to the woods. I haven’t seen snow banks so high on Amherst Island in years! Interestingly we observed a group of 4 Ring-necked Pheasant (3 male,1 female) and 1 female feeding on the remaining Wild Grapes that were still on the vine in a Hawthorne tree. This is likely due to the deep snow this winter. I’ve only observed pheasants in trees once, back in 1972 at the Arboretum in Ottawa. The warm water lagoon at the Invista/DuPont Plant had 200+ Mallard,15+ American Black Duck, 7 Gadwall, and 6 American Coot. Please review the OFO Birding code of ethics at

Good birding, Bruce Di Labio

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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 meters 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 $9.00 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 ( Martin Edwards Reserve) 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 ob Directions: Wolfe Island ferry is located along the waterfront in downtown Kingston. Check ferry schedule at


Categories: Sightings

Drew Monkman

I am a retired teacher, naturalist and writer with a love for all aspects of the natural world, especially as they relate to seasonal change.