As promised, here is a short post about my trip over to Kingston to visit my brother who is in first-year engineering at Queen's.
On Tuesday, I had planned on getting there around 6 as his last exam ended at 4 and then he had stuff to do, but the drive turned out to be much shorter than I'd thought (it's only 3 hours!), so I made a stop at the Whitby harbour along the way. I didn't find the Greater White-fronted Goose which had been reported there a few days previously, but there was a decent selection of waterfowl including Gadwall, wigeon, many Redhead and some Trumpeter Swans. Along the highway I also managed to kick off some of my eastern Ontario county lists with birds such as European Starling, American Crow, Rock Pigeon and Red-tailed Hawk - exciting stuff! Also, if you happen to be in Kingston, check out the restaurant called Spin on Princess St - the food was delicious!
Wednesday saw us heading up to Ottawa, mostly because it wasn't too far and there were birds I wanted to see, but also for a bit of an adventure. We got into Kanata around 11:30 or so, and after about half an hour of searching I finally managed to pick out a Gray Partridge out in the fields behind the Canadian Tire. Not sure where the other 10 were, and it wasn't a great view, but I'll take it. After that it was a quick drive over to Bate Island where a walk around provided birds such as Glaucous and Great Black-backed Gull, many Common Goldeneye, and my target - a Barrow's Goldeneye! A nice female with full-orange bill and the classic sloping head. Apparently there is also a male that's been hanging around but either it wasn't there or it was just too far for my scope. We then headed over to Quebec for lunch, where the GPS led us to non-existent gas stations and told us to go the wrong way down one-way streets. Gotta love technology... The highlight of this venture (besides eating in a two-storey McDonald's where nobody spoke English) was a flock of ~300 Bohemian Waxwings swarming a fruiting tree near the Quebec University campus. After that it was back to the Ontario side for a walk around the Parliament buildings before heading to Carleton University to visit our friend from back home. After dinner at the Works burger place (also delicious), we headed back to Kingston.
Thursday morning saw me waking up long before my alarm, so I headed out along the waterfront to see what was around. A quick stop at the Cataraqui bay yielded a few waterfowl, but nothing too interesting, so I headed over to Lemoine Point CA to see what else I could find. I spent about 2 hours wandering around this nice conservation area, finding quite a bit more activity than back in the bay. Tundra Swans, Long-tailed Ducks, Cooper's Hawks, Golden-crowned Kinglets, a Pileated Woodpecker and a Winter Wren kept me company as I searched for rarities and owls with no luck. I haven't heard much about this place before but I think it could be fairly productive during migration!
On Friday it was time to head back to Guelph, unfortunately during a blizzard! There were some pretty good (almost) white-outs at times, and I saw about 9 accidents/cars in the ditch between Kingston and Cobourg, where the snow finally let up. Due to getting stuck behind three rounds of snowplows, the drive home took about five and a half hours, almost double the time to get there! I did break it up a bit, however, with a quick stop in Cobourg to search for the Townsend's Solitaire which had been reported earlier in the day. I only managed to turn up a Northern Shrike and an American Kestrel on the drive back to the highway, however.
All in all a fun few days and it was nice to get out of Guelph for a bit! A word of caution though - the Kingston parking police are not exactly tolerant! Despite the fact that it was reading week and the parking lots on campus were basically empty, I managed three parking tickets in as many days...so just a heads-up! I also didn't take my camera out much but here's a shot of the Parliament buildings to give this post some colour.