Traditionally, February is one of the slowest months of the year for finding birds, but the presence of open water around Presqu'ile Provincial Park guarantees that there will always be something of interest. Last weekend all of Presqu'ile Bay was free of ice and even the marsh was partly open. Since then, more normal conditions have prevailed, with the position of the ice margin fluctuating between the government dock and the lighthouse according to the velocity and direction of the wind.
Most of the waterfowl stay fairly close to the edge of the ice, but the government dock or Salt Point are usually the best viewing points at this time of year. One can usually see 100 or more Mute Swans and a handful of Tundra Swans. On February 4, before the bay began to freeze over again, a flock of 22 Tundra Swans, perhaps newly arrived migrants, flew past, in addition to the eight that were swimming with the Mute Swans. A male American Wigeon can almost always be found with the Redheads and Greater Scaup, and a female was also present on February 8. During the past week, the number of Canvasbacks (close to 200) has been higher than before. There were two White-winged Scoters off Salt Point daily until February 6 and one was still there on February 7. On four of the past seven days, two female Hooded Mergansers accompanied the other ducks.
The only raptors seen at Presqu'ile in the past week were a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a Snowy Owl, and a Barred Owl, all of them on the weekend. One Iceland Gull and at least two Glaucous Gulls were present on February 6.
The highlight of the week was a Common Raven heading out over Presqu'ile Bay on February 4. Increasingly each year, this species is being detected in the Park. One American Robin was at the government dock on February 4. A flock of Snow Buntings was on Gull Island on that date. The over-wintering Common Grackles have managed to stay hidden on most days, with only one sighting of a single bird on February 8. Pine Siskins were at three different locations on three consecutive days, the first of that species in the Park since late December.
To reach Presqu'ile Provincial Park, follow the signs from Brighton. Locations within the Park are shown on a map at the back of a tabloid that is available at the Park gate. The channel separating Gull Island from Owen Point is probably less than a metre deep but treacherous to wade across because of the swift currents. If it is ice-covered, the ice is probably unsafe.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.