Birders visiting Presqu'ile Provincial Park in winter can expect to find over 30 species of birds on a good day. Yet that is only a fraction of what is actually present, for 58 species have been seen in the Park in the past week, an indication of what can be found when a number of birders contribute their efforts, as was the case during the Christmas Bird Count and subsequently. Now that the solstice is behind us, there will be even more daylight hours (well, at least minutes) during which birds can be located.
MUTE, TRUMPETER, and TUNDRA SWANS have all been seen in Presqu'ile Bay this week. The biggest concentration of dabbling ducks is off High Bluff Island, including a number of GADWALLS. Three NORTHERN PINTAILS, two males and a female, were at Owen Point today. There has been a steady build-up of /Aythya/ ducks more typical of late January in the outer part of Presqu'ile Bay, between the government dock and the lighthouse. The vast majority are REDHEADS (several hundred) and GREATER SCAUP, but two CANVASBACKS and a RING-NECKED DUCK were present on Sunday. In addition to WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, which have been seen every day for over a week, there was also a female BLACK SCOTER near the lighthouse on December 19. Up to eleven HOODED MERGANSERS have been counted in Presqu'ile Bay. A COMMON LOON and a HORNED GREBE were near the lighthouse on December 20 and 19, respectively, and a RED-NECKED GREBE was in Popham Bay on December 18. After a hiatus of a week, a late DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT was found again on December 18.
This has been a good week for hawks, with seven species seen, including BALD EAGLE, NORTHERN HARRIER, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, and MERLIN. Apparently taking a lesson from the chickadees that do it all the time, a RUFFED GROUSE, one of six counted on the Christmas Bird Count, allowed itself to be hand-fed. For this late date, an estimated 40 AMERICAN COOTS today was an unusually large number. Likewise, the eight PURPLE SANDPIPERS on December 18 and 21, down to seven on December 22, were more than usual. Seven BONAPARTE'S GULLS were still present today, as was an ICELAND GULL first discovered a week earlier and seen twice since. SNOWY OWLS, three or four at a time, have been regular on the offshore islands and on the beach. While single birders are unlikely to stumble on a BARRED OWL, the efforts of a good number turned up three on the Christmas Bird Count. Night-time owling in "the fingers" might turn up a GREAT HORNED OWL, which has not been reported at Presqu'ile for a few months.
Two RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS were counted on the Christmas Bird Count.
Two observers found a NORTHERN FLICKER on December 20. It seems unlikely that the NORTHERN SHRIKE that has been frequenting the calf pasture as recently as yesterday is one of the same two birds that were seen today in the day use area and at the entrance to the marsh boardwalk. In addition to the CAROLINA WREN that has been regular at 83 Bayshore Road for weeks, another was found on Sunday in "the fingers". A big surprise was the appearance of a SAVANNAH SPARROW on December 18 at the feeders at 83 Bayshore Road. It was still present there and at 85 Bayshore Road for at least the next two days. A SWAMP SPARROW at the marsh boardwalk on December 18 was also late. The SNOW BUNTING flock on Gull Island had dwindled to four birds by today.
Twenty PINE SISKINS were recorded on Sunday.
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. Visitors to Gull Island not using a boat should be prepared to wade through shin-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.