In the aftermath of the Christmas Bird Count excitement at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, birding has slowed down a bit, not because there are fewer birds but likely because most birders have been pre-occupied with holiday festivities.
Apart from the usual winter build-up of MUTE SWANS in Presqu'ile Bay, no other swans have been reported in the Park in the past week, but a pair of TRUMPETER SWANS was present for at least two days and photographed on the north shore of Presqu'ile Bay at Gosport. There was still a NORTHERN PINTAIL off Gull Island on December 27 and a few REDHEADS and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS in Presqu'ile Bay, much of which froze over last night. The drastically altered ice conditions of the past twelve hours may be responsible for an influx of a few dozen COMMON GOLDENEYES where, unlike in Popham Bay, only a few have been present in recent weeks.
This morning, before the wind cleared a lot of the ice out of the outer bay, a small patch of open water contained a few dozen ducks, including a male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE that was still there in mid-afternoon. It is over a month since that species was last seen at Presqu'ile, but now it seems to be occupying the same patch of water near the lighthouse where one has spent three of the last four winters. A COMMON LOON, a HORNED GREBE, and a DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT on December 27, 25, and 26, respectively, may not be around to see the new year in if ice conditions force them out. The small flock of AMERICAN COOTS that remained on December 27 may also be the last of the season.
A BALD EAGLE and a COOPER'S HAWK were the most interesting hawks of the past week. Without venturing out to Gull Island, three observers were able to pick out six PURPLE SANDPIPERS and an ICELAND GULL from the tip of Owen Point on December 26. No BONAPARTE'S GULLS have been reported since December 23. Two of the four IVORY GULL records for Presqu'ile have occurred within the coming seven-day calendar period, and it may just happen that the current cold snap will have driven another of that species into the Park from some point further north. As many as three SNOWY OWLS could be seen from Owen Point at one time, one on the beach, one on Gull Island, and one on Sebastopol Island.
A BELTED KINGFISHER flew past the government dock on December 27. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER keeps visiting the feeders at 83 Bayshore Road.
One observer found three PILEATED WOODPECKERS in the space of a couple of hours. A NORTHERN SHRIKE has been fairly reliable in the calf pasture. The occupants of the cottage at 83 Bayshore Road have repeatedly noticed the CAROLINA WREN that resides in that area. The most recent sighting of the SAVANNAH SPARROW that was discovered at that address on the Christmas Bird Count was on December 24.
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 knee-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.