This being my last report of the year (a day later than promised), let me wish all fellow birders a merry Christmas and a birdy new year, and encourage you to spend some time birding in Presqu'ile Provincial Park in 2015. For now, the birding is very much dependent on the willingness of birds and birders to brave the highly variable weather conditions that have prevailed over the past week. Despite that, one or two unexpected birds have kept birders happy this week.
A male CANVASBACK that was near the lighthouse on the solstice is likely still somewhere nearby, as are the couple of dozen REDHEADS that have appeared in Presqu'ile Bay almost every second day. Most of the bay is ice-free so the few WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS that are there keep appearing in different places, most often near Salt Point. A RUFFED GROUSE was on Paxton Drive on December 22. SNOWY OWLS have been seen regularly on the beach, on Gull Island, on High Bluff Island, on the south shore near Chatterton Point, on a duck blind in the marsh, and on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay (when there is any). Single BARRED OWLS have been seen several times along Paxton Drive.
A PILEATED WOODPECKER flew near "the fingers". Unlike previous winters, there have been no RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER reports but they could well be in the Park somewhere. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was at the calf pasture yesterday. For the second consecutive week, a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET was found, this time on the trail near Owen Point. WHITE-THROATED and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS are being fed at 86, 85, and 83 Bayshore Road. The flock of COMMON GRACKLES that has been wintering in the same vicinity can usually be found, but the accompanying RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD has not been reported since December 21. COMMON REDPOLLS, PINE SISKINS, and AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES are appearing at feeders fairly regularly.
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 water that is knee-deep, not taking into account any wave action, 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