The new year has been kind to birders at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, with over 60 species of birds recorded.
Once again, the need to cull the MUTE SWAN population is increasingly evident, with close to 500 individuals being seen today. Two TRUMPETER SWANS were among them today and about six TUNDRA SWANS yesterday. Six dabbling duck species is an unusual count for January. They include a female WOOD DUCK yesterday and today off Salt Point, two GADWALLS on Sunday off Gull Island, and an AMERICAN WIGEON and one or perhaps two male NORTHERN PINTAILS at Owen Point on Sunday. Among diving ducks there was a female CANVASBACK among the hundreds of REDHEADS off Salt Point, a precursor to larger numbers that will soon begin appearing. Both male and female RING-NECKED DUCKS, unusual in winter, have been seen among the hundreds of GREATER SCAUP. Two LESSER SCAUP, also somewhat unusual in winter, were also seen today. A few WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, up to six at a time, are still present. One has to wonder whether a HARLEQUIN DUCK might be among the hundreds of other ducks.
Twice this week a RUFFED GROUSE was seen budding in the trees, and their tracks in the snow have also been noted. The five elusive WILD TURKEYS that have been seen periodically around the west end of the calf pasture for several weeks were out in the middle of Bayshore Road late this afternoon. It was nine years ago today that the only winter record of RED-THROATED LOONS was established, and coincidentally two of that species flew over this morning. As often happens once Presqu'ile Bay begins to freeze over, BALD EAGLES appear on the ice and on nearby trees, taking advantage of sick or injured waterfowl. Not surprisingly after this week's sudden cold snap, an adult and an immature appeared in that area. This morning two observers on Gull Island were able to identify two NORTHERN HARRIERS, two ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, and an AMERICAN KESTREL on High Bluff Island. A late AMERICAN COOT has been off Salt Point for the past two days. Most shorebirds are rare in winter, so the sight of seven of them on Sunday representing three species, pleased a good number of birders. There was one SANDERLING, the latest on record, on Gull Island, and it was accompanied by five PURPLE SANDPIPERS and a DUNLIN. By today, only three remained, the SANDERLING, establishing another new record, and two PURPLE SANDPIPERS. BONAPARTE'S GULLS are also rare in January at Presqu'ile, yet 16 were at Owen Point on Sunday and five were off Salt Point yesterday. Single GLAUCOUS GULLS were seen on two different days. The SNOWY OWL that has been on the offshore islands since early November was still there on Sunday but could not be found today. Instead, two were on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay. A BARRED OWL was sunning itself by the roadside on a bitterly cold morning. Another owl sitting on the ground among trees near Owen Point yesterday was described as being smaller than a BARRED OWL.
Before the freeze-up, a BELTED KINGFISHER was frequenting the cove at Salt Point. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER has been seen regularly at feeders at 83 and 102 Bayshore Road and in between those locations. A NORTHERN FLICKER put in a brief appearance on January 3 at 186 Bayshore Road. A HERMIT THRUSH, seen on January 2, has not been relocated. Three late AMERICAN PIPITS were on Gull Island on Sunday. A male RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD put in a brief appearance yesterday at 83 Bayshore Road.
This report deals with sightings within Presqu'ile Park, but as a matter of interest, three species seen this past week within a kilometre or two of the Park are worth noting: NORTHERN GOSHAWK, LONG-EARED OWL, BALTIMORE ORIOLE.
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 will need to wade through water that is shin-deep when calm and will encounter a slippery coating of ice on the rocks. Ice cleats are recommended.
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.