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Birding Report Feb. 11 2016

February is traditionally a slow month for birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, as elsewhere, yet the open water in Presqu'ile Bay (as long as it lasts) provides plenty of opportunities for observing waterfowl.

Two TRUMPETER SWANS were in Presqu'ile Bay on Monday and three GADWALLS on Sunday.  Most of the ducks in Presqu'ile Bay are REDHEADS and GREATER SCAUP.  This morning a layer of thin ice covered much of what had been open water all week, precipitating a mass exodus of flock after flock of those species as they headed out to the open water of the lake.  By noon, a westerly wind had dissipated most of the newly formed ice and flocks of those birds began returning to feed.  A smattering of CANVASBACKS can usually be picked out with a scope from among the thousands of ducks.  Viewing is good from the calf pasture.  Unless that wind direction persists, the extreme cold predicted for the weekend may again cause the bay to freeze over.   Half a dozen other species of diving ducks are also regular in the bay in smaller numbers, including WHITE-WINGED SCOTER and COMMON and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS.  The first HOODED MERGANSERS often show up later in February.

Two RUFFED GROUSE were observed budding at the calf pasture.  There have been no reports of BALD EAGLES or other raptors this week, but both SNOWY and BARRED OWLS have been seen.  Single PILEATED WOODPECKERS were seen on one day and heard on another.  Four COMMON RAVENS were feeding on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay on Tuesday, and one was there on the next day.  Sightings of BROWN CREEPERS have been regular this winter, but three found by two observers walking the roads were exceptional.  Probably the most surprising find of the week was a flock of 45 COMMON REDPOLLS on Tuesday, a species that has been virtually absent all winter.  Perhaps they are a precursor of other finches arriving later in the winter.

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 may need to wade through water that is knee-deep when calm and is sometimes obscured by a layer of ice.  They may also 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.

Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be

Fred Helleiner