Birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park this week has been fairly typical for late November, except for a few surprises.
On Friday, November 21, three swan species were present. About 80 MUTE SWANS on that day were eclipsed by a count of 187 on November 23. Also present were a TRUMPETER SWAN and eleven TUNDRA SWANS. A female NORTHERN PINTAIL was at Gull Island on November 23. A few CANVASBACKS and RING-NECKED DUCKS continue to accompany the hundreds of REDHEADS in Presqu'ile Bay. The five SURF SCOTERS seen there on November 23 may be the same group that was present for over a month but had not been seen for almost two weeks. About 25 HOODED MERGANSERS and a RUDDY DUCK were also in Presqu'ile Bay on November 23. Four WILD TURKEYS, perhaps the largest group ever seen in the Park, were found yesterday. A non-birder surprised those who confirmed his identification of a RED-THROATED LOON near the edge of the ice in Presqu'ile Bay on November 24. HORNED GREBES were still in Presqu'ile Bay on two of the past five days, with two on November 23. Only one DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT remained to be seen on November 24. Three GREAT BLUE HERONS flew over on November 23, and one was just outside the Park gate this morning.
A few NORTHERN HARRIERS are being seen. On November 21 an AMERICAN COOT was in Presqu'ile Bay and SANDHILL CRANE(S) were heard from that direction. No shorebirds have been seen since Sunday, when a single WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER and a glimpsed flying PURPLE SANDPIPER were with 18 DUNLINS. None of the expected GLAUCOUS or ICELAND GULLS could be found yet. After a number of birders had "dipped out" on SNOWY OWLS on Sunday and Tuesday, two birders hit the jackpot this afternoon, when at least 11 and possibly 12 were on Owen Point and the offshore islands, apparently a one-day record for Presqu'ile. At least six could be seen from Owen Point and eight could be seen at one point from Gull Island. Did they move in overnight? A BARRED OWL was at the calf pasture this morning. An AMERICAN KESTREL and a few MERLINS were seen as recently as yesterday and today, respectively.
On Sunday two HORNED LARKS were on Gull Island and a very late RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET was at Owen Point. AMERICAN PIPITS have been the most common passerines on Gull Island this week, but 20 SNOW BUNTINGS were also there on Sunday. The feeders at 83 and 85 Bayshore Road have had FOX, WHITE-THROATED, and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS as well as RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS (also at 102 Bayshore Road) and COMMON GRACKLES (also at 102 and 186 Bayshore Road). COMMON REDPOLLS have been avoiding feeders (except for two individuals at 83 Bayshore Road) but have been increasing in number at Owen Point and Gull Island, where at least two dozen were seen this afternoon. When PINE SISKINS first showed up this fall, they too avoided feeders, but now they are patronizing them in huge numbers. A HOUSE SPARROW at 186 Bayshore Road for two days was an unusual sight at Presqu'ile.
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. It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those days. 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