The old year yielded some surprises at Presqu'ile Provincial Park before bowing out with a blast of wind that put a damper on New Year`s Day birding.
With plenty of open water persisting in Presqu'ile Bay, thousands of ducks have gathered there, most of which are REDHEADS, GREATER SCAUP, and LONG-TAILED DUCKS. Among others, however, are a few CANVASBACKS, eight on December 28 and three on the following day. WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS have been there and at Owen Point. An anonymous report of a BARROW'S GOLDENEYE was provided without any details concerning either its location or the criteria by which it was identified. The biggest surprise of the week was a TURKEY VULTURE that sat on the shore beside the lighthouse on December 29 before taking off to the west. That was the first record in meteorological winter at Presqu'ile. Both an immature and an adult BALD EAGLE were observed at the calf pasture. A COOPER'S HAWK was found on December 29. Not unexpectedly, SNOWY OWLS have been seen on five of the past seven days, with three on December 29. Apparently two different BARRED OWLS were seen on December 27. The one on December 28 may have been one of those.
PILEATED WOODPECKERS, not uncommon in the Park, will soon become more vocal and therefore easier to find. A loud woodpecker heard tapping on Monday may have been that species. COMMON RAVENS have also been vocalizing this week. Four were observed on Monday.
Presqu'ile usually plays host in winter to a few birds that normally have migrated farther south. This week they include the same ones that have been previously reported: AMERICAN ROBINS (close to a dozen), WHITE-THROATED and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, COMMON GRACKLES (seven or eight). Among the typically winter birds there have been a few SNOW BUNTINGS, COMMON REDPOLLS, and a HOARY REDPOLL that paid a very brief visit to the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road along with 19 of the commoner variety.
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