Most of the birding activity at Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the past week has centred on Presqu'ile Bay, where the strong westerly winds and mild weather have resulted in open water over about 2/3 of the bay (farther west than the calf pasture). Not surprisingly, that has been accompanied by a massive influx of waterfowl, reminiscent of the waterfowl viewing weekends of mid-March.
Among the three species of swans that are present in Presqu'ile Bay are a single Trumpeter Swan and a handful (up to12) of Tundra Swans. The vast majority (over 400 on one day) are Mute Swans. Thousands of ducks arrived with the record-breaking warmth on Tuesday. Although most were diving ducks, a pair of Northern Pintails on January 8 may be the earliest arrival of that species on record at Presqu'ile. If the warm weather persists, there might be Gadwalls or American Wigeons arriving next. There are about 50 Canvasbacks and well over 1,000 Redheads that can be seen easily from the government dock or the calf pasture. Ring-necked Ducks are also present, with the first being seen on January 8 and at least three being seen today. A few Lesser Scaup have also been in Presqu'ile Bay and off the west end of Gull Island. A Harlequin Duck was off the west end of Gull Island on January 6 but has not been re-located. Three species of scoters have been seen recently, including five Surf Scoters off 150 Bayshore Road on January 10, good numbers of White-winged Scoters in several areas, and two female Black Scoters off 186 Bayshore Road on January 5. The male Barrow's Goldeneye that was around the lighthouse since December disappeared after January 8. A single American Coot has been frequenting the area between the calf pasture and the government dock on five of the past six days, omitting only the one day when fog created almost zero visibility.
An immature Bald Eagle has been regularly sitting on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay and in surrounding trees. A Northern Harrier flew past Salt Point on January 4 and a Cooper's Hawk was perched nearby on January 10. Both Iceland Gulls and Glaucous Gulls appeared in two different locations on January 6, though they may have been the same birds.
In the woods, birds have been exceptionally scarce except where food has been provided. Birders have spent hours on the trails and have come up with only a Barred Owl (sitting in a tree at the end of Bayshore Road on January 10), a couple of Pileated Woodpeckers, and single Brown Creepers and Golden-crowned Kinglets, as well as a few more common birds. Two Northern Shrikes were in the Park this week, one at the calf pasture and the other on Gull Island. Two Carolina Wrens are also present, at 83 and 186 Bayshore Road. Ten American Robins were near the lighthouse on January 4. A single European Starling at 83 Bayshore Road was, mercifully, the only one of that species seen at Presqu'ile recently. A flock of Bohemian Waxwings that was inside the Park gate on January 8 may have moved to Huff Road, outside the Park, where a flock was seen today. A Song Sparrow, a White-throated Sparrow, and a Common Grackle have all been seen this week at 83 Bayshore Road. A group of 25 Pine Grosbeaks was further west along Bayshore Road.
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. Gull Island is no longer an island, the connection to the mainland having been established several months ago.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.