Below normal temperatures have prevailed at Presqu'ile Provincial Park over the past week, causing much of the formerly open water to freeze over, with predictable effects on the bird life.
A Common Loon and a Double-crested Cormorant in Presqu'ile Bay on December 6 were late, and the latter bird was seen again on December 8. Among the 100 or more Mute Swans that are gathering for the winter there have been up to nine Tundra Swans as recently as December 8. A few Canvasbacks can usually be found by carefully scanning the flock of Redheads and Greater Scaup off Salt Point or the government dock. A few Hooded Mergansers have also been seen in that area on most recent days.
An adult Bald Eagle sat on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay on December 8 before flying off towards the lake. A Northern Harrier was seen on December 8. A Sharp-shinned Hawk observed the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road on December 4. A Northern Goshawk was at the picnic area on December 8.
There were still about 40 American Coots off 38 Bayshore Road just before freeze-up on December 6, but only two could be found two days later. For the first time since early spring, no shorebirds of any kind were reported in the Park since the previous weekly report. A few Bonaparte's Gulls were still present on December 6, and a Glaucous Gull appeared on December 8.
A Snowy Owl re-appeared on Gull Island on December 4 and 6, and it or another was in the marsh on December 8. A Barred Owl was found in the trees opposite 42 Bayshore Road.
Two Golden-crowned Kinglets and a late American Pipit were at Owen Point on December 4. The feeders at 83 Bayshore Road have played host this week to two White-throated Sparrows, a Red-winged Blackbird, and three Common Grackles. Only one Common Redpoll was seen at Presqu'ile this week, but a sizable flock of Pine Siskins appears every few days.
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 should be prepared to wade through shin-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven. The surrounding shoreline can be very slippery. It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is given priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, Sebastopol Island, Owen Point, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those days.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.