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Birding Report The fact that 52 species of birds have been found in Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the past week bodes well for the Christmas Bird Count, which will take place on December 18. However, the freeze-up of the past few days has left little open water in Presqu'ile Bay, and many of the waterfowl that were present only three days ago appear to have left.
Amost all of the swans in Presqu'ile Bay (230 were counted on one day) are Mute Swans, but Tundra Swans were still present on December 11 and are now in a sheltered patch of open water outside the Park (Barcovan). Canvasbacks (up to eleven) were present up to December 11, and Redheads (up to 150) up to December 12. Past experience suggests that they will return as soon as there is open water near Salt Point. A female Black Scoter was near Gull Island on December 11, which was also the last date on which Hooded Mergansers were seen.
At least two and perhaps three Bald Eagles have been frequenting Presqu'ile Bay throughout the past week. A male Northern Harrier flew past Gull Island on December 10. A Sharp-shinned Hawk appeared twice not far from the lighthouse, and an adult Northern Goshawk was about a kilometre away from there.
An American Coot was off Langton Avenue on December 11, and a Purple Sandpiper was on Gull Island on that day. On December 10, 160 Bonaparte's Gulls were counted at the end of Langton Avenue, but by the next day not one could be found. An Iceland Gull was in Popham Bay and a Glaucous Gull in Presqu'ile Bay on consecutive days.
Two Northern Shrikes were in the Park this week, an adult at the calf pasture and a first winter bird on Paxton Drive not far from the lighthouse. Farther up Paxton Drive (near the first bend in the road), there was a Hermit Thrush, unusual in winter at Presqu'ile, among the buckthorns on December 14, and a small flock of American Robins has been nearby for a few days. Song Sparrows were at two different feeders on Bayshore Road, and at least one was found on Gull Island. White-throated Sparrows were at three different feeders on Bayshore Road. The handful of blackbirds around 83 Bayshore Road contained a Brown-headed Cowbird on December 10, a Red-winged Blackbird up to December 11, and a pair of Common Grackles. A Purple Finch was at the feeder at 42 Bayshore Road. A flock of Pine Siskins briefly visited the feeders at 186 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. Visitors to Gull Island should be prepared to wade through shin-deep water in which there is often a swift current, plenty of heavy ice floes, and a substrate that is somewhat uneven. The ice between Owen Point and Gull Island is considered unsafe at present. It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is given priority on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, Owen Point, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching until after December 20.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.