Since Presqu'ile Provincial Park has been open to the public for only three of the past seven days, it is not surprising that fewer birds than usual have been reported. The good news is that the exceptional spring-like weather, which has allowed Presqu'ile Bay to open up almost to the calf pasture, will still be around after the Park re-opens at noon on Friday, though not long after that, according to the forecast.
On Sunday and Monday, 300-350 Canada Geese crowded into Presqu'ile Bay, about ten times as many as have been there for the past several weeks. Where they came from and where they went to since then remains a mystery. Among the many Mute Swans in Presqu'ile Bay, Tundra Swans have been consistently present, with as many as 15 on one day. Normally, they pass through here without over-wintering. Dabbling ducks have not yet re-appeared in Presqu'ile Bay, though a few American Black Ducks are on the shores of the open lake. In Presqu'ile Bay, Canvasback numbers have been building for several days, reaching almost 60 today. Hundreds of Redheads have also been there almost every day. Although it is rare for Ring-necked Ducks to return to Presqu'ile before late February or early March, given the present ice conditions and the recent influx of their congenitors, one should be looking over the flocks carefully for that species. All three species of mergansers are at the Park now, with one female Hooded Merganser regularly appearing at the edge of the melting ice near the government dock and dozens of Common Mergansers also patrolling the ice edge.
An adult Bald Eagle has been sitting at the edge of the ice on Presqu'ile Bay for three of the past four days. A male Northern Harrier flying past Owen Point on January 8 and a Northern Goshawk near 85 Bayshore Road on January 12 were the only other raptors seen at Presqu'ile this week except for two Snowy Owls, one on each side of the peninsula, on January 8.
There was a sudden re-appearance of Ring-billed Gulls (several dozen) in Presqu'ile Bay today, perhaps an indication that spring migration is actually under way. If in fact the weather returns to more normal conditions, it will be interesting to observe whether those birds will remain in the area.
The Northern Shrike that took up residence at the calf pasture some time ago is still present on most days, as is the Common Grackle near Langdon Avenue. Two or three Song Sparrows were on Gull Island on January 7, and a White-throated Sparrow at 83 Bayshore Road can occasionally be found. Snow Buntings are by far the commonest land bird on Gull Island. Six Common Redpolls were also there on January 7.
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. The ice between Owen Point and Gull Island may be unsafe depending on recent wind and temperature conditions, but was not a problem last weekend.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.