The birds at Presqu'ile Provincial Park have had to compete for the past week with the winter Olympics for the attention of birders, while at the same time contending with wintry conditions until the last day or two. The net effect is a dearth of noteworthy observations to report. However, over the past few years, given the right weather conditions, the last few days of February have seen an influx of migratory land birds (to say nothing of ducks) such as blackbirds, American Robins, and even an American Woodcock. There is light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, even in the tunnel itself the stunning masses of waterfowl in Presqu'ile Bay are providing lots to look at.
Mute Swan numbers have been augmented by birds that presumably have left Prince Edward County for more productive feeding at Presqu'ile. They now number between 200 and 300, not to mention between ten and twenty Tundra Swans. Dabbling ducks are still in the single digits, but that is likely to change very soon. Today there were six Gadwalls and a few Mallards, as well as a beautiful drake Northern Pintail that has been here since February 20, which is a record early date, according to Birds of Presqu'ile Provincial Park
(1993). A few of the hundreds of Redheads in the shallower parts of Presqu'ile Bay have also been seen tipping up to feed like dabbling ducks. At least two Ring-necked Ducks and at least one Lesser Scaup can be found by carefully scanning the flocks of thousands of Canvasbacks, Redheads, and Greater Scaup. A White-winged Scoter was present on February 17, and two of that species flew past the calf pasture viewing platform on February 23. Two female Hooded Mergansers are seen off and on, and the males should be arriving next.
Two Bald Eagles were seen around Presqu'ile Bay this week, one adult and one immature. An Iceland Gull was there on February 21.
The five American Robins seen along Bayshore Road on February 23 may be newly arrived migrants, but the Song Sparrow seen near Owen Point on February 19 is probably one of the individuals that were seen earlier in the winter in that area. The small flock of Cedar Waxwings that was present on two consecutive days this week may also have wintered over. The only finches found in the Park in the past week were small numbers of House Finches, Pine Siskins, amd American Goldfinches.
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 channel separating Gull Island from Owen Point is probably less than a metre deep but treacherous to wade across because of the swift currents. If it is ice-covered, the ice is probably unsafe.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.