Birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has taken a back seat in the past week to holiday celebrations and to weather conditions on Sunday that would discourage even the most fanatical birders from going out. However, the mild temperatures have allowed Presqu'ile Bay to open up as far west as the government dock, and that has provided good waterfowl viewing conditions. With luck, similar conditions will prevail on New Year's Day for the re-scheduled Christmas Bird Count.
The hundreds of Mute Swans in Presqu'ile Bay should be searched carefully with a spotting scope, as there are a few Tundra Swans and a Trumpeter Swan that have been seen among them in recent days. A female Canvasback that was near Salt Point on December 22 has not been re-located, but the flock of Redheads in that area has grown to about 80 birds. A female Harlequin Duck was at the lighthouse on December 22, and may still be in the area. White-winged Scoters are seen daily between there and the government dock. A male Barrow's Goldeneye that showed up late this afternoon (December 27) near the lighthouse may be the same individual that was there almost three weeks ago.
An adult and an immature Bald Eagle were seen on December 21, and the immature has been seen twice since then. A Cooper's Hawk flew out over Presqu'ile Bay from the lighthouse on December 21 and another large accipiter was briefly spotted at the lighthouse on the next day. Two Ruffed Grouse seen in the past couple of days need to be on their guard. On Christmas Day a Barred Owl sitting over the road beside Denson cottage posed for a photograph.
An American Coot has been a regular sighting between the government dock and Salt Point and will likely remain at least until the next time the bay freezes over. The only Iceland Gull sighting this week was on December 24.
A Northern Shrike was at the calf pasture on December 26. Carolina Wrens continue to frequent the feeders at 83 and 186 Bayshore Road. A flock of 26 American Robins near the end of Bayshore Road twice this week was the largest in the Park since early November. Three European Starlings that appeared on December 26 on a newly snow-free lawn near the lighthouse were the first this winter except for the flock on the islands at the west end of the Park. Could they be responding already to a gradually lengthening photoperiod? Neither Cedar Waxwings nor Bohemian Waxwings have been seen at Presqu'ile this winter, though the former were just outside the Park this week and either species could be expected in the Park wherever there is a berry crop. The only place that appears to be harbouring White-throated Sparrows is at 83 Bayshore Road. A loose group of Common Grackles has been opportunistically sampling various feeders along that road. About eight Pine Grosbeaks were seen on December 26. About 80 Common Redpolls are moving around the east end of the peninsula. On three occasions when they were visiting the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road a Hoary Redpoll was identified among them.
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. The surrounding shoreline can be very slippery.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.