The results of Sunday's Christmas Bird Count at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, demonstrate convincingly that if enough people make a concerted effort, the Park can yield surprisingly good results, in this case over 60 species without leaving the Park. Seven of those were rare enough in winter to require documentation in the form of rare bird reports. Where else in Ontario can such results be achieved in an area of only 937 hectares?
Three species of swans were present during the Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The TRUMPETER SWAN was likely one of four that had been seen two days earlier. Four TUNDRA SWANS were seen on that day and the next and five today. The male CANVASBACK found on December 15 was seen again on the 17th and 19th. A RING-NECKED DUCK was the only one in the Park since October. On the other hand, other CBC ducks, the two HARLEQUIN DUCKS, the female BLACK SCOTER, and the male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, had been present for almost two weeks. For the first time in almost a month, a HORNED GREBE and a GREAT BLUE HERON were discovered in the Park.
A publicity-seeking BALD EAGLE made repeated passes over the outer part of Presqu'ile Bay while this was being written. Two NORTHERN HARRIERS and a NORTHERN GOSHAWK were other raptors of interest. There were still four AMERICAN COOTS near the edge of the ice in Presqu'ile Bay on December 22. The most recent sightings of shorebirds (two PURPLE
SANDPIPERS) were on December 19. A GLAUCOUS GULL was seen on December 21. As in most winters, there were occasional sightings of BARRED OWLS. RED-BELLIED and PILEATED WOODPECKERS, the less common of the winter woodpeckers in the Park, are both being seen with some regularity.
NORTHERN SHRIKES have been relatively scarce this winter at Presqu'ile, but one was seen on Sunday. COMMON RAVENS were being seen with some regularity up till a month ago, but the one seen on Sunday was the first this month. A BROWN CREEPER and a WINTER WREN were among the less common species found in the past week. A CAROLINA WREN continues to put in daily appearances at 186 Bayshore Road. Completing a three-wren day on December 19 was a well-observed and well-documented HOUSE WREN, unprecedented here in winter. A HERMIT THRUSH on that date was another surprise, one that may linger as long as the abundant supply of buckthorn berries in the area lasts. The consumption of the remaining mountain ash berries beside the government dock has left no reason for the few BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS that were there for a few days to stay. Any time that a warbler is found at Presqu'ile in winter is a red-letter day. Two such days occurred this week when a COMMON YELLOWTHROAT found on December 19 was heard again two days later. The elusive FOX SPARROW at 83 Bayshore Road co-operated by showing up on CBC day, as did two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, a RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, and a COMMON GRACKLE at the same address. Although winter finches remain relatively sparse, a group of three RED CROSSBILLS was a good find. COMMON REDPOLLS and PINE SISKINS have been around in small numbers on most days. This morning, two flocks of small birds apparently migrating low over the water of Presqu'ile Bay might have been redpolls.
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 narrow channel between Owen
Point and Gull Island is now ice-covered most of the time, but the ice, while appearing to be thick, might not support the weight of a human.
However, the water beneath the crust, if there is any, is only ankle-deep. The surrounding shoreline can be very slippery. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.