At Presqu'ile Provincial Park, the almost complete absence of snow and of ice in the usual places has been a mixed blessing for birders. On the one hand, the land birds are widely dispersed rather than concentrated at feeders, but there is a greater abundance of water birds than one would normally expect in mid-January.
Among the hundreds of CANADA GEESE, one CACKLING GOOSE was noticed as a flock flew over Owen Point on January 6. Again this week, both TRUMPETER and TUNDRA SWANS have been seen among the hundreds of MUTE SWANS in Presqu'ile Bay, which is largely free of ice. In fact there are patches of open water even around the edges of the marsh. That has accelerated the influx of /Aythya/ ducks that normally occurs later in the month. CANVASBACKS have been building up all week to double digits, with at least two dozen counted yesterday. REDHEADS are also increasing in number day by day and between one and two thousand are now seen daily. Among them was an early RING-NECKED DUCK on January 11 and a few LESSER SCAUP on January 8. There are a few WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS in Presqu'ile Bay. With the exception of January 6, the male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE at the lighthouse has been seen every day for over two weeks, though on one day it disappointed a group of visiting birders by disappearing into the calm open water for a few hours during their search. A HORNED GREBE, unusual in winter, was at the lighthouse on January 7. A late DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT was in the vicinity of Salt Point from January 6 to 9 and is likely still somewhere in Presqu'ile Bay.
On three consecutive days, immature BALD EAGLES were sitting on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay, with two present on January 10. A NORTHERN HARRIER was at the calf pasture on January 9. Up to two RUFFED GROUSE have been visiting at 83 Bayshore Road. The gull situation varies from day to day. Often they gather on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay, where a GLAUCOUS GUL.L was sitting on January 6. Two of them and an ICELAND GULL were on the other side of Presqu'ile Bay yesterday, and one of the latter was on Gull Island. There has still been no report of an IVORY GULL, but the prospect of a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL in the coming weeks seems more likely. The five SNOWY OWLS, some of which can often be seen from Owen Point and/or in Presqu'ile Bay, have become an attraction among local residents. One observer saw between one and five every day for a week.
Four people saw a BARRED OWL one morning near the calf pasture. Single NORTHERN SHRIKES have been seen at Owen Point and the calf pasture.
BROWN CREEPERS have been found on three different days near the lighthouse, and EUROPEAN STARLINGS have already begun to investigate their nest site on the lighthouse structure itself. A flock of CEDAR WAXWINGS seen yesterday was the first in several weeks in the Park. A SNOW BUNTING was on Gull Island on January 8.
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 not using a boat should be prepared to wade through knee-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. Moreover, there can be a great deal of ice on the surrounding shore. 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.