After apparently appraising the calendar with a finer eye, winter has abandoned its recent gentle moderation and has asserted itself with a vigour that many consider over zealous. As a result, Presqu'ile Bay is rapidly icing over and last week's bonanza of 'spring' Aythya ducks has largely vanished. However, good numbers of these ducks usually return throughout January and February if warmer weather opens up the ice in Presqu'ile Bay. Inland, with conditions suddenly much harsher, birds are gradually rediscovering feeders.
Good numbers of American Black Ducks were seen on and about Gull Island early in the week but diminished markedly as it got colder. By late week, dabbler groups were small and consisted almost evenly of Blacks and Mallards. A flock seen off Gull Island on January 6 was accompanied by two American Wigeon. By January 7, only a handful of Redheads and Greater Scaup could be found near the Salt Point Lighthouse. A flock of approximately 700 Greater Scaup seen south of Gull Island on January 2 may have been leaving the area.
Long-tailed Ducks, now in prime winter plumage, continued to be the most numerous duck about Presqu'ile. An impressive flock of several thousand flew north of Sebastopol Island on January 6. Common Goldeneyes and Buffleheads could also be found throughout the park's waters, albeit in much smaller numbers. Small flocks of male Common Mergansers could be seen flying about Gull Island throughout the week and three females were seen by the Government Docks on January 7.
Large numbers of gulls regularly commute from the Presqu'ile Peninsula and area northwards towards the Brighton landfill area (unfortunately this facility is closed to birders). As occasionally Glaucous and Iceland Gulls can be seen in these flocks, a keen birder, on a survivable day, could do well by scanning flocks of gulls loafing on the ice now prominent in Presqu'ile Bay.
A Red-bellied Woodpecker continues to frequent a feeder at a residence west of Presqu'ile on Lakeshore Road. On January 5, this feeder also featured Red-winged Blackbirds and a single Song Sparrow.
American Tree Sparrows can still be found in thickets about Presqu'ile but are reluctant to show themselves during prolonged windy periods. Surprisingly, no Snow Buntings were reported during the past week.
A hearty flock of about 30 Common Redpolls continued to forage about Gull Island. January 2 produced one Hoary Redpoll among the Commons and January 6 found a Northern Shrike skulking around the redpoll flock.
To reach Presqu'ile Provincial Park, follow the signs from Brighton. Park locations are shown on a map at the back of a tabloid available at the Park gate. The waters to Gull Island now require chest waders and continue to offer strong currents, large waves and a shifting substrate.